JIC MEDIA: Mr. Smilez Interviews Gary Wright!
By Josh Fox
Conducted on 13/Sep/2015; released on 24/Jan/2016.
Mr. Smilez: Hey everyone, what's up? Mr. Smilez here from JIC MEDIA, thank you so much for tuning in, and I'm here with a friend of mine from over the blue, Gary Wright! Go ahead and introduce yourself man.
Gary: Hi, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. My name is Gary Wright, I am 31-years-old and live in England, UK.
Mr. Smilez: Alright! So just to clarify. What is it that you do?
Gary: When people ask me what I do, I don't actually know what to tell them. I'm kind of an archivist, a promoter, a supporter, and above all a passionate fan of rock and metal from Iowa. Mainly Des Moines, but Iowa as a whole.
Mr. Smilez: Now that being said, how have the people been treated you with your support?
Gary: To be honest, when I got back into the scene around the start of this year, my main project was to create my website, THE NAMELESS PROJECT. The aim of this was to document all the bands from Slipknot's history. However, I started getting comments from musicians in non-related bands from Des Moines, and Iowa in general, wanting to know how they could get their band's name on it! I really never thought that things would get this big, but between that website and the other stuff that I do, I've had an incredible response. It's very humbling and a little scary at the same time, to know that people who I've never even met have kind of placed me on such a high pedestal.
Mr. Smilez: Yeah it sounds like it has a slight amount of responsibility to not let people down. Must get pretty overwhelming at times?
Gary: Yeah it can do. But, even though it's really just a 'hobby', I have a very high standard so even the simplest of tasks for me can take longer. I also thrive under pressure, so to have that kind of responsibility helps me to keep pushing and, ultimately, achieve more for these bands and musicians.
Mr. Smilez: You mentioned your support, and having love for Iowa Rock and Metal. Why is it Iowa specifically you're catering to?
Gary: I don't know how many times I've told this story. It all started with Slipknot. I got into them back in July 1999 after hearing 'Prosthetics' on a rock/metal magazine covermount CD. From then I was hooked. When the major side-projects such as Stone Sour and Murderdolls started to be emerge in the UK, around 2002/2003, it naturally shed light on the 'other' guys in the bands. I've always been someone who has an obsession with information, and through that I started looking into the other bands that the non-Slipknot guys had been in. All of a sudden you're knee-deep in the Des Moines rock and metal scene, looking at bands who aren't even connected to Slipknot anymore because you've gone in so far. What can I say? I just love the music. Whether it's soothing pop rock or brutal deathgrind, the bands that come out of Iowa just cater for something deep within me. And I just get a kick out of promoting and supporting what I love, especially when it means dealing with real people and the very passion and skill that they have in creating their music and associated art.
Mr. Smilez: So how long have you been officially working on 'THE NAMELESS PROJECT'?
Gary: I first made it available to the public back in February, but I had begun working on it around mid-December last year. I had it in mind to do for some time, but knew it would be a huge undertaking, thinking it would only ever be a dream. I was looking for something to get stuck into during the Christmas break, and I guess everything just clicked into place and it started.
Mr. Smilez: So seeing it explode and gain such a following in that short period must've been a little surprising?
Gary: Yeah it's certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster. It seems like it's all been going on much longer than what it has, probably because it has created so much work and I have kind of judged my time by it, to a point. Naturally, I tried to promote the site through my Facebook page in order to show it to the musicians that I was already friends with. And of course, at the start I was trying to acquire a lot of information and also get info confirmed as well. People just seemed to dig it right away, and although there have been similar efforts in the past, I think it's fair to say that nothing quite like my project has existed before... or there wouldn't have been such an apparent 'demand' for it.
Mr. Smilez: At the moment, how many bands do you think there are in Iowa?
Gary: I'd hate to put a number to it. There must be over 100 active bands just in Des Moines. That number is literally off the top of my head, I'm possibly way out.
Mr. Smilez: Just Rock/Metal or in general?
Gary: In general. I don't know too much about the other genres in Des Moines/Iowa but I know there are dozens of just punk/rock/metal bands.
Mr. Smilez: Ever supported or ever thought about supporting other genres in the Iowa local music? Or is it just rock/metal?
Gary: Yes. Although metal is my primary concern, rock being kind of secondary, I also support punk and alternative. I have some interest in rap/hip-hop/electronica/techno/etc, and depending on the style, I support that also. Basically, any genre is open to support as long as it has some connection to the initial goals of my project (although they are ever-expanding to be more inclusive), or it captures my attention. My rules for inclusion can appear quite complicated, but it allows me to pick and choose more effectively from the hundreds of acts out there.
Mr. Smilez: You said you're from the UK, what's the music scene like there?
Gary: The town where I live basically doesn't have a music scene. We get a band once a month come to the local bar, but that's usually just your average 3- or 4-piece pop/rock cover band. The city, about 25 miles away, is where it's at, but even then we're talking very modest. There's probably like a dozen or so rock/metal bands that have made a bit of a name for themselves. Don't take that amount as gospel, I'm sure if I really dug deeper there would be more. To be honest, I've never been into the local scene much, because for the past 10 or so years, off-and-on, my 'local' scene has been Des Moines... and that sets the standard so high that anything else seems to pale in comparison.
Mr. Smilez: So are you happy with what you are doing, and do you see yourself doing it for a career?
Gary: I am very happy with what I've done so far but now that I have so many fingers in so many pies, it's a constant struggle to know where to focus my attention on at any one time. Right now I guess I try to keep on top of everything without ever excelling at one particular thing... at least in my eyes. As far as a career goes, who knows? In basic terms, I have no education in any of what I do. I only have experience, which counts for some things. The hardest part, which I am slowly coming to realize, is that it is incredibly difficult to do what I do, from so far away. Regarding the more day-to-day tasks such as event promotion, I just don't get to see the real results of my efforts. Although I guess I am primarily freelance, I am also always on the lookout for established bodies to hook-up with to get my name and my work out there... not for any kind of 'fame' in my own right but so that the bands and musicians I work with get a wider audience. Of note, I recently became affiliates with Midwest Mayhem Promotions And Booking, based in Wisconsin, to do album reviews for them. So, honestly I don't know. Am I good enough to do this as a career? Only the good people that I serve can answer that.
Mr. Smilez: Alright, awesome man! Well I really appreciate you taking the time and I hope that we can talk again some soon! That was Gary Wright everyone, if you'd like to hear more from this guy check him out at his pages below, thank you so much for being with us today and I hope to see you all next time! You guys have a wonderful day, and just remember Smile I'm Watching - Smilez >:)
Check out some of Gary Wright's work on YouTube, Facebook, and many other Media Outlets!
THE NAMELESS PROJECT (Website)
Gary Wright (Facebook)
The Eye In Iowa (Facebook)
Gary Wright (@TheEyeInIowa) (Twitter)
Dark Ages (YouTube)
Midwest Mayhem (Website)