10 Questions with ... Brett Greenberg
October 13, 2015
1. What made you want to get into the music business and who were some of your early mentors/role models?
I was 18, out of high school and had no direction whatsoever. My sister Michele was going to enroll in Bauder Broadcasting College and I figured what the hell. My first three PDs -- Charlie Kendall, Gerry Cagle and David Grossman on the radio side -- and Josh Rosenthal, Jacqueline Saturn & Brett Gurewitz on the record side.
2. What was your first job and give us a run-down of the labels and positions you've held over the years?
1986-1989 WSHE/WSRF. My first job in radio was in the research department at WSHE/Miami. We'd cold call from the phone book and search for the right demo. Once found, we'd play .em the hook tape of the week. We'd tally the results every week and that was our in-house research. I also ran the board at our sister station AM WSRF, Surf 16, Gospel. "You're listening to Surf 16, WSRF/Miami. I'm Brother Brett with you all afternoon. Here are the Mighty Clouds of Joy with 'Walk Around Heaven.'"
I remember the first time Gerry Cagle put me on the air at WSHE. I did not fail. Gerry was on his way down to the Keys with his girl and I was playing the PSAs that Sunday morning into two hours of music. My first time on-air at WSHE "She's Only Rock & Roll." I remember putting the needle down on Golden Earring's "Radar Love" then I gave the top of the hour and nearly hitting the post. I put my head down listening to the song in my headphones and said to myself in a low whisper, "Well, that fucking sucked...." Then I realized the mic was still on. A call from Gerry ... A call from my mom ... My life was over before it even started. I blew it in fine fashion. Thankfully I was forgiven and allowed to continue on. At WSHE, I worked with some great people such as Charlie Kendall, Lisa Kendall, John Bloodworth, Pat Evans, Bill Murphy (a legend), Liz Wilde, Suzannadana, Mark Stevens, Glenn Richards, Tom Robinson, Joey Reynolds, Kristen Guarino, David Grossman... So many others ... It was the last great wave of the homeless rock & roll DJ.
- 1989-1991 WQAM/Miami Sports/Oldies. I was the Don Fanucci of the board ops at WQAM. The owners at Sunshine Wireless said I was the PD, but scheduling 10 board ops on a weekly basis was like trying to corral a herd of cats.. Had the best time there with Stu Opperman (Don Corleone), Ed Kaplan, John Moynihan, Joe Rose among many other hopeless sports junkies.
- 1991 WCNN News & Weather Atlanta - CNN Center, baby!
- 1991 - 1992 Warner Brothers Warehouse.Atlanta - Oy, my back.
- 1992 - 1993 Sony Music - Tower specialist Atlanta - Three days a month I took a full Sony inventory at Tower Records in Atlanta - If it ain't in stock, you can't buy it. Back then anyway...
- 1993 - 1995 Sony Music Field Marketing Rep Tampa - Inventories, artist displays and bar tabs.
- 1995 - 1998 Sony Music Southeast Regional Alternative Marketing Atlanta - Working for a legendary guy like Josh Rosenthal was just what I needed.
- 1998 - 2000 Epic Records Regional Charlotte - Rick Bisceglia - Polly Anthony - Stu & Dale Show
- 2000 - 2001 Epic Records Regional Atlanta - Hilary & Joel
- 2001 - 2002 Epic Records Regional Miami - Dan Hubbard
- 2002 - 2003 Capitol Records Regional Atlanta -- Dan Hubbard
- 2003 - 2004 Red Distribution Atlanta - Sales Southeast
- 2004 - 2007 Victory Records National Radio Chicago - Killing it with Taking Back Sunday, Atreyu and Hawthorne Heights and a bit with Bayside and Silverstein.
- 2008 - 2010 Epic Records Regional Dallas- Jacqueline Saturn/Charlie Walk
- 2010 - 2012 Victory Records National Radio Chicago - Killing it with A Day To Remember
- 2012- Present Epitaph Records Los Angeles - Killing it with Bring Me The Horizon
In my career I have moved from: Miami - Atlanta - Tampa - Atlanta - Charlotte - Atlanta - Miami - Atlanta - Chicago - Dallas - Chicago - Orlando - Los Angeles to stay employed.
I'd move to Sheboygan if I had to.
3. You spent several years as National Director of Radio Promotion for Victory Records. Tell us about some of the bands you worked with and broke out of those labels?
I had a privilege of helping advance the radio careers of Taking Back Sunday, Atreyu, Hawthorne Heights, A Day To Remember. Some of the most satisfying work I've ever done at radio.
4. Along with your label stints, you've also worked for management. Tell us the advantages as well as challenges of working for a label vs. independent promotion?
When management and labels are in-step and working for the same goals, life is beautiful.
5. This December will mark three years with Epitaph as National Director of Alt/Rock Promotion. Can you give us a little label history and who are some of the bands who call Epitaph home?
