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10 Music Week 30.11.12


Radio 1’s playlist boss reckons guitar music will soon rule the airwaves once more. Here he explains why

sales – Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave – Ergatoudis’ observation may prove to be a crucial turning point for a genre that has been out of favour in the mainstream for some time. So what exactly did he mean, and why now? Fans of the six-string, pay close attention...

Here’s the obvious question after your recent comments: what, exactly, makes you think guitar music is coming back? Most people who work in the music industry, especially radio programmers, understand that there is a cycle of taste in the UK market. Radio 1 tries to lead a little bit, but I’ve always said if we try and lead too far ahead of the curve then we’ll break off with popular taste and become irrelevant. The cycle now is going to start shifting back to guitars. It’s quite a long-term cycle. We saw guitars reach

their nadir in the last year or so and the favour’s going to swing back their way. When I started this job it was the second round of Britpop – the Kaiser Chiefs era. Between 2004 and 2008 guitar music was enormous again, new bands emerging from the woodwork every week: Kooks, Kaisers, Fratellis. Meanwhile, pop music was in the doldrums

“The public appetite for

guitar bands is starting to

build back up again. Now it’s about finding the acts”




ll it took was six little words. When Radio 1 music boss George Ergatoudis tweeted “guitar music is

definitely coming back” earlier this month, an entire scene – recently starved of good commercial news – went into excitement overdrive. Headlines cropped up across NME, Music Week and PopJustice as indie and heavy rock acts alike

ABOVE George slays the dragon: Ergatoudis has categorically dismissed national media suggestions that Radio 1 discriminates over artists’ age

gobbled up the prospect of Britain’s tastemaking radio station bringing back the glory days. Ergatoudis admits he was being deliberately

enigmatic with his tweet – itself a reaction to similar comments made by Kiss programme director Andy Roberts in these very pages. “I thought I’d leave it hanging, see how people

reacted,” Ergatoudis tells us. But we were hardly going to let him get away

with that. In a year which has seen only one debut album from a British guitar band top 100,000

relatively speaking, while if you were a UK urban artist it was incredibly difficult to get off the ground and get your career going. Then in around 2006 to 2008, the audience started getting a bit sick or bored of British guitar music and became much more interested in pop, dance and certainly urban artists: N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, etc. Now we’re starting to see it’s more difficult for

UK urban artists to emerge and become successful – that will become a trend – and pop music is starting to go back into a decline. But we’re talking about two or three years away before guitars are in a seriously more healthy position. The public appetite for guitar bands is starting

to build back up again. Now it’s about finding the acts. They may already be out there, they just need to be noticed by A&R people at labels or radio or emerging through BBC Introducing. When the great acts, writers and front people are

there, I think the audience taste is ready and waiting and they’re going to lap it up. A few weeks ago on our audience research we had Mumford and Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines, The xx and Biffy Clyro all running with really high passion scores.

Are there any new acts that are hinting at what you’re predicting already? Jake Bugg’s emergence is of real significance. He’s a very talented guy – that’s why we’re backing him.

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