10 Questions with ... Bob Winegard
January 20, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started Imagen seven years ago with money derived from sale of my tech company.
1. Tell us a bit about what has inspired you to enter the music business?
My father started me on guitar when I was eight years old; I joined my first working band at 16 and have been playing in various bands in Washington D.C. since. I love all kinds of music. I find there is something to learn and appreciate in all music. For example, although I performed in rock bands, taking jazz lessons taught me how to be a better rock player.
2. Prior to starting Imagen Records, you worked as a video/audio compression engineer and then started a very successful engineering company for the Department of Defense. Can you tell us a bit about this and why you have now set your sights on the music industry?
I've always had an interest in electricity -- even after electrocuting myself at age four trying to design a vacuum cleaner. I did start my career as an engineer and ended up heading a team to design one of the first video compression (CODEC) devices to transmit video/audio over high speed digital lines which eventually led me to start my own company in 1990. We built networks for the military and some for the music business. We built a video network for Sony Music to connect their studios link up in N.Y., Nashville, L.A., London and Japan to actually bring the execs in to listen to the tracks being recorded in any studio's location. We installed a system at Tommy Mottola's apartment in New York when he was head of Sony. We built a network that was conceived after the movie War Games came ou,t connecting all the war fighting computers together and bringing all the commanding generals worldwide into an active video conference call to interactively fight and plan a WWIII type of battle. I also designed some classified military products and hold several patents on them.
3. Imagen Records has really started to make a mark over the last year. You've attracted some great talent and surrounded yourself with an impressive team. Can you give us a brief history of the label and this team you have put together?
We really have built a nice group of people here who get up every morning to make a difference ... and you can tell. The core team with Morgan Rose VP of A&R, Steven Nathan - Head of Radio Promotion, Chip Ruggieri - Head of Press, and Wade Spencer -Media Manager really have made a difference in how we go to market. We are not sitting around, either. We are searching for qualified industry people to add to the core to realize our potential to make our mark in this business. I am committed to do just that.
4. How have you found the music industry to be different from some of the industries you have worked in?
It seems like any business has its share of solid citizens and lunatics; it's amazing to see how far the lunatics get in this business, but just like any business they seem to get weeded out eventually.
5. Let's talk about one of your current artists on Imagen Records, 3 Years Hollow and the latest single "For Life." How did you find the band and what attracted you to them?
Imagen was the battle of the bands sponsor for the Uproar tour in 2012 and I was one of the judges. I went through hours of YouTube videos to judge the bands and noticed 3 Years Hollow and their song "Chemical Ride." I liked the songwriting and thought the singer Jose had a compelling voice. My A&R guy is Morgan Rose from Sevendust and he also had an eye on them as Clint Lowery was producing them. We paid them to create an EP with Clint and decided that these guys had something and deserved to be heard.
6. You are also just getting started with the new single "Collide" from Framing Hanley. After giving the band their highest charting single at Active Rock with the first release, "Criminal," you must be excited to see this band progressing at radio.
You aren't kidding; we couldn't be happier. These are great guys with a cool record. They are awesome live. They are out on SnoCore in Feb. with Flyleaf and Adelitas Way.
7. Can you tell us what other bands (new or established) and projects your label has in store for Rock Radio in the future?
We have a few things coming. One is a young band Separations; their record was produced by James Paul Wisner, and it is stunning. Look for the first single, "Dream Eater," in the April time frame.
8. What's your take on the music and artists at the Active Rock format today?
What I see is that some of our core demo is getting a little older, but kids these days have a very wide degree of music that they listen to. Some will be into Rap as well as the hardest stuff rock produces and all the stuff in between. If you look at our chart, you see that, yes, there are the core artists, but we are getting more different sounds coming in like Of Mice and Men, Motionless in White and even Islander has a different take on rock. So it seems that our chart is very diverse in accepting of new music and is morphing to reflect changing tastes, which is a good and necessary thing as we have to be fresh or die.
9. It is said you're a musician as well and that you have accumulated a very impressive vintage guitar collection?
To my wife's chagrin, I have almost 30 guitars. I have six PRSes including the Howard Leese guitar, several Gibson electrics -- including an American Flag Les Paul, vintage Black Beauty Custom and a ES 150 --, assorted Fender's Strats and Teles, the original Ibanez George Benson prototype, assorted acoustics including a Taylor, 1957 Gibson, and a beautiful McPherson, a John Suhr NAMM guitar and even a Fender bass. They are on guitar stands throughout my house mostly in my family room so they at least one gets played daily.
10. What are three of your favorite new artists or songs not on Imagen Records?
I love Starset, Royal Blood and The Pretty Reckless.
So in addition to starting successful businesses, I'm told you're also quite the golf player and have played along with some of the world's best. Can you tell us a bit about this and what other things you do for fun when not in record promotion mode?
I am a golf nut. I play in a lot of tournaments and am always trying to locate golfers in the music business. I have made some great friendships out on the course. I am heavily involved with the Tiger Woods Foundation and do a lot of golfing with those guys and even played with Tiger at the World Challenge last year. Through Tiger's foundation, I am currently sponsoring five kids going to various colleges through the U.S. My wife and I are very active in the "No Kill" shelter movement to save shelter animals from death and wait to be adopted.