John Neely manages and books talent at the Grog Shop.
What were a couple of the albums that first got you excited about music?
My mom used to play the Rolling Stones' Through the Past, Darkly and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's . . . all the time when I was a little kid. When I was in fifth grade, I stole the Groin cassette "God's Not Amerikkkan" from my sister -- it was all downhill from there.
What have you been listening to lately?
The new Mission of Burma record, The Obliterati. The new Parts & Labor record on Narnack. Death of Samantha's Strungout on Jargon is always close by. The Bats' Law of Things is a great summertime album.
What's your impression of the local music scene?
It's the strongest it's been in a long time. There's a ton of smart, good, original bands and a strong DIY ethic. The great thing about Cleveland is that while you can't expect things to be provided for you, it's relatively easy to do them yourself.
What's the most common mistake bands make, trying to get booked at the Grog Shop?
Most are well-intentioned but just not ready, or don't really fit into what we do here. (No cover bands, please.) Calling every day and annoying the crap out of us. Trying only to open the biggest shows we have (especially when they've never played here before). Trying to play here before they have any sort of track record. Treating us like we should be so lucky to have them play our club.
What are you looking for from young bands getting started?
Me, personally? Originality and quality, in that order. Throw some neuroticism in there, for good measure.
What was your favorite show of the past year?
As far as the Grog goes, High on Fire is always a winner. My Dad Is Dead. Parts and Labor at the Church, and the Giant Eagle/Sun God/This Moment show at the Tower were recent highlights.