Inteview with The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll
Born and bred Rock n’ Roll enthusiasts, Ray and Markus bring their combined 50+ years of rock and roll radio experience to explore the vast and intricate world of Rock! Their aim is to strike a balance in the historical narrative by delving into untold stories, highlighting pivotal events, and celebrating the artists who shaped the genre.
Where are you from? What is your background?
Ray:I was born in Philadelphia. Lived around here most of my life. I’ve been in radio and music, as a job for almost 40 years. In that time, I spent 7 years at FMQB, a Rock radio trade magazine, and 5 years at a record company, CMC International. I went back to radio “for now” in 2001… still doin’ it!
Markus: Denver, Colorado. Been in Radio for 30+ years.
What inspired you to do a podcast about Rock N Roll, and what is the reason for the title “The Imbalanced History of Rock N Roll?”
Ray: I got a taste for podcasting in the limited amount of it that I was involved in at my former radio job. Markus and I had known each other for years. We felt like we had the right idea, had lunch one day at a pub near his house, and worked through a lot of ideas that basically boiled down to the elements, and the name, once we settled on “imbalanced,” I knew we were on track.
Markus: Ray and I had been having incredible rock conversations over the years. So, we decided to explore the history in a non-linear way. Lots to talk about. We outlined our plan for six months and then launched. And, here we are. Thank you for finding us.
What was the first Rock N Roll song you heard as a child?
Ray: Can’t recall exactly but my Mom loved Buddy Holly and “Every Day” has always tingled my musical DNA. Later, I heard the girls across the alley screaming over “Love Me Do!” I was 5.
Markus: “Monday, Monday” and/or “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and The Papas.
What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?
Ray: I can’t pick one person, band or album that’s the most inspiring. As for art and music, there are dozens. Most of my inspiration comes from average stories about life I hear, and the people around me.
Markus: There are a lot of people who inspire me. No one inspires me the most. When I hear music I love, it’s inspirational because of how it moved me. Rival Sons, Living Colour, Rammstein, Jack White, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Danielia Cotton, and a few others are at the top of that list these days. But, I can find inspiration in any song I like. There are artists like Frida Kahlo, Tamara Lempicka, Keith Haring, Salvador Dali, Jean Michel Basqiat, and Henri Matisse who’s work has moved me quite a bit. Authors like Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Albert Camus, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Voltaire, and Brad Meltzer. So many whose words have been an inspiration. Again, it’s like with any art medium. If something catches your eye or moves you, it becomes an inspiration.
I recently listened to your episode on Plasmatics. How is it Hollywood hasn’t made a film about them or Wendy O Williams? And we’re there any subjects you wanted to tackle but were afraid of censors online or cancel culture?
Ray: Part of our imbalance is not being overly concerned with that stuff. We’re positive progressive minded people for the most part, and we occasionally speak our minds on an issue. As for Wendy, she was marginalized then and some people made sure that she stayed there. Shame really.
Markus: Hollywood could not do The Plasmatics justice. I don’t feel like anything we’ve done is controversial at all. I’m not afraid to tackle any subject. It’s just the history of Rock and Roll. It’s beautiful and ugly. We are sharing it as best and honestly as we can. I’m good with uncomfortable. It is history, and it should make us feel uncomfortable. Many shitty things and criminal things have happened in the history of rock and roll. Those are just facts. Some of them really suck and are really awful. Some are amazing and magical. We as people learn better when we are learning uncomfortably. We are also less likely to make past mistakes when we learn the uncomfortable truths of any history.
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you create?
Ray: Yes, if you consider our audio creations art, and we do, I think we have great local connections, but our global scope causes us to think wider overall. It’s great to see the podcast impacting all over, really, after almost five years of “excavating.”
Markus: Yes, of course. Being in a city like Philadelphia where there are so many talented artists of all kinds is inspiring. Philadelphia has an extremely rich history. I am so so so very lucky to have met many great musicians and artists of all types in the 21 years I’ve been here. I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of artists. I’ve watched super rock star pros in the media do their magic in the studio, and live in person. I’ve seen thousands of live shows and had fascinating conversations with artists from everywhere. I am inspired by life that happens around me. We can learn so much by talking to people around us.
In your opinion, what do you think is the best album of each decade, from the ‘50s to now?
Ray: I have no “best of” anything, that just causes division. My varied taste within each decade and overall makes it near impossible to pick one. It becomes an impossible question for me to answer. Too much from all eras and genres, all arriving in my life at varied times. And still, we are discovering music.
Markus: I will amend this by saying my favorite. I can’t pick a best. No such thing to me.
- 1950s: Kinda Blue by Miles Davis
- 1960s: Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix, Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin I.
- 1970s: Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Cheap Trick at Budokan, What’s Goin’ On? by Marvin Gaye, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars by Bowie.
- 1980s: Vivid by Living Colour, Wha’ppen by The English Beat, Diamond Life by Sade, Boy by U2.
- 1990s: Dusk by The The, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden, and Cure For Pain by Morphine
- 2000s: Language, Sex, Violence, Other? by Stereophonics, and “Dog Days are Over”by Florence & The Machine.
- 2010s: Feral Roots by Rival Sons, Give The People What They Want by Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings, Graffiti on The Train by Stereophonics.
- 2020s: Tie between Darkfighter by Rival Sons that will be out June 2nd, and Jack White’s Fear of The Dawn.
What do you think popular culture will be like in ten years?
Ray: Moving forward, like anytime in the modern era, but culture will be different, more global in focus, I think. I hope more inclusive views, holding onto what’s been gained. But change is the main thing to expect, along with the unexpected
Markus: FAKE and totally lost in AI. Pop culture will be much grosser than it is today.
What other things would you like to explore as a podcast?
Ray: There are a handful of things we’ve tried to foster for others, and a couple of our own ideas, too. I’d say follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with that.
Markus: I want to keep finding missing pieces of the Rock and Roll Family Tree and sharing that information with people. I want us to find new information that hasn’t been shared before. I also want to Write fiction podcasts.
What projects are you working on now?
Ray: We’ve just completed a fantastic episode run that started just before Punk Rock Month in April, through our 3rd annual PRM, and into May with episodes about Peter Gabriel, The Police, Janis Joplin, and The Bridge To The ‘90s! We have tons of Bent News each Friday, and new episodes on Mondays!
It keeps us busy!
Markus: A few new episodes for Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll. Producing a wonderful accessibility podcast called Article 19. We have a few ideas for future podcasts, etc.