Someone stole the keys to the kingdom and has been passing out copies. He's known simply as Jimmy, and he's infiltrated the punk music scene. Jimmy has been uploading lesser known punk bands' music to a wildly popular YouTube channel for the past 3 years; giving them an audience where they otherwise may have none.
You would likely think someone in this position would become arrogant and power-hungry, but Jimmy could not be further from this. I was shocked to find that the Jimmy channel was ran by this humble, friendly, and intelligent soul. I absolutely had to find out more.
Jimmy recently announced that the channel would be concluding in the near future. I was lucky enough to get a few questions in with him, before the end of Jimmy...
1. What's your real name? where are you from/ live now? How old are you? What do you do in life?
JIMMY: Eh. I've made a habit of pussyfooting around personal questions like these in the past, but whatever. It's not like this information will be relevant within a few weeks, right? Anthony. Arizona. 25. Apprentice electrician/complete and total fuckin' loser. Trust me when I say that you none of you would give the slightest shit about me if you caught me out in the wild, because I'm just a lousy homebody with no real redeeming qualities. Like, not to just senselessly talk myself down or anything, I'm just trying to say that my identity never really concerned this Jimmy deal, so I never found it necessary to "go public" with it -- and I still don't. But there you go, real name is Anthony. Take that as you will.
2. Are you in a band? or do you work at a venue? just a huge fan? what's your passport into the punk world?
JIMMY: Nah, the last time I touched an instrument was back in high school, and even then I only practiced Dead Kennedys songs on a dinky Fender bass. That kinda rules out the possibility of me being in any bands. I don't work at any venues either, and practically attend shows on a bimonthly basis. Like I said, I'm the biggest nobody, in and outside of punk. The only reason I got my foot in the door was because I happened to be sharing specific bands right at the turning point of their popularity, which sorta propelled me into this community. I honestly think it was just a matter of me being at the right place at the right time, and hardly anything more. I guess it also helps that I'm a smarmy little asshole-fanboy with a slight knack for writing, but whatever. I still think dudes like me are a dime a dozen.
3. When/why did you start the channel? when did you realize it was starting to pick up steam?
JIMMY: I initially started the channel as a means of using up my abundance of free time, back in early to mid 2015-ish. My job at the time left me with something like... I dunno, six or seven hours to do whatever the fuck after work before I had to turn in for the night. So as an introverted guy who prefers the sanctity of his own home over, well, anything else, I wound up spending some of that time uploading music on Youtube. Like, just whatever I thought people might care about. I didn't set out to make lesser-known music accessible or to say "fuck you" to all the punk rock gatekeepers, it was nothin' more than an innocuous hobby that gradually got blown out of proportion once more and more people stuck around. Funny thing though, I can still totally remember the point where I thought "shit, maybe this Youtube thing is more than I'm making it out to be". I'd uploaded this one tape, "The Big-Bag Split", which was just a split tape between two cool bands out in Hattiesburg. I never would've guessed that they'd pay heed to some nerd who uploaded their music on Youtube, yet lo-and-behold, a member of the two groups totally noticed within a month of the video's posting and reached out to me. Not only that, but the guy even offered free tapes -- fuckin' free. And here I was thinkin' that nothing's free in this fuckin' world, the last time someone gifted me somethin' that nice was way back in grade school. THAT was the point where I really started to give a shit about Jimmy. Folks like those in Hattiesburg are one of the main reasons why I wound up dedicating so much effort to the page, purely because they showed that I was having an impact outside of some Youtube statistics page. Bless 'em.
4. Is it a lot of work managing a channel like this? Do you do it because you love the jams? Do you feel in some way indebted to the scene(s) ?
JIMMY:Yeah, without a doubt. Back when I posted more regularly, I spent somewhere around four to five hours just writing, uploading, drawing, and responding to things related to the channel. Punk really did become a part-time job for me after a while, which would be fine by me if I didn't already have a full-time job that was progressively eating up more and more of my time. My reasons for subjecting myself to this painful amount work has been somewhat spotty over the course of me running the channel, be it simply for my love of the music or me feeling as if I "owe" something to these bands, but at the end of the day, it's primarily because I live for the feeling of helping others. Like, not to get all "Mr. Rogers" on your asses, but I really did continue running the channel because it happened to make some people happy, notwithstanding the days where I wish I was anyone but Jimmy. It... I dunno, validated my life, made me feel like I had a purpose. Shit, it still does. But the thing is, I don't really have the time or energy for me to continue maintaining this stuff. It's gotten to the point where it's negatively affecting my well-being, so I think it's necessary that I close up shop. For good. Sorry y'all.
