You don’t need me to tell you how radio has become less and less relevant in the world of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. But despite what technology says, radio is still an important format for independent artists. Getting a song on the radio in a major city could be a game changer for an artist trying to be heard. No one knows this aspect of radio like Andy Herrin. Not only a professional musician, playing drums in acts such as Cavo and Repeat Repeat, but he is also a DJ on one of Nashville’s biggest rock stations 102.9 The Buzz.
Being on both sides of the mic, Herrin acts as the voice for both artist and listener.
What makes his show so important is how he gives so many local indie artists a platform to showcase their music where most cities wouldn’t. Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Herrin about his thoughts on local scenes, his former and current band, and why radio maintains it’s relevancy in a world of streaming formats.
Who is Andy Herrin? How do you identify yourself? Musician? Drummer? Radio personality?
I’d say all 3. I used to always say I was a drummer first, but I guess any of the 3 would do nowadays since I spend a lot of time doing all 3 of them. To sum up, just call me a “hot shot radio personality”. Haha!
For the past few years, your show has become a Sunday night ritual for me. I watch The Walking Dead then tune into The Buzz. I’m obsessed with Nashville’s indie rock scene and I have been since I was a kid. How did that show come about?
Thanks man. You know, it was really random. The shows been around for years and had many hosts, I’m not sure who hosted it the longest but I’m definitely getting up there I think. 4 years ago I found out they were looking for a new host and The Buzz used to play Cavo a lot. So I kinda used that angle as my in, and they gave me a shot. Zero radio hosting experience so I’m really grateful for them taking a chance on me. It took a minute for me to find my place with the show but it feels like it’s always getting better so that’s a good thing.
Nashville is full of so many of my favorite acts! The Lees of Memory, Hurts To Laugh, The By Gods, Them Fixes, Sad Baxter, The Dead Deads. The list goes on and on! Is it something in the water there?
It’s honestly an insane amount of talent here. My radio show is 3 hours long and I still can’t fit all the bands I want to every week. Which is a great problem to have.
I wish it was a problem every station had. Speaking of which, who decides what gets played on your show? Is there some kind of content producer?
I decide what I play, which in 2018 is amazing. I’m really lucky to have that kinda show. Some of the other DJ’s at the station recommend bands but overall I pick the majority of the music you hear on it.
I live in Chicago and it’s sad how I have to tune in to a station nearly 500 miles away to get the kind of music I want to hear.
I LOVE Chicago man. Some of my proudest moments as a drummer are playing Metro, Double Door, Toyota Park, the list goes on. It’s sad to hear you say the scene isn’t like it used to be there, in the 90s esp, Chicago was where it was at it seems.
What are your thoughts on the radio format as a whole? Is it dying? Is it coming back?
I think people always say “radio isn’t what it used to be”, but I honestly feel there’s always gonna be a place for it. Labels and managers still watch what’s spiking on the radio. Most people think Spotify is where it’s at, and it is in some ways, but radio still matters in the overall scheme of things. It gets your music to a mass crowd. Especially a station as big as 102.9 The Buzz.
Being on the artist side of the music industry, you have a legitimate take on the subject.
That’s actually how Repeat Repeat ended up getting a record deal. Atlantic Records were watching the radio charts and saw our song “Mostly” was getting spins on 105.7 The Point in St.Louis and 102.9 The Buzz in Nashville. Their interest in the band led to Red Light Management and eventually Dangerbird Records signed us.
But yeah man, there’s nothing like hearing your song on the radio, I think that magic will always be there for bands. I call it your “that thing you do” moment if you’ve seen that movie. Haha
How important is the radio format to an indie artist these days? Is getting played on a mainstream station still a big deal?
Oh absolutely. Going back to my last point, it gets attention when radio reports what it plays. But also being on the radio adds a certain legitimacy to your band it seems. It makes you real or something in people’s eyes, which leads to your audience growing.
How do you feel about the streaming formats?
I go both ways with it. I’m old enough to remember CDs and what it was like to put on an album and listen to the whole thing, read the lyrics, the thank you’s, and all of that. But I love the easiness of streaming. It’s nice to have access to every song ever. Haha.
But it’s crazy though because back in the day you’d pack up CDs and the second you got in your car, the ONE cd you didn’t bring was the ONE CD you wanted to listen to. Nowadays I get in my car and I can listen to any song ever written basically, and I feel like I can’t ever decide. It’s strange. So I usually just end up putting The Eagles or Gin Blossoms on.
As a musician, yourself (Repeat Repeat‘s last record found itself on our Hidden Gems 2017 article) do you feel you’re better experienced in sharing independent music?
Thanks for adding us on that by the way man, I appreciate that. Jared and I started Repeat Repeat back in 2012 as just kinda a passion project for the two of us. At the time, I wasn’t really looking to start a new band but it just kinda happened. I loved the way we had surf pop songs with really big drums and we would just go nuts live. I think Jared’s a genius songwriter and him and Kristyn harmonizing together is out of this world. I’m really proud of both of those albums. We spent about 5 years out on the road playing to whoever would listen. This was after the arenas and tour buses with Cavo so a lot of my friends didn’t initially get it as they would say, but eventually, they realized how good those songs were and it finally started to happen for us.
