Indie Vision Music - 20 Years and Back Again (A Tale of Hope Amidst the Pain)

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Indie Vision Music
20 Years and Back Again
A Tale of Hope Amidst the Pain

I typed up another story but it was much too long for a casual read on the IVM website and geared more to a future book I hope to write someday.

This will be sort of a look back on my fondness for and how far I’ve come in just 20 short years.

Oh and for anyone interested, I am officially launching a 3 Volume set I am calling “The Greatest Hits You’ve Never Heard” via Bandcamp and on CD. Possibly Vinyl if I can make it happen. Click here for Bandcamp link.

So we begin…

[Read to bottom for a special “Gallery” of old art and flyers from Indie Vision Music history]

90’s – 2000: The Humble Beginnings

If you know my history, if you even have a clue of what I’ve been a part of since I was 17 years old, you’d know that my biggest passion besides family and faith, is MUSIC. I started off in this “industry” (if you can even call it that) at 17, booking shows in high school at my local youth group. First show ever was with One Bye One (later became Value Pac). I booked them several times between 1996 and 1997 and they became one of my favorite local staple next to Plankeye, Stavesacre, OC Supertones and hardcore like Focused and Unashamed. Great scene we had back in the day here in Orange County, CA.

But this was just the beginning of my journey and the content of such will be saved for later stories. Fast FWD 3 years after my experiences booking local shows at various clubs and venues, to the early winter of 2000.

After being out of the scene for a few years and settling into married life with child, I had got that itch for doing something musically, tied into my Faith that would somehow make an impact. After ordering merch from various stores and online hubs, I thought of an idea for selling EVERYTHING in one place. All underground Christian rock/music albums in ONE place with reasonable prices and free stuff. I absolutely loved ordering from distro stores and getting all the free gear with my order. I made it my mission to do something similar but for the Christian music scene.

I liked shopping from Tooth & Nail mail order, Revelation Records, Facedown Records, and all the others like Interpunk, various mail order, etc. One thing missing was getting it all in one place. I saw Slacker 66 which was Chad Johnson’s (Takehold/T&N/Come & Live) site and it really kind of pushed me in this direction. I think Slacker 66 was starting to slow down and shift more into the realm of record label with Takehold so I took Chad’s idea and ran with it! Not really, but it did give me some honestly great ideas for how to construct a functional online mail order webstore of getting everything in one place and showcasing great indie Christian bands( that no one had heard of). Sorry Chad, but thanks for all you have done to influence me over the years.

Giving it a steady thought for several weeks, I just knew what needed to be done. First step was getting money to make this dream a reality. I had some small savings and some stocks I had been watching rise during the dot com explosion. I sold some, and began work on this “indie” dream. Next step was settling on a name. I initially wanted Indie Empire or Indie Empire Music but a long time, personal friend of mine suggested “Indie Vision” and I was sold. It held significant meaning for me and what I set out to accomplish. The whole premise of Indie Vision Music was showcasing and shedding light on “Indie” talent which is short for “independent”. Independent Vision Music wouldn’t have sounded right and is too long for browser windows so a shortened version was best. The “vision” being the focus and sight on indie bands, specifically those with a vision for sharing the hope of Christ with those that have an ear to hear.

When I went shopping for a domain name, “indie vision” was taken. I tried .net but that too was gone. I didn’t want to confuse it with whatever company had the .com extension so I added “Music” to it and the rest is history.

I bought in May of 2000 through Network Solutions and got web hosting somewhere, not sure where (memory is fuzzy). I bought Microsoft Frontpage (sucky web design software back in the day that us noobs all tended to use, hey it was better than geocities right?) and began searching for shopping cart integration that would be safe and allow people to shop through my domain. I found a company called JustAddCommerce I believe that gave me the tools to build a functional web store and I used Frontpage along with some graphic help by other artists to integrate into this new site. It was super simple and a bit on the cheesy side but hey, what more could you ask for in year 2000.

After tweaking some web elements and getting some sort of a functional store in place, I was ready for launch. I picked July 4th as the perfect day to hit the switch and go LIVE. The date is significant because it symbolizes freedom through independence. Indie Vision Music -> Independence Day, yep like peanut butter and jelly. That first day was like crickets. I had some ads in various magazines like HM and a few online ads but the orders didn’t flow in like I had wanted. Regardless, it was all in good fun. I got what I wanted which was my own website, selling my own titles that I bought and paid for. It was the perfect scenario. In fact, I think it was more self-serving than reaching out to any sort of audience.

That first year was tumultuous. I was working for my Dad’s shop and trying to maintain a website during my break/lunch hours and field questions all without a mobile phone. I don’t even think I got my first cell phone yet by 2000. It was a strange time period. I bought a boat load of CDs back in the day to sell in the IVM store. I had stuff from all the labels like T&N, Solid State, Screaming Giant, Bettie Rocket, Facedown, Takehold, and more. Plus all the indies. I tried to keep prices as reasonable I could, only marking up each album a few bucks from what I bought them for. I didn’t do consignment on the majority of stuff I bought, it was all upfront purchases. As you can imagine, that first initial “investment” was slowly drying up and I was buying more than I was taking in. Once you factor in all the fees, shipping and handling costs, maintenance costs, etc, this was a sinking ship. But I made it work somehow.

2001: Going Live and Taking Names

I ventured back into the live concert arena (again) heading into 2001. It was a strange place at that time. So many shows happening every weekend in every club and Church on the corner. Over saturation of live music. When I wanted to put on shows at my local Church or Chain Reaction I had just been out of it so long that I forgot how to market and hype a concert. This was the dawning of the internet age and not everyone got excited over a flyer like the old days. No matter how many times I went to local record shops to drop off flyers, it didn’t matter. That first set of shows in 2001 at Calvary Chapel San Juan was somewhat disappointing to me. I had like 3-4 bands playing every week for one month. We wanted to use it as an avenue to get kids talking about Faith and share with them on an evangelistic level but I think those days were waning. I had a mix of artists everything from underground indies all the way up to T&N, Screaming Giant, Rescue Records, Bettie Rocket, and Rock City Recordings etc bands. I even talked my Church into flying out Sagoh 24/7 from Florida because I thought they had a really great sound and could ultimately attract a whole new crowd of fan out here. Stephen and the gang were great people, great musicians. I still remember picking them up at the airport and them being super impressed with Southern California (South Orange County in particular). There was more energy and punk rock spirit with Sagoh than with the future Anberlin ensemble. I loved watching this intense band perform for a crowd of like 50. It was weird but I loved it. Even Dogwood got a small crowd although it grew by the time they took the stage. There were other bands that played my nights like Flight 180, Nifty Tom Fifty, Too Bad Eugene, Watashi Wa, Broken Cedars, Dismissed, EDL, and so on. It was fun and exhilarating but ultimately, another let down in my heart.

For some reason, I felt as if I couldn’t achieve greatness and reach that level of success like so many others had. I had a good family, I loved my wife and son, did what I was supposed to do but somehow I just couldn’t make IVM into the behemoth it should have been. This is the early part of the dot com explosion right before 9/11 and the crash. The idea that a .com indie music website couldn’t have made a go of it and become bigger than it was just baffled me (still does).

