SV: Then there was a write-up awhile back in CMT about the Columbus, OH "scene." First of all, is there a Columbus "scene" and, second, did A&R people all of a sudden start descending on the city?
Eric: Oh, you wouldn't believe. Boy, just money flying in Columbus, OH, just like it always has. No...I would say there's more of a scene there than Dayton, which is the trendy one to talk about now but, at the same time, there's great record stores, there's a couple of good bars and there's cheap beer and there's always an influx of new students, young people. But, for the most part, it's like any city. It comes and goes.
Matt: I think if you took all the good bands from Ohio, you could probably have a scene the size of Boston or Seattle. If you take Guided By Voices, the Breeders, who don't really count because they just moved to Dayton, Brainiac and Afghan Whigs, Prisonshake, Cobra Verde, My Dad Is Dead. But if you take that and the Columbus bands, such as Gaunt and Greenhorn.
SV: Ohio's always had a lot of good bands, back to the Pagans and Rocket From The Tombs.
Eric: Ohio's fine, we're not putting down Ohio, necessarily, but for sheer masses of people - there's more people in NY, there's more people in Boston, there's more people, in Seattle. When people say, "oh, there's a scene in San Diego," it's like, when hasn't there been a scene in California? There's always tons of bands, there. It's hype. It's somebody looking for the next big thing.
Matt: It's taking a scene which is going to exist, normally, anywhere, and when you focus on a scene because one band's really good, a lot of bands will get signed from that area. The Breeders are good. Guided By Voices are awesome and Brainiac has gotten some good reviews, but, besides that, Dayton really doesn't...
Eric: I know people that live there. They say it sucks, there aren't any record stores.
Matt: Bob from Guided By Voices says there's no scene in Dayton.
Eric: And those guys have been around.
SV: It's just something people have to hype up, I guess.
Matt: There's always going to be a Boston scene, there's always going to be a New York scene, there's always going to be a Seattle scene.
Okay, I'm going to interject a few comments here (come on, I'm a law student! You can't expect me to just let others talk, can you? even if they were talking fourteen years ago and I'm just hearing it now...):
First, everything they say was true of Dayton then and is still true now (except the part about money flowing for bands here -- that ended long ago).
Second, yes for a brief period in the mid-'90s, Dayton was the place for bands to be (although I was living in Columbus at the time, so I missed the big sign-o-rama that went on here), and we should all thank Jim Greer and his series of articles about Dayton in Spin magazine for that. And by "thank," I mean... well, I'm not sure what I mean, but I know I don't mean "thank." It was a pretty surreal and fucked up time for this town when it was suddenly supposed to be Seattle or something. I didn't get it then, and I still don't get it now. Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of great music has been made here, but it was all done in spite of Dayton, not because of it. The essence of Dayton is that it's a place one should strive to escape from. That brief period during which the national press convinced the music listening public that Dayton was some sort of musical mecca has got to be one of the greatest examples of journalistic con-artistry ever perpetrated. Hat's off...
Finally, I guess I do want to dispute the allegation that there were no good record stores here. I don't know who Eric was talking to, but they were wrong: Second Time Around, Renaissance, Gem City, Trader Vic's, and then there was that little record store Ken Gross opened near Hauer Music on Patterson... fuck... can't remember the name right now. Of course, only Second Time and Gem City still exist today (and are really shadows of their former selves now), but in 1994 there was no shortage of places to get good records.
You can read the entire interview here if you want to.
The same site also has an amazing PDF archive of indie rock zines from the '80s including Flipside, HeartattaCk!, MaximumRockNRoll, and Suburban Voice. I'm sure I'll be mining these occasionally for information (especially the Maximums, which probably have a lot of good info in the old "Scene Report" sections) and will report highlights as I find 'em.
UPDATE (4-13-2011): As of this posting, Gem City Records no longer exists. The old space closed some time last year. However, it was taken over by Omega Records, another Dayton-owned chain that I am chagrined to admit I know almost nothing about. Still, they've done pretty good things with the old space. In particular I point the reader toward the tremendous amount of vintage vinyl available there for incredibly low-low-LOW prices!