Welcome to the very first edition of Behind the Anchor, the new segment where Rise Above the Anchor writers interview one another to find out more about each other! This week, I interviewed Tim Morris, founder of Rise Above the Anchor, for the scoop on some very cool updates, the music he loves, and what the future holds for Rise Above the Anchor!
Where exactly did you get the idea to start Rise Above the Anchor?
Well, Tonie (co founder) and I have been doing music-based webzines for a few years now. We made a lot of progress with our first, Im A Stain Zine. We continued to improve with Introduce Yourself Zine, which was also co-ran with our good friend Bradley Dillon. We reached so many people and accomplished things that I thought were never possible. But, the time came where we wanted to hit a different approach, so most of the IYZ staff went separate ways. At first I was going to lay my zine days to rest, but decided to do something laid back with the strongest staff I could form. The main goal was and is to take my wide knowledge of PR and how to run a site to create a multi genre site that focuses on covering the underdog (unsigned bands and small indie labels) and still cover the bigger bands as well (but not the main focus).
How does RATA differ from IAS and IYZ?
RATA is much more professional and focused on the underdog. The site itself is 200 percent a step forward, all the way from the layout to the structure. I feel we also have the best staff that really give life to what is now RATA. I am so grateful for all of them. Lastly, we simply try to do it differently and strive for exclusives.
So your main goal with the construction of RATA was to create a community that really focused on supporting the unsigned and unknown musicians?
Yes, that and small labels. Make it the main focus, but still cover some bigger bands as well.
RATA has already had quite a bit of success with a large readership; what are your goals for the site both in the near future, and then even further down the line?
We have an app in the works, which will give you direct updates. It will be available on the Play store and ITunes/App store within the next month or so. I plan to make it free as well! Also we will have T-shirts for sale at cheap prices. The only purpose is to make just enough money to cover reprinting so we can continue to promote the site through shirts.
I would like for RATA to be a household name for online music resources all over the world. We are progressing at a fast pace. I have a lot of ideas and concepts of different ways to promote the site that you will see in the future. Some are secret for now. One day I would like to see RATA have an off branch label and PR firm.
You just organized a compilation for download- how did you go about getting it started, and will there be another in the future?
I did compilations before with the previous sites and so has our Assistant Editor, Trevor Ronde. I knew I wanted to do one before the site even launched on 5/10/13, so I talked to Trevor and he got over half the songs for the comp. I really have to give him a lot of credit; he has done so much and has so much passion for what we are doing at RATA. Lastly, Sergio, one of the best graphic guys I know, designed the album art. He actually designed a lot of the graphics on the site. There will be a Volume 2 closer to the fall.
What are some of the things you’ve learned throughout your time with various zines and sites that you believe will take RATA to new levels?
I have learned a lot and made a lot of great relationships with people in the music business. I feel I am insane at promotion, be it a show, a site or whatever. I really learned the do’s and don’ts the hard way and have a lot of experience under my belt now. Always support those who support you, always live up to your word, and don’t make promises you can not keep.
Do you believe that those values are what have allowed RATA to grow so quickly and attract so many amazing bands?
That and our staff. I chose very wisely. I really wanted a team that had their whole heart in this for the same reason and love of music. I seriously couldn’t be any happier with such devotion, professionalism, and abilities that all of our staff have. We are a family at RATA!
Indeed we are, Tim! Let’s go back for a few moments to the very start of your experience with music zines and websites. What made you originally want to run one? Had you had any experience writing for one before?
Well technically in 2005 I had a site for my solo project where I would post my music. On that site I started a section called Underground Music Articles where I posted interviews and reviews with local bands. In 2008, I met Nick Zimmer, who was running Tripod Of Thought zine. He taught me a lot, which got me started into journalism. It got to the point where I thought, “I want to do this. I want to make a difference.”
Have you reached the goals you set when you first started out writing? Have they evolved since then?
I have beyond reached my goals. I have made life lasting memories and friends I have never thought I would. I feel I have helped so many bands and gained a lot of respect. It’s my passion and my only goal is to continue to help bands and get music out there till the day I die. Some songs save lives and heal pain. If it wasn’t for a lot of bands, I don’t know what I have would have done sometimes when the stress became too much, hence the name Rise Above the Anchor. Rise above what holds you down. Always have faith and keep pushing forward, never lose hope. The name was inspired by lyrics from Evergreen Terrace and The Wonder Years.
