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A Conversation With
Sal Canzonieri

Samuel Barker
July 13, 2001

Fistful Vol. 1

Samuel: Where did the idea of the "Fistful Of Rock n' Roll" series come from?

Sal: Well, every time I got interviewed by some of the newsstand music magazines, they would always ask me what other bands are doing High Energy Rock N Roll, and I would always rattle off a long list, which would then astonish the writer and they always would say that I should do a compilation. So, finally I did. I meant it to be just one volume with 40 songs, but there were so many great bands from all over the world that I didn't want to leave out. So, I got the idea to do it as a big series, have the history of rock included in it, have great cover art, and so on, and do it like a modern day Pebbles series.

Samuel: How have sales been for the series thus far?

Sal: Well, they have been very good, in the thousands, each volume seems to do better and then the older ones seem to pick up as people look for the ones that came out before they one they got. Since Victory took over the series, it is selling at triple the rate it did before. Victory was sold out of the first pressing of Vol 7 within 3 days of the street date release. So, now it is in the second printing.

Samuel: Do you think that if this series receives enought attention that it will revive rock?

Sal: Well, judging from the mail and all the reviews, it is really making a lot of people take notice that rock is alive and kicking with or without them. So, it is making a lot of new fans for these bands. Most of the bands have told me that since they have been on the comps, they were suddenly getting better shows, more interviews, lots of mail, more press, etc., all due to being on the comp. So, that is very satisfying for me to know that the comps are really helping these bands. TO me, none of the bands are unknowns, being a fan of the genre. But to many people it is the first time they are hearing these bands. I hope it can go past the 13 volumes and be an on-going series that highlights the best of the bunch for that year.

Fistful Vol. 3

Samuel: Who all is involved with the series?

Sal: Man, there are about 300 bands! You can see them all listed at the website we made: http://listen.to/afistfulofrock and you can hear a lot of the bands on the comp from the E-radio station I made at: http://www.mp3.com/stations/afistfulofrock and people can join the email list for the comps, which is used by the bands and their fans to network together to help each other get shows, record deals, press, business advice, etc. It is afistfulofrock@yahoogroups.com and people can go to www.yahoogroups.com to join the list. In the archives there are tons of information on the music business, distributors, promoters, etc. everything a band needs!

Samuel: Are anymore volumes going to be released on Victory?

Sal: I hope the rest of the 13 volumes, since I have them all done already. Volume 8 should be coming out in November.

Samuel: Has it been encouraging to see so many good rock bands come out and support the series by adding tracks?

Sal: Yea, from the first day I announced I want to do the series, the miraculous thing was the ALL of the best known bands on the comp sent me their songs within 2 weeks of my announcement! So, I was able to spread them out over all the volumes and that gave me the room and the power to get not only middle level bands on there but also brand new unknown bands that were fantastic but just needed a chance to be heard.

Fistful Vol. 5

Samuel: How do bands go about getting tracks on the CDs, do you search them out, or do people send you tapes wanting to be on the CDs?

Sal: Well, word of mouth spread quickly all over the world, I got 4 crates full of cds in the mail! I still have to go through 2 of them, since the 13 volumes are already full. But, I have other labels that want to do something like the fistful comps too and so I will try to get these bands on those comps. In the beginning I contact the bands that I HAD to have on their, and word spread out from them to other bands. But, I found many of the coolest bands from www.mp3.com surprisingly enough. I was really surprised at the high quality of the new bands I found there. They are all on the mp3.com station I made, over 200 bands!

Samuel: I see you are currently booked through Volume 13, are there anymore planned volumes after that one is released?

Sal: Well, I really hope so, I would like to do one or two a year after volume 13. But, since I have many labels interested in doing something similar, maybe I can do different series with other labels. Right now, Devil Doll records: www.devildollrecords.com is doing a series with me called "Rock N Roll A-Go-Go" which are CD EPs of 4 bands on each volume, each getting about 3 songs. They are all Fistful bands. We give some of the Fistful bands that need a little push a chance to get more of their material out there. I write the liner notes and help to get the bands.

Samuel: What is the time frame for all these releases? Are the going to every few months, or are you looking to flood the market with all the volumes as soon as possible?

Sal: No, they are going to be spread out every quarter, I don't want to flood the market, people really anticipate getting each volume and they are exciting to get them. I don't want to ruin that.

Fistful Vol. 7

Samuel: What do you feel mainstream rock is lacking that these bands can provide?

Sal: Excitement, high energy, commitment to the audience, a little danger, a sense of being part of the scene, and a good relationship with the fans.

Samuel: Do you think the newer pop-influenced youth will be able to accept rock n' roll as much as the older fans?

Sal: Oh yes, kids get bored of pop and look for harder stuff as soon as they hit their late teens, this is an on-going situation since the 1940s. Right now it is changing fast already. Proof is that Billboard magazine in the "Weather Reports" section, which reports on trends in the market actually said that retail record stores are reporting that under 18 year olds are buying rock records now in large numbers instead of "angst music" (that's what they said) and I quote are mostly buying records by "Electric Frankenstein, The Donnas, and the Hellacopters". I was quite shocked when I read that! It was great news! I think that this Billboard article is available on the internet at their site in the archives.

Samuel: Is it encouraging to see how many bands from overseas are getting involved in this project and keeping rock alive?

Sal: Yeah, actually it is even bigger there! The Fistful comps sell double what they do in the US overseas. There are a lot of really great bands from all over. I love that I have bands like Mustang from Tasmania, Dedzebel from Austria, Thee STP, Loose, and Bastet from Italy, tons of Scandinavian bands, bands from Japan, and so on.

Samuel: Has it been surprising to see the amount of female led bands that are getting involved in rock?

Sal: Yeah! That really pleasantly surprised me, almost everything I got from a female bands was really great and I had to use it. There must be about 30 bands that have mostly females in them. And they totally rock and are original sounding. As opposed to the hundreds of males bands that sound like clones of another bands that I had to reject for being just plain boring and unoriginal. I have such great female led bands as the Launderettes, Boobyteens, Donnas, Loudmouths, Drag Triplets, Aerobitch, Pussycats, Plungers, Double-Barreled Sling Shots, etc., that really stand out.

Samuel: Any messages for the misguided youth still afraid of rock n' roll?

Sal: Wake up to real music. This is rock n roll craeted by people that are happy to be alive and are full of energy and excitement! This ain't no fake stuff that the record labels have developed to steal your money, this is music that reflects real life not fakeness. You can move your body and really connect to rock n roll music in a way that no other music can ever to so. Rock N Roll is an ecstatic experience that makes you feel really happy and alive and full of energy when you hear it. You feel all charged up after a rock n roll show. No depressing shit here! Join the New Rock Revolution that is happening all over the world!

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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