2001: The Day That Changed the World Forever

When 9/11 hit it literally shook us all to our core. I felt an immense amount of sadness on that day, an overwhelming sense of grief and dismay of how a few could have so much hate in their hearts that they would kill thousands. It was a strange time period and I often wondered how I could even keep going under those circumstances. How can I sell product, CDs, when so many people just perished and the country in upheaval? There were a few weeks where I literally stopped selling stuff and put up a link to donate to Red Cross in place of ordering. I felt it more important to help those around us than selling a cheap piece of plastic. So much pain and disbelief that September but there was a light, a light of hope that shined so bright and people came together despite differences. I remember heading out into the street of our neighborhood with all the neighbors for a candle light vigil. It was a beautiful occasion and one I’ll never forget. Before all the bitterness set back in. I was moved to tears by the songs of P.O.D which coincidentally came out on 9/11, their “Satellite” album. There were a ton of great albums that year including Dogwood “Matt Aragon”. I remember after 9/11 (I believe it came out a few weeks later), just spinning the heck out of that album. “Do Or Die” has a special connection for me as it brought me to tears during a truly horrific time and gave me hope like never before. Five Iron Frenzy “Electric Boogaloo 2” was THE album that made 2001 so much greater. So much good music and Jimmy Eat World “Bleed American” also dropped September of that year and still ranks as one of my all time favorites.

I let my family down. I literally took time away from spending with my young wife and 6 year old son to spend all nighters on the computer, updating the site, adding new product, checking on orders, fulfilling orders, and packaging, packaging, packaging. It just never ended. I worked all day and did IVM at night. There were several nights I stayed up till 2 or 3am just doing IVM work. It was crazy. I think I had a lot more energy in those days than I obviously do now. There is no way I could do now what I did back then.

2002-2003: Can I Be Your Biggest Fan?

Heading into 2002 and 2003 seems like a blur. The early part of Indie Vision Music is all meshed together at this point. During those early years I connected with Scott Silletta of Plankeye/Fanmail/The Franchise and tried to help with Vanishing Point Records, his new label. I brought him Dismissed. I spent a lot of time at his home studio with the band and getting those guys to work together on a couple of songs. They were just out of high school and super inexperienced. Still, he worked with them and tried to help refine their sound. Some tears of frustration were probably experienced from all sides at that point. I went to local shows, hung out with Scott and the guys in Dismissed. I believe they even played some label showcase like events. Eventually, after they recorded a 2 song demo with 1 song that went on to appear on my T&N compilation, “I’m Your Biggest Fan 2”, the band was let go from Vanishing Point Records. Probably a good move as that label didn’t have the legs at the time to stand upright and keep pushing along. Scott is an extremely talented guy and I dug his voice as well as production talents but Vanishing Point was a sinking ship just like IVM probably was.

Oh and before I cover ground with I’m Your Biggest Fan 2 and the future of IVM Label, I just have to point out that I didn’t always have the best experiences in those days with people. I still remember the singer of Off The Record who were recording at Scott’s Studio at same time as Dismissed and he was definitely a jerk. I got the vibe of a too cool for school jock-skater who obviously walked into a room like he owned it. I had some jokes thrown in my direction which at the time I laughed off but now would probably look at him and say “screw you” then menace him with my size. Funny thing is I could knock guys like that to the ground but that’s not very “Christian” thing to do, am I right?. Bitter? Maybe. More confident now? Yes, definitely. I forgive you and Scott for laughing at my expense and you know what, who cares, honestly. I’m still standing….

In 2001 or beginning of 2002, whichever came first, I got the idea to put together a compilation for Tooth & Nail. I loved I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 1 and wanted to do a sequel of sorts but with all different bands and style more current with an updated time period. Still underground, independent bands and a few future T&N signees. I was talking to people at T&N like Chad Johnson and Roy I believe because I was buying their albums direct for the store. I had a relationship with them that opened the door to pitch my idea. I kept asking about doing I’m Your Biggest Fan 2 and eventually they listened. I got put in touch with Brandon Ebel. I remember having to sit on a call with an assistant who prepped me and then put me in touch with Mr. Ebel. I’m like ok, big shot but seriously, he was! I was obsessed with all things the Nail from high school till the time of starting Indie Vision Music. It really is kind of the inspiration for starting this site, label, whatever you want to call what I do. I think if they hadn’t paved the way for all of us Christians to take a stand with music that didn’t suck, there may have never been an IVM and I would have been spending every day machining parts and being an old dad.

So once I had the opportunity to speak with Brandon, I pitched my idea. I told him I would put the whole thing together, compile and arrange the songs, speak to the bands, etc. All I would want in return is a bunch of CDs, and the ability to put a link to my website in the artwork. They mastered it and created all the artwork/packaging. So I set out to find some of my favorite bands at the time and talk them all into recording new songs just for this project. I found small indies and a few names that some people may have recalled. I had some minor hiccups with a couple bands who didn’t like the contract from T&N for the compilation and backed out, some bands that couldn’t record in time, and other issues. You have to realize the time period of 2001/2002 and see that certain styles were prevalent back then. This was the time of punk/emo/screamo/metalcore,etc. I picked out bands that reflected that diverse landscape. Oh and I kind of got talked into Makeshift3. I think I booked them for a show I did and one thing let to another with Eric pushing his band as the next big thing, bigger than Blink-182 (eye roll). I wont trash them here, they can handle that on their own.

Anyway, I compiled this compilation. I literally took 20 songs from 20 bands and put each track on a CD. Then I stuck each CD into one of those CD traveling books and put all in a box along with lyrics and production info then sent it up to T&N. It was so weird, and I was obsessively devoted to this project, so I tried to do everything right. They received it, asked some questions then went right to work. It was released a few months later and I believe I was the one who did most of the hype. I think T&N entered it into distribution and sent out one sheets to stores/magazines. I got 200 Free CDs and my site address in the liner notes (they forgot the .com but who cares, right?). It was like good promotion for what I was doing, and I didn’t have to spend a dime.

I am not sure the final sales numbers but I guarantee it was below 10,000 CDs sold. Some people dug it, some not so much. If you go back and listen to songs from artists like The Culprits, Names Without Numbers, Vroom, Buddy Ruckus, Slow Coming Day, Three For Flinching, Too Bad Eugene, Dismissed, Name Taken, Farewell to Fashion, Beauty to Ashes, even Dogwood and The Sunny Test, you can tell this was a diverse line up. Oh, and did I tell you that I put the first ever recorded Anberlin song on this? Anberlin, Sagoh, and Indie Vision Music, a story for other occasion. I’ll keep it short. I loved Sagoh 24/7, I loved those guys as bandmates, musicians, and Christians. We talked about their prior label Rescue and how dissatisfied they were in them. They didn’t like their band name, etc. It was time for something new. After they played my little small-town show, they went back to Florida and regrouped. They told me they were changing their name to Amberlin which then became Anberlin because of some questionable model/star with that first name. They had lost a couple founding members of Sagoh and just felt it was time to start anew with a different sound. Less punk rock and more straightforward emo-pop-rock. It was a style that definitely worked out and made me an instant fan. Back when they were still Sagoh I was emailing Brandon Ebel when he actually let me do it (email addresses changed not long after). I tossed him band ideas and tried to work my magic on getting him to look at this Florida band. I got responses with sales numbers from Rescue and how that wouldn’t work out for them. I laughed and moved on. I kept pitching him the band and when Anberlin came out I still remember tossing their name in the mix too. That’s ok though, Chad can take credit. Kidding of course.

