Sunday, April 17, 2011

INTERVIEWS: Dave Garwacke (If You Make It, Thousandaires, State Lottery...)

Whether it be for the free/donation-based albums, or for the Pink Couch Sessions, If You Make It is the go-to site for many punks around the globe! For the past 4 years, Dave has been running and maintaining the site, which I guess has been a pretty big influence behind What We Should Be Doing, so I thought it would be cool to chuck some questions his way. This interview is featured in my good friend Carly Davies' zine "No Matter Where You Go".

For those not in the know, what is If You Make It?
If You Make It is a site I started 4 years ago. We/I haphazardly post videos and free albums, depending on my current mood and level of excitement in the project.

How did the idea for If You Make it come about?
I started IYMI mostly because I needed a project to work on outside of my actual job. Eventually I ended up spending more time on this then actually making money. I used to live in a house that had shows all of the time, and afterwards I realized that there was a lack of physical evidence that anything had ever happened. When I moved to Brooklyn I decided to change that and started filming shows and throwing them up on my wordpress blog. Eventually I redesigned that site and added a bunch of different content.

If You Make It is mostly known for the variety of free albums on the site. What made you decide to put the albums up for free?
I basically copied Jeff Rosenstock, who runs Quote Unquote Records. I was over his apartment and we were talking about his site, and I figured it would be a good idea to add the same kind of thing to IYMI. I'm pretty sure I ran it by him first, but who can remember?

To me, being in a DIY band is more a hobby than a career. But it certainly costs money, and obviously by giving away albums for free you eliminate the income that is needed for most bands to survive. You've played in several bands that have been featured from the site, so speaking from your experience, have you or any other band benifited financially from being on the site?
Free/donation downloads aren't for everyone, but I think they are an amazing tool for spreading music. You'll definitely never make your money back, but in the meantime thousands of people are listening to your music. I think it's a great idea for bands to release their first demo for free. In that way I'm mostly just pointing out records that I think people should give a chance. It's not really about the money. On the other hand, there has been some awesome people who have donated to the site. I think more people are pumped to see the number of downloads rise than how much money is in their paypal account.

How do you choose what albums to upload to the site?
It's all based on music that I love. I usually approach bands about putting their records up on the site, although sometimes I'm surprised by a random submission (ex. Candy Hearts) and we go from there. It's sort of like a record label but I have the ability to disconnect myself from the financial aspect of putting out a record. I don't have to check my wallet before putting a record up.

I've seen some reviews posted on the internet where the bands have been described as having an IYMI sound. It seems pretty ridiculous to me, because I think no band on the site sounds the same. But if you had to, how would you describe the "If You Make It" sound?
I think a majority of the IYMI sound is based on the same people being in 50% of the bands. I guess you'd could say it's all generally melodic punk, but there are bands that don't fit the mold, like Busman's Holiday and Eachothers' Mothers.

How did the pink couch sessions come about?
I started the Pink Couch Sessions when I realized that live shows were impossible to tape. The sound was always bad and the lighting was almost unusable. I had a big pink couch already, and I asked a couple friends over to help try out an idea. I was also in love with sites like La Blogotheque and wanted to try something similar.

What have been your favourite Pink Couch Sessions?
Some of my favorites have been Defiance Ohio, Des Ark, Nana Grizol, Vio/Mire, Ava Luna, Heathers and Hot New Mexicans. I could probably name a ton more but that would defeat the point.

Are there any interesting Pink Couch Sessions in the Pipeline?
Let me see. Some bands have been in the pipeline for way too long, and I feel really bad about that. I hit a rough patch over the summer and unfortunately a bunch of bands got shafted. I'm trying to make that up this winter. The RVIVR pink couch is going to be pretty funny and Blunt Mechanic came out pretty awesome. Toby Foster, Candy Hearts, imadethismistake, Two Funerals, The Wild, Fucking Cops, Title Tracks, Grown Ups and Big Soda have been extremely patient with me. Theirs will be going up really soon. Cynics, Koji, Calvinball and Two Hand Fools also came over recently, so stay tuned for those. Maps & Atlases also did a new one.

What would you're dream pink couch session be?
John K. Samson of The Weakerthans. I'd burn the couch after that.

Quite a few simular sites to IYMI have surfaced on the internet. What would your advice be to anyone wanting to start a site like IYMI?
Stick with it. It's a pain in the butt, but you need to produce content pretty regularly or people will lose interest. Keep to a deadline and try to update on a schedule. I screwed this site up by being so flaky.

What is the most rewarding thing about running IYMI?
It makes me excited that other people are fans of the site. I love reading reviews of the records and seeing other sites linking to their favorite videos. I love interacting with people despite my weird mumbling and craziness. It's a fun project.

How would you sum up DIY in your own words?
I have to make up my own words? Let's say "individualitude". It's individuality with attitude. Sort of like a Ninja Turtle, of the teenage variety. I think Do It Together is a better acronym, since doing it alone is pretty hard.

What's next for IYMI?
New types of videos, maybe some new series. I want to expand away from the Pink Couch and flex my editing skills. I want to include other people in maintaining the site and let up on the reins a little.

Anything else to add?
Bergen Bagels in Brooklyn has the best bagels on the East Coast. I haven't had a better one in the U.S. but I don't want to sound crazy.

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