Brett Gurewitz took the name from the King Crimson song "Epitaph." "Confusion will be my epitaph. As I crawl a cracked and broken path, if we make it we can all sit back and laugh."
A band had to have a label so Brett got the label name, stuck the label name on the Bad Religion EP and set up a P.O. Box. This was the start of Epitaph Records 35 years ago.
Bad Religion, Vandals, NOFX, Pennywise, Offspring, Rancid, Punk-O-Rama, Dag Nasty, Descendents, Refused, Dropkick Murphys, Matchbook Romance, The Bouncing Souls, L7, Millencolin, Alkaline Trio, Frank Turner, Parkway Drive, Falling In Reverse, Bring Me The Horizon, Every Time I Die, Menzingers and so many others on Epitaph.
Also our amazing award winning sister label Anti- who counts Tom Waits, Neko Case, Wilco, Man Man, the Milk Carton Kids, Weakerthans, Title Fight, Deafheaven, Saint Seneca, Glen Hansard, Calexico, Betty Lavette, Beth Orton, Beat Connection, Chuck E. Weiss, among so many others.
That is who Epitaph/Anti- is. It is a mighty label that has the most passionate people I've ever worked with or worked for.
The Epitaph Mission: Is to help recording artists make great music on their own terms.
- Work for the artist
- Practice the Golden Rule
- Keep learning
6. Bring Me The Horizon is now on Columbia and doing very well at the Active Rock format, but you must be very proud of the phenomenal job of establishing this band on Rock radio when they were on Epitaph.
We did our job to the very best of our ability. I could not be prouder of the job Epitaph did or happier for the band. BMTH are now in the loving arms of a great label. Epitaph gave Bring Me The Horizon a home for 10 years and four albums. Epitaph allowed them to find their sound, find their audience, find themselves, find their way around America and the rest of the world. Epitaph helped the band find a half-billion streams, 800,000 albums sold, millions of singles sold and just in the last two-and-a-half, years almost 300,000 'Sempiternal' albums sold, 800,000 singles sold, 65,000 spins at Active Rock and Alternative, four charting singles and a new lease on life.
This is one of many band stories that could not have started at a major label. Period.
7. Parkway Drive is a big priority for Epitaph right now. Tell us about the band's latest project and your plans for establishing this band on Rock radio.
First off, I have spent the last few months doing the best I could setting up this band. A band no one at radio has ever heard of. When it's metal, heavy and serious, it takes time. You must take great care and take your time with every step. It's hard to make people care about another band. Getting people invested in your artist is an art form of patience and determination.
Our first sales week, Parkway Drive 'Ire' came in at #18 selling 14,500 albums. That's a few hundred more than the new Pop Evil and a couple hundred less than the new Atreyu. We're in the hunt. We're competitive. We can go head to head with any band sales-wise or LIVE on stage any day of the week. I'd say we are off to a great start. It is hard to get radio invested in your band; it is even harder getting a fan base invested in your band. It is not easy to sell records these days, but there are bright spots all over the joint.
Parkway Drive, an Australian band, will headline a U.S. tour from October 29th to December 6th playing great rooms and are selling a hell of a lot of tickets. This band has an amazing worldwide following. The tour is shaping up to be amazing. "Vice Grip" is the first ever single that Epitaph has taken to Rock radio and to be at 39* in real time at the moment is an amazing feeling. Every spin gains new fans of the band. Ask John Perry at WIIL how his phones exploded after four overnight spins. Seriously, a top request after four overnight spins. Ask Tina Smash! Ask Vincent at Octane how his spins are driving some serious sales nationally and how well the song is testing with his upper demos. I am not blowing typical radio guy-speak smoke up in here. This is a record that is reacting. Ask Tard at KFTE or Gabriela at Music Choice. Ask A.D. at KIOZ or Jeff at the Edge! Ask Mark and Jade at RIF or Randy and Ski at JJO.
I get it ... it's metal, it's heavy, it's a little screamy. People are scared of that or write it off with a quick NO... But those Scorpions-like guitars and that chorus. It is one long anthem. An underdog winning.
"One life, one shot, give it all you got" - Vice Grip
This is a record for Active Rock whether you lean alt or you lean classic or mainstream. Whether you're loose or whether you're tight. This is a song for your station. We are proving ourselves right with every spin.
8. In your opinion, what are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
Jeffrey Naumann is a great tool.
9. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the state of Rock radio today?
It could be better and it could be a hell of a lot worse.
10. Finally, besides the artists you're already working with, what are some other new and emerging Rock bands you like that we should keep an ear out for?
Anything Mark Abramson & Jon Marte are working. Also anything Hopeless Records, Victory and Side One Dummy releases. I'd say Sub Pop, too, but they just took our sales rep. Okay, Sub Pop too!