Side note, I did pitch Too Bad Eugene, Watashi Wa, Slow Coming Day, etc. I told Mr. Ebel that those bands were all interested. Some he talked to already and others he was surprised were interested. I think it worked out in the end but most of those ended up on T&N. I think he even went after some other Biggest Fan 2 bands because it was a clause in the contract. I believe Buddy Ruckus was signed for a short period and they chased Name Taken at one point.

2003-2004: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning

So with Anberlin on Biggest Fan 2 and the compilation cemented permanently in the realm of Christian underground music as a widely distributed release with the Indie Vision Music name, I set out to carry forward with some new ideas. I had followed some local bands like Dismissed, Second Chance, Next in Line, etc. Dismissed and Next in Line were both on Biggest Fan 2. One warm, sunny day here in Southern California, the band gave to me their debut full length that they did on their own at Love Juice Labs. I checked it out and loaded it in my trusty car cd player. I loved it. I instantly got this idea to spin off Indie Vision Music into some sort of independent label based up on that first spin. I loved Dismissed and had a special place in my heart for those guys. Lead singer and guitarist Dave Arthur was actually a member of our Church with his family. His Dad at the time was worship leader at the small Church we attended. I connected with them on a personal level and when the band self-released their first album without a label home, I knew I had to act. What was I thinking……

I borrowed some more money and financed this new label outing. Got some new logos designed and a website created by the team at Web X Design. I told Dismissed I would release this debut and printed a bunch of CDs. I took out ads in mags like Alt Press, Heckler, Skratch, HM, etc. and did some online banner ads too. I honestly thought my website was going to sell it all and I was going to have this huge label that would compete with the big boys. I was wrong.

At one point I had a distributor. I connected with them and at 23 years old, trusted completely. I signed a contract and everything. I was so dumb. They took hundreds of CDs, almost everything I had. This was the first design with red/pink/blue layout before I screwed it up with a remaster and new art. Anyway, this distributor screwed me and closed up shop with my CDs just disappearing into store bargain bins. Thankfully almost a year later, Northern Records took over and somehow gave me a check for what did actually sell. But then I received back all the CDs that didn’t sell of that first version and I still have them. It was an honorable thing to do and they really brightened my mood.

Between the months of March 2003 and fall 2003, I got the wild idea to sign more bands. I couldn’t just wait to see how well Dismissed would do or see if this whole label thing was successful, nope I had to act now because I want the whole world, now. Just like in Willy Wonka! So I “signed” Next in Line and Forgotten Arrival. I used an old contract that Jason at Facedown Records gave me to use. I don’t even think I read through the whole thing. I just trusted and thought it made it more official. I didn’t have a lawyer or any legal counsel, I still don’t. If I could do a handshake with the bands, I would. It’s not like I can just get up and walk out and take all their music with me. Oh wait, I think that’s Red Cord right?

Second Chance played a ton in Southern California. They changed their name at my request because we all know there were a million bands with that name around the marketplace. I didn’t want to deal with having to name change later on (like Josiah). So, Second Chance became Forgotten Arrival. I was even at a meeting at one of their band member’s homes to brainstorm names. It was weird. Once they settled on a name and played a few shows, they headed to Love Juice Labs where I tossed my money at the studio for them to record their full length. That in and of itself was a super awkward experience. The band members sort of hated each other, some of them. Drummer expressed he wasn’t a believer anymore, and the guys wouldn’t stop fighting. How they ever made it through a full recording blew my mind. The songs were odd too. It was like New Found Glory, Thrice, and Blink-182 joining forces with Coheed and a prog band to make these long, super involved pop-punk songs with a certain heaviness and unforgettable memories. I dig Travis and he meant well, his future band A Bright Sky had a ton of potential, but these guys needed a big budget studio and producer who could fine tune some of their skills. I didn’t have that kind of budget, never have. They could also have used more live shows to hone their craft. I think some counseling would have helped too! I do like the Forgotten Arrival album and there are some gems that are certainly memorable, but I just didn’t care for that album recording, release experience. The band lost 2 important members/song writers after this release. They carried on with some new members and wrote the song “Tear Soaked Dreams” which was their final IVM recorded song on Hearts Bleed Passion Vol. 1 in 2004. Web X Design did all the artwork for this release as well as the albums for Next In Line, Hearts Bleed Passion 1, and Pennylane. Hey, I guess I had extra money from the money tree in my back yard so I just threw it at everything .

Next in Line was a favorite of mine. I loved Anthony’s voice and songwriting. “Traffic” was released around same time as Forgotten Arrival and they both couldn’t be more different from each other. Next in Line was more subdued rock with punk sensibilities akin to Sugarcult, LIT, Smashmouth, Third Eye Blind, and Face to Face while Forgotten Arrival was more in line with New Found Glory, Blink-182, and Thrice (old Thrice). Masaki even helped produce “Traffic” and if you know who he is, has worked with some great names in Christian rock music. He also played in Dime Store Prophets. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to showcase a band many people hadn’t heard of.

Somehow with Dismissed thrown in, all 3 worked out in my mind as a diverse cast of characters and something that would be huge for IVM. I didn’t know who my audience was.

I signed Josiah, Pennylane, and Joey’s Loss in late 2003 even though the first 3 releases didn’t exactly make a tremendous impact of any kind. I just kept funneling in personal money to keep it all afloat. I loved all these bands on a personal level. Josiah was metalcore which I first heard off a demo cd mailed to me at my PO Box at the time. I was awe struck and had to reach out and work with them. The lyrics were straight forward, spirit filled hard(metal) core with a twist in that the vocals were the heaviest thing since ZAO and Haste The Day had first graced my ears. Super raw and ear-piercing heaviness. That first CD was great although Josh’s vocals came off a little indecipherable and probably due to production. It was a bummer because the full album was really great quality.

Pennylane also was discovered off a self released CD they put out and a friend passed to me at Chain Reaction one night. I loved everything associated with Kauai, Hawaii because my family had a condo on the island since late 90’s and it had always been my favorite spot to visit since I was little. I had been to a show on the island during one of our vacations with Dogwood, some locals, and Longshot808 which was pre-Pennylane pop-punk band. So good! Anyway, when I found out that a few Longshot guys started a new band by the name of Pennylane, I was on board day one. After checking out that CD from Chain Reaction, I fell in love with their music and style. For the time period it was everything perfect style wise that would have them fitting in between Acceptance, Emery, Anberlin, Further Seems Forever, and other bands of that caliber but with a distinct difference in the screaming vocals as well as a couple longer tracks time wise. Riverside Waiting was over 6min! I was so excited about signing them and working with the band on a re-release of that CD I heard. I had asked them if there was anything new we could add to the CD to make it more appealing for their fans. They came up with 3 LIVE tracks and an enhanced CD which gave listeners access to the band information and music videos. Enhanced CDs are a thing of the past but for that time, it was pretty cool. Graphic wise, I was disappointed with the CD layout. I asked for beachy, island feel but with an emo/alternative like take and was left with something on the other side of the country, like an Atlantic Caribbean style beach scene. If I could re-do it I would have but instead I pressed forward with my manic side taking root and running before walking.

Joey’s Loss was the last band signed and the last full length release by an artist on IVM until 2007. This band had a special place in my heart. I had followed them since the beginning of IVM and heard their songs on multiple compilations at the time. I had their final full length before signing with IVM and loved it. That was what got me interested in working with them (you can find it on IVM Bandcamp if you want to listen). “Unwelcome Travelers and Other Brave Men” was the new full length featuring a couple songs from the last full length, newly recorded and with a bunch of other incredible songs. It released in June of 2004 and marked the end of Indie Vision Music (for a while). This band is why I have I have continued hyping their music over the years. A couple former members went on to The Hotshot Freight Train, and now Small Wars. You see?

After 6 bands signed and 7 total releases on CD from 2003 to 2004, I was overwhelmed, broke, depressed, and let down. My manic mind just took on too many projects and as a one man show, I just couldn’t make it happen. They were all “indie” bands without much of an audience outside of their respective towns. It was one big massive failure but as I would learn in the years to come, I wouldn’t let my own failures disappoint or disrupt me from the goal of following one path.

I closed down Indie Vision Music later that summer of 2004. I tried releasing CDs and couldn’t sell very many. Heck, I ended up donating almost all the CDs to a “Tunes4theTroops” charity after IVM came to a close. I tried a “tour” at one point. Even having bought the domain to indievisiontourdotcom or something like that. Failed. I think the young guy booking the tour tried and it didn’t work out then he quit on me. Another let down. I had also pitched the IVM bands to Tooth & Nail Records during that final year and got a little interest in Dismissed especially after that 4 song EP they released but it all just fell apart. I felt like an enormous failure and knew IVM had run it’s course. Finally I just got idea to quit, thrown in the towel, and call it a day. I couldn’t make it happen. I disappointed nearly everyone including myself. I hated myself for letting down these great bands, the few fans we had, and my own family. It was embarrassing and a huge hit to my confidence. This wasn’t the end…

2004-2006: From Sales of Plastic to Words of the Web

Somehow between the summer months of 2004 and end of year, I got the itch to continue on but not as a label or store. I wanted to do something different. I had been visiting Christian music news sites, indie sites, punk sites, you name it and I noticed that none had everything relating to the Chrisitian underground music scene in one place. Much like I did with the little-known Indie Vision Music store, I wanted to bring to an underground music magazine website. Well guess what? I did. I got a web designer who came from Christianpunkdotnet, David McDonald and he transformed the dead Indie Vision label site into something appealing. We launched the Indie Vision Music webzine on February 14th 2005. It was the relaunch of Indie Vision Music with a whole new focus. “Faith and Entertainment With an Independent Perspective” was my new tagline for the site that I dreamt up. I created news, reviews, interviews, and content on my own. Slowly I started adding in “staff” that helped keep the content current. I remember that first year or so having all these “Free Downloads” and even a little radio player. I was big on giving stuff away free, spreading awareness about bands that wouldn’t necessarily have an audience on their own. I forget the platform that IVM was built on that first year but it wasn’t wordpress yet.

In 2006, David rebuilt the site to make it more user friendly and easy for me to update on my own. He build it off wordpress. Most of the content from 2005 was lost because we couldn’t’ t easily import it. There were some questionable articles I wrote, I slammed Relient K with the release of “Mhmm” through a review which was the dumbest thing I ever did because that album actually rules now. I made a lot of mistakes early on and opened my big fat mouth through the very fingers typing this article now. I let my ego get in the way.

In 2006 we relaunched IVM with wordpress platform and then David McDonald said he was moving on to bigger and better things in his life. David Hopper joined not long after, helping me with taking the wordpress driven site in another direction. That was the “Black” design from 06/07. I loved it even if it was a little tough on the eyes. Emo, Black site, and indie culture collided through Indie Vision Music during that time.

This was all around the time that my pal Josh Murphy joined. He became unofficial manager under me for the site and brand. Josh contributed so much back during those early years and on for about 8 years until the fall of IVM the second time. Josh wrote reviews, did interviews, made suggestions and guided my decision making during that time period. Josh is the one who brought on David Hopper as the guy who would offer so much design talent to what I was doing.

David Hopper continued working with me until he too had to leave. I guess I had that affect on people. The cycle soon repeated.

2007: My Epic Age, Quick, and You’re Dead!

Somehow during this crazy time period I wanted to help out a couple of bands and release CDs again. Why? My question exactly. I loved Quick and The Dead since the day the Anthym guys shared their music with me a few years prior and I was their number one fan. I sorta signed them and released their debut IVM full length at Cornerstone California in 2007. Shane Gould is a prolific songwriter and not only wrote a whole bunch of Quick and the Dead songs but did a Mendelson side project and has gone on to work with other bands including his new one, The Animal In Me. “Going Home” was the very first IVM album to ever enter digital distribution through Smart Punk which they still seem to claim even through I stopped working with them years ago. Hmmmm.

My Epic was the 2nd band I signed and wanted to work with so bad. I had kept in touch with them since the very early days of their formation then when they released “This is Rescue”, I knew they had to be an IVM band right away. I reached out to Aaron Stone and we talked on the phone for a bit with all my “big” ideas (sorry Aaron for letting you down) that I didn’t follow through on. Their album was going to be the next full length to come out after Hearts Bleed Passion Vol. 3. After Quick and the Dead and Hearts Bleed Passion 2 & 3, again, the label side came to a close.

I let My Epic go and you know what, it was the best decision I ever made. Had they actually released a full length on IVM and gone nowhere then I told them I was quitting, it would have been heart breaking. Instead, I reached out to Jason Dunn at Facedown Records and begged him to sign this great band by the name of My Epic that I was about to work with. He was so gracious and ended up reaching out to them. They signed with Dreamt Music (Facedown sub label) not long after and put out their debut full length. Honestly, it was like all the stars aligned and the seas parted. Serious! I am so happy they and Facedown have continued working together this many years later, continuing to churn out thought provoking, spiritual music that inspires.

I quietly backed out of the label game again but kept the site rolling strong. I pretty much just told Quick and the Dead and My Epic that I wasn’t doing any more label stuff and quit printing CDs. My last show was in 2007 and it was a “Hearts Bleed Passion Vol. 2” shin dig. I would say 20 people were there. All Indie bands with Kings To You (Ex-Dismissed) as headliners. I didn’t promote it very well. This was at Josh Auer’s (Pax 217/OC Supertones) club/church and had great sound. I think I even had an Indie Vision Music table but was too embarrassed to stand at it all night (sorry wifey). I remember feeling so disappointed that I even failed to connect with Josh Auer that night. Like all good IVM stories, the feeling of disappointment ran deep. Sorry bands, Brandon let you down.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been told NO over the years. I can’t even count the number of times my ideas had been met with a shocking “no”. For every “yes”, I had already been turned down 10 times prior. This is a lesson in perseverance and endurance.

2009: The Dawn of Another New Beginning

This brings us to the major redesign of Indie Vision Music in 2009 by Nate Dunn. It was a beautiful looking site full of so much content you could explode. After a few tweaks, Nate said he was leaving. I may have made him angry and that was my fault entirely. I regret any poor communication on my part leading to the departure of staff members over the years. It’s hard to convey everything through emails and messages. Plus I am a little manic sometimes and fingers type out gibberish before I really think it over.

After Nate left a wonderful gentleman named Miika “Fusse” Korppi from Finland came aboard and rocked the boat big time. He completely transformed the look of the Indie Vision Music webzine. Everything from past content, news, reviews, interviews, and all the little touches he added just revitalized Indie Vision Music. People finally began to notice the site and I really feel that IVM made an impact at long last.

Over the coming years Fusse would make tweaks here and there, further emphasizing the great qualities about Indie Vision Music and the publishing world that was beginning to shift online. Mobile devices were starting to make a serious impact and transforming the environment. MySpace had died, Facebook was taking over and other social media like Twitter and Instagram were on the rise. It was our time.

I made some mistakes during this time, I do have to admit. For some reason I trashed bands like Family Force 5 and And Then There Were None, among a few other indies. Some band on Victory of young kids that were all about Crabcore, I slammed. Speaking of Crabcore, I wasn’t very nice to Attack Attack. Let’s not even bring up Hundredth. Awesome band at the time but I think I ticked off Chad and chased him away with my attitude. I treated some bands as gimmicks and didn’t fully appreciate their music contributions. I started getting all self-righteous, ripping apart artists who didn’t hold my point of view. Artists drifting apart from the Faith I held dear and not necessarily sharing an evangelistic message was reason enough for me to criticize. All I can say now is that I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart. Family Force 5 made some great songs and I was wrong to insult their craft. The beef I created was unfair and a complete disrespect to who they were as artists. I’m sorry. I am sorry to Relient K as well for ripping apart their early albums and insulting them as musicians. Mhmm and 5 Score… are 2 of my favorite albums now and I love those guys for the catchy music they create. I’ve learned my lesson and tend to be less confrontational at 42 than I was at 22 and 32. I’m over it.

2010-2014: Tragedy, Recovery, and Enlightenment

Reaching into the last decade was met with tragedy, heartbreak, and so much confusion. My wife had a hard pregnancy and I nearly lost her during Child birth. It was something that scared the crap out of me and gave me more reason to trust God each and every step of my journey. She gave birth to beautiful twins in January of 2010. We fought hard for those babies. We had experienced infertility issues since a few years after we got married in 1998. I had been a Dad to the child my wife delivered as a teen mom in 1995 the moment we got married in 98’. He wasn’t my blood but that didn’t stop me from loving my son. I adopted him eventually in 2005 when he was 10. Brayden is the most handsome, mature, and good natured 24 year old you’d ever meet. He has had hardship and a rough go in different parts of his life but he truly is a mature, loving human being. My wife and I tried to have more children for many years. We finally almost gave up and turned to God for guidance. We just trusted in him and whatever happened, we would follow. We did finally decide upon InVitro in 2008/09 after A.I. didn’t work out for us. My wife endured constant injections, painful surgery to laser out endometriosis, and finally the InVitro procedure. We were so lucky and thankful that on the very first trial of implanting our embryos, it worked. 8 months later she would give birth (1 month early) to twins.

My loving wife is a great mother and loving daughter. We raised our children right until they were 4 and experienced their mother having the most tragic event that one could possibly endure…

We had just returned from a relaxing week spent in the mountains (Mammoth Lakes) where we fished, hiked, and spent time together with my in laws as a family. My wife had been complaining of headaches that whole time but they would come and go. She was in obvious pain on that long car trip home from Mammoth to Orange County but I just thought it was normal and had her take some advil for the pain. I believe we returned on a Friday and by Sunday, my wife was laying in the bathroom on the floor nearly unresponsive. It was a day that would completely change my life forever.

August 3rd 2014 my wife suffered a traumatic and life altering Stroke (Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis) which changed her life as well as all of us in the family. She had started to improve for a few days then on August 6th that year I received the news I had been fearing, she had a rebleed and required emergency surgery to her brain. At 6am I received the news and raced to the hospital where I discussed things like living wills and directives for her life since I am the husband. I was like, what the heck? I wasn’t ready to let her go at 35 years old. She went in for surgery at around 12pm that day after the brain surgeon moved another surgery off his schedule to work on her. I said I loved her and wished her well upon my goodbyes. She was a little incoherent and couldn’t really understand me but I kissed her said I would be here after she woke up. We all prayed in the waiting room and sobbed uncontrollably during that whole time. I love my wife and the thought of being alone in my 30’s with 3 kids just terrified me.

After several hours we got word that the surgery was completed and was a success. Now we just waited for her to wake up and begin the next chapter.

My wife began this next stage without a huge portion of her skull. They literally removed the section of skull and sowed the scalp over. She always had to wear a helmet and her speech was limited due to Aphasia. She had Global Aphasia which led to a confusion in her speech and mistaken words. We all had different names to her and she had funny references to other things, objects. We could not help but feel a little humor during this dark and bleak timeframe.

After a month in the hospital she was finally able to go home. I began taking her to a brain rehab place in Orange, CA. about 5 days a week. It was on the way to work which was a crazy coincidence. A lot of coincidences happened with her miraculous recovery, so much so that it reinforced my Faith in God. She started to improve in her speech and physical strength over the months to come. She still had to wear her helmet and couldn’t drive. In November of 2014 she had her skull piece reattached in a cranioplasty by the same brain surgeon. After it was done, she was happy to not wear her helmet (she was adamant about not wearing that dumb thing).

My wife became a pill machine and had so much medication to take those first few months. She was on blood thinners which required visits to a special dr like every day then every other day. I was attending dr meetings like almost every day of the week for several weeks-months. She was on a heavy dose of anti-seizure medication which has been the consistent go to for years now.

Since the stroke and the years that have followed, there has been significant changes as well as improvements. She has unfortunately experienced several tonic-clonic seizures as well as more mild ones over the past 6 years. It always happens at a certain time of the month. Her seizure medication works like a miracle as long as she stays on the consistent dose. She got her driver’s license back in 2016 which was a considerable achievement and one we were all so proud of her for doing.

You don’t understand the amount of love in your heart for a single human being until you’ve spent every waking moment next to their side. When their absence becomes apparent you can’t help but experience grief and a deep longing in your heart for their return. When she experienced that stroke and we all went through what we did, it changed me as a person. I can literally say I am so much more different now than I was pre-August 2014. This is all why I chose to end IVM in 2015. I needed more time with my wife especially after she experienced some seizures that year. I just needed breathing room and time to recollect my thoughts. Everything came at a head that year and it was time to say goodbye. The dream felt “dead” for the most part and I was kissing a fond farewell.

2015-2016: Digging Graves, Burying Lost Dreams, and Making Indie Vision Music Great Again

Yes, I did try to sell Indie Vision Music. I tried hard and couldn’t find a buyer. I dropped the price and still no one wanted to move forward on buying it. I couldn’t give this domain and site away for free. There was no way to put a $0 price on something I had poured countless amount of dollars, time, blood, sweat and tears into for 15 years. So after a while I just gave up and held on to the domain name, leaving up old content for a while.

After it was apparent that my wife began to significantly improve and things were looking up on the job side of things (hey I have to work too to pay the bills), I started pondering the idea of re-launching Indie Vision Music as a webzine again. I just wanted an outlet to put my thoughts down and share some good music again. Kind of like a blog presented in website format. Sites like this one are still really limited besides the good ol’ boys like JFH, CCM, NRT, PunkNews, Alt Press, and ChorusFM (AbsolutePunk). Even some new sites like DyingScene had come about in recent years with some great content. So anyway, I just wanted to get back at it and offer inspiring content to influence others. A platform for indie bands to get their message across when they might not be treated the same by other similar sites. IVM always served as a particularly odd platform, one where you could be Christian but at the same time create music unlike others in the Christian marketplace. The site wasn’t and still isn’t concerned about chart topping radio numbers, just good music that we (staff) enjoy and hope that by sharing, you will too.

I approached Charles at First Platoon about a paid graphic job to create the new Indie Vision Music logo and he set out with some ideas. At first I had pitched doing the IVM site but with thousands I didn’t have, I just passed. I stuck with the logo branding and went with it. In 2016 I was super stoked about this new gold circle and minimalist design. I liked the color scheme and simple features. We relaunched the site under the direction of Fusse once again, in November 2016. On election day! We even said “Make Indie Vision Music Great Again” as a tip of the hat to Donald Trump. Well, kind of I guess. I am not about to argue politics with the IVM crowd because people either agree or disagree with one another and IVM has never been a vehicle of political cooperation one way or another.

2016-Now: Hope for a Brighter Day and Lessons Learned

So anyway, we relaunched IVM in 2016 and it has been going steady ever since. In fact, in early 2017 after hearing the beautiful pop-punk sounds of new Light The Way music, I got the idea to digitally release their music on digital platforms. I loved this band from Sacramento, CA. They really were the reason I started the little DIY IVM Label again. If it wasn’t for their music and message, there wouldn’t be an IVM label right now. Christian Appel who is drummer for LTW actually visited me at my previous home in 2016 when Kendall Nadeau (Screaming Giant/G-Rock) was doing a backyard remodel and I thought he was the nicest guy ever. Once I heard his new band and their melodic Christ centered pop-punk, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized. I do not see dollar signs, never have and never will, I see talent and I see an opportunity to spread awareness of this Faith we hold dear. Not only that but it helps people discover Indie Vision Music and real independent music.

So this little tale is all about where it started, where I’ve been, who I’ve become, and where hopefully we intend to go. The future is unwritten so make the best of it. If I could make any lasting advice it would be to always trust your gut, trust your intuition and do what is right all the time. If your gut and brain say you are probably making a poor decision, follow that advice even if it costs you in the end.

God is good all the time. In those broken times, those hours of despair and disbelief I may have experienced at different stages of the past 20 years of my life, I know there was a plan. There was always a plan and at times I didn’t trust that plan. I took matters into my own hands and spit all over what God intended as my life work. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I’ve made broken promises to countless people and failed at my attempts to correct wrongs. My ego has gotten in the way at so many different times. I think I’m bigger than I really am. I am a broken human being in need of a loving Savior. I’m not perfect in any means nor are my ideas. I don’t share viewpoints that everyone agrees with but that’s fine, it’s all about the human experience that brings us together. I would hope Indie Vision Music was that vehicle to bring together broken people from across the globe, to all meet in one common place and share our experiences the best we can.

Indie Vision Music will exist as long as I am able to keep going forward with good health. I believe I am in a good place now and if there ever is an official “end” of Indie Vision Music, I won’t make any big “goodbyes” or say sayonara publicly. It’s always better just to wish a fond farewell and as those classic old west films would convey, ride off into the sunset. IVM will never be sold and I will hold on to this domain name till I die or until there is an apocalypse, whichever comes first.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting this mission, this hobby, and this hope I share in my heart. Happy 20 years Indie Vision Music!


Highlights of the Post-Breakdown:

You know like, THE breakdown, music wise of course. A couple highlights during the years that isn’t mentioned above.

*I somewhat, maybe just a little, feel responsible for Five Iron Frenzy getting back together. I had been trying for years to convince those guys (and gal) to reunite and with little success. I remember getting some interview done with them in like 2011, I think a writer at Cornerstone Festival. Someone said something positive about a reunion and it spread like wild fire. I loved FIF, always have. Their comeback album while it lacked in ska made up for in production. I think Masaki really captured their hearts and the ska element but the new album (with different producer) took their sound in a whole other direction. This band holds a special place in my heart and I think Reese is one of the best lyricists to grace our scene in the past 20+ years besides a few others. I am talking more about variety of like self deprecating humor, sly and witty tongue in cheek, socio-political, hopeful and spiritual, and current topics. He melds it all into one mighty concoction to unleash on us fans a heaping dose of light. I probably wasn’t as fair with my review of “Engine of a Million Plots” and I understand that now. It was a different sounding album and some of the political stuff may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the album as a whole was nothing short of extraordinary. I am holding out hope for another record and I am seeing some hints about it. Don’t quote me.

*Interviewed Brandon Ebel of T&N/Solid State/BEC once and it didn’t go over very well. It was a written interview. People were saying some unkind things in the comments and I kept deleting them. Finally I just decided to edit then I took down the interview because it became a distraction. Was a great opportunity though.

*Blood and Water, My Epic, Eleventyseven, Capital Lights, Children 18:3, Dogwood, OC Supertones, MXPX, Slick Shoes, Everything in Slow Motion, Hands, Living Sacrifice, Focused, Unashamed and Jeff Jacquay, My Compatriots and Jonathan Caro, B is Bridgie, Sleeping Giant, NIV, POD, Blindside, Jesus Wept, Alove For Enemies, The Crucified, Stavesacre, Relient K, Abandon Kansas, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Starflyer 59, Incomplete, Thrush, Too Bad Eugene, Twotimer, Value Pac, Officer Negative, and all those many many bands from the past till now that have touched my life. The bands above reflect some special moments in IVM history and artists that played a crucial role that I wont soon forget.

*”Final Show” at The Coach House venue in San Juan Capistrano in 2004 featured Waking Ashland, National Product, Dismissed, Next In Line, and Brave The Broadcast (Ex-Forgotten Arrival members). It was a fun yet sort of bittersweet night. I had a table set up with merch to sell and sort of said my goodbyes. Little did I know that I would relaunch IVM months later as a webzine.

*Indie Vision Music jumped on practically every social network at the moment it was NEW. I was on MySpace that first year with an Indie Vision Music page. I hopped on Facebook then created a new page account in 2010 with /indievisionmusic because the old link didn’t reflect the whole Indie Vision Music. I launched on Twitter in 2009 when it was new at the request of Nate Dunn, designer at the time. He created “ivmusic” on there and I ran with it. I had an app at one point through iOS and Android stores. I think I paid for it too then designed it with a what you see is what you get type format. I tried all the other social networks in between, some worked, and some failed. Anyone remember HXCMP3? I am still trying some like TikTok but not sure how much longer I’ll have an IVM page on there.

*Sponsored a “Scream The Prayer” Tour in like 2007/2008. Can’t remember the exact date or bands that played but I believe it was the first edition. Great promotion.

*Had multiple tshirts created and sold over the years. 2001-2002, had the “Flame” logo on Red and Black shirts. Made a boat load, they didn’t sell very well and I ended up giving quite a few away. Did a new “zine” logo shirt in 2007-08 and not sure how well that one went over. Did a geometric colorful designed shirt around same time frame by a talented designer named Sara Sung. Made some shirts with Benaiah Clothing in 2012 with the infamous “eye” logo. Did a final round of shirts in like 2013 that were designed by Kyle of The Social Threat, and Brian Morgante of Flesh and Bone Design. Speaking of Brian, he designed a LOT of merch for me between those years and 2016. Even a bunch of “Band” ones that I did through Teeblaster. He did Craig’s Brother, Dogwood, Hangnail, Slick Shoes, Slow Coming Day, and a Focused one that wasn’t used because Tim was upset and didn’t want anyone else doing their shirts but himself. It sucked.

*Launched He Exists Clothing Brand in fall 2016 as my rebuttal to those lame “Coexist” stickers and designs I see all over So Cal. I did the design exclusively through TeeBlaster and then StoreFrontier where it sits now. The brand is sort of dormant at the moment. Michael Stidham did that awesome design.

*Donated almost all the CDs I had made to “Tunes 4 The Troops” in 2005/2006/2007 because I had no more room to store them and they were literally taking up space. It was a big donation and hopefully the troops were happy for the few years everyone still listened to CDs. I have noticed my CDs have turned up on Amazon and Ebay and my suspicions are that some of those donated ones ended up in seller’s hands. Oh well.

*Unofficially released the album by Keep Quiet (Ex-Standing Small) in 2010. Band put it all together and I just promoted it. I think it was even IVM010 as far as catalog numbers go (back when I still did that).

*Hosted a “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” album release show in 2002 at my former youth pastor’s skate/surf store in San Juan Capistrano called “CORE Boardshop”. It was a fun night and I got to hang out with the guys in Man Alive who were visiting from Israel on tour. Still one of my favorite bands.

*Anthony Catalano of Next In Line (and now Little Hurricane), mastered a bunch of IVM releases back in the day including that infamous Dismissed re-release that I messed up on (my fault). He also worked with John Feldman in his studio as like an engineer/assistant and we always tried to get one of my bands in his studio, even Next in Line. It didn’t work out. Anthony went on to further his sound engineering job and even worked at various awards shows including MTV VMAs a few times and I think the Grammys too. His band Little Hurricane with his wife CC is the best thing since sliced bread. If you haven’t heard them then you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

*Became a huge fan of Slow Coming Day from virtually the beginning of their existence. Their bass player at the time, Ryan M., worked for a CD MFG company here in So Cal. and I got his company to print the first run of Dismissed in March 2003. Super expensive but that’s a whole other story. I followed Orion’s (Walsh) journey from small emo-rock band to T&N signees and album release, to small band again and the last few demos of 2006. He went solo around 2008 with the release of “Tornado Lullabies” with his folk/americana style and I’ve been a fan ever since. I booked Slow Coming Day in those early days for some IVM shows, I saw them live when I had a booth around the southland, and then when I launched IVM label again, I knew we just had to work together officially. If I could put out a thousand Slow Coming Day and Orion Walsh albums I would. I just hope the world discovers his immense talent.

*Went to a Fall Out Boy concert where Dismissed were openers down near San Diego at this club called The Epicenter. It was only like half full and a lot of people came for the openers (local bands). I remember the Dismissed guys talking with Fall Out Boy and someone handing Pete Wentz their CD. It was so wild and mind blowing to think that like 2 years later they would become one of the biggest bands of rock (or pop) in the world. Half full little club to selling out arenas (pre-Quarantine). That “Take This To Your Grave” album was so good, I mean SO GOOD. I was listening to it after I saw them with Dismissed in 2003 and just loved it. All their albums have been pretty great, except maybe “Mania”.

*Saw Anberlin so many times I lost count. Was there to see them headline Cornerstone California, with Hawthorne Heights at Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa during the fair that year, at House of Blues in Anaheim I think twice and once for Dark is the Way Light is a Place album cycle. Super awkward show with Anberlin and Relient K in 2004/2005. Anberlin and Stephen in Particular was always so gracious. The guy with the glasses from Relient K, not so much. Treated us as over zealous fans even though I was running IVM at the time (he didn’t have a clue).

*I remember a sweet show with Demon Hunter, Living Sacrifice, and Focused. I think Dogwood may have been there? Or that was another show. At Glasshouse. Alex Albert of P86 was on Drums for Focused. Really explosive set. I was there with an old high school buddy Russ who has disappeared off the face of the planet (where are you Russ Jones?).

*Dogwood and Thrice at House of Blues Anaheim right around 9/11. Was insanity and Thrice ignited the crowd back then.

*Five Iron Frenzy right after 9/11 at Capo Beach Calvary Church. Don’t remember any openers but it was a great time. Band was on point with their message and trying to calm the audience. Some guy was running through the crowd with a giant American Flag. It was cool and crazy at the same time. Different time we lived in.

*Dogwood at Chain Reaction with Jason Dunn of Facedown Records in attendance. That was my first real interaction with him and his wife. He is a great human being and I appreciate his love for music. He is probably just as passionate if more so than I am with IVM. Facedown Records is one of those small indie labels that deserves so much praise for their contributions. If I could have a do-over it would be to spend more time hyping his bands back in the day and less time going after the others. His endurance and longevity should be celebrated. I continue to support and buy a lot of merch even to this day. Sadly, I have not gone to a Facedown Fest. At this point I feel I am past my prime in going to shows and I let my own anxiety/fears get in place of having a good time.

Speaking of Dogwood, Josh Kemble and I have had a great relationship over the years even if most of it has drifted online lately. I have seen Dogwood so many times I forget which time I liked best. Probably with Thrice ranked as my favorite or at The Glass House. So many good shows. I promoted them during T&N and after when most of the members but him and Danny, quit. Danny Montoya doesn’t get enough credit for his guitar skills and production talents. He played with Dogwood on Seismic and every live show between 2002 till more recently. He is now playing on the new Saint Didacus project with Josh Kemble. Maybe more live shows in the future? We will all be rocking the canes and walkers soon!

*My biggest claim to fame is getting an Artist Series Guitar, the DEMON HUNTER electric guitar for doing a contest and promotion of the brand on my website. I got a free guitar in case that I still own to this day and will NEVER sell or get rid of. It is special to me and not only reflects my love for Demon Hunter but also the achievements I’ve made along the way.

*Makeshift3. Yes I did like them a few times over the years. Eric had a notorious habit for hyping and overhyping his band. They were not going to be on the same level as Blink-182, they didn’t sound like old Thrice, they weren’t better than MXPX and so on. There were moments of some “ok” songs on Game Day and Fluorescent Black but not enough to wow me. The MySpace and Facebook constant barrage of messages and spam bot like chatter honestly turned everyone in the world off to his band not to mention soured my impression of them. I may have been at fault for putting Makeshift3 on a T&N compilation which gave them free reign to claim their self-importance.

*Created some “controversial” posts and reviews over the years that attracted heavy traffic, almost crashing server. I don’t remember now which ones but they attracted a crap load of visits and comments. The controversies are always what fuel interaction with readers. I refuse to do click bait for that reason, because it’s almost like fake traffic in a way. It doesn’t really benefit anyone or the bands for that matter. I also have to address the “political” lack-there-of. I’ve never been one to shove my political beliefs down anyone’s throats. I have had so many times, countless, that I’ve wanted to speak up and let it be known but I back down, biting my own tongue in the process. We live in a diverse world full of diverse opinions, some better than others, others worse than them all. Indie Vision Music is a platform for sharing your love of music and faith, not political affiliations. If you really are interested in following political mindsets, I’m sure you can go to Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, or Salon for those “inspiring” articles [eye roll]. This site exists in a unique niche and what we do here can’t always be replicated elsewhere. Why does it matter what I think or our readers when you can easily go on Facebook/Twitter and let it be known? Catch my drift?

