Staff Blog: Brandon Jones February 29th

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Hello everyone, my name is Brandon Jones and I own/operate Indie Vision Music. Here is a little information on myself for those of you that don’t know me. I originally wrote this little “blog” back in February of 2009. I feel in the past 3 years we have increased our visitors quite a bit and many people have no clue who I am or what I’ve been a part of in the past. I have updated a couple sections of the post but left most of it in tact. If you ever have a question about me or the site, please email meanytime.

Age: 33 (34 in April)
Marital Status: Married the love of my life in 98′ and have been married over 13 years now. (14 years in March)
Children: 3 (Twins: 2 Years Old 1 Teenager: 16 years old)

Personal history: (This is not the extended version I was going to post but this will be sufficient for now)
Listened to “Christian” music briefly in the 80’s (Petra, Altar Boys, Stryper) but never completely “understood” it until 1994. First got into “Christian punk/hardcore/metal” when some friends invited me to a Plankeye show as a sophomore in High School. Saw Plankeye and was amazed by their message, lyrics, and testimony. I started going to a local Christian Bookstore (Sonshine Christian Store, Mission Viejo, CA. I actually got a job there in 96′ and worked until early 97′ in the music section of course) in 94′ where I found an abundance of “Christian” rock of all shapes and sizes. I discovered bands like Poor Old Lu, Mortal, The Crucified, The Blamed, Blenderhead, Mxpx, Focused, Unashamed, Wish for Eden, Deliverance, Sometime Sunday, and of course, Plankeye, the band that most touched my life. I redidcated my life to Christ as a Junior in High School partly because of the music I found on Tooth and Nail Records and had my eyes open to the word of God through their lyrics and message. I went through a phase shortly after where I sold all 200 of my secular cds because I felt at the time that it was dragging me down and putting weight on my chest. I started booking shows because of my new-found passion in Christ as a senior in High School for my youth group. One by One (Later changed their name to Value Pac) played my youth group along with Pax (later Pax 217) Starflyer 59, Incomplete, Rainy Days, Not for the Crowd, The Israelites, Moral Issue, Blah, Upside Down Room, etc. I then moved on to a local club in Santa Ana, CA. (The Flipside) where I put on a series of shows (Holypalooza, the disaster, lol). I also put on a few shows at Coast Hills Church in Aliso Viejo, one was a benefit for World Vision. I started working for Kendall of Grock and helped him start “Slingshot Records” (which later changed it’s name to Screaming Giant Records). I helped sign Officer Negative, Tasty Snax, and a band called Second Half (the album was never entered into distribution with Diamante and was an independent release). I brought countless demos to the man in charge at Screaming Giant and talked to TONS of bands at the time. I had demos for Incomplete, Bloodshed (Slingshot David/name change), Project 86, The Dingees, Pax, etc etc. The owner passed on all those bands. Yep. After my last show in April of 1997 with EDL, Klank, and Officer Negative, I decided to throw in the towel and give up on the music industry. I had gotten engaged right around the middle of 1997 and decided that my purpose would be to serve my wife and get a real job. I then quit Screaming Giant right before Tasty Snax came out. At that point in my life, I felt the industry was a sickening greed filled place with it’s focus on the almighty dollar rather than serving God and reaching others in his name. I was young, dumb, immature, and had no clue how business operated. What little I knew. I booked these bands all at one time or another: Stavesacre, Value Pac (first called One by One), The Dingees, Project 86, Officer Negative, Bloodshed/Slingshot David, Second Half, Tasty Snax, One Eighty (Later Flight 180), Not for the Crowd, The Israelites, Rainy Days, Klank, EDL, Redline Prime, B as in Boy, All Day Long, Incomplete, Starflyer 59, Moral Issue, BLAH, Pax (later got rid of their big singer dude and changed styles from Ska to Alternative Rock and boosted up member “David” to singing position. Ethan Luck was in Pax when they were skapop, I met him once), Upside Down Room, and Zippy Josh. I had good and bad experiences with these shows. The one in particular, Holypalooza turned out to be a nightmare. I had booked Value Pac and Stavesacre as headliners (two of the biggest bands of 1996/97) and unfortunately due to this management company (Davdon, who later closed up shop due to some unfortunate circumstances, they were Tooth and Nail’s management/booking arm), I got a call like two days before the show saying Value Pac could no longer play it for reasons not told to me. I was later briefed that Value Pac instead decided they’d rather play a showcase with Blink 182 then play my show. I was angry. All these kids were standing outside asking for their money back because Value Pac wasn’t there, I filled their spot with Officer Negative but still kids were angry. So what did I do? I was totally immature and left a message on my voice mail (no internet at the time folks) which was advertised on the flyer, that Value Pac had canceled and that if they had a problem with it, they could called their manager and I proceeded to leave the manager’s personal phone number on my voice mail. BIG MISTAKE. I got called up right around the show date with threatening messages telling me I would get a lawsuit and blah blah blah this and that. A total A-hole this guy was. Anyway, I changed my message and learned from my mistake. However, I over booked the show with like 8 bands and it started at like 6 or 7pm. Yeah, that was lame of me. I was only 18, what did I know. Anyway, it was about 12am when Mark S. of Stavesacre started getting in my face about them going on so late and that I needed to wrap the show up. I was also told that I was very unprofessional and inexperienced. It broke my heart. The first bad taste in my mouth was before the show even started, the drummer of Stavesacre showed up, looked at me and went “YOU are the promoter? ha ha ha ha, you got to be kidding me”. Humiliating but oh well I didn’t let it hurt me. Finally Stavesacre took the stage at like 1am to my total embarrassment and played a rousing set full of catchy numbers. After the show, I approached Dirk and apologized, he said don’t worry about it. That was my experience and I forgive Stavesacre now, I WAS inexperienced and unprofessional. How many 18 year old kids do you know get to put on big time rocks shows and handle money?

