13 January 2010

Q&A: Dana White

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a series of Q&A interviews we will do with people who have made significant contributions to the West Virginia music scene over the years. These interviews will be with the people who played in bands, booked shows, made zines or just went to a lot of shows.

DANA WHITE for over a decade took part in the West Virginia music scene in every way possible. He published the infamous Corn 'Zine zine and Web site. He booked shows. Played in a number of bands. Most importantly, he has introduced hundreds of young people to something that has since become very important in their own lives. It's safe to say he was the single most import person in music in West Virginia in the '00s, but has contributed to the scene over the last three decades in every separate scene in this state.

Where are you from?
I lived in Milton, but then my family relocated to the Charleston area for 10 years. I have now lived in Huntington for the last 7 years.

How long have you been involved in the music scene?
About 17 years.

When did you get into the West Virginia music scene?
I really got into music when I was a teenager. When I lived in Milton, I didn't know anyone that was in a band for the longest time. I met some guys that were in a hair metal/metal cover band, and hung out with them a bit. I went to a few of their shows but I really wanted to see something original. Anything was better than not going to a show at all at that point.
After my family moved to the Charleston area when I was 17 in 1992, I met a few people whose younger siblings went to shows in the second story of an indoor flea market in Nitro. We made fun of them for it, but finally curiosity got to us and we went to check it out. I remember the bands were Freaktent, The Buddhashrooms, and The Provos. It was so much fun to see all these bands that I had never heard and be around all these people that I didn't know, but somehow feel like I was part of something special. It really moved me. I couldn't stop talking about it for the next few days.
Something else that helped me really get into the music scene in West Virginia even more was starting Corn 'Zine. I got the idea from going to Iguana Skateshop in Huntington, when I used to skate. They had a zine called Iguanazine that was just a lot of information about the regional skateboarding scene. I loved it. I talked to a couple of friends when we were on a road trip to Columbus about starting our own zine about music, skateboarding and a random things. We were on the way back home, and trying to think of a name. Someone shouted "Corn 'Zine!" based on a huge, plywood ear of corn at a farmer's market. We all laughed, but it stuck. We had no idea that anyone would ever take us seriously.
We started taking pictures at shows and while we were skating, talking to friends and bands, and writing anything that came to mind. The first issue was 4 pages long, I think. We started typing it up, reviewing CDs, tapes and vinyl, and interviewing bands. We eventually caught the eye of some record labels and started getting music in the mail to review and getting into some shows for free. It took us all over the place, but more importantly, got us in touch more with a lot of killer bands and people here at home. We went online on January 31, 1997. The site was really basic at first but started getting larger as I learned Web programming. There were not even a handful of paper issues of Corn 'Zine once we went online. A few years later, we bought CornZine.com. Just being online was a proud moment, but having our own domain name felt like we had conquered the world.
As time went on, I kept in touch with a lot of friends through Corn 'Zine and kept meeting new people and hearing new bands. I got a unique view of the West Virginia music scene. It was really something special to me that I still hold as one of my greatest accomplishments, even if it was more of a labor of love than anything the last few years.
It really came to me during 2009 that it had been too long since I had updated CornZine. Life had finally stepped up and made it a little too difficult to do it the way it should've been done. With a heavy heart, CornZine.com went offline in September 2009. The final message just read as, "it's done. thank you for the last 14.25 years. my name is dana. good night." I got a little teary watching all the files being deleted from the server. It almost sounds ridiculous, but having that much time, love, friendship and effort poured into something for that long can really affect a person in a lot of awesome ways.

What bands have you played in?
Down To None, Malicious Intent (later known as All For Nothing), Furious Styles, Holden Caulfield and currently Heart Holds True.

Of the bands you have been in, what have been your favorite shows?
Down To None played a show in Sutton, West Virginia, with a bunch of friends' bands, and for some reason everyone in the bands talked about that show as if it were legend. I have no idea what year it was. It was just a lot of fun playing in front of a huge group of people that none of the bands had met and we were all so well received.

The last show at Hyamp was really incredible because of the people there just having so much fun with all the bands. That was in March of 2007. I'll never forget the stage filling up with people and Ian McNemar taking some of the coolest pictures I've ever seen of any band I've ever played with. It was insane. Holden Caulfield's last show in August 2008 in Huntington was the most emotional I've ever been from a show in my life. So many kids had so many wonderful things to say about the night and that band. I really love playing shows, so I hope to do even more than this with Heart Holds True.

What are your favorite bands from West Virginia?
I remember the first West Virginia band that I truly loved was Dirt Bear. I was really into Flood and Seven back then, as well as a slew of other bands. Later on there was Malicious Intent (before I joined) and Chum. The Minus Tide were amazing and still hold up. I love Neutral Agreement and I never felt like they were accepted by the music scene around here the way they should've been. I always loved playing/hanging out with 69 Fingers. Out Of Nowhere was the best punk band I ever heard from our area. Beyond All Hope are awesome. There's so many bands that I've seen and played with that I can't put my finger on one of them. I would probably come down to The Minus Tide, if I had to pick, because I still listen to them the most.

What is your favorite show you've seen in West Virginia?
Again, there's no way to pick for sure. The shows I used to go to at 123 Pleasant St., were so much fun. The time that a few of us booked Saves The Day, New Found Glory and Piebald in Wheeling was one of the most surreal shows I've ever been to because it was on the second floor with windows behind the stage, and a huge snow storm while the bands were playing, and good friends around. The only show I went to at the Lambda Chi house was great because The Beautiful Down always brought the party. Every band (Neutral Agreement, The K-Word, Time & Distance and Feet First) was especially good that night. There were quite a few memorable shows from the Nitro shows way back in the day, and from The Common Grounds in Charleston. There were also a lot of shows that I got to play that were full of great bands and were genuinely a lot of fun to be part of.

What makes the West Virginia scene special for you?
I see people all the time that I became friends with at shows and I wouldn't be in the same place in my life if it weren't for them. I can trace back to 7th grade when I got Metallica's Master Of Puppets to now how my life is affected by that event, small as it may be. It got me into metal, punk and hardcore, which got me going to shows when I was in high school. I always wanted to sing in a band and became friends with a lot of bands. I started a zine. I met more people involved in music. I started a band with friends. Eventually, it led to me going all over the east coast and even meeting my wife. That's freaking awesome. She actually said to me that, "West Virginia is the world's largest small town," and it is. I see and talk to people all over the state that I am connected to through music of all genres. That means the world to me. All of this. It's wonderful and amazing and it is truly what life is about. Without friends and family, we're nothing, and I've made so many friends because of music, some of which feel like family at this point.

1 comment: