“I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of rock icons; Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Michael Hutchinson, Peter Frampton, oh and Little Richard pinched my butt. I was at a chateau in Italy with U2, and Bono served wine with the caveat that there were no preservatives/no hangovers. Was that true, you ask? I don’t know…I was drinking tequila.” -Robert England
By Carl C. Sundberg
Some people are funny, some people are not. We can all pretty much agree on that. But when it comes to the people who are, in fact, funny, being around them brings up the mood of an entire room. It’s a gift. Funny people are rare.
Robert England is indeed, one of the rare breed of humans who are in fact, genuinely funny. Not in any sort of forced, “hey look at me, everyone!” sort of way. No, Robert England is naturally funny like Tom Cruise is naturally handsome.
Like Lady Gaga, he was just born this way.
At least, to us mortals of the comic persuasion, it seems that is the case.
In addition to his natural, brilliant sense of humor, he’s got some of the greatest rock n roll stories you’ll ever hear. The craziest part is the fact that Robert England isn’t just a guy who knows a lot of big stars. Many of them tend to know him too. And sometimes, they get into serious trouble together.
Buckle in for a wild ride with a peek inside the hilariously awesome world of RadioContraband Rock Radio Editor and author of Contraband’s On the Radar, Joke of the Week, and founder of Bob UK Enterprises…Mr. Robert England.
What are your three most Rock & Roll moments?
I’ve been in the business since 1983, and there’s so many great moments to mention. What comes to me as I write this would be the time I was on the golf course (I suck at golf) at a charity tournament with Eddie Van Halen. There we were, partying on the green as he smoked and drank Mickey’s Big Mouths. (Anybody remember those?) Who knew that being intoxicated would make my swing so outstanding?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of rock icons; Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Michael Hutchinson, Peter Frampton, oh and Little Richard pinched my butt. I was at a chateau in Italy with U2, and Bono served wine with the caveat that there were no preservatives/no hangovers. Was that true, you ask? I don’t know…I was drinking tequila.
I Met John Mellencamp at our office and made him crack up, which was cool because he’s a very serious guy. I was very proud of myself that day. In 1992, Album Network did a private Bruce Springsteen dress rehearsal at a sound stage at Sony Studios. The show was taped for broadcast for 2 hours, then Bruce played an additional 2 hours for all of us in attendance. Everybody was jealous because my picture with Bruce came out so photogenically, yet as I look at the picture today, I wonder what I was thinking with that shirt.
Now that we know some of your most rockin’ moments, how about worst/weirdest moments?
In 1997 at a McGathy event in New York, I’m sitting at the bar of the Rihga Royal Hotel (A classy joint) when Vince Neil sidles up. I knew him well through Album Network. At this point in time, Vince was a recovering alcoholic. He asked me what I was drinking, which was Patron Silver. (The Bob UK signature drink) Vince asked the barkeep for the same. I looked at him askance but who was I to judge? There followed a night of revelry and decadence of the sort that only Vince Neil could drum up. Long story short, we ended up at the world famous Scores Strip Club, where Vince had a YUUUUGE tab going. He was trying to convince me that my boss Tommy Nast would sign off on the expenses. Yeaaaah. I excused myself “to go to the bathroom” and hailed a cab. The next day was a promotional event for the band. George Capellini who was then the head honcho at their label, Elektra Records, called me early that morning yelling that this was the first record Vince had made returning to the band, and what the hell was I thinking knocking him off the wagon? I avoided George’s glance for the next few days and ended up with the dubious distinction of being That Guy Who Enabled Vince Neil off the Wagon.
List your high points and low points of your career to date.
The lowest point was Album Network closing less than 6 months before my 20th anniversary with the magazine.
The high point is having friendships and relationships that were cultivated over my time at Album Network that make it possible for me to own my own company and survive at it going on 13 years later. I am still waiting for a couple of invoices to be paid from 2004. And let me look over my list of people who haven’t returned my call for a while….
How did you get started working with RadioContraband?
They took my call.
In an ever-shrinking music environment, what keeps you motivated- what keeps you in the fight to expose great music to the masses?
I like food, gas and a roof over my head. Every Tuesday is a report card and Wednesday could be a call in to the principal’s office. There’s motivation for you.
When you hear a great record, you know it’s a great record and you want other people to share it too. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping a new band make their way.
You worked some really great records. Tell us about some of them. If there is one record or artist that you could have been involved with, what record or artist, and why?
Over the years, I’ve worked with and helped to break many great bands and it’s really hard to pick one right off the top of my head. It’s one of those questions that has such a long answer that if I leave anyone off, I will wake up in the middle of the night and go “shit, I forgot so-and-so,” and I do value my sleep.
You’ve had a long illustrious career in the music business and these days, you are a self-made man with your business – Bob UK Enterprises – that you own and operate. What are some of the hurdles you deal with and some of the best parts of running your own company at home?
Hurdles: My office chair was slanting down but I figured out I had assembled it wrong and now it’s all good. That was a tough one. Finding a good pen I like to write with. (This is harder that you can imagine.) Obviously my wardrobe is a big issue. The commute. Why does my headset charge not last? Getting paid in a reasonable amount of time. Human Resources meetings. Having no one to three-legged race at the company picnic. Having no secret Santa.
Good parts: Working with so many great people at labels and radio.
What’s a typical day like for you, in the office?
I feed my turtles a salad of lettuce and tomatoes and other nice things. I repair the havoc my cat has wrought in the night. I eat cereal. I make doodles on a piece of paper. I think up Shark Tank inventions, like bubble wrap underwear for elderly people that act as air bags to protect their hips. I check my emails. I harass potential buyers who come to look at the empty lot across my street. I gab with many people on the phone. I stare into space. I Facebook. I dust off my Simpsons collection. I look at things on Amazon. I IM with lots of people. I watch high speed car chases on the news. All to a soundtrack of great current music.
Where do you see the music industry in five years?
The whole industry will be taken over by one big record label and communications giant, Skynet Corp. There will be cyborgs and airstrikes tracking down and attacking the Independent Promoters who are also attacking each other. Despite this, The Promoters will be the John Connors on behalf of Artists everywhere. The Artists have taken to the underground where they are secretly building a resistance and writing songs of freedom. The Promoters and The Artists fight valiantly, and stage a rebellion in Columbus, Ohio at what goes down in history as The Rock on the Range 15th Anniversary.
What advice would you give a young music fan who wanted to break into this crazy industry, but didn’t know where to start?
Find a good friend with a comfy couch. Remember there is usually spare change in said couch. Use Value Menus and Supersize whenever possible. Take your calcium. Always have a backup plan. Marry rich. Stay positive, work hard, be focused, and stay true.