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Friday, February 03, 2006

Whither Rockpool?

It has long been the editorial opinion of Altrok that the main thing separating the lean times from the times of plenty, in terms of interesting rock, is a visible, uncompromised outlet. That's "visible" as in "easy to stumble over and find weirdly compelling", and "uncompromised" as in "percieved as being driven more by artistic merit than commercial greed." (Note that I said percieved. Remember, kids, faking it is often as good as meaning it, at least for a while.)

That got me thinking about Rockpool, but that means the remainder of this piece is pretty much the result of the tattered remnants of hive memory regarding that pivotal entity, since there's not much Google can cough up on the subject. Apparently, nobody talks about Rockpool anymore (and frankly, I'd like to find out more about its details myself) but once upon a time, you couldn't spend any time on the subject of Modern Rock on the East Coast without stumbling over Rockpool.

Danny Heaps talks about Rockpool now, though, but that's understandable - he founded it. According to his bio at Sanctuary, he started "as DJ of the legendary NYC club, The Mudd Club, and then founded the New Music Seminar and the first 'new wave' promotion company in the States, Rockpool." (Note that I'm still fact-checking this stuff - from what I remember, the New Music Seminar was founded by Mark Josephson, Tom Silverman and Joel Webber, and it appears that, according to his bio, Josephson founded Rockpool, so...huh?)

Rockpool's charter included a trade magazine and a record pool - DJs would subscribe to it and receive the latest import and domestic alternative releases, and the choices Rockpool made for their monthly deliveries went a long way toward determining whether a record got heard in the clubs, or on college radio, and even on WLIR, New York's premiere alternative rock outlet. It begat the New Music Seminar, an annual modern rock bacchanalia that collapsed under its own weight around 1990. Its primary competitor, CMJ, is still kicking around, and promotes the annual Music Marathon that takes New York by storm each year.

But that's about all the info I can get, Google-technician that I am. And so it's up to you - if you've got anything to add, let me know. It seems like a story that ought to be written.


Blogger William P. Meyers said...

I worked at Rockpool early on, roughly 1980 - 1981. I wrote the first computer program that was used to create the charts. But mostly we all sat around listening to new music and praising it or dissing it. Ivan Ivan worked there at the time, as did Yolo; both were DJ's. A lot of cool people came by like Mark Kamens, DJ Bambata, bands like the Bloods.

4:22 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger Ben Trovato said...

What Bill meant to write was that he consulted on installing the hardware and software (a Lomas Data S-100 bus sytem with an 8086 running at a screaming 10 MHz, dual 8" 2-sided floppies, CPM-86, and Pascal/M), started on writing the chart creation software, then disappeared without a whisper or a trace, even leaving stuff on his desk to make it appear that he was still around. And it was some other guy, who Bill had brought on board prior to taking a powder, who wrote the chart creation software from scratch, the mailing list software (including a version for the NMS), and a couple other things. In addition, the late Mr. Carew spelled his first name "Iolo". But considering the state of the air down on Delancey St, I'm not surprised that Mr. Meyers might have tangled some neurons.

5:55 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger Bruce McDonald said...

Current Mute Records North America GM and one-time Danceteria DJ Mark Fotiadis ran the day-to-day operations of Rockpool. I was at WFNX/Boston and I remembered every time we received the monthly Rockpool box was time for great rejoicing. At worst we'd find a few pieces every month to use for production, club night spins or specialty show love. Once in a while we'd find some gem deserving of regular rotation airplay. I honesty can't remember if we reported to any chart there as we did CMJ, W.A.R.D., The Gavin Report, R&R, etc.

3:34 AM, August 08, 2013  

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