History of Mod Media
My history as a music publicist dates back to 1990, when I worked for a year as the publicist for Juggler Records, a Japanese-based label that was trying to get a foot hold in the US. to promote their pop-punk band The Blue Hearts. We had our share of success, and along the way I had a lot of fun and I learned the basics of publicity and how to schmooze heavily on the telephone, via email and at music conventions.
I then got a job as the publicist for Tim/Kerr Records, one of the west coast's premier independent labels through out most of the 1990's. Working out of Portland, Oregon, Tim/Kerr was the label that first brought such acts as Everclear and The Dandy Warhols to national attention. Tim/Kerr was an incredibly eclectic label that also released albums by such important and diverse artists as Pere Ubu, John Fahey, The Wipers, Hugh Hopper, Pigpen (featuring Wayne Horvitz), Poison Idea, Hitting Birth, the late Peter Laughner and country blues legends Ray & Glover. I worked very closely with many of the artists for over two years, especially The Dandy Warhols (on their first album and tour before signing to Capitol Records), punk pioneers The Wipers and the legendary Pere Ubu. In addition to doing the publicity for Pere Ubu's Raygun Suitcase CD and a pair of CDROM releases, I accompanied the band on their 20th Anniversary Tour as a combination publicist/label rep/merchandiser. After two years of work at Tim/Kerr I decided to strike out on my own, and after taking a break came back with Mod Media.
Mod Media from the start was designed to be a one-man operation. I left Tim/Kerr with the beginnings of a press database and a wealth of personal contacts--the bread and butter of publicity--that I had developed while working at T/K and Juggler. Over the last several years Mod Media has ebbed and flowed through the ascent of electronic dance music and kiddie pop, the consolidation of major labels, the rise of on-line music media and the advent of web-based technology. Mod Media has always tried to stay on top of the evolution of music and the music business, while still staying true to my original intent: working with artists that I personally like and feel should get exposure in the media.
Given my own broad and sometimes unconventional tastes, this had led Mod Media to take on a wide variety of projects, from major independent label projects to working with artists without any label affiliation at all. I have worked with artists as diverse as the legendary singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg, British DJ/producer (U2/Bjork, etc.) Howie B., modern soul/blues genius The Soul of John Black, Americana avatar and shape note singing legend Tim Eriksen, and Portland, Oregon's absurdly entertaining Vagabond Opera. I've had the pleasure of seeing the accordion/violin/cello combo 3 Leg Torso profiled on NPR's widely syndicated "All Thing's Considered" and the Cincinnati combo Wussy regularly raved about in Spin, Rolling Stone, Village Voice and on NPR. My years of doing tour press have paid off (I hope!) for long term Mod Media regulars like The Wiyos, Two Man Gentlemen Band, Fishtank Ensemble and the much missed Asylum St. Spankers.
For two years Mod Media worked as the publicist for Invisible Records, Martin Atkins' (PIL, Ministry, Killing Joke, Pigface, etc.) legendary industrial/dark dance Chicago-based label. In addition to The Damage Manual and the sensationally talented Meg Lee Chin (who's song "Thing" kicks off the Mod Media website), we also worked releases and/or tours for Pigface, Chemlab frontman Jared Louche, Psychic TV, Hellbent, Not Breathing, Dead Voices on Air, Attrition, various tribute CDs and more. Also from Chicago, but in a completely different vein, Mod Media handled the publicity for the late/great Checkered Past Records. Checkered Past was one of the United States premier purveyors of offbeat roots rock/Americana and high quality rock & roll. Working with such exceptionally talented and well respected acts as the Ass Ponys, The Silos, the Spanic Boys, 16 Horsepower and Botanica was a Mod Media highlight and resulted in some excellent press.
Probably the most significant act that Mod Media worked with during the early 2000s was The Residents. The longest running musical avant garde art project in contemporary American musics, the still mysterious Residents have been their own temporary autonomous zone since the early 1970s. Mod Media worked on several projects with the Residents, including the 30th Anniversary tour, CD and release (Demon's Dance Alone), the Icky Flix collection of videos and some re-issue projects. Now signed to Mute, we wish them the best.
The last few years have been some of the best for Mod Media. I handled all the tour and CD press for the fabulously talented and always entertaining Asylum St. Spankers, one of the premier live acts in the country for almost 15 years. I was able to join The Wiyos on the road a couple of years back when they were opening up for Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. I worked with the multi-talented Nick Luca, who was doing double duty as both back-up band and opening act for John Doe in 2005. As a player, producer and engineer Nick has worked with an amazing array of talent over the years, including Neko Case, Giant Sand, Calexico, Steve Wynn, Richard Buckner and Iron & Wine. And I worked with two acts whose management (Honkytonk Hacienda) is based here in Tucson, Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs and the Hacienda Brothers. The Hacienda Brothers, featuring Dave Gonzalez from The Paladins and the late Chris Gaffney from Dave Alvin's Guilty Men and his own Cold Hard Facts, had a pair os fabulous honky tonk CDs produced by the legendary Memphis and Muscle Shoals producer and songwriter Dan Penn.
Numerous other acts regularly use Mod Media for their tour press, including Dirty Bourbon River Show, Jessica Fichtot, Ami Saraiya & The Outcome, George Cole & Eurocana, Mary Flower, and Ameranouche. Mod Media also does the publicity for the long-running Rhythm & Roots concert series here in Tucson.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to the Pander Brothers and Devin Sarno. I worked in several projects with the Pander Bros., including the epic, near- futuristic graphic novel "Triple X International" and the Secret Broadcast CD and comic book that celebrates the underworld of pirate radio. Mod Media also worked closely with the Pander Bros. on the 32 minute video for "Suck It And See," Howie B's musical and visual tribute to early 70s soft core porn. Devin Sarno ran the much-missed, L.A. based W.I.N. Records, which was home to an amazing extended family of musical eccentrics. Devin gave me my first regular gig as an independent publicist and really got me started down this road. His own projects--solo electric bass as Crib, a duo with Nels Cline (now playing w/Wilco)--helped jump-start my enthusiasm for talking about music to total strangers over the phone when I realized that as an independent publicist I could CHOOSE who I wanted to work with. It's been an invaluable lesson.
Please see "Artists" for a complete list of Mod Media acts and "What's Cooking" for updates on current projects.