Though the music industry currently leans towards more marketable dance and rap music styles, rock n’ roll continues to make a buzz in New Jersey. Highway 9 (Epic), Borialis (Capitol) and Dragpipe (Interscope)
have inked deals with major labels and are looking to discover how far their music will go nationally. Others, like Slowdrown, Madjul and High Speed Chase, have networked together by playing joint shows.
This cooperative effort beefs up their shows with the heavy music their fans appreciate most.
But is the buzz strong enough and will it grow? The question remains as to whether the momentum develops and additional bands get signed or dies out and takes the scene with it. New Jersey is packed
with great original bands. In order for the music's popularity to continue, club support of original music must expand. Presently, the number of original bands largely outnumbers that of clubs for them
to perform at. Many venues devote most of their time and resources to cover bands. As a result, the burden of promoting shows is largely placed on bands themselves.
Building a lasting musical group goes further than creating a sound, it involves developing a comprehensive and cohesive business strategy. Bands produce their own full-length CDs, complete with artwork,
photos and inset lyrics. They put aside money to finance fliers and other promotional items, including stickers, keychains, frisbees, t-shirts and other merchandise to keep their name in concert goer’s
minds. They update electronic and postal mailing lists to remind their fans when and where upcoming shows are taking place. They make repeat phone calls to local promoters to secure additional gigs. The
list goes on and on.
The ultimate burden may be on the bands, but the work of club owners, promoters and their employees should not be overlooked. They spend countless hours inside their venues and on the road with the purpose
of spreading the word, as well as satisfying their patrons. This involves putting together strong concerts and marketing through advertising and other methods. Go into a club and you’ll find their employees
night after night looking for another way to keep the buzz, and the drinks, flowing.
Bands hope they can maintain a steady schedule of appearances so they can continue to play out and develop musically. This is done while making, and keeping, contact with as many people in the music
industry as possible to further their chances of winding up as the next signed New Jersey band. Getting signed may seem like the end of all struggling, but for some it’s just the beginning. Highway 9 and
Montville’s Pete Yorn have both learned the importance of continued radio and record store appearances. While on tour, Yorn sometimes plays in-store gigs on club show days. His reasoning is that it gives
those too young to get into the clubs a chance to see him play. His list of accomplishments will hopefully be mirrored by others in the state. Yorn has already received four stars from Rolling Stone
magazine, and has scored opening act slots for Sting, Train, Matchbox 20 and Weezer.
Can New Jersey rebuild into what it once was in the days when Little Steven and company used to pack its clubs? The circumstances were similar then. Disco dominated the airwaves and you had to fight
blood, tooth and nail to get your rock song heard. The difference? At that time the area was one of the most popular resort towns around. Crowds of people came to Asbury Park and many would follow the music
and find their way into one of its many open clubs. Now, most of those the clubs are closed. Only the Saint and Stone Pony remain open. Others, north and south in the state, continue to open their doors
to original music and remain dedicated.
It took hard work to build this scene then and it won’t be any different this time around.