Biohazard. Brujeria. Carnivore.Cradle of Filth. Death. Dog Eat Dog. Fear Factory. Glassjaw. Hatebreed. Killswitch Engage. King Diamond. Life of Agony. Mercyful Fate. Nailbomb. Obituary. Sepultura. Suffocation. Type O Negative.
Roadrunner Records boasts as legendary a roster as you’re likely to find anywhere in the realm of heavy music. Countless albums bearing the double “R” have long been etched into the annals of their respective subgenres.
Ryan Rainbro, host of the weekly Meep Meep Podcast, has endeavored to celebrate the vast and varied Roadrunner catalog, covering everything from the label’s game-changing heavy hitters to the oft-ignored and under-explored buried gems scattered throughout their decades of relevance.
With both a renewed sense of vigor and polished lineup that sports Code Orange, Turnstile, Higher Power, and Angel Dust; Roadrunner has ensured the podcast’s future as an essential deep dive.
Sporting on the ground invitees from band members and label associates, Rainbro’s enthusiasm for all things Roadrunner is as academic as it is infectiously inspired. Mere minutes into various episodes and I was rewarded with previously unheard anecdotes and eye-popping stories.
Should you mark yourself as either a casual or completist, the weekly podcast has something for you. I was lucky enough to pick the brain of the budding music custodian and he was kind enough to indulge me. Heavier than an anvil from Acme Corportaion... Set it off, y’all.
Greetings, Ryan! No Echo readers may not already know you, but they’re certainly about to find out why they should! Give us a little background and your unique bonafides. Also, for the dense, explain the podcast’s name (editor’s note: I’m the dense one in question. Took me a shameful amount of time to get it).
[Laughs] Density is mass times volume and if it's too loud, you're too old so have no shame! "Meep Meep" is a noise typically attributed to a Looney Tune named Roadrunner and that's what this label's name is.
I've been told that cool bird actually "beeps" but maybe he should enunciate better to not be misquoted! Also keeping with that theme I have a segment called the Coyote Corner, which is a follow-up to the week prior because the Coyote comes after the Roadrunner. Sick.
I was immersed in music for the last 20+ years between playing in touring bands and just being a fan. I always thought I should write a book but with podcasts and audiobooks being the new library I thought this would be a fun and easy way to share my experiences and passion with people!
Like everything launched during a global pandemic, is this an idea that’s been percolating and only made possible during a collective “slowdown”, so to speak?
You know I don't know if it was made possible for me because of everything slowing down but certainly for my guests. My friends and heroes in bands are much more available to talk on the phone than they were a year ago [laughs].
Clearly, there are still plenty of relevant and “cool” labels, but nothing can compare to the brand loyalty of the '90s and beyond. How does Roadrunner factor into your upbringing? Was there a particular era or album that bought your loyalty?
Roadrunner for me was what I hear a lot of people my senior describe as labels for them in the '80s and early '90s. If RR's red stamp was on it, chances are I needed to hear it. The label often was criticized for "trend-hopping" but I don't think that's true.
They were always a heavy music label but what defined heavy music changed and they grew with those changes with some surprises and risks along the way.
1993 was somewhat of a turning point and, subsequently, launching pad for the label. Though they’d already garnered some success, but the triumvirate of Bloody Kisses, River Runs Red, and Chaos A.D., took things to a world stage.
Interestingly, it seems like we’ve been seeing an entirely new generation embrace both Type O Negative and LOA, especially in hardcore. What do you attribute their lasting legacy to?
You're dead on with your timeline which is actually why the starting point for my show is '93 because that's not only when things got interesting, but also where my personal journey begins. Maybe not with that album but certainly that time frame.
I think the surge in popularity of bands like you mention is a what's-old-is-new-again cycle of all media. When LOA were putting out Soul Searching Sun they didn't have the same demand they do now, over two decades later.
I love that there’s been a recent influx of shows covering an entire label’s discography. Are we to expect something as completist or exhaustive in nature? You might be doing this for years to come!
An important part of the show isn't just celebrating the classics but also educating on what might be less familiar. A real highlight for me was getting to interview Alice Cohen from the band Die Monster Die.
