"Folder Rock": the language of band PR

Tony Bedard, who books live music at San Francisco's Hemlock Tavern, has a hobby as a "Folder Rock" archivist. What the hell is "Folder Rock"? It's Bedard's name for the sometimes overwrought, ham-fisted promotional mailers containing demo tapes and adjective-laden text that bands send out to show-bookers and music journalists. As a former music editor for an alt-weekly in the early 1990s, I can vouch that there is something to this. In my day, choice examples of folder rock arrived inside pizza boxes, with a bouquet of balloons, or sometimes via hand-delivery by "band managers" who were best avoided. I bet labels get more of this than anyone else. I remember someone in the early days of the Sub Pop Records explosion telling me that they instructed bands to submit their demos on very high-quality audio cassettes with the record tabs left intact. Nowadays, Folder Rock has of course become virtual. Still, Bedard collects the best of the worst. Indeed, this year he held a reading of Folder Rock at a local LitQuake/Noise Pop event. The Bay Citizen talked to Bedard about his fascination:

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"A classic piece of folder rock is a padded mailer. You open it up and inside of that would be a colored, translucent plastic folder with a drawstring that you have to navigate. And inside of that a glossy folder, maybe with band sticker, and then inside the folder there would be the business card, the bio, and a photo. Sometimes there'd be these crazy promotional items, like golf tees or mints," says Bedard, who has also played in San Francisco bands for 20 years…

Folder Rock is marked by hyperbole ("There is no other keyboardist in the history of rock & roll with a more stunning, voluminous résumé than Ian McLagan!"), baffling claims ("The aptly named-rebellious Perfectionist chooses his battles Wisely, with an evident persona that silently confirms that he does not Play!") and down-right silliness ("My name is Shovelman and this is what I do: I play a guitar that's made out of an antique SHOVEL. DIG IT, Folktronica!!")…

There are the bands that claim they sound like diametrically opposed bands at the same time. ("We're a rock band that sounds something like The Police meets AudioSlave meets Danzig.") Bedard likens this to Stagflation, which is when recession and inflation exist at the same time.

There is a tendency among newly established bands to supply incredibly long, but less than riveting creation myths: "The band was started when former member Michael delivered a package to drummer Zack's house."

"Folder Rock: The Unintentionally Hilarious World of Band PR"