Not long after that record dropped, you and Repeat Repeat went separate ways. That’s such a bummer because it was your show who introduced me to them.
It was really heartbreaking for me the way it all ended. To be honest, that put me in a really dark depression the months following. It’s hard to give so much of your life and work so hard at something for things to work out the way that they did. Right after that, I gave up drumming for good because the thought was too painful, but shit happens ya know?
Drumming has always helped me through tough parts in my life so I realized eventually I can still play. If anything, it helps me through the rough stones life can randomly throw your way sometimes. So I picked my sticks back up and dusted them off finally.
Right, and there’s no sense in letting your talent go to waste.
Just gotta keep moving forward. I still stand behind those records we made together and I wish them the best out there.
But to answer your original question, I honestly think anyone in the music industry (whether it’s managers, radio people, label people, whatever), should have to have been on the artist side. How else could you ever understand how to help an artist if you haven’t been one? There’s a lot of people in Nashville who go to school for that kinda stuff but have no real experience in it and I feel like you can tell that. Someone told me recently that they like me because I “give a fuck” and that meant so much to me because that’s the best compliment I could ever get. I wanna help bands because I see myself in them.
You still play drums for Cavo though? The re-release of Bridges is killer! What is it like working with those guys? More importantly, how do you find the time?
Thanks so much man. I’m so proud of Bridges. I knew the Cavo dudes way back in the early-mid 2000s. When their original drummer Chad left the band, they called me up and off we went. I had like 4 days to learn a ton of songs and boom we were out touring arenas with Chevelle and Evanescence. It was by far the coolest Summer of my life haha.
They’re the easiest 3 dudes to get along with. I’ve been in so many bands that have tension and fight all the time but Cavo feels like a family all the time. Their musicianship is ridiculously amazing and we all enjoy playing together. We initially released the record on our own, but then Pavement came along and gave it a proper release which is really cool and I’m stoked about it.
Is that you behind the drums in the Transylvania Stud video for “Burn” we premiered not too long ago?
Godfrey played the drums in the studio. That dude is so good on the drums haha. Godfrey actually hit me up about playing in the video and I hadn’t done anything in a few months so I was more than happy to do it. I’m a huge fan of all of his projects and being he’s a dear friend, it was just really fun. We did it in some shed that week when it was like 15 degrees here so the breath you see in the video is real. It was quite cold that night haha.
Are we gonna see some future collabs with the beast that is Andrew Godfrey?
Yeah, I’m gonna play drums on his new T-Stud album and I’m really excited about it. He keeps sending me demos and they sound amazing. Would love to tour with him someday under that moniker.
Being you do radio this might be a stupid question, but what are you listening to on your own time?
I feel like I listen to so much stuff it’s hard to narrow it down to anything in particular. I’m really loving the new We Are Band Nerds record. I saw them by accident last year at SXSW actually. My manager at the time and I walked into this bar that was packed with this band going nuts on stage and it was so rad like a real rock n roll moment haha. And now a year later they’re label mates with Cavo and we were featured in Revolver Magazine together thus proving how small the world is.
I’m really into the new Gin Blossoms record it’s not out yet but the dudes let me hear some and man it’s up there with their early work in my opinion.
I listen to tons of Eagles, Superdrag, Anchor Thieves, PM Dawn, and Butch Walker. According to Spotify, those are my top artists I listen to.
A lot of people argue local scenes are dying. Whats your thoughts? If so what can we do to help keep it alive?
I hear that a lot too but I feel like I’ve always heard that in every city I’ve ever been to haha. I think there’s always gonna be kids picking up instruments and that always leads to a scene. It may not lead to the massive success of musicians in the past but that’s not why anyone starts playing anyway so it’ll always be alive and well. You don’t know about radio, touring, managers, money and all that when you start, you just wanna play with your friends. Kids will always wanna do that.
I think if you like something, go see it live and tell your friends. And then send it my way and I’ll play it on my show haha.
What are you currently working on? Any new music? New bands? Whats next?
Currently, Cavo is writing another record which I’m stoked about. We’re also gonna be playing some shows this summer.
I’m also playing drums with a couple other bands and artists for releases later this year. I try to stay busy. I get offered a lot of tours lately but it’s gonna take a lot to get me back out there with something new, to be honest. Baby steps. Haha.
How can the non-Nashvillians listen to your show each Sunday night?
You can stream the show online at www.1029thebuzz.com.
My mom tunes in weekly from Illinois actually, which is awesome. Haha.
I know you’re a busy guy so I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me here at Bearded Gentlemen Music!
I appreciate you taking the time to do this kinda stuff for musicians and people like this. You have a real passion for music that I’ve noticed since we met. In the aforementioned words of my friend, “you give a fuck” and that’s the difference dude.
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.