I think their record on Roadrunner, Withdrawal Method, is incredible, totally different from what you'd think of as being on this label, and something a lot of people may have never heard of before. The stories of these less familiar bands are often more interesting because you haven't already heard it a hundred times and everyone has a unique experience.
As is the case with any label, they’re not all “hits.” Got any surprises in the pipeline? Will we be getting a full retrospective on the, uhhhh, Methods of Mayhem LP?
Well, if you don't think I have plenty of Methods of Mayhem stories, you've got the wrong acne-faced spikey haired adolescent! What we call "nü-metal" or "groove metal" was a huge part of my life, the label, and heavy music culture in general.
I love putting in perspective on the show how Tommy Lee can even have a rap-rock side-project with members of Noise Therapy exist because legends like Biohazard and Dog Eat Dog laid the foundation years before.
I’d like to get your take on the idea of Roadrunner’s Slipknot/Nickelback era. Regardless of what I think about the artists, I’ve always thought these “cash cows” allowed them to take risks on bands like Glassjaw. Yet, one could also argue said bands didn’t have the same access to promotion or priority. As the resident Roadrunner expert, what lens do you see this era through?
I think Glassjaw's position is so unique and I look forward to telling that story. You have Ross Robinson trying to shoehorn his new signee into an environment that has all the resources but maybe not all of the experience or knowledge.
Then you have Glassjaw, who are notoriously...opinionated we'll say. And it probably wasn't a great relationship. But Glassjaw did just fine for themselves on that record and albums to come. Nickelback had lots of success on RR and I think get a bad shake by heavy music fans at large. Stay tuned.
I love that your passion for the music shines through. That alone would warrant a podcast, but your approach is equally custodial, informed, and casually academic. Was there a mission statement going into this project?
Piggybacking on that, what sort of preparation goes into each episode? Side note, the Buzzov-en episode was eye-popping!
Oh thank you for saying that. The goal is always to tell the story of the band and the record, at the time of it coming out and how it might have a legacy or influence now. The biggest thing I try to do is not be redundant or inaccurate and present everything as authentic.
Anyone can read a Wiki entry but I want to either tell you my first hand account or find out from someone who was there. I value educating a new listener, validating an existing fan, and accurately representing the band.
With Buzzov•en you mentioned, this is a band who have a crazy legacy and a rabid fan base but you'd be hard-pressed to find somewhere with the information and accounts that we unveil in that episode. Definitely a proud moment.
Roadrunner Records has had a bit of a Renaissance of late, with the likes of Turnstile, Code Orange, Higher Power, Creeper, Gojira, and others. Despite the uncertainty of the music industry at this exact moment, do you predict another golden era for the label?
Well they're definitely more focused now. I think they have like 2 dozen bands max and Corey Taylor is in half of them. That being said, it's hard to deny some of the bands you mentioned aren't some of the biggest bands in music right now so I think their position of influence and integrity as far as being on the pulse is maintained.
Everyone has their favorite Roadrunner releases. For our purposes, let’s stick to hardcore. My top would be Madball Set It Off, Biohazard Urban Discipline, Shelter Mantra, and Turnstile Time and Space. Who ya got?
Those are all great picks! That might be a future episode though so I think we call that in the no-money podcast biz a hook!
What’d be your Top 5 Roadrunner releases outside of punk and hardcore be?
'94 and '95 for Roadrunner is absolutely insane and has more eclectic releases than I think most are casually be aware of.
We covered two of 'em already: the female-fronted grunge of Die Monster Die and the indie rock elegance of the Moon Seven Times which are phenomenal records but don't sleep on Kevin Salem's singer-songwriter masterpiece, Soma City, Lazy's fun as hell power pop-punk on Some Assembly Required, or Blue Mountain's alt-country Dog Days!
How can people keep up with the show?
Wherever you cast a pod, Meep Meep Podcast is there every Wednesday with a new album in chronological order usually with a guest from the band and a testimonial from someone in a band they influenced. It's a lot of fun and this year, that's what you need. And keep up with future happenings and cool stuff on Instagram.
Talk to you soon, Meepsters!
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