When music journalist Joe Territo called up indie label head Matthew Kaufman
and tried to pitch him on releasing a CD of an interview the writer had
conducted with the late Jerry Garcia, Kaufman didn't at first get excited. "I
wasn't sure it was a product," said Kaufman, who runs the Beserkley and Son of
Beserkley labels. "But I was intrigued. So after thinking it over, I gave the
tape he left with me a listen. Halfway through I realized that the way Jerry
was dealing with Joe, Jerry could have been talking to any fan out there. Joe
was JQ Average Fan. I knew people would want to listen to it."
WIth Jerry Garcia was released this past November; Kaufman is now on his
fourth pressing. And he's now in the interview CD business. Kaufman plans on
releasing 10 to 12 interview disks this year. Talks with Oasis (Feb. 18), the
Smashing Pumpkins (Mar. 2) and Jim Morrison are on the way.
"I did some
research and found that there is an entire segment of people who buy rock books
because they want to know more about the artist," said Kaufman. "So what would
be more insightful than a well done interview? There hasn't been an Oasis
release in a while, so for the fanatic who wants to stay in touch, its the
perfect vehicle for them."
Although the idea of selling interviews with
artists seems obvious, Kaufman said that when he first ran it by others in the
music biz, they were not impressed. "I discussed this with several other
learned people in the biz including record company presidents and every one of
them had a reason why interview CDs weren't going to make it," said Kaufman.
"It was the same wisdom I got in the beginning when I started Beserkley with a
various artists package of unknown artists."
That album, Beserkley
Chartbusters, Vol. 1, released in the mid-'70s, was what got Beserkley, and
the career or Jonathan Richman, off the ground; "Roadrunner," one of the most
influential songs of the punk era, was included on that collection.
says the negative response he got this time around just inspired him. "They
were all laughing at me like I was an idiot," he said, starting to laugh.
"Yeah, great idea but no one wants to buy these things. In a sick way this
encouraged me even more. I knew I was on to something."