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Munsey Ricci – Head Of Skateboard Marketing

Date: 8/12/11
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Before starting Skateboard Marketing in 1991 you worked with Polygram Records. What was your job and who did you work with from hard rock and heavy metal music?

MUNSEY: Polygram at the time was a great label and one of the last major labels that didn’t have a metal department. And if you look at the model that Sony had which had Epic and Columbia, RCA, there was metal retail guy, radio, and publicist guy. And Polygram didn’t have any of that and they had Yngwie Malmsteen, Mortal Sin, Onslaught, Kiss, Scorpions, Def Leppard, Vinny Moore, Tony MacAlpine, and I started the first metal department for the label. And you know it was a big undertaking and had a lot to do because they didn’t have any infrastructure. I kinda had to create the department, do the mailing lists, the trades, piece it together and it took a few months...but once it was in place and the system was their it was easier to get things rolling because you had bigger budgets. Now today the budgets are so small sometimes they barely pay for pizza and beer sometimes. Back then there was airline tickets, you could fly radio guys around the country for meetings, the job was easier back then. Especially for the bands too, we signed a band like Company Of Wolves and they sold 50, 60,000 pieces a week and today a band does maybe 10,000, there’s a big difference in sales.

2. Why the name Skateboard Marketing?

MUNSEY: Well when the climate started to change a new president came in and started bringing in his own people. I was told to work indie, which was cool, and they gave me some records, like LA Guns, The Almighty, Mother Love Bone, so I started with that and I didn’t have a name for the company, I was calling it Ricci promotions, I didn’t know what to call us. So one day Chris Pane (in Reno) said “dude, why don’t I get on my skateboard take the Greyhound bus and head to NY, we’ll drink beer see Sepultura and think of a name for the company.” And I thought Skateboard Marketing Ltd, that’s pretty cool, I didn’t like Inc. So that’s where the name came from.

3. When Skateboard Marketing started out did you work with well known names?

MUNSEY: O yeah absolutely. Most of the bands that I worked with at the beginning were the Polygram bands, LA Guns, The Almighty, Slaughter, then Atlantic started working with us which is where we got Overkill, Savatage, and our staples are Overkill, Sabbath, Motorhead, Dio, Testament, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden but they didn’t use us on the last record which happens. We’ve done everything for Clutch. Our roster has become pretty large. We started with Priest in 94-95, Maiden in 1995, we did all the Bruce Dickinson solo stuff, all the (Rob) Halford solo stuff. So from 92-95 that was the time we were really securing the bigger bands. The whole purpose of building this company is every band needs radio promotion, a publicist, retail placement, you know. It’s part of the puzzle. And some of these bands were really cool, and the smaller independents had nowhere to go to help with exposure.

4. Did you have a hand in getting any of these bands on MTV?

MUNSEY: No, the video department of the label did that. Today Headbangers Ball, even though it’s also an online stream and relevant to me, I don’t care because MTV doesn’t do much music programming anymore. A fan can listen to a record and not like it, but maybe see the video and think it’s awesome and that may cause them to go out and buy the album, and at the end of the day that’s what its about creating a fan base. Even with a Black Sabbath who has been around forever and some kids don’t even know them, but the first time they see their video they are like mesmerized and then say "Oh, I gotta have that". It’s about bringing the band to the mass audience, creating that aura that something is here and its huge and everybody should be a part of it. And once you have that fanbase you put em on the road in front of a bunch of people. And this whole file sharing has really decimated the industry, still bands are getting exposure but its taking money out of a lot a lot of people’s pockets if the consumer doesn’t pay for it.

5. Since many of the I previously mentioned were already successful and had a large following, what was Skateboard’s involvement with the band? Did your company take the artist to another level of success?

MUNSEY: Your not gonna reinvent the wheel. You look at a band like Ronnie James Dio, you make sure the record is out on shelves, pull chart numbers, set up radio interviews, keep the artists name out there. We did some really cool things with Judas Priest, Maiden, I had Bruce Dickinson in the 90s do answering machine messages for like a hundred stations, and back then you couldn’t email much cause it took forever you had to put it on disc and mail it with a note. Cause now it doesn’t matter if it’s someone big like an Eddie Trunk or a guy at a college radio, here they got a message from Bruce Dickinson and its gonna want make them play the album even more.

6. Skateboard Marketing are one of the few promotional vehicles in America that supports the European bands like Blind Guardian, Angra, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Edguy, Grave Digger, Stratovarius. Tell us about how involved you are with the sounds coming over from Europe?

MUNSEY: I always had a lot of good strong working relationships in Europe with labels and management. Some of those bands had fan bases in North America but they were small, and without an office here in the US for those bands makes it hard to get the proper push and exposure. Those records sometimes are not easy to work, so sometimes you have to think out of the box to help promote them, like getting a gear or merchandise company involved, or holding a fan contest, and send it to radio. On the American side, I mean we worked with the first Nothingface record when they were an unsigned band and went out started playing festivals, did Ozzfest, and they built a strong following.

7. Speaking of European bands, you’ve had a long relationship with Doro Pesch. How did that start and where does it stand today?

MUNSEY: Doro was signed to Mercury/Polygram and we worked her first solo album after she left Warlock, and we were responsible for getting the Warlock album "Burning The Witches" and "Hellbound" released in America on disc. Just "True As Steel" and "Triumph and Agony" were available on CD. And her first solo album was produced by Gene Simmons from Kiss, and it did well on the metal charts. So after I left Polygram and started Skateboard Doro kinda by proxy became part of our radio promotion. I’ve had this long relationship/friendship with her for many years, its cool. She’s about to release the "25 Years Of Rock" DVD in America. I’ve see her in Europe three times where she plays to thousands of people and she’s great over there.

8. Do you listen to many of the bands you work with?

MUNSEY: Oh yeah I’m metalhead. I’m a big punk fan too; Dead Kennedys, The Exploited, hardcore; Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All. My favorite bands of all time are Overkill, Exodus, Motorhead, Death Angel. I like newer bands like Soilwork, Amorphis I can listen to “Tuonela” once a week even though its like ten years old. I always liked the European bands. Some of these newer bands that come along you get a couple decent tunes on an album but not almost a whole album that’s great.

9. Who are you currently working with?

MUNSEY: The new Sepultura "Kairos", Stream Of Passion from Napalm Records, setting up the new Chimaira and Kittie records, Bury Your Dead and I love them but there was not a clean tune on it, hahaha, and we finally got radio edits so now we can go to work.

10. The European bands really don’t have a major market radio station in America that plays that style of music. Do you have any radio stations you’re trying to work with to give these bands more airplay?

MUNSEY: In Europe there’s radio but not really, its crazy in the UK you have to have a license to have a TV. It’s a lot of satellite radio. Internet radio is fine but really it all comes down to touring, that’s how you get your name out there and create a fan base. And unfortunately for those European bands its expensive to tour between the work VISA’s, crew, backline, selling merchandise, its tough even if you do all the press and interviews, meet-and-greet that go with it before the tour even starts. Sometimes you have to buy onto a big tour with a bigger name in order to reach that bigger audience.

11. What names do you see are getting a growing fanbase in America?

MUNSEY: Leave’s Eyes I thought were slowly drawing bigger crowds, they started out playing to 40-50 people now they can play to a couple hundred. It just takes some time. A band like Arkona from Russia, they are on Napalm Records who have a lot of great bands, great band but it’s really hard for them to get a US tour. And it’s not a reflection on the music, they can draw maybe on a festival but not on their own. It’s really frustrating,

Official website: http://www.skateboardmarketing.com


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