10 Questions with ... Robert England
March 4, 2014
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Early mentors? First job?
Money, girls, free concert tickets and recreational drugs (This is the early '80s). My first job in the music business was working as an intern on music videos in the early '80s, including "Mexican Radio" (Wall of Voodoo), "Take Another Picture" (Quarterflash), "Somebody's Watching Me" (Rockwell) and other early MTV gems.
Early mentors would be some of the kindest people who took the time and interest in me and saw something that I didn't, to become an integral part of their business. The late Eli Bird, who is missed every day by his friends and family ... also Luanne and Tommy Nast, and Stephen R. Smith. One of my first early friends and supporters was Ray Gmeiner, then at Elektra Records.
2. You worked at Album Network for many years. How long did you work there and what were your duties?
I started working there in the fall of 1983. I met the staff during my college years as a music industry messenger. They liked me and started calling and requesting me. I began full-time as a receptionist, which had 100,000 duties, including going to the typesetter and printers with Luanne. I moved on to talking to labels and radio stations, taking radio reports and giving chart information to the record labels on Tuesday nights, which is how I met many of the contacts I have today. Jumping ahead 19 1/2 years, I worked my way up to SVP of The Network Magazine Group. Clear Channel purchased the company and decided to close its doors in March 2003.
3. You must have a few memorable experiences from those Album Network years. Care to share some of the best with us?
We were fortunate enough to have many major artists come into the magazine office, including Melissa Etheridge playing her guitar in our conference room; Dave Matthews performing for us in our atrium; having my butt pinched by Little Richard; meeting David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. Also, hanging out at a private chateau in Verona, Italy with U2 after their performance, as Bono poured wine for us and told us "no preservatives, no hangovers." One of the highlights was watching supermodels Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell playing ping pong at the chateau.
We did have Michael Jackson and his manager, the late Frank DiLeo, drop by on a late Tuesday night when very few of us were still in the office. We saw MJ's quirky side when he refused to use our restrooms and urinated in our parking lot. I'd say this does go in the 'memorable' category.
4. How long ago did you launch Bob UK Enterprises and tell us about your business model for this company?
In April 2003, after the magazine closed its doors, I had no idea what my next move would be. I got a call from then RCA Records exec Bill Burrs, who asked me if I was interested in using some of my good radio contacts to help with a project at the Active Rock format. (I think he was just being a nice guy and wanted to help a friend who was out of work, and I will never forget him for that kindness, which eventually brought BOB UK Enterprises into being.) One project turned into two, with good word of mouth for my service and enthusiasm, my work began growing. I decided in 2004 -- after looking for the last year for work -- that I could just make my own business by doing what I do best ... bring good music to radio, but I also live by the philosophy that no record is worth losing a relationship over.
5. After working for years at Album Network, what are the advantages and also the challenges of running your own company?
- #1 Advantage: short commute from bed to desk.
- #1 Challenge: getting paid in a timely manner.
6. Give us a rundown of some of the artists and bands you're currently working with and how they are doing at Rock Radio?
The short version -- #1,2,3 on the Active Rock chart are three of my current projects, which is Avenged Sevenfold, All That Remains and The Pretty Reckless. It's very exciting to work new bands that make a difference in the format, like Pop Evil, Bring Me the Horizon, Gemini Syndrome, Devour the Day and Redlight King. I just heard the new Adelitas Way single, "Dog on a Leash" - Wow! A home run. I'm also very excited about the new signing to Eleven Seven Records, my friends from San Antonio, Texas: Nothing More.
7. What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
I find listening to rumors to be the best. (Kidding.) If you have the Internet, you've really got it all. It's just sorting out between the truth and hype. My biggest tool is using information from the charts.
8. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the State of Rock Radio today?
We will always have rock records and we will always have rock bands. I'm a guy that's never believed in deregulation. I used to like the old days when competition was healthier and individual markets programmed locally and for the community. It's difficult nowadays when you have a cluster of radio stations that doesn't believe in a project climbing the charts, and seeing a great band not achieving the success they deserve as a result. I also think it's about time that the ratings are split between Spanish speaking and English speaking stations.
9. It's early in 2014, but who do you think are some of the Hot new Rock bands to watch for this year?
The Pretty Reckless, Gemini Syndrome, Of Mice and Men, Nothing More, Heaven's Basement, Bring Me The Horizon, Beware Of Darkness and Asking Alexandria.
10. I know you're a big fan of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. How did that happen and how do you think they'll do next season?
When I was 10 years old, all my friends had already chosen for their teams the other more successful franchises, such as Pittsburgh, Dallas and Miami. I was a big OJ Simpson fan (before he was a notorious killer and all around great guy) plus I liked the Buffalo logo on their helmets. I've always had a soft spot for the underdog. Ask me how I think they'll do next season after the draft.
When you're not rockin' out what other music do you enjoy outside your "format"?
Outside of the Active Rock format, I enjoy progressive rock, classic rock and ringtones.
What was the first album or single you purchased on your own?
It was a 45, and it was The Monkees' "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone."