Interview with Robert Bolger Jr., July 2008
Lately we have seen more documentaries coming out which intend to explore the world of metal. Behind The Suit And Tie is a documentary which explores the music industry at a record label level, pointing our pros and cons of the so criticized "corporate metal industry". I had the opportunity to interview the head of this project -Robert Bolger- and discuss his perspectives on the topic as well as details of the documentary, hope you enjoy!!!
First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Where did the idea for 'Behind The Suit And Tie' come from?
It all happened when I was working at a shitty label called Crash Music Inc, I was the VP of A&R and just got sick of the lack of support from the label as I signed artists and the label did not one thing to help support tours radio promo etc..
Basically the idea was to expose all the wrong things that exist between a band-label relationship?
Yes, but it has its good points towards the labels that do the right thing and help support there artist like most of the label that are in the film as part of the cast - Roadrunner, Metal Blade, MegaForce, Ferret etc..
Talking to Justin McConnell who did the "Working Class Rockstar documentary", he mentioned that labels were not very interested in participating in the documentary. Was it easy for you to get them to participate in this project?
Justin McConnell is a great guy. I spoke with him via email regarding that, and not sure why they would not take part; maybe it is that I was an A&R, not sure, but a good gift of gab will get your foot in any door.
Have the people you interviewed seen the final edit of the documentary? If so, what has the response to it been?
The final edit is not complete yet, the film is done but I may pick back up with the filing production as I've been getting tons of emails from a few artists that want to come forward and speak about how they've been burnt by a few labels. I will be meeting with some folks over at ASCAP next month to touch on some topics.
I have found this topic very interesting given the dynamic changes of the music industry nowadays, based on your experience on a label and with the people you got to talk to, where do you think the metal music industry stands now and how will it develop from here?
Thatís a good question. Hard working artists that tour and promote themselves in the correct manner don't need a label, you have MySpace and other places where you can sell your music direct, this day and age for the metal all you need is a booking agent. If you have good music it will sell plain and simple; lazy bands are the ones that need a label. The internet and digital format has changed the music biz a great deal and I'm glad to see things are working out in favor of the artist. Not to [lash] hate on labels but I think they want more then what they should get. Have you heard of a 360 deal? A 360 deal is a deal where the label shares in all ends; touring, merch etc.. More like a 50/50 kind of deal? Somewhat but the label stands to take more of your income. If you ask me it's a sucker bet.
So I gather you are not very in favor of labels and when the documentary comes out is going to cause a lot of controversy.
I would not say that, but my insight is that most labels try and bleed their proven sellers and I don't think itís fair at all. I have hate for the labels that don't support their artists.
Do you notice a huge difference in the mentality of small indie labels compared to other big, well established ones such as RR. CM or NB?
Big time labels like RR and CM do the right thing with promo tour support, I have much love for them guys. Most of the smaller indie labels look for artists that have been on a major label and have been dropped; they step in and just bleed them for everything they are worth, and they really think they have a second chance but they have no shot whatsoever. Labels like that I fucking hate.
Any names of labels on your black list?
I would not pin point but they know who they are, them folks have no clue what good music is they just go by what they see from fans that dig them.
After "Metal: A Headbangers Journey" I have been noticing many documentaries on the metal topic coming out. Do you think there is a metal documentaries trend or is it just a response to a need of informing the scene on what's going on?
Yes, I have been seeing a ton, but Behind the Suit and Tie is nothing like these others, we stand alone. Unlike most music documentaries Behind the Suit and Tie will spend more time with the people behind the labels rather than the more musician focused approach of most music documentaries.
What can people expect from Behind the Suit and Tie in terms of content and message to the scene?
Behind the Suit and Tie is a documentary that takes you into the hearts and souls of the real people who rule today's Heavy Metal recording industry.
Is there a release date set yet? How will it be distributed?
No release date yet. I'm in no rush to release this film as I need to have every thing up to my standards with trailer and final edit. I have many folks that want to release it, and have a label in mind that I've been talking with and I feel they might be the one as they share the same vision. The test trailer we posted a few months back was just to show fans this is real and going to happen, the real trailer is yet to be online really soon to give you a full breakdown of whatís to come.
Do you think that at a small label level, some of the not so good things you have seen happen probably due a lack of experience in the biz? If so, do you have an advice for them?
Smaller label is good if they have funding and strong distro and make the band their priority act. My advice to any new act: get your ass on the road and tour.
I've been hearing a lot lately that music labels are basically doomed to extinction in the future of the music biz. What are you thoughts about this statement?
That well might happen but the labels will never go away as they are tje main source for major retail like best buy, etc.., as for videos on MTV, radio, you can look online and find companies that offer their service for that end. Rive video is one heavy hitter, it's a radio based company as well as skateboard marketing but you have to pay a great deal for them to do these great things.
Ok, thank you for your time, any last thoughts you would like to share?
Yes, stay away from 360 deals. Ha ha, thanks for your time.
- Andres Castro