I got a job with my father’s company in 1997 as a machinist in training and learned the trade for 3 years until I felt that tugging at my heart from God to do something more. After much prayer and consideration, I embarked on a plan to change the industry (in what little way I knew how). I had been a constant music fan from the very beginning and even though I ‘quit’ the industry, I never gave up my love for music, specifically faith based bands. I continued ordering from Tooth and Nail and other catalogs. I noticed one thing that was irritating to me, that there were no online stores catering to independent Christian music. I searched and searched, and I found very little catering to my needs. So after even more prayer and brainstorming sessions with my wife and a friend, I decided to launch my own web store that I would design completely myself from the tools I had at my disposal (Microsoft FrontPage and ‘Themes’ you could buy from the web). I launched Indie Vision Music in July of 2000 with the purpose of sharing independent Christian music with a lost and hurting world. My purpose was to share music of Faith, music of passion, with an audience who were craving for more. I felt that independent music wasn’t given a fair shot by the industry at the time, not in magazines, not in web ads, and very little on the radio. So emailed every possible Christian (and some non-Christian labels with “Christian bands”-Victory/NIV) label and got them to sell to me. I also got in touch with Diamante Distribution (the big distributor of the time) and carried their titles as well. Tooth and Nail sold to me direct, Takehold sold to me direct, I initially had some Screaming Giant and Bettie Rocket albums direct before I went to their distributor, I had Boot to Head, Hazmat, Substant, Nsoul, Facedown, Tooth and Nail/Solid State, Bettie Rocket, Takehold, Rock City, as well as independent releases like Dogwood “Live at Chain Reaction”, etc etc. (sold 100 copies of that Dogwood cd). This didn’t come without a price. I took out a big chunk of money from my savings account to pay for all this product up front. So even though alot of didn’t sell, I still paid upfront. Every last cent that came in went right back into the store, advertising, merchandise, etc. I was spending more than I was taking in and it was starting to take a toll on me. I kept on keeping on. I was shipping between 5-10 packages a day sometimes a lot more than that. I was able to afford IVM because of some wise stock decisions in the mid 1990s and when the internet companies exploded in the late 90’s, so did my portfolio. This pretty much led to my decision and ability to fund IVM as well as the label. Speaking of the label…..

Around 2001 I started developing relationships with quite a few bands. I was trying to go to shows, hang with bands and develop new relationships with them. Around that time, I felt a calling to get back into Booking shows at the new Church I was attending (Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano). My old youth pastor ended up moving to this new church and thus, my relationship with him continued. After talking with the pastor and youth pastor, we decided to book a series of shows every Friday night during one of the months in 2001 (i forget when). I booked Sagoh 24/7 (right around the time they changed their name and members to Anberlin) Too Bad Eugene, Watashi Wa, Flight 180, Nifty Tom Fifty, Noggin Toboggan, Broken Cedars, EDL (with Scott Silletta as DJ), Dogwood, a few other bands and a new band known as Dismissed. That is when my relationship with the band began. Their members were all 15/16 and going to the youth group at the Church I attended. Dave (Lead vocals/Guitar) of Dismissed’s Dad was actually the music minister at the Church. After booking those shows at my Church, I decided to move on to doing shows at Chain Reaction in Anaheim. I booked several shows on weird days, they were nice enough to give me a Sunday or two and I did some midweek shows as well. They were quite a few people there. I did shows with Dogwood (several), Dismissed, Anthym, Too Bad Eugene, Lonely Kings, Slow Coming Day, and a bunch of bands I can’t remember right now. I think I did like 3 shows at Chain Reaction before I quit doing them. There was also this new store in Mission Viejo called CORE Boardshop and I helped book a couple of shows there. Right around the time of “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” I put on a show in the album’s honor at the CORE Boardship with Man Alive, Slow Coming Day, Makeshift3, Dogwood, etc etc. I also put on a few other little shows there with Forgotten Arrival (then known as Second Chance), Dismissed, Name Taken, etc.

I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2. Wow, where do I begin with that one. All during this time I kept my relationship with Tooth and Nail Records a pretty pleasant one. Chad from Takehold Records who I had dealt with for a year buying his music for my store, had sold his company to Tooth and Nail and then took up a job with them. He then became my contact at the label. I was also emailing Brandon Ebel short messages back and forth when he had his email public. I would recommend bands, talk to bands on my end and then tell him they were interested in the label (Too Bad Eugene, Watashi Wa, Sagoh 24/7/Anberlin). My favorite email from Mr. Ebel that I no longer have (dang it!) was some sales figures of Sagoh 24/7 when I kept harassing him to sign the band. I guess they sold like nothing on Rescue Records so he wasn’t interested in them. Well anyway, they got wind of the new Anberlin demo and suddenly got interested. Long story short, I asked Brandon one day if I could continue his “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” album series and produce an all new compilation of bands and all I wanted in return was 200 cds of the album. I talked briefly on the phone with him, he said “yes” and I instantly got to work on my opus. I put alot of blood, sweat and tears into compiling that compilation. I had some bigger bands at the time that agreed to be on it but once they got wind of the T&N contract, decided to opt out of it, I forget what bands they were but they were good. I finally compiled the compilation, got every band in order put each song on a separate cd and sent a Ginormous box to Tooth and Nail Records with all the songs and a book/binder with all the album credits. They were nice enough to let me plug Indie Vision Music in the album credits though they left off the .com part of the web address, that’s okay, people figured it out. Am I impressed with I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2? Well there were definitely a few good songs on it considering they were all unsigned bands and had to record these songs on their own. The Next in Line track still stands out to me as a favorite. I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2 was released in 2002 on Tooth and Nail Records. I’ll forever cherish that opportunity they gave to a nobody like myself.

Around this time I started hanging out with Dismissed briefly at shows and what not, I also developed a relationship with the guys in Man Alive and Slow Coming Day. Because I finally met my hero Scott Silletta at that show in 2001 when he was DJ of EDL, I became an acquaintance of him. He started a studio and label (Orange Crush Studio and Vanishing Point Records). I got him to start his label by signing Dismissed. He was going to develop their sound in the studio and fix what needed to be fixed. He helped me record two songs in 2001, one of which went on I’M Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2″. That was supposed to be their big launch but it didn’t happen that way. Scott grew increasingly disappointed with Dismissed and said they needed to work on their sound which now that I think about it, I agree with (It wasn’t until 2004 that Dismissed truly reached the height of their sound and popularity with their parting ep). So Dismissed left the label and struck out on their own. I kind of stopped hanging out with Scott too at his studio after that happened. No reason really, I guess I just outwore my welcome. It wasn’t until early in 2003 when Dismissed presented me with their finished album that an idea sparked in my head. I listened to “Taking the Good With the Bad” non stop in early 2003 and definitely found interest in their new sound (they were formerly a punk rock band). After talking to my wife (again, God bless her soul) and checking my stock portfolio, I decided to launch the Indie Vision Music label. I printed 1000 copies of Dismissed debut and gave them a bunch to sell at shows. The band played around So Cal several times though they never went on tour like was promised. Things just didn’t work out. Long story short, I was disappointed with the final sound and artwork on Taking the Good With the Bad, so I had the artwork redesigned and remastered by Anthony Catalano (Next in Line Vocalist) and I re released it in late 2003. Fans loved the newer version and I sold a few. I decided that with the extra stock portfolio money I had that I would sign some other local bands I loved. Next in Line had been buds of mine since they were on I’m Your Biggest Fan so they were the next logical step. They were a very professional band with definite music chops. They recorded their cd with Masaki (Five Iron Frenzy) and I had it mastered by Troy Glessner at Spectre Studios (all the tooth and nail albums get mastered by him). I released it and I found another band that didn’t play shows so thus I didn’t sell very many. I pressed on though and released a cd from a local band Forgotten Arrival around the same time as Next in Line. They were doing the screamo pop punk stuff in 2003 and I liked it. However, working with them was not the most pleasant experience. A couple key members quit the band right when their cd came out and they just kind of fell apart shortly after. Another band that didnt tour. You’d think by then I’d quit, nope. I invested even more money in Josiah, Pennylane, and Joey’s Loss. I also released a compilation called “Hearts Bleed Passion”. All four released came out in 2004 before the summer. Pennylane being my absolute favorite IVM release ever. I sold out of the first pressing mostly to the band and all their crazy Hawaiian fans ( they love Pennnylane). I also released a cd from a spirit filled metal core band called Josiah. The band and I were big fans of Focused, Strongarm, Unashamed, all that stuff. So in a nod to the originators of the term “Spirit-filled Hardcore” we colored the spine label to match the spine label of Focused “Bow”. It was our little tribute, even though the band shared more in common with Zao than anyone else. Friends of mine, Joey’s Loss, had sent me their first full length record and I loved it. I asked the band to record a new album and take a couple of hits from the first debut and re-record them. Right before the Joey’s Loss album came out, I decided once again, to throw in the towel and quit the music industry. I told the band and the guys were all disheartened, I think all the former IVM bands were pretty upset with me because I’d only given the label a one year commitment. I just realized that I was running out of money and the stock market had tumbled considerably to the point of where I had spend almost all my savings from doing the store and label. All this time believe it or not, I had maintained my job as machinist and actually started my own machine shop in May of 2001. The name and customer list of my Grandfather was passed down to me. We quickly purchased three machines and began producing parts for his previous customers. I did it all myself with the help of a few employees. Shortly after taking control of the company, we lost our biggest customer and I got really depressed. We maintained the other customers my grandfather had left me but times were tight. It wasn’t until 2006 that things really started picking up and I hired my first official employee that year. Things have been rolling along great ever since though this year we are all deeply troubled by the economic crisis and it has started to hit hard our industry. Long story short, my father has had to lay off some employees due to the downturn at his company which is not even a mile down the road. Different companies and competitors yet still closely associated.. Yeah I know it’s confusing but it’s my job. My grandfather passed away last year (2011) but his advice and direction didn’t go unnoticed. It is really thanks to him, no matter how difficult of a person he may have been, that I am in this current position. I am quite optimistic about 2012 and the last two months have been really solid for us here, sales wise. The year is off to a great start!

So where were we? Oh yeah, the end of Brandon’s music journey. Well I had reached the end of my rope. I was depressed, disappointed, and just out of breath. The orders started drying up, I scaled back the store to make room for the label. But in 2004, I just gave up. I hosted my final farewell show in late 2004 with Waking Ashland, National Product, Next in Line, Dismissed, and some other band I forget now. I had a small booth and that was supposed to be the last hurrah. The site sat dormant with the label page still up until early 2005…………Here we begin again

I had developed a new relationship with a friend named David Mcdonald who ran his own zine I had come to the realization that there weren’t enough websites fueling my addiction for music. All the big ones weren’t covering my favorite independent bands. Getting IVM bands any notice on the other sites was turning out to be a nightmare, part of the reason I gave up. After reading all these zines I just realized how repetitive they were and how over saturated with mainstream music they had become. No one was reaching below the surface and truly exposing independent talent in a way that was beneficial to the artist and fans. I was reading myspace pages constantly, getting my news that way. Myspace really took off in 2004 and that’s the year all the bands got to register as “Artists” they also launched the myspace music player that same year. So I was constantly checking out new bands and getting my news through their pages. I grew impatient in early 2005 and decided after talking to David that I wanted to start my own zine. It was at that time that David decided he was done with due to time constraints. He agreed to help me create my own zine based around “forums”. We launched IVM THE ZINE in February of 2005 to little fanfare. By 2005, all my long time fans of IVM had thought we’d closed the doors and quit for good so our visitor count was at like 2000 unique visitors in 05′ per month. I launched the zine and immediately started writing interviews with bands, writing reviews of their music, and hosting “Hot Downloads” as well as “Classic Trax”, which was a section of the site devoted to downloads of “Classic tracks”. I don’t know how legal that was but I did it anyway. After a few months David insisted we switch to WordPress and that I would really like it. It was partly because another big website had their site built around “Forums” and we wanted to get away from that. So we implemented wordpress in early 2006 and transferred over about half the reviews and interviews. After a while we eliminated the “Classic Trax” section and I quit hosting downloads of all those old songs. We instead refocused on “Hot Downloads” and trying to score music from unsigned/independent bands. The Hot Downloads section kind went dead for a few months until I decided to do our first online compilation titled “Summer Slam”. Not long after David informed me that he would no longer be able to help me with the site due to time issues (he was a student in college) so I was on my own again. It wasn’t until Josh Murphy came aboard that things really took off. Josh found a web designer, David Hopper, and he decided to help us transform IVM into a more cutting edge wordpress based blog/zine/site. So we launched the old school “Black Theme” in late 2006 and kept it until I got impatient in 2008 and wanted a new zine, new site, new design. It was time to enter the new age of web design and that’s where Nate Dunn came in. He had helped us create a Virb page and redesigned my myspace page so I kept in contact with him. When I made a post on our website about us seeking a new designer (David Hopper became too busy with life and couldn’t continue helping us) and Nate responded to the request. In mid-2008, Nate began working on a new design. It took him several months and I kept getting new design pics and was very impressed. Just before Nate came on board though, I had a new logo designed in a special contest. A guy named Nathaniel designed the logo I liked best and it was one of the top 3 finalists (I posted a note on this website saying that I would pick between the three finalists for all you conspiracy theorists). So with new log in tow, Nate was on the hunt for a new design. We were supposed to launch in October, then November, and finally I said, let’s do it on Christmas Day. We re-launched IVM (4.0 for those keeping track) on Christmas Day 2008. Shortly after I received several emails from people saying the new design had bugs and that it should be fixed. A guy named Miika wrote a really polite email detailing that he knew how to fix IVM and transform it into a cutting edge zine. We talked to Nate and he told me that he was really busy with school so Miika/Fusse had the okay to recreate Nate’s design. After a solid month of tinkering, here we are. IVM 4.0 has finally become a reality. [Update: We are now closely approaching IVM 6.0 although nothing can be said of this “change” quite yet. Sit tight folks and prepare for an awesome ride]

All those years of experience I had growing up have fueled my desire to do something unique and ahead of the curve for web zines. I have a passion for “Christian Music” and music with a faith based message. That passion has never died out in my soul, gut, and mind. I want to share my Faith in Christ and my love for our savior with a hurt, broken, and desperate world. I am unashamed in my approach to writing and will never back down my fervor for sharing the gospel. I may not be as bold as some, but the heart is still there. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us all to sit around and argue about stupid things or for a band of so-called “Christians” to sit and turn their back on the Lord. Our purpose isn’t to sit here and waste time each passing day, it’s rather a call to action and a call to do something unique in our world, to save the lost and heal the broken. I feel that so many of the people working in this industry are just wasting time, gathering up stupid wealth, and spending more time on hair cuts and makeup than on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everyone is called to “preach” from the stage, heck I am a shy person and probably couldn’t speak worth beans from the stage but that should never prevent us from sharing Christ’s love with those that are suffering, sick, broken, and beaten down. Masquerading as Rock Stars and cloaking the Gospel is just “wasting time”. Why should we have to hide or be ashamed of our Faith. The world isn’t going to openly embrace the Gospel and it’s never going to be easy. If it’s too easy for you, then you’re obviously too comfortable. Persecution is something many of us can’t comprehend because of our open society but in places like China where they smuggle Bibles in, danger is much more a reality. I think many of us especially those in the music industry are just sitting “too comfortably” and not putting as much emphasis on eternity which is really all that’s going to matter when you start to age and reach those golden years.

Will I still be doing this in 5, 10, 20, 30+ years? I don’t know, I guess it all depends on the Lord’s planning for my life. Christ’s undying, unwavering love, true love, is what matters to me most and I want to share that with the world. There is something truly liberating in his love and though I am certainly far from being perfect, his love makes my life complete. There is Freedom in Christ that I can’t possibly begin the explain to you. Just know that we serve a just and loving God. Through his love we are made anew. There are people throughout time and history that have perverted and twisted the word of God to fit their own selfish agendas. The one thing you can count on and put your faith in is in the words of Christ spoke more than 2,000 years ago. He will never fail you or give up on you not matter how tough it gets or unbearable your world becomes.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7
5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

My favorite scripture still remains 1st Corinthians verse 4-13
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies they will cease ;where there are toungues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and prophecy in part. But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Just know that I myself and other Christians are imperfect human beings. Human beings will quite often fail you but God will never turn his back on you.

If you have any questions, please post it in the comments or contact one of us staff members. God bless each of you and here’s to hope for a new tomorrow!!

-Brandon Jones
Indie Vision Music