A friend of mine was working on a small FM station doing a biker rock show 2 hours a week but it got boring as there was so many songs he couldn't play on air. He came to me and actually said 'Jay, you know about technical shit, can you make me a radio station?'. That was the start of it all. We checked for license costs, names, technical shit and the station was born under the name of 'Pure Biker FM (very few will still remember that one). It was meant to be a bit of fun, giving people some decent rock and metal music but it got very popular very quickly and here we are today!
We're all the product of our musical past. What's your musical history?
I have always loved music. Back in the day when we all used to record the UK Top 40 on cassette and then dub out the talking to make a mix tape. My old man is a massive collector of music though. He played Elvis, Rolling Stones and the Beatles to death then moved into the Bon Jovi, Meatloaf and Black Sabbath. Being from Birmingham too, we had no end of musical history with Ozzy Osbourne born 2 minutes from my favourite football club Aston Villa, and me living just a 5 minute walk from there!
First album you ever bought?
I'm not sure of the very first album but first albums I remember playing were not rock! As I said, Birmingham is my birth place and my mum was a massive reggae fan so I have and always will be a fan of UB40. I have their whole collection and now and then its good to give them a play.
First musical epiphany moment?
I led a sheltered life, the usual teenage problems so rock and metal were not with me before I was 16, when I discovered alcohol! I then heard Iron Maiden 'Run to the Hills' and my music went from dance and trance music to rock and metal. That was it for me... I was reborn!
First album that terrified the hell out of you?
War of the Worlds! Our next door neighbours would play bass music through the daytime and it really pissed my old man off so he got his speakers to the wall and notched up to 11 and played War Of The Worlds on repeat! I was about 6 I think!
What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?
Soil's brand new album 'Whole'. This is a fantastic return to the band for Ryan McCombs. Fair play to him, he has recaptured the bands sound and it is an album I have played a lot recently.
What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?
Good things in the music scene have to be the awesome new bands coming through. I hear so much new talent on a daily basis I sometimes forget that AC/DC ever existed. On the flip side though, its getting that talent to the mainstream. Those sheep who only listen to what the commercial radio stations get paid to play. When people first listen to TBFM and say 'wow, I cannot believe there is so many talented bands out there' I sometimes want to shout out and say go see them, support them, buy their music rather than listening to the crap that Radio 1 churns out every day!
With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do? What's your unique take on the music and writing?
What we do at TBFM is unique in itself. We actually CARE about the bands and the fans. We take pride in knowing our listeners, chatting to them, meeting up for a drink and going to gigs with them. We do not just sit around the VIP backstage area sipping free beers while the bands work their asses off on the stage. TBFM is about being involved in everything. Knowing band members personally, outside of music. We care and that is certainly what pips us above others.
Illegal free downloads on your site. Yes or no, and why?
Absolutely no way. Its disgusting. You wouldn't go the supermarket and steal a CD so why rip people off online? We dispise people who tell us they have taken tracks off illegal websites. Surely there is a way to stop this once and for all? Buy the music, ask the bands for a freebie at a gig, listen to it on radio but do not steal from the hard working bands.
What's been your all time greatest "Find"? That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?
There has been a few. TBFM was the first UK station to give Trucker Diablo a chance and now look at them go! Mad Hatter 2.0 were the first unsigned band we ever gave airplay to and are one of the most hard working bands in the UK. I have so much respect for them and they have never forgotten (cuz we don't let them) where their roots are.
If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why? What makes that song so important?
Can I have 2? One signed and one unsigned? Sod it, I will anyway!
AC/DC - Can I Sit Next To You Girl. The first song ever recorded by AC/DC but was recorded and released by 2 different singers, Dave Evans and Bon Scott. This track is so important to rock and I could probably write 10,000 words about it!
Massive Wagons - Fight The System. This is a great UK band who I have seen many times. The words to this song describe my whole life. Not a single line missing. They are a fantastic band and every time I see them live they always shout out that the song is about the life of Mucka Jay.
3 bands at the moment as this changes all the time! Dendera, Massive Wagons and a band I have only recently discovered called The Reaper with a bands average age of just 13 they will be a band for the future, once the singers balls have dropped.
Tell us about your personal music collection. Vinyl? CD? What's your prized possession?
I was never really a collector of vinyl. My dad did all that and promised me his collection in his will so one day I will get into it! CD's are also a thing of the past. I have my UB40 collection which seems a lot out of character but its a reminder of one of my all time favourite bands so I think that has to be my overall prized possession!
What makes it all worthwhile for you?
Making a difference. Helping the bands get noticed and the thanks and appreciation they give back. Not like these premadonnas you get on the big stage, grass roots honest musicians.
How would your life be different if you weren't involved in music?
I'd probably be dead! Before music I was a massive follower of football but I was getting in with the wrong crowds and things could have been a lot worse. I got out at the right time and I have Maiden, Sabbath and AC/DC to thank for that.
Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?
Ooooh, shall I name and shame? There have been a few idiots along the way and as this is my first ever interview I would rather it be about me than them so I will say no more on the matter!
In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?
I would like to see 1 band that TBFM promotes make it into the UK music charts, just into the top 40. I would like to be remembered for being the crazy drunk guy who loves music, thats about it!
Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay. Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?
What's next? Any new projects?
I do an average of 80 hours a week in front of the PC. Then there is the gigs and festivals! This is all unpaid. My partner works and that helps pay the bills and have money to see the bands but I do make websites for bands which earns enough to keep me in cider, well not in cider but gets me a few drinks! TBFM has taken over my life so I do not have much time for anything outside of that. The balance is going to gigs and watching bands without the worry of working. That is my little time out which is why I usually get drunk! New projects are always popping up, just see the website and you will know whats happening next!
Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?
Football (soccer). I have been out of touch with this for a long time but I am really getting into it again and as my team use their stadium for music events (Bon Jovi usually) I am hoping to one day put a gig on at Villa Park. I am also hoping to get back into motorcycling. I sold my motorcycle to fund TBFM when we were struggling to pay license fees and it has been on the backburner since, so one day I will get myself a nice Triumph Rocket III and custom paint it with TBFM logo and ride off into the sunset! AMEN!
Thanks for the interview Todd.
Mucka Jay - TBFM.