Would you be interested in ever expanding to a podcast or another form of media that is not print, in addition to the site and Facebook page?
Actually, I have a radio show in the works. There will be more details to come on that. I did do one before for IYZ on www.sickworldradio.com. My dad was a radio DJ and use to let me go in the studio all the time and even run some shows from 11 PM to 12 AM. He died when I was 17. He still inspires me everyday. Also I have always had a fond love for radio because of my father.
I’m sorry to hear that. Now RATA has bands coming to us for interviews and reviews, but what did you do to find bands when you started out?
Honestly, in the very beginning I hit up bands I knew, searched FB pages, googled genres, contacted PR agencies. I quickly made a lot of contacts and continue to every day. This all started in the IASZ days.
You’re planning a huge festival soon! Tell me about that!
Not much I can share except that it will be in late April and have multiple stages. There will be an unsigned stage and a main stage. There is a contest on the RATA FB to co-headline and headline the unsigned stage for unsigned bands. The fest is called Rise Above and will be held yearly. There are a couple of bands announced (Kill Billy Jack, Omissions, The Rival Within) and more to come closer to winter. I do have some awesome things in the works that I’m stoked on, but cannot share yet. My goal is to make this a huge, and I mean huge show. The goal is for minimum 500 people.
What, in your opinion, makes RATA different than other sites? Why should people read our site?
I don’t see a lot of sites that focus on the underdog and multiple genres. We try to study what other sites do and do exclusives and editorials that impact the reader that no one else is doing. Hence what we are doing right now, the first of our new segment, Behind the Anchor.
For those that might be unsure, what will Behind the Anchor contain?
It will be a segment where you will get to know all of our writers and staff. A lot of them are involved in music in many ways and it gives you a better feel of who we are at RATA. It will also be linked under each staff member on the staff page.
So is one of RATA’s goals to make the site feel more personal?
Yes, of course. We truly care about all the bands we cover and our readers. We want them to know what we are about personally, so they can better understand us here at RATA. We are all about unity. On our site you can make your own log on and profile and interact and comment on every post.
So would you say RATA is a community where the editors and staff have a relationship with the readers?
Yes, very much so, and I think our readers would agree.
So reader input is always very welcome?
Always, feedback is always welcomed. We are open ears because it can only make us stronger. Without our readers we are really only a journal.
If you had to describe the site in 3 words, what would they be?
Underdog music community.
What styles of music are covered on RATA?
Any and all are covered on RATA. I personally have a fond love for country. I grew up on it. We will be implementing it more soon. Not to mention we have interviews with some hip-hop/urban artists coming up this week!
Where are you based out of, and who are some of the coolest local bands tearing it up in your area?
I’m out of Tampa, FL and there are so many great bands here. Hollow Fox, An Honest Year, Holly Maddux (Last show this month), Reveal Renew, From The Embrace, Arm The World, Hype, The Scurvy, He The Creator, Stealing Spines, Decisions, A(k)new… seriously, the list can go on and on. South FL has so much too: Nebraska Bricks, Us, Ghosts, Kill Billy Jack, Fero Lux and Omissions.
So what are your personal preferences for music, then? That seems like a very extensive list!
It really depends on my mood. But, I would say in genre order from most to least: Alternative, Hardcore, Pop Punk, Country and, believe it or not, lastly Metal. Those are all genres I listen too on a daily basis. Top 3 bands would be Nirvana, Evergreen Terrace and The Wonder Years
What is the best band you have ever seen in concert?
I have seen a lot of bands live and I mean a lot. I would have to say when I saw The Wonder Years for my first time at a tiny venue in Tampa, FL called Transitions in July 2010.
To you, what is the most important thing a band/musician can do when performing live to enhance the performance and make it truly memorable?
Stage presence and interaction with the crowd. My favorite part of a show is when a vocalist or even any member jumps into the crowd. It makes the show a lasting memory.
What was the first concert you ever saw? How have your musical tastes evolved since then?
The first concert I can remember was in 1992. My dad worked for Country 102.3 in Charlottesville, VA at the time. It was the yearly festival for the radio station. In 1992 Aaron Tippin headlined and became one of my favorite musicians as a child. I think that’s the point I fell in love with shows in general. My taste has obviously evolved a lot, but as I have stated before country will always have a place in my heart.
Thanks a lot for talking to me, Tim! If our readers are half as excited for the new things coming to Rise Above the Anchor as I am, then we are all in for a treat!
I have a few more things up my sleeves, so stay posted!