5. What benefits do you get from the channel? personal promotion?, youtube ad revenue? power and glory?
JIMMY: Benefits? Well, aside from all the warm, fuzzy feelings of appreciation and self-assurance, having access to a wide circle of people who actually seem to give a damn about my well-being, and being blessed with the opportunity to make more friends than I know what to do with, I do get a LOT of free shit. Like, a ton. In my time running the channel, I got something like 200-ish free tapes and around 50 records, which if you're askin' me, is worth a lot more than my shitty handiwork (much appreciated, regardless!). I don't run ads on my videos, so I don't make any money off of Jimmy -- unless you count me selling artwork, but even then, those things only go for five to ten bucks a pop. Those are about the only things I get out of running the channel, but it's really the first three things that I genuinely care about. Tapes are nice, but y'all are a bunch of sweet peas. Ugly ones, but sweet nonetheless.
6. You recently came out and said you are gonna stop doing the channel. Will the channel stay up? What lead to the end of jimmy?! What is next for you in your life?
JIMMY: Don't worry, the channel isn't going anywhere. Everything's gonna be left up as is, and I still plan on going back to maintain the thing as much as I can without being personally involved: doin' stuff like fixing download links or answering questions, that sort of stuff. The page will see its last video sometime this month though, and I'm real sorry for putting this to a close so soon. It's almost like the recent influx of listeners tuned in just to see the channel "die", which does make me feel a little bad, but I'm sure most can empathize with me when I say that it's about time I drop this thing and get my damn life on track. It just isn't possible for me to juggle the two anymore, I'm hurting too much these days. Without getting into too many personal details, my decision to end the channel basically boils down to me not only lacking the creative capacity needed to maintain it, but also feeling as if I'm being villainized for doing something that is objectively harmless. Some call these people "haters", but I see them for what they really are: self-righteous, antithetical, gatekeeping purist assholes. They're partly the reason why my experience running the channel has been soured, to a degree that renders the whole thing somewhat disheartening to tend to. I spend hours putting together and writing for a video, and within just a few hours' time, I've already got some manchild calling me names over shit that doesn't even matter. It's a running theme in my life, for me trying to try and do something good only to have it be thrown right back in my face, and at this point I know better than to try and appease those people. I'm NOT stopping the channel purely because of hate, but it definitely swayed my opinion on the channel and the overall impact it has on my mental health. Overall, Jimmy has become more of a detriment than a benefit, which to me, signifies the need to slap a bookend on this thing and move on. I love punk and the majority of people involved in these fledgling communities, it was an absolute pleasure interacting with all these like-minded black sheep; but everything else can go right in the fuckin' dumpster.
Anyways, I'm probably going to Disneyland.
7. What were some of your favorite submissions you got over the channel's existence?
JIMMY: I’ve refrained from openly picking favorites for the fear of alienating the dozens of bands I’d surely fail to mention, but between you, me, and everyone dumb enough to read this far, there ARE a handful of bands I hold to a higher regard than everything else. The Fritz, Buttzz, The Pornography Glows, Zap, Cohete, Acrylics, S.B.F., Toyota, Socialites, Chud, OVVN, The Sueves, Glov, The Vitamens, Os Jararacas, just about everything Mat Williams has been involved in, Technical Ecstasy, Red Solo, Objects, Stucko, just to name a few -- specifically ones that people might gloss over when browsing my channel. There’s a lot of other shit I’m just forgetting right now, and a HELL of a lot more favorites I figure went without saying, but those are just some bands that I happen to go back to on a near weekly basis. Seeing that the whole point of my channel is to share music that I -- me, Jimmy -- personally like, I think it’s kinda redundant to go through the list and cherry pick favorites among things that are already favorites. And while I didn’t upload it, I’m totally content saying that Liquids’ “Mat’s Demo” is my favorite punk tape to ever surface, ever. Print that shit in the books.
8a. What is it that makes one band stick and another fall by the wayside? Have you noticed any trends in the successful acts? Any observances that could help you predict how a certain tape will be received?
JIMMY: Shit, that’s a good question, I hardly even know the answer to that myself. My channel’s audience seems to be real finicky when it comes to the stuff they choose to latch onto, to the point where the stuff I think is gonna blow up either falls completely flat or is frequently shit upon, and the stuff I think most people are gonna scoff at are totally adored. It’s weird, fucky, inconsistent, and something that I hardly pay attention to at this point. I’ve long accepted that my tastes are just as wonky and dumb as the listeners I’m pandering to, so it’s kinda just the nature of the beast for Jimmy to either be praised for his musical palate, or outright ridiculed for it. But my general opinion is that the lo-fi, seemingly “underground” stuff are the ones that most listeners gravitate towards, especially bands that seem more like goofy projects recorded straight out of some basement. The sort of stuff that’s really approachable and easy to relate to, since it’s just a fun little thing that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. But aside from that, I’ve got NO fuckin’ clue as to what people look forward to on my channel. It’s a complete and total crapshoot.
8b. What is it that made your channel take off and other music hosting channels fall by the wayside? any utterances on this note?
JIMMY: You’re barkin’ up the wrong tree on that one, I’m a firm believer that I don’t deserve any of this attention I’m getting. Like I said: right place, right time, right bands that a bunch of people happened to be interested in. I definitely wouldn’t say that I was the first to focus on this section of the DIY punk community, given the multitude of blogs that already existed on Youtube, Blogspot, or elsewhere, but I dunno, maybe something about my presentation just jived with people. Maybe my channel’s content came out “faster” and was consistently “better”. Maybe it was my “funny”, “sarcastic”, “witty”, “totally worth publishing in your shitty zine” write-ups that suckered people in. I don’t know, honestly.
9. Obviously you've had to manage dealing with lots of people for this, have you garnered some skills you think will stick with you in running something like this?
JIMMY: This Jimmy thing really was one massive stint of exposure therapy. Prior to running the channel, I avoided the limelight wherever possible. The thought of a group of people, no matter how big or small, would immediately send prickles of heat and itchiness down my back – anxiety has made me its bitch ever since I was a kid. Me and excessive amounts of attention didn’t gel well, so doing something like this, even when it was solely confined to the internet, was well outside of my comfort zone. Hell, it being solely confined on the internet likely only exacerbated my anxiety, with any Joe Schmoe being able to call me a “faggot” in the blink of an eye – their words, not mine. That nervousness has noticeably subsided over the course of the past, what, year and a half? To the point where my first response to those sort of “faggot” comment is typically something along the lines of “go fuck yourself” instead of just “ouch, that’s insensitive”. That’s a sign of progress, I guess. Aside from that, my writing’s gotten a hell of a lot better. Had I any ambition or motivation, I could probably make a career out of this shit. Pitchfork, where you at?
10. If you did have to start a band, what would your dream sound be like?
JIMMY: EVERY sound, because my shitty band would just steal everyone else’s songs. Either that or Death Grips. Literally just Death Grips.
11.What is your official judgement on the state of punk in 2017? Do you have predictions on where it goes next?
JIMMY: I don’t think it’s really my place to say, seeing that I’m not personally involved in any punk community whatsoever. As a -- I’m using this term loosely -- “punk rock curator” I’m kinda just seeing the big picture here; I’ve hardly got any idea as to what’s going on in the tiny specs that make up the massive shitstain I spend so much time looking at. I mean, I think punk is in a good spot right now, and kinda always has been. I can’t say that I’m the “great harbinger of the internet-age of punk”, with the advent of connecting all these individual scenes in one accessible, convenient place, since the blogsphere of yesteryear was doing the exact same shit I was long before I ever considered doing it myself. I dunno. Maybe I’ve gone and set a “good example”, something that shows that there’s a lot more to contemporary DIY punk than meatheaded gatekeepers and bands that are too conceited to let their recordings ever leave the basement, but I ain’t one to flatter myself. I can only hope that punk keeps doing what it’s always been doing, except be willing to let their material reach people around the globe by continuing to share it online, be it via the bands themselves or people who just genuinely give a shit about the music. Let everyone appreciate it. I’m not saying that anyone is obligated to publicize it to begin with, but… let punk be for the people, I guess. The only thing I could ever want or expect out of a modern-day punk community is that it’s actually, y’know, communal. So long as that’s the case, then I think we’re gonna be alright.
12. What are some of your top bands/influences on your musical taste?
JIMMY: If you’re talking in regards to the material I’d share on my channel, I’d have to say anything that came out of the Midwest from 2006 to now. I found out about practically everything else on the channel as an extension to that. Accidentally stumbling across one of the few blogs that hyperfocused that sort of home-brewed garbage was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, because it’s the reason why I give a shit about any of this in the first place. It totally sculpted my perception and standards for DIY punk and general, so shout out to those blogs for putting in the time and effort needed to get me to care about music again – they know who they are. Just skim though my first hundred uploads if you want a general idea of the sort of stuff that inspired me. But if you’re just talkin’ music as a whole, I’d have to namedrop Dead Kennedys and Geza X: “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death” and “You Goddam Kids” were the first two punk CDs I ever bought, and consequently were the only two bands I listened to for weeks on end. It was an interesting combination, sure, but when you spend ten to fifteen bucks of your OWN money, as a shitty, snot-eating kid with zero income, you’d better believe you’re gonna listen to that shit until you finally convince yourself that you actually like it.
13. Final utterances to the world?
JIMMY: Gold team rules.
THANKS SO MUCH TO ANTHONY "JIMMY," FOR LETTING ME DO THIS INTERVIEW AND FOR BEING SO GOSH DARN KIND IN THE PROCESS! -MM