Q and A with a Ska Guitarist

430004_10151181992543864_1064933726_n-300x300Wes Meadows, guitarist and trumpet-player for his band All Over the Place, agreed to an interview. The 19-year-old Columbus-based musician has made the success of his band, All Over the Place, his lot in life. He attends music classes at Capital University and devotes nearly all his free time to his ambition.


Q. How would you define the “ska” genre?

A. Today, ska bears many similarities to punk. But it emphasizes the off-beat. It includes horns as well as some other “unconventional” rock instruments.

Q. What drew you and your band members toward this genre in particular?

A. While writing songs in high school, I stirred up some riffs that I realized I could not play on guitar. The idea of tweaking them to be playable on the trumpet, which I had learned how to play in marching band, popped into my head. Once we got a trumpet player in our band, people began comparing us to ska. It’s funny… I was not especially interested in ska in the beginning, nor am I today; none of us are. Our style is not totally ska, but our huge set of horns (trombones, trumpets, and saxophones) has branded us that way. To avoid the pretentious tone of self-proclaimed mystery-genre, we call it indie-ska. It helps with booking and classification purposes.

Q. Exactly how far have you come and what has the journey been like?

A. Our three year anniversary was actually last week; we came together in spring of 2010. We have been working on gaining a strong local fan-base, as well as breaching out across the US. At times it has beenextremely difficult; but the beginning is always the hardest part. If you have no music experience, hardly anybody will want to see you play, let alone book you. But now, at this point in our history, I can sit back, do absolutely nothing, and still receive show offers every single week. It is only a matter of time, I believe, before our reach extends to the point where we can make good money and became pretty successful.

Q. What do you think aspiring teenage bands should do to gain an edge over others?

A. To many, this is less obvious than you may think: Be professional; act professional. Have merchandise—business cards, t-shirts, album artwork—and shell out some money for decent recordings. Be dedicated: spend a good amount of time promoting shows and releases, and when you play, do not jabber for two minutes in-between every song. Nobody wants to see that a band that clearly has no idea what they are doing. If you are flustered, act like there is no problem. A friend of mine once said: “If you want to impress people, act bigger than you are.” There is much truth to that, and you should keep it in mind when dealing with the music scene, which, depending on where you are, can be either supportive or awful. Columbus, Ohio is great, but, like most big cities, somewhat divided. The farther you go from big cities, though, the worse off you are trying to make it. Typically. (On a side note, when writing lyrics, remember that it is easy to write about jerks.)

Q. Music, we all know, is a hugely competitive field. What do you think of the consensus that going to college with the aim for a music career is a bad idea?

A. I completely disagree. People know music is huge but not how huge. It is a facet of the life of every individual, whether they know it or not. The sounds of those footsteps you hear in the movies are made by someone earning $50 per hour. And the list is endless: films, television, school plays—all these mediums need someone recording, running sound, or directing the orchestra. Music will always be a lucrative career. Always.

Q. What bothers you about the music industry today?

A. Huge companies are taking over the whole thing: Sony, Universal, and Warner Music—own nearly 90% of the industry. A monopoly is forming. Independent record labels, music stores, and musicians are in big trouble. Today, you are either a small wing of one of the giants, or you have run out of money and folded under them. The battlefield has been simplified: the strong versus the weak. I am rooting for anything that isn’t one of those three labels. Especially local record stores, which are underrated, totally awesome. Jeff Rosenstock from Bomb The Music Industry is one for sure. He runs a donation-based record label and makes a living playing music. That’s pretty much what I want to do with my life

Q. Do you see a future for the physical CD?

A. I don’t think CDs will ever get phased out completely, but yes, their future is looking grim. I could even see a new form of physical consumption in the future. Memory cards can be placed in pretty much any software now. Imagine getting the new John Mayer album on a chip the size of your fingernail: it is tiny but still contains tons of tunes and artwork. Seems possible, but I still prefer CDs. vinyl has been making a comeback recently. It’s hip. If that continues for a couple more years, I can see vinyl securing its popularity for a long time to come. I always prefer something I can hold in my hand; I hope that more people lean back that way.

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