This fall, CBS is bringing a music program that is sure to satiate the appetites of those fans who are starved for artists who are not your garden-variety, undistinguished clones. Developed by Johnny Zirkel, Sounds Of The Underground promises to expose up-and-coming artists while showcasing them alongside major artists and international talent. With the declining popularity of festivals, Zirkel decided to develop the show as a way to give artists of all levels the opportunity to reach new fans based solely on talent and drive.  GNM was able to catch up with Johnny.

☽   What inspired the decision to bring a series back specifically about the rising talents within the alternative music scene?
The inspiration for focusing on this specific music scene came from my own passions towards it. Having grown up in it, I’ve seen many talented artists not get the opportunities they deserve because of a variety of reasons that shouldn’t matter. I started this show to give those artists the shot that no one else would give them.

☽   Is there any significance to the timing?
Initially no. I had the idea, and immediately pursued it. But what I realized along the way is the show is airing just a couple months after the end of Van’s Warped Tour. So fans who felt like they would no longer have those incredible moments with those artists will now have a new way to engage with them.

☽   How does SOTU differ from what has been offered in the past? Was inspiration drawn from MTV’s TRL or FUSE?
The show was inspired by live concerts more than anything else, and that’s one of the big things that makes the feel of the show much more unique and authentic than other similar programs that have existed in the past.

☽   Will there ever be bands or artists featured that may have fallen off and are struggling to regain recognition, or will it be a mix of mainstays and new talent?
Absolutely! We made sure to bring on some personal favorites that people haven’t seen in awhile such as Halifax who were on Drive Thru Records in the early 2000s.

☽   What options do fans have for streaming?
The best option for streaming outside of the initial airings would be on our YouTube channel.

☽   What incentive is there for fans to attend the show in person as opposed to streaming?
Currently fans are not able to attend the tapings, but we are hoping that is something we can do in the future.

☽   Was television (CBS) a conscious decision, or did that come organically through pitching the series and looking for avenues in which to air the features?
It was a conscious decision to initially have the show air on CBS. It isn’t everyday up and coming artists (and even major artists) in the alternative scene get the opportunity to have there performance aired on a major network.

☽   The digital age has done wonders for the industry, what do you hope to accomplish with your addition to this music and technology revolution?
We hope to give bands of all sizes the opportunity to get mainstream exposure without having to deal with typical industry politics that traditionally hold these artists back.

Some acts appearing on Sounds of The Underground include: 
August Burns Red, Frank Iero, The Wildfires Projekt, Halifax (reunion set), Emarosa, Craig Owens/Chiodos, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Sleeptalk.

As incentive to live audience members, Zirkel has created an Indiegogo where the opportunity to own a piece of television and music history is possible.  Some items available are autographed guitars, limited edition merchandise, and even a chance to co-host an episode. 

The five episode series will begin airing on September 5 in select markets on CBS, with nationwide availability the following Saturday on YouTube.

CBS Boston – September 5, 12, 19, 26 and October 3 at 1:37am EST 
CBS Los Angeles – September 5, 12, 19, 26 and October 3 at 2:05am PST 
CBS Chicago – September 6, 13, 20, 27 and October 4 at 1:42am CST 
CBS Minneapolis – September 6, 13, 20, 27 and October 4 at 1:37am CST 
CBS Sacramento – September 6, 13, 20, 27 and October 4 at 2:00am PST 
CBS Denver – September 6, 13, 20, 27 and October 4 at 1:44am MST 
CBS New York – September 6, 13, 20, 27 and October 4 at 2:07am EST

All episodes to be streaming on YouTube the following Saturday at 10am EST!

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