If it were up to Buddyhead, three-quarters of your music collection should probably be burned.

A few years back, Travis Keller and his partner in crime, Aaron North, took a good, hard look at what record labels were churning out, (namely nu metal, manufactured punk and jock rap) and decided to spearhead a tiny revolution of their own. The two formed their own website, Buddyhead.com and watched their brand of industry smack-talking, playground humor spread like wildfire. Soon enough, legions of avid followers were checking up on Buddyhead’s music reviews and “gossip” section, dedicated to exposing cornball Hollywood schmoozers and music industry slaves alike for the schmucks they often are. They’ve even run into their fair share of legal pandering, after posting the phone numbers of Buddyhead targets like longtime punching bag, Fred “Tubby” Durst (affectionately nicknamed by Buddyhead). The site seems to have evolved into something of a nastier, music-related version of The Onion, even boasting fake interviews and pictures of media darlings, the Strokes. Alongside their “Best and Worst” music picks is a scathing list of “Buddyhead’s Rules for Audiences of Rock,” that warns, as rule #12, “Don’t take off your shirt. We know you’re sweaty dude. Taking off your wife beater isn’t going to stop that.”

A few lawsuits and headlines later, Travis and Aaron are co-owners of Buddyhead Records and are busy at work, adding bands to their roster, promoting tours and generally avoiding being hauled into court. For some, they’re rock ‘n’ roll saviors sent to verbally kick the shit out of a long list of bands that have had it coming for years. Others might just agree that they’re music snobs with asshole senses of humor who like to pick on overweight chicks. Either way, Buddyhead makes no apologies about their desire to put out good music and throw up the red flag on shit music.

While Aaron and his band, The Icarus Line, trek all over the globe to record their upcoming full-length album, Travis dutifully takes the reigns of the label and website just long enough to answer Artsweek’s questions via email and hopefully not shove our faces in the fact that we probably have no taste in music.

Artsweek: Though nowadays people might associate you most directly with Buddyhead, you’re quite the accomplished photographer. How long have you been involved in photography?

Travis: I’m not really “involved in photography” at all. I’ve had a camera for, like, seven years I guess now.

Do you still find much time to snap photos?

I haven’t for over a year, but just last month I start taking lots of digital photos when my friends and I go places…

Do you have a favorite collaboration with a band or artist?


Do you ever (or have you) held a show of your work?

No. But a series of photo books will be coming out on Buddyhead very soon. Matt Sohl and myself will be laying them out, and my photos, as well as several other highly respected photographers and artists will be contributing to their contents.

Tell me a bit of the back-history behind the Buddyhead label and website… When was it born? Was it just you and Aaron? What advice do you have for those who aspire to own their own record label?

The website has been around since 1998. The label… it’s been here since 2001. It’s always been just me and Aaron. My advice is, don’t start a label; there’s already too many shitty ones. Go to college.

In the last few months, it seems the gossip updates have spaced out a bit… is that a result of lawsuits and too much fuss?

No,we’ve been partying a lot; fuck writing. No, actually, but not really, we’ve been working on our record label. Well, I have at least. Aaron’s been playing guitar rock god. His band, The Icarus Line, have been recording their V2 Records / major label debut record / best record of 2004, for the past four months or so, here in LA, in London, and finally in New York… so he’s been pretty wrapped up in that, while I’ve been making sure our records get in stores and our bands don’t break up.

What’s a typical day like at Buddyhead, Inc.? Are you in an office all day?

Every day is different. One day I might be picking up boxes of vinyl from the record plant; one day I might be mailing records out to radio and press; one day I might be answering stupid e-mails like this; and one day I might be acting like an asshole and drinking The Icarus Line’s beer at their show in London. It depends on the day.

After poking so much fun at music industry/Hollywood gossip, how does it feel to be fodder for gossip columns now? (*ahem* your face in US Weekly a while ago… not that Artsweek reads that magazine)

I don’t really pay attention to that stuff.

Is Fred Durst still public enemy No. 1? How did he get picked out of the legions of crappy “musicians” out there?

Public Enemy No. 1 is Chuck D and Flavor Flav. Fred Durst might think he’s Public Enemy.

How did he get picked out? Is it just that obvious that he’s a moron?

It is to us…

Any celebrities or bands at the top of the Buddyhead shitlist right now?

Everything on the cover of Alternative Press.

Have you all had many legal problems lately, or has it been smoother sailing?

Got two this month…average.

So… what kind of music do you like?

Good music.

What’s one truly inspirational record and/or band in your life?

The Stooge – Fun House.

What are some bands that get you all juiced up?

-Primal Scream, The Stone Roses, The Velvet Underground, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Jesus Lizard John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Led Zeppelin, The Misfits, The Gun Club, The Icarus Line, Your Enemies Friends, The Fallen, Radio Vago, Shat, Ink & Dagger, Text, Burning Brides.

Artsweek found a skate video called “Never Grow Up” featuring you, from several years ago. Are you still much of a skateboarder?

I ride it to the store sometimes.

To me, you and Aaron seem like pretty clever (albeit ultra-sassy) writers… What’s your writing experience outside of Buddyhead postings? Can you tell Artsweek a bit about the ‘zine?

We’ve both written for various print magazines, but never taken writing seriously. That’s for people who like school. And it’s not a ‘zine. You don’t see us outside shows trying to get people to buy it.

To me, it seems like you might just have accomplished the feat of staying a big kid, all while holding down a “real” job and making rent… is that a fair statement?

I barely make rent.

When are you guys going to bring some Buddyhead bands up to poor Santa Barbara?

December 25th.

For those who are unfamiliar with Buddyhead, can you summarize exactly what it is you all do in a few words?

Piss people off.

So do people just want to fight you right and left? Do you guys need bodyguards? And, last but not least, what’s the worst fight you’ve been in (related to Buddyhead)?

We had bodyguards at South By South-West [musical festival held in Austin, TX]. I’ve been punched a few times, but who hasn’t? I don’t fight.