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30.11.12 Music Week 11

“I don’t think we’ve had anybody quite as good as Alex Turner since the Arctic Monkeys

emerged. I’m putting Jake up there. He’s got that rare ability to write snapshots of young life” GEORGE ERGATOUDIS

We’ve also put an early nod on [Manchester band] The 1975 because I think there’s something special there. But we’re waiting for more: we know the candidates that are exciting the NME: Palma Violets, Peace, Savages, we’re looking at them as well. But sooner rather than later I think even more significant acts are going to emerge.

Do the numbers, as in Radio 1’s internal analytics, back you up? It’s partly intuitive, but looking at the research, we can see there is already an appetite around the guitar acts that are good enough to get passionate about. It will take more distinctive, high-quality guitar acts to emerge. Seeing those [current] passion scores around that music is interesting. When I mentioned the comeback of ‘guitar music’ on Twitter I deliberately kept it in the broadest sense: certainly [heavy] rock is scoring well with our audience: the Foo Fighters historically and still to this day test really well, then there’s You Me At Six and Bullet For My Valentine, who we’ve just added to the A-List. I’m intrigued to see what result we get out of that. We’ve had incredible audience scores off Twin Atlantic too.

When we spoke to Raw Power boss Craig Jennings recently, he talked about how much he values Radio 1 for backing heavy rock music. Could that brand of heavier guitar music lead the revival you’ve predicted? I very much believe that acts can emerge out of that rock world just as they can from the alternative scene. Biffy Clyro are still massively on the ascendancy – I don’t think they’ve achieved their career peak yet. They’re the nearest thing to the Foo Fighters that has come out of the UK recently:

brilliant, melodic rock with a hard edge and attitude. Everything’s there for Biffy to keep climbing and Radio 1 is playing its part in helping them get there. In the wider public perception, they still have still room for growth.

You mention Foo Fighters just as there are a lot of headlines about age being a barrier to Radio 1’s playlist. Is that right? No! That’s been the most irritating thing about all this [Robbie Williams coverage]. I’ve let Nigel Harding, one of our executives, go on the record about it, but I’ll say it too: being put on Radio 1’s playlist has absolutely nothing to do with the age of the artist. It’s entirely about the relevance of the artist and their act to our young target audience. Foo Fighters still research really well – they still love them. Coldplay do too. You get young artists making music for older audiences – Katie Melua, for example – and then you get older artists still making music that’s entirely relevant to younger audiences. It’s all about relevance. That’s what we look at very closely, not anyone’s age.

Universal UK boss David Joseph talked at length recently about the role of radio in breaking new acts. How far will Radio 1 go to help bring

ABOVE String quartet: Are these the acts to bring guitars back to the masses? Clockwise from top left – Palma Violets, Jake Bugg, Biffy Cyro and Savages

through the guitar acts you’re talking about in 2013 – rather than just waiting for your audience to tell you what to play? Obviously we’ve got our specialist shows, and I’ll be looking for them to take a major lead in identifying the most exciting artists. We work really closely with Zane [Lowe] and his team. But we’re also – and we never make any claim otherwise – looking in terms of what’s going on in the social networking space, YouTube, etc; which artists are starting to get some traction there and obviously in the live performance space as well. They’re all really solid indicators. We’ve got our eyes on a few acts, but they need to demonstrate that they are attracting an audience. We lead, but lead too far and you can get it wrong.

We have a lot of people in A&R reading Music Week: does this mean they should perhaps not be quite so scared of backing guitar acts in 2013? Absolutely. I’m fully convinced that the public appetite is now going to open up [to guitars] – but that doesn’t mean carte blanche for crap guitar acts to emerge! That isn’t going to cut it.

You specifically mentioned Jake Bugg before. He has quite a classic sound – do you think he speaks to Radio 1’s target audience? We’re always looking for great lyricists and I think great lyricists in alternative or rock music can be absolutely vital in being relevant to young audiences. That’s one of the keys to Jake Bugg. This is difficult to say - do I want to go this far? Okay: I don’t think we’ve had anybody quite as good as Alex Turner since the Arctic Monkeys emerged. I’m putting Jake up there. He’s got that rare ability to write snapshots of young life.

He got his break on BBC Introducing. Do you think that could play a role in discovering the next classic British guitar band who could blow up like Oasis or Arctic Monkeys? I absolutely hope that will be the case. That’s completely what we’re looking for. I’m sure one will turn up sooner rather than later – at least one.

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