Pop-Ed: 2013, The Year in Pop-Break

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What a difference a year makes.

It’s an expression almost as old as that joke I could make about that fruitcake sitting on your kitchen counter that you’ll never eat. But, as 2014 begins, I look at where Pop-Break is compared to 365 days ago and so much has changed.

And, as the guy who runs the site, I couldn’t be more stoked about it.

See, while my ultimate goals of world domination, two million new views in a year and making enough money to put all my staff in gold-plated pants did not come to fruition (this year), there’s a lot that did happen. And this is what this column is about, a state of the union, a retrospective on the year, an “in case you missed it” piece and a look to the future.

The dude who redesigned the site performing at one of our shows at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ
The dude who redesigned the site performing at one of our shows at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ

First, if you haven’t noticed or you’re new to the game, everything you see on the site right now is brand spankin’ new. One guy to thank for that — Mr. Nick Porcaro. He will say that it’s the template he used that has made the site look as good as it does, but this man had the vision and forethought to employ so many great artistic and graphic choices. Some of them you might not even notice, but even his most subtle additions make the site that much better. When we relaunched Pop-Break 2.0 back in the summer, the response to the new look was out of this world. I’m glad you guys dig it and maybe this year we’ll tweak a few things here and there to make it even better.

Speaking of looking good — have you seen the photos on this site? The concert coverage on Pop-Break was through the roof as we covered — Pharell Williams, Matchbox Twenty, The Dave Matthews Band, Steve Aoki, Blink-182, Korn, Chris Cornell, My Morning Jacket, Queens of the Stone Age, Taking Back Sunday, Stone Temple Pilots, Papa Roach, The Warped Tour, Mac Miller, Shinedown, Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind, Stone Sour, Courtney Love, Heart, Jason Newsted (Metallica), Bloc Party, Asking Alexandria, Killswitch Engage, Slightly Stoopid, Circa Survive, New Found Glory, They Might Be Giants, Dropkick Murphys, The Bouncing Souls, AFI, Matisyahu, The Devil Wears Prada, Buckcherry, Southside Johnny, Twisted Sister, Bayside, Alkaline Trio, Bullet for My Valentine, The Wonder Years, Steel Panther, Anberlin, Clutch, T. Mills, The Maine, CHVRCHES, Senses Fail, Dramarama, Sevendust, Sponge, Japanese superstars Vamps, and New Wave icons, Modern English.

Pharrell at Hammerstein Ballroom - Keeyahtay Lewis
Pharrell at Hammerstein Ballroom – Keeyahtay Lewis
Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age in Brooklyn: Mike DeLaPaz
Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age in Brooklyn: Mike DeLaPaz
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister at Encore Events Center in Freehold -- Jeff Crespi
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister at Encore Events Center in Freehold — Jeff Crespi
Chris Cornell at The Count Basie in Red Bank: Keeyahtay Lewis
Chris Cornell at The Count Basie in Red Bank: Keeyahtay Lewis

All of these photos were brought to us by the amazing photographers who came on board this year: Keeyahtay Lewis, Jeff Crespi and Mike DeLaPaz. All of them went above and beyond the call of duty — braving blinding rain, unbearable heat, equally unbearable cold, snow, traffic and expense and caught just utterly breathtaking live shows. Pop-Break is a million times richer for having these men on staff.

If you haven’t notice, our grammar got more good. (Yes, that’s a joke). It’s still a work in progress (that blame falls to me), but after the behest of some very smart people who told me our grammar game needed to be up, we went out out and found ourselves a true, full-fledged, grammar and style nerd and I mean that in the best possible way. Kelly Spoer (O’Dowd) has made us all sound a lot better than we truly are and has not only challenged everything I know, but has helped cultivate our staff’s writing quality.

#Humblebrag time! Yeah, it’s really not humble bragging, but I’m going to take this part of the column to extoll some of the cool things that happened to the site this year.

So, Twitter kind of loved us this year. Pop-Break’s Twitter presence increased exponentially and we got tons of ReTweets and Twitter love from a lot of our interview subjects. Is this a huge surprise? Not really. Musicians and their labels/publicists/managers are so in tune with social media that it’s a good chance they’ll spread the word about your interview/review/concert coverage.

Yet, when it comes to the world of television and film, the love isn’t always there for the little guys like us. That’s why we were absolutely floored when Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, LOST), Rob Zombie (for his film The Lords of Salem), the cast of You’re Next and Edgar Wright (director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) took to Twitter to spread the Pop-Break love.

Couldn't find the retweet screen cap, so here's the one from Facebook
Couldn’t find the retweet screen cap, so here’s the one from Facebook

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Also, we started working some awesome people on the regular that we really want to give a shout out to. So thanks to Buck from Live Nation, Maria from Starland Ballroom/AEG, Jake from Rocks Off as well as the publicists from BBC America, all the record labels and publicity houses who worked with us this year.

We’ve been known for our interviews, in particular with bands. 2013 saw us talk with everyone from American Idol alum Kris Allen to emo icons Taking Back Sunday (our biggest of the year) to metal legends Megadeth (we’re now half through The Big 4) and Jason Newsted formerly of Metallica. We also got to speak with people outside the music world like renowned author Neil Gaiman, Dr. Who show runner Steven Moffat, actor Doug Jones (Abe Sapien from Hellboy) comedian Jimmy Pardo, UFC icons Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock, current UFC stars Roy Nelson and Johny Hendricks and one of my personal favorites, former WWE and ECW star Tommy Dreamer.

Brag over.

The Stone Pony was our home away from home
The Stone Pony was our home away from home

Finally, Pop-Break doesn’t run without the people who put words on the screen (we can’t say pens to paper anymore). As we’ve said too many times, this site started out as two guys trying to keep their writing chops and pop culture savvy up — it was never intended to have close to 30 people working for it on a consistent basis — 30 people who could not be more different and unique, yet 30 people who really care about what we do here. These people work for nothing but maybe a free concert ticket, maybe a free advance screener and something to put on their resume. These writers kill it week-in and week-out, they learn, they grow and as the “papa bear” of the group it’s amazing to watch many of these young(er) writers go off into the world and flourish.

As 2014 approaches I’d love to leave you with grandiose promises and an ambitious game plan of what 2014 hold for Pop-Break. But, I’m not. If I’ve learned anything from 2013 it’s this — “under promise and over deliver.” I don’t want to raise any pulses or get any hopes up with some crazy plans about million dollar salaries and live coverage from The Oscars. No, none of that. What I can promise you is this — we will continue to give you our best. Each and everyday you can count on honest and passionate views on the world of pop culture. Thank you for making Pop-Break part of your life. It’s truly been a tremendous ride and we look forward to bringing joy, humor and overly wordy sentences to your 2014.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites