We caught up with Ben Rogers, executive director of Metrognome Collective and mastermind behind the Chat Room Pub's live music, which is in short supply.
The Metrognome Collective is beginning to change the landscape of the live music scene in Fort Worth again, but not in the way you'd expect -- at least not yet.
The group's expansion is part of what caused executive director Ben Rogers, who tends bar at the Chat Room Pub , to factor out the live music at that Fort Worth bar to make time for new projects under the fast-growing tree that is Mission Co-Op. (Read more about the news where we did, at DC9 At Night.)
The not for profit corporation and public charity now fuels the Metrognome Collective, One Hundred Second Dash, an audio micro-compilation project of song snippets via zip file, and the new Real Vinyl Label with its first release forthcoming. So Rogers, who's lived in the Fairmount district for seven years and put his own artistic pursuits aside for the most part as he took the lead role with Metrognome in September of 2007, has much to oversee.
In addition to the collective's presence at the Firehouse Gallery, Rogers told us a building to accommodate a Thurs.-Sun., 300-capacity non-profit venue is being sought by Metrognome, with even more expansions possible as the group aims to establish campuses in other areas of Fort Worth.
We shot Rogers a few questions via email about the last round of the intimate Chat Room gigs and the new possibilities for Metrognome.
AT: Why did you decide to put all your energy into expanding Metrognome and let go of the successful Chat Room shows?
BR: For two reasons: One, our structure was excellent for bands, but drained the bar. We never took any money from the door to pay employees, promotion fees, or me (for booking!) all of those costs were pulled from bar sales. As many of the employees and owners of the Chat Room have toured, we felt this was the only way we could pay bands in a venue this small, and still be able to sleep at night. In the end, for obvious reasons, we had to stop spending that money. Two, the Mission Co-Op is a fantastic organization, and had an incredible impression on North Texas during its former heyday. With the honor of being asked to run such a collective, how could I not spend every waking second trying to further its growth and the impact on the community at large.
AT: As the Chat Room's live music calendar phases out, we see an interesting bill for one of the last shows at the bar -- the one that marks your birthday (July 18, with (Fight Bite, Akkolyte, Darktown Strutters, Eat Avery's Bones, The Great Tyrant, and Personal Victories of George Quartz). Is this your dream bill of sorts? Tell us a little bit about why these bands are close to your heart. BR: As far as locals go, this is a dream bill for me. There were two other bands I really wanted, but were on tour (Orange Coax and Drug Mountain.) [Note: These bands have signed on to play the final Chat Room show, listed below the Q&A.] Why are these bands close to my heart? Have you heard them? Are you kidding me? These are some of few artists in North Texas who are obviously genuinely concerned with challenging themselves, their medium, and their audience. That attitude embodies one of the deeper spirits of art in my opinion.
AT: More than ever, you've told us, Metrognome is focusing on education, with technology workshops being planned for artists and musicians. What can Metrognome offer that trade schools or, say, the University of North Texas can't? Can you describe a course you think will be especially useful for creative people in the DFWd area? BR: Without promising anything, Arduino is the future, and I don't know anyone teaching anything about it in NTX. (From the program's Web site: Arduino an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.)
AT: Are you ready to say which local bands have forthcoming releases planned on Real Vinyl? (Thought it was worth a try.)
BR: No, but the lineup won't be surprising.
The final three Chat Rooms shows are must-sees, and we've listed them below for easy access.
Saturday, July 18: Ben Rogers Presents: My Birthday, a Metrognome benefit. (All proceeds benefit Metrognome Collective) Fight Bite, Akkolyte, Darktown Strutters, Eat Avery's Bones, The Great Tyrant, Personal Victories of George Quartz. $5. 8PM.
Wednesday, July 29: Rival Gang, Orange Coax, Drug Mountain, Lychgate, Oicho Kabu. $5.