Interview: Ross Green of Moshville Times

Over recent times I have conducted interviews with different sides of the music industry to get their take on this minefield of a business. This time, I looked from within and none other than the Deputy Editor in Chief/Music Editor Ross Green who has been with this mighty fine webzine for four years now. Ross, like everyone reading this, is a lover of music and devotes a lot of his personal time showcasing that devotion. What some readers don’t know is that we receive anything from thirty to seventy albums a day which takes a lot of maintaining and I think it’s fair to say that those behind the scenes here do not allow Ross to go on any holidays. Ross carries out other critical tasks and without further ado, read this article to find out what Ross does with Moshville Times.

Simple questions first. Tell our readers a bit about yourself? How and when did you get involved with Moshville Times?

I’m your friendly neighbourhood Deputy Editor-in-Chief/Music Editor. I’ve been contributing to Moshville Times for over four years now and in an editorial capacity for around three. I’d known Mosh (Editor-in-Chief) before joining and knew about the site. My musical tastes filled a niche – and still does.

Was Moshville Times your first venture in music?

No, I’d written a few articles for another website – it was essentially an online radio show, set up by a certain Irishman who had a hand in the formation of Team Rock. Myself and the small pool of nightly listeners knew we were guinea pigs for something bigger. The radio show evolved into a bigger online radio station, Team Rock rose and fell and I went on to write for another website for a while before I stopped and took a break. And then approached Mosh about writing here. He’s not been able to get rid of me since [You get sacked at least once a week. Take a hint – Mosh].

What would you say are your musical influences? What album changed your life?

Mainly your household classic rock names. The first rock band I remember getting into was Queen when I was seven – Freddie Mercury’s voice was a revelation. Your typical rock compilations with all the usual songs and bands gave me a lot of exposure and I found that those songs aren’t even those band’s finest moments as I delved into their catalogue and most of them are overplayed. The Guitar Hero franchise was another great influence as it took those bands and took the less obvious songs and opened my eyes to them and really get into their music. It also opened me up to the more metal end of the spectrum. Rock Radio was a great source for all of this too and opened me up to more modern bands. As for the album which changed my life – Appetite for Destruction, mainly because I was in the middle of my teens, the same age as those who were alive when it was first released and changed everything for them. As soon as I turned 18, I got it tattooed on my arm. I know that album forwards and backwards, inside out. The intro to “Nightrain” never fails to get the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention.

For bands that are unaware of what Moshville Times can do for them, what services can Moshville Times offer?

Reviews of music and gigs as well as interviews, mainly. We try and spread the word of upcoming albums, tours, videos, other news-worthy pieces, etc. as much as we can. We host a lot of video premieres, we’ve got a great pool of photographers who’ll be taking photos of bands to accompany the live reviews. We’ve also got our Band of the Day interview which is great for new bands and acts as an “introducing” feature.

What do your roles of Deputy Editor in Chief and Music Editor entail?

As the Deputy Editor-in-Chief, I’m Mosh’s second-in-command/right hand man/dogsbody, call it what you will [“Slave” works for me – Mosh]. Essentially, it’s the running of the site, editing other people’s work, putting it all together and sharing it on our social media sites. It’s also a lot of emailing publicists, managers or bands themselves. Normally it’s with links to coverage from stuff they’ve sent – whether it’s reviews of albums or the latest festival line-up announcement. What goes hand-in-hand with that is emailing those people asking if we can review/interview/photograph bands who are touring or similar festival coverage. Mosh and myself will decide who gets to cover it if more than one person is interested, either together or individually and he trusts my judgement. As for Music Editor – that’s compiling all the music we’ve been sent into a list and sending it to our reviewers for them to choose what they want to review – that way they’re not getting sent bands whose genre they’re not into. The upside to that role is I get to grab what I want for reviewing before everyone else.

Can you explain to our readers the steps to be taken before an article can be published?

It’s straightforward enough – our reviewer writes their piece, then one of the editors will read it, make any changes needed and a second editor will have another read of it to double-check it. It’s just to ensure spelling/grammar/punctuation is up to scratch and it’s all formatted to our style. Then when I’m making articles live, I’ll try and vary it so if there’s three live reviews, a Band of the Day, an album review and a news piece on the latest Bloodstock announcement, the live reviews will be peppered between the other articles. Similarly if we have one person who’s uploaded four articles and one apiece from three other people.

Also being the Music Editor, what advice would you give to a band wanting coverage within Moshville Times? What would make the band more likely to be covered and/or reviewed?

Tell me as much as you can in as few words as you can. Don’t just send one line saying “Hey, we’re X Band” with a link – that tells me you’re not willing to put in the effort required. It doesn’t need to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the best way to think of it is who, what and why – who are you, what genre are you, why are you emailing. That can be done in a paragraph. As long as it’s remotely rock or metal and their various related genres, we’ll cover it.

