Setlist: Get Into The Van

It’s CMJ here in New York City and all of the DJs on BreakThru Radio have been doing wonderful work in playing the music on BTR that you can go and see in the hundreds of clubs and venues throughout the city. For our weekly-featured article Setlist, this presents the perfect time to discuss one of the station’s more interview-styled programs: “Get Into the Van.” 

“My show features phone interviews with artists placing a particular emphasis on touring/playing live,” writes DJ Jezz–who seems to be the perfect host for such a venue. Jezz Harkin is a music enthusiast who has survived just about all aspects of the music industry. He spent seven years working for Richard Branson’s V2 Records and “suffered through artist management for several years” on top of that. A native of County Donegal, Ireland, who has lived in New York since 1988, Harkin provides an introspective look at the trials and tribulations of small-time touring.

“It’s an insider’s view to life on the road; stuck in a van with the rest of your gang.” Asking questions that most music fans who have never been a member in a band would not think of, “Get Into the Van” offers a window into what life is like for indie bands playing local gigs.

The show stays true to the BreakThru Radio mantra by featuring “new and up and coming acts from all over the world.” The format is similar to some of the other talk shows as well; “I play four tunes from the guest act, and also music by other independent acts,” says DJ Jezz. ”The music ranges from rock, to electronica, to singer songwriters.”

This week it is a conversation with Justin Angelo from Jersey City’s Black Hollies. The talk focuses on the tough economic times for all of us at the moment, and how it trickles all the way down the line to the local hometown band.

Angelo begins, “all the glamorous things about touring during the financial turmoil right now–”

“Yeah, you and a thousand other bands right now,” interrupts Jezz.

Jezz goes on to remark, “That’s what I’ve been finding each week with bands on the road. It’s very, very hard out there and which is another reason I like talkin’ to you, so people can hear that.”

The music industry has taken an interesting twist over the last twenty years, where music is now free for the most part and bands are forced to find new means of earning money. This leaves them with only two options: 1) Concerts, and 2) Merchandise. With all that is happening in New York this weekend and the CMJ Music Marathon, we often forget what it must be like for some of these indie bands who have traveled from afar.

Jezz Harkin reminds me of one distinctive quality all these bands share: “What they all have in common is the road.”

(Photo of Jezz Harkin host of Get Into The Van)

Link to this article:

– Kory French


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