*Traffic now is about half of what it once was pre-2015. Even though we add in new elements like changing between “light” and “dark” mode, it doesn’t have much effect. Sometimes traffic goes crazy when something like an interview with a big band (Anberlin) or a review everyone wants to read but for the most part traffic kind of dwindles. It’s not terrible it’s just not what it once was at the height. Social media has taken over.

*Josh Murphy was one of my early biggest supporters and strong backer to this site. What I attempted to do had his backing and he made constant suggestions on how to do it better. I was always pushing myself due to his guidance and support. He was the “Managing Editor” but I thought of him as so much more. A true internet friend. Somehow after IVM was going down in 2015 and I attempted to sell the site/domain to various people, his name was the one that wanted to buy it the most. I think the relationship soured when I ended up not selling it and then deciding to reboot the site one last time. The guy seriously transformed a lot of what I did back in the day and it’s tough thinking back, realizing he isn’t a part of the team any longer.

*Had a ton of guest writers and staff over the years that I felt a very special bond with. Even through they’ve never been “paid” writers, I felt this connection as if we were all employees working together for the common good. Seth of Becoming The Archetype wrote for me a short while. I had Aaron of SONS write a few times. Keith Settles who now has a successful up and coming solo artist career wrote for me and produced early YouTube videos for the IVM channel. Many more writers including the ones who are now taking on the task of writing intelligent, well thought out posts meant to inspire and make one think. I thank you staff and all of you who continue to keep the content fresh on IVM. No one wants to hear my written voice all day and you shake things up.

*I am sorry to anyone disappointed with my lack of phone interviews, podcast denials, failure to follow through with phone calls, etc. I am deeply personal human being. I hide because of my extreme anxiety and fears of being judged. I just haven’t been able to kick the nervousness and it disrupts future engagements with IVM. Don’t worry, I do exist, I am a male, I am 42 years old, and I do live in Orange County, CA. I am a real human person!

*Lastly, some people probably wonder about my wife and what she thinks of all this stuff. My wife is a beautiful person but she hasn’t had much input in IVM since the early days when she helped me with my booths at shows and tolerated my music choices. I think she has been on the receiving end of my mood swings, stress, anxiety, and overall fatigue one too many times. She doesn’t like to see money wasted or her husband losing track of time and forgetting about the family. Those early days were hard, I am not going to lie. To come home from work, eat dinner, then immediately run to the computer and stay there till 2, 3 in the morning updating website and fulfilling orders was a drain on our marriage. Not only did I make some ill informed decisions with Indie Vision Music but my family also suffered as a result. We are all in a much better place today and she lets me be me and sort of tolerates my music jk.

Anything else I forgot just hit me up in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer or reminisce. Thanks everyone for reading this and for supporting IVM!

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Jacob Lincoln
Jacob Lincoln
July 11, 2020 8:56 pm

Brandon, first of all: THANK YOU for your contribution to the Christian indie music scene over the years! I’ve never written in a comment in my life on your site until now… but I’ve been a long-time browser since probably 2005 or so. Growing up in North Pole, Alaska, my main connection to cool Christian music was the Tooth & Nail section of our local Christian bookstore, and websites like yours. I know it’s a thankless job, but you do it because you love the music, the message, the bands. For that, we are all so thankful! I didn’t know… Read more »

July 15, 2020 6:19 pm

Wow big read, but a wild journey! I admire the way you’ve put your heart into everything IVM over the years, that’s a lot of dedication! I highly recommend using something like the Wayback Machine to go back through the years and get a blast of nostalgia from the previous website versions. I started following IVM sometime in 2011, I love looking back now at all the familiar gravatar photos, the polls I’d always get excited to vote on, the free compilations I’d download and sift through until I picked my favourites, the IVM skull ratings, favourite reviewers, huge comment… Read more »

Phil metalhed
Phil metalhed
July 13, 2020 1:58 am

Wow, thanx 4 da “retrospectiv” brandog!! Even as 1 of da few dat has been down wit ivm since 2000, I stil lernd sum new tidbits. I can only imagine getin maried dat yung+ havin 2 deal wit those fam/ wife helth issues. I hope n pray dat the worst is behind her. God bless!! #ivm4anotha20

Phil metalhed
Phil metalhed
July 18, 2020 11:05 pm
Reply to  Brandon J.

Amen!! ^^

July 26, 2020 4:11 pm

Wow, what a journey!

Bill G.
Bill G.
July 15, 2020 11:11 pm

That was such a great testimony Brandon. You put a lot of hard work into this and it shows. Your perseverance is an encouragement and inspiring. Ever since becoming a believer and changing my music choices I’ve been following your website and have enjoyed it and found a lot of great music from it. I have a section of my CD collection just for your IVM label. (Yes I’m still old school and download music onto discs.) Thanks , take care and God bless.

Ty DeLong
July 14, 2020 6:49 pm

Awesome read, Brandon! Thank you for sharing all of those details, especially from the early days. I only discovered IVM in 2010, so I missed a lot of the action.

Still, I’ve been a huge fan since. I’ve discovered more bands and albums than I can remember through the site, and it’s been a huge blessing to me over the years.

Thanks so much for all the work, investment, and contribution to the scene over the years.

Daniel J
Daniel J
July 13, 2020 12:55 am

Major thanks from Perth, Australia for all the great music you’ve brought to our attention over the years Brandon. I stumbled upon the old IVM site around 2013-2014 and knew nothing of the trials and adversity your family had to endure. You made the right choice taking time out to focus on family, and I’m just happy to see you made it through the darkest days, and were able to bring back this incredible site for our small but passionate community to enjoy.
Much love in Christ my brother, and best wishes for the next 20+ years!

David @ Thumper Punk Records
David @ Thumper Punk Records
July 12, 2020 7:42 pm

Thanks Brandon for all you and IVM have done for the music scene!

Brian Goad
Brian Goad
July 11, 2020 8:14 pm

What an amazing accounting of the history of a site I’ve been following for half of it’s life!

Mr Swede
Mr Swede
July 11, 2020 5:16 pm

Thanks for sharing your (hi)story. Appreciate it!

Jordan Taulau
Jordan Taulau
August 9, 2020 12:04 am

Brah… Write this book. Needs to be heard and read. You’re a one-of-kind .

Jared S.
Jared S.
July 28, 2020 1:08 pm

Great read. I can say without exaggeration that IVM has been been formative in my musical taste. I’ve been visiting since 2009/2010, and this is where I’ve discovered bands like My Epic, A Hope for Home, My Compatriots, Seeker & Servant, A Hill to Die Upon, Grave Robber, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention all the IVM bands. Thank you Brandon!

August 18, 2020 12:56 pm

Brandon, great read and thanks for putting it out there. I check in on IVM every now and then still, nearly two decades later. I didn’t have the persistence or conviction you had, nor the maturity to handle the hypocrisy in the industry back in those early days. I’m glad to hear you found peace in your personal life as well. Wish you all the best. – Chad from (RIP 2000-2004)

P.S. Long live the HXC Collective

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