What are the pressures that can be challenging both in your roles and Moshville Times in general?

Time. I don’t have enough of it and neither do many of our other crew. We all do this as a hobby and we have other commitments – work, families, education and everything else. It means we sadly don’t get to review a fraction of the music we’re sent and can’t do more news pieces or features like investigating what recently happened with Pledge Music or defending an unpopular band or album.

What has been your biggest personal achievement with Moshville Times?

Being asked to become the Deputy Editor-in-Chief. It didn’t come with any additional duties or perks (other than putting the new title in my email signature) – it was more just recognition of the work I’d been doing and still am. Stuff like this can open doors in a professional environment – you can put it on a CV or university application. Although I get a greater sense of pride from the site’s achievement’s as a whole such as seeing bands share our reviews or quotes in a press kit or being asked to premiere a video or sponsor a festival. That said, I did get a kick out of Duff McKagan sharing my review of Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons’ album on Twitter, saying “Go, Phil!” I love Phil’s era of Motörhead and obviously I’m a big fan of Duff; I enjoy all the music he’s put out in his career, his two books are great reads and I’ve followed him on Twitter since I’ve had it.

How much of your personal life is taken up with Moshville Times?

Probably an unhealthy amount. I’m currently at college and whilst my course can see some overlap with the site, that’s still the priority. However, over the summer, some days I’d be doing twelve hour shifts on the site sorting work from everyone else and album reviews I wanted to write were on the back burner – which is a great problem to have. This year, my own output has been less but that’s mainly because last year was such a great year for releases and the UK has been unseasonably quiet with tours compared to previous years. Nowadays there’s a bit more balance.

What lessons have you learned along the way in your time with Moshville Times?

Don’t spread yourself too thin – you’ll just burn out. However, the way I deal with burnout is by powering through it. The other big lesson is people – we’re a fickle lot. Not only that, they make out they’re more well connected than they actually are and have a higher opinion of themselves than they should. Of course, this isn’t just exclusive to this minuscule corner of the music industry (if you can count what we do as being part of the music industry) or the industry at large – it’s everywhere.

Before the internet, magazines and fanzines were the places to find out about new bands and trends. Now publications are replaced with thousands of websites catering for all genres. Do you think that some of the passion has been lost or do you think that the internet has been a good thing for music?

Passion for music has never been higher. You just have to look at the latest figures for interest in music to show that. The internet is, largely, a great thing for music – it means bands and fans can connect and I can discover bands in Australia (there’s a lot of great hard rock coming out of there) that otherwise wouldn’t be heard. And bands can use it to their advantage to tour in places they wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to by looking at their social media and streaming statistics. Anyone nowadays with a keyboard and an internet connection can set up their own website and write about music, if they’re reviewing bands – great, it’s another outlet covering your band, spreading the word and you can gain new fans. And if there’s differing opinions – that’s good, too as it creates debate, provided it’s done in a friendly and mature manner and not adding more negativity – the internet’s got enough of that already.

What advice would you give to anyone showing an interest in writing for Moshville Times?

Get in touch, it’s that easy. You don’t have to have incredible writing skills, as long as the passion’s there and you can put your opinion across – that’s all we ask for. We do obviously cover the heritage and household names but we want people who are enthusiastic about the next generation/grassroots/independent/up and coming bands – whatever you want to call it. Because, let’s face it, Iron Maiden are great but they’re not immortal.

What are your pet peeves?

We’ve kind of already covered this so I’ll recap:

  • Bands who don’t put effort into asking for coverage – help me to help you.
  • People blowing smoke up other’s backsides – you’re embarrassing yourself and if the person you’re doing it to has any standards, them too. If not, then they’re the people with an over-inflated opinion of themselves. Off the back of that – people who do this only to massage their ego and popularity. You can see all these types of people a mile away.
  • Narrow-mindedness.
  • Bands marketed as “all-female” or “female-fronted”. I cringe when I read it as you don’t see the same for men. I understand why you would do so but personally, I don’t care what gender you are – if you make good music, that’s the bit I’m interested in.

What are your ambitions within the music industry?

To make a living from it. Anything else is a bonus. That said, if my Euro Millions numbers come up, I’d quit everything and turn this into my full-time job.

A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

  • Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  • The Virginmarys – King of Conflict
  • Slipknot – Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
  • Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics – The Man With Stars on His Knees
  • RavenEye – Nova

As your last question, what does music mean to you?

As cliché as it sounds – everything. I wouldn’t know the people I do if it wasn’t for music and I wouldn’t have had even half the experiences I’ve had if music wasn’t so ingrained into my life. I revolve my entire life around it.

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