Friday, January 13, 2012

Interview with Chris from Critical Mass

Back in 2002 I was playing bass in a Chicago band called The Bomb, and we were playing a show at the legendary Fireside Bowl. As we loaded the van, our guitar player (John Maxwell) told us all that "Christopher Carlton messaged me to say he's buying us all a beer tonight before the show." My reply was "I don't know who the hell Christopher Carlton is, but if he's buying us Rolling Rocks, I like him already!" Since that time Christopher and I have become fast friends, and I was happy to see him start his own online blog in May of 2011 called Critical Mass.

Critical Mass has had over 22,000 hits to date and has been viewed in 78 countries around the world. He's interviewed some great musicians , including Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, OFF!) Richie Ramone (Ramones) Dan Vapid (Riverdales, Screeching Weasel, Methadones, Dan Vapid and The Cheats,) Milo Aukerman (Descendents) and of course, yours truly (SMFC -MY BIG BEAUTIFUL.) I decided to corner Christopher for a short interview, which took a lot of persuading for both myself and his beautiful wife, Christine, but finally here it is, a "behind the scenes" kind of interview with a guy who works just as hard as the musicians he promotes to share the beautiful music we center our lives around. Here's to you Chris, next time the beers are on me!

                                                                                            Steev MF Custer
Steev MF Custer: How did you get started doing interviews and what inspired you to start Critical Mass?

Christopher Carlton: I actually got started doing interviews almost by accident. Another blog called Squid Pro Quo posted on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in joining them and doing some album reviews. I said I was interested and next thing I knew I was getting an album to review for the blog. Keep in mind, I had NEVER done anything like this before. I must have done something right because Jason, the guy running SPQ, posted my review. And I also showed a little interest in possibly doing the occasional interview since I know a few people in bands around town.

My first interview was with Darren Vorel from The Scissors. Darren and I go way back, and he was more than gracious in being my first interview. He's a super cool and talented guy, so it was easy to interview him. I was stoked to actually interview someone. And he was stoked to be interviewed by me.

As time went on I got more interviews with people like Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag, Keith Morris formerly of Circle Jerks, currently of OFF!, as well as local musicians like Denis Buckley from 88 Fingers Louie/Explode And Make Up and Ken Fitzner from The Bollweevils.

After a month or so I started getting more and more confident in getting interviews and decided to branch off on my own and started Critical Mass. My first post went up on May 14, 2011 with my interview with Brandon Carlisle from Teenage Bottlerocket. It's been nothing short of a dream come true ever since.

SMFC: Critical Mass has over 22,000 hits and has been viewed in as many as 78 countries since just May of 2011. Did you think the blog would blow up so quickly, or are you disappointed with those results?

CC: Are you kidding me? Steev, I honestly didn't think I would last a month without throwing in the towel. I didn't think it would last, or that anyone would be interested in what I had to say. I have been very fortunate that people have shown interest in my blog and what I have to say. I'm having a blast! Being a music lover and seeing so many talented musicians struggling to get any kind of exposure, it really makes it all worth while for me. I feel like I'm giving BACK for what these men and women have given US!

SMFC: In Nov. of 2011 you sat down for face to face interviews with all of the bands at Metro's night before Thanksgiving show, including Punk legends Naked Raygun. Are there any plans to post the footage from those interviews on Critical mass, and do you plan to do more video interviews in the future?

CC: If I had the money to put into decent recording equipment and a way of actually posting it onto my blog I would maybe consider it. Raygun, The Falcon, Dan Vapid and Mike Byrne and your band My Big Beautiful were nothing but kind and welcoming to me (as well as The Ridgelands who I also video interviewed). I couldn't have done it without the help of you guys. But, yes, I would at some point love to post the interviews online for everyone to see.

SMFC: You've managed to interview some pretty big names in the short time Critical Mass has been around. Here's a three part question: Who was your favorite interview, Who are the interviews that have gotten the most views, and who is the "one that got away" or in other words, who said that they would do an interview that you were really stoked about and then it didn't happen for whatever reason?

CC: Man, talk about being put on the spot. Um...some of my most jaw dropping interviews, because I never thought I would EVER get them, would include Richie Ramone, Milo from Descendents, Jesse Michaels from Op Ivy/Common Rider/Classics Of Love, London May and Eerie Von of Samhain, Chuck Dukowski, all the Raygun guys including former members Camilo Gonzalez and John Haggerty, Brandon from TBR and The Falcon. But I loved each and every one I've done with the exception of maybe Kira from Black Flag. She was kinda rude and bitchy to me for no real reason.

The most viewed interviews have been Dean and Tom from "Team Chromey", which own and tour Neil Peart's old Slingerland chrome drum kit from the 1970's and donate the proceeds to Cancer charities. They have gotten well over 1,000 hits to date. Bill Weber from G.G. Allin's old band Murder Junkies, London May, Eerie Von, Milo and YOU have all gotten big numbers as far as hits go. Impressive if I do say so myself.

Now, the ones that got away. Well, there were quite a few. But I don't think it would be fair to name names....but I'll name bands names instead. You gotta guess who bailed on the interview. Let's see, there was Government Issue, Rise Against and Candy Snatchers. There are more, but I can't think of the names at this moment. Each of those bands had a member who was contacted, they agreed and I never heard back. Not even a "no thanks". In the end I look at it as THEIR loss, not mine!

SMFC: What's next for Critical Mass? How would you like to see the blog grow in 2012?

CC: I'm hoping to do more on camera interviews. Help out more up and coming bands with some free press. Hell, maybe even get to link my blog onto some websites and get some money in so I can buy a domain and have a real website made. But I'm just happy being able to help people out and get to hear some great bands I may not have had the chance to hear otherwise. But I am grateful to each and every person who reads my blog, every band who allows me to either review their music or interview them, and my wife, kids, family and friends who continue to support what I do. Without all of YOU, there would be no Critical Mass!
And please check out the Critical Mass Group on Facebook for up to date info on all things Critical Mass! Cheers and beers to all of you!


  1. youre welcome. even though YOU where the 1 who was capable of doing this not me.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks guys! I really do appreciate it all you people who check in and read my blog. I've said it before, HONESTLY there would be NO Critical Mass without each and every one of YOU! Cheers! You fuckers rock!


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