What started on a whim over a lunch one day back in 2001, has turned into 15 years of Innocent Words. February 2002 was the first official issue of Innocent Words. We were a quarterly print zine back then and in some ways, that seems like a lifetime ago. We have gone through countless changes over the 15 years and I can honestly say, each on has worked out for the best.
When I started Innocent Words, we had a goal to be a DIY focused zine and I feel we’ve maintained that to this day. I never set out to be as big as Rolling Stone or Pitchfork when I started this, we are as DIY as the bands we cover and we are perfectly happy with that.
Over the 15 years, I personally have interviewed over 200 musicians/bands, but it’s not about me. I consider Innocent Words to be a small family and I couldn’t do this without them. As I prepare for an interview, I try to be original with my questions. I don’t want to go through the robotic 10 questions to ask a band with a new album. One of the best compliments I could get is when I am interviewing someone and they say, “that’s a good question, no one has ever asked me that before.”
I am always the one doing the asking and it makes me feel somewhat guilty, even though I have heard some of the most amazing music stories you can think of. During the end of the interviews, I will sometimes ask an artist if there is anything they would like to ask me. It seems only fair.
When the 15th anniversary started coming closer, I thought I’d take it further and gather some of my all-time favorite artist and have them ask me a few questions. To my surprise, I got a lot of response. So, we are going to spread this out over several issues and make it a series. I hope you like it. You might want to learn way more than you wanted to about me and Innocent Words.
Thank you all for supporting Innocent Words, reading and sharing our stories and reviews. It means the world to me.
Founder, publisher, editor, writer, minion
Josh Berwanger (The Only Children, The Anniversary, Berwanger)
Josh Berwanger: What inspires you to keep doing Innocent Words?
Troy: I don’t know if there is one thing really. I do admit I get frustrated at times with some things, mostly the fakeness of PR people, but honestly I absolutely love what I do. It’s not like a “real job.” I had plenty of shitty jobs before I started Innocent Words and I could never go back to that life. When you boil it down, I am just a music nerd with a way to tell other people about music I believe in. I get to interview musicians who I idolized when I was a teenager and some have become good friends. How weird is that?
Josh Berwanger: If you could work for any music publication in any era which would it be and why?
Troy: This is a really good question. The smart money would be to say Rolling Stone in the 1960s, they were so compelling and not the shit show they are now. However, my true answer would be Metal Edge or Hit Parade in the 1980s because I read those magazines more than I read my schoolbooks. It was the music bible to me. All those hair metal bands and that lifestyle would have been insane.
Sluggo Cawley (The Grannies)
Sluggo Cawlet: You strike me as an intelligent, caring and empathetic soul – how do you see music and writing about music (hopefully) helping with the crap we will all be dealing with? I’m referring specifically and peripherally to the election of a man who by all accounts is a bigoted sexual predator. Not to mention a corrupt businessman.
Troy: You said a mouthful of truth there, Sluggo. Honestly, the next four years scare the shit out of me. Not only for music and freedom of speech, but for my female friends, those with health issues, and the elderly. Musicians have the power to rally the troops so to speak and speak up, but with that’s going on in D.C. I don’t think it will make a change. I think musicians and artists must stick together because we are all in this together.
Pete Droge (singer/songwriter)
Pete Droge: Do you have a daily routine? If so how does the magazine fit into it?
Troy: I do have a routine and the magazine is the routine. I am a creature of habit for medical reasons. For the last 15 years, Innocent Words has been everything to me. I hope to break out of my shell this year and accomplish some personal goals.
Pete Droge: How do you balance the creative work involved in making IW happen with the business side?
Troy: Going into Innocent Words, I knew about music, I knew about writing and how to do interviews. When it came to the business side, I was clueless. I’ve learned as I went along. Luckily, I have had help from some amazing people. We don’t have a lot of overhead so the business side isn’t that time consuming. I never set out to be a huge publication. I’d rather have the longevity and quality over a big bank account.
Heidi Lynne Gluck (The Only Children, Some Girls, The Pieces)
Heidi Lynne Gluck What’s your karaoke song?
Troy: I’ve never sang karaoke in my life. I don’t even sing in the shower. If you heard my singing voice, you’d get it.
Heidi Lynne Gluck: What do you like to eat/what do you like to cook?
Troy: I am a very picky eater due to health issues. I eat a lot of chicken and have become pretty good at making various chicken recipes. But my all-time favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs with salad and Italian bread. I also have a sweet tooth from hell. I’ve never met a chocolate chip cookie I didn’t like.
Regan Hagar (Satchel, Brad)
Regan Hagar: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Troy: It’s no secret I would love more than anything to live in Seattle. But as far as visiting, I’ve never been anywhere outside of the Midwest. Traveling is hard for me due to health reasons, but I’d love to go to Italy. It seems so old and beautiful. The same could be said for Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
Regan Hagar: What three things in nature you find beautiful?
Troy: Great question. 1. The ocean. By far the ocean is the most amazing and beautiful thing in nature. I have an obsession with water. 2. I love big old trees. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the shapes, the history, or what they do for the world. 3. The animals, they are way better than humans.
Regan Hagar: What do you do in your free time away from Innocent Words?
Troy: What’s this free time you speak of? There is always something to do with Innocent Words, but I don’t mind. I love what I do. But when I do step away from the computer, I love to watch movies, take walks, and working on my novels.