Rob Bolger – A Film Maker of “Behind the Suit and Tie” documentary

Behind The Suit And Tie
Spread the metal:



Interview by Luxi Lahtinen

"About BEHIND THE SUIT AND TIE documentary: A documentary that takes you into the hearts and souls of the real people who rule today’s heavy metal recording industry, put together by Robert Bolger Jr.

Unlike most music documentaries BEHIND THE SUIT AND TIE will spend more time with the people behind the labels rather than the more musician-focused approach of most music documentaries. BEHIND THE SUIT AND TIE will also showcase the truth of how the music industry is being affected by the downward spiral of hard CD sales and how established, new and up and coming artists must learn to adjust to these changing times with today’s major transition".

Rob Bolger talks more about this ambitious project of his in this interview, so be sure to read everything he has to say about making this documentary to understand a little bit better about the hard times that the record industry is facing these days when downloading music from the internet for free has become a true pain in the ass for the whole music business.


Rob, would you introduce yourself to the readers of, telling briefly who you are, what you do in your life and so on?

Hey Folks, Robert Bolger here. I’m jack of all trades in the music biz. Ha ha… I’m former A&R rep, current artist manager/film maker, not sure if I would call myself a a real film maker? Just a guy with a good story and $1500.00 camera.

BEHIND THE SUIT AND TIE is a very ambitious documentary from you – opening slightly the curtains from heavy metal music industry´s perspective – and in which you have interviewed some of the most important music industry people – from people who work for major labels like Metal Blade Records (Brian Slagel), Roadrunner Records (Dough Keoth), etc. – to people who work for smaller labels like Heavy Artillery Records and Ascendance Records. Plus, some musicians also got interviewed for this interesting (to say the least) documentary, like David Ellefson (F5, ex-Megadeth) for example. Could you tell more accurately, how you got this ambitious idea to start working with this massive yet surely many questions-arousing documentary in question? As said, the production for this started in full on November 1st 2007, and the more you were working on this, the more ambitious and massive project this became for you personally. Anyway, would you say that you faced this so-called ´snowball effect´ when you possibly noticed at one point that this is going to be a much bigger and larger project than you originally thought it could be in the first place?

This idea was created during my days as an A&R over at Crash Music Inc, seeing and working it first hand motivated me a great deal. Once I had it all down on paper things just started to flow and still flowing. Yes, in fact I had no clue I would even get chance to work with some of these folks and very happy to present them in this film. Thanks guys!

Who were some of the most interesting and exciting persons for you to interview for this documentary in your opinion – and why actually?

I would have to say David Ellefson 100%. He knows the business very well and delivered on each question, he should be a manager. Not to change the subject but I think It’s a shame he is no longer playing in Megadeth, Dave is first rate – much respect!

Did any of your interviewees have anything positive to say about the future how things will be developing in the coming years regarding such issues as music piracy, the Internet, the downward spiral of hard CD sales, etc. – and how to somehow cure, or make better all these drawbacks for the people involved in the business?

I would say about 40% didn’t even care about piracy. They claim that it’s a good thing now that they have 360 deals in place with most of there artist so that means the label shares in merchandise, touring so if the CD sales fail they always have the back up with merchandise sales.

Do you believe you covered enough, may I say, ´eye-opening´ material for this documentary so that ordinary people could clearly understand how negative effect the Internet and Internet piracy have had on the CD sales?

I have enough and really hope this effort could deliver a strong message to those who steal music. It’s just flat out wrong. 



How much more did making of this documentary re-open your own eyes about realizing and understanding what kind of pain-in-the-ass thing music piracy overall is in the music industry? Did some things – some with more of this ´shock value´ in them, make you kinda shocked how things really stand in this business these days?

It has opened my eyes much wider. Each day there are new ways to download music for free. Music piracy is a huge pain in the ass and I hate to say it’s here to stay.

What, could you say, was (or were) the most challenging part(s) to get this documentary together? To go through all the footage and pick up the most essential and vital parts out from dozens of hours of film material for just 2-3 hour footage, perhaps?

The hardest part was scheduling all the talent for the interviews and by the way big thanks to all the labels and artists that took time out of there busy schedule to sit down with us to lend there insight towards this film. As for the footage I’m still reviewing as we speak and still have not decided yet on the final promotional trailer. I have posted a few raw segments to show that the film had made some progresses.

There actually isn´t this type of such an informative and in-depth documentary done yet from the music industry´s point of view, I mean, if we restrict this straightly to the music industry around heavy metal. How much have you got recognition from the people in this business so far, telling you that this is the kind of documentary the industry has needed badly for several years already so that even more and more people could become aware of the facts why record sales have gone down, what kinds of things have caused it and so forth?

Personally I feel every one we spoke with had said it was needed very badly. As for recognition I’m not out for that I would like to just make more people understand that downloading and stealing music has really put a choke hold on CD sales.

Do you personally believe that there might be found some sort of way – put in action by record companies (plan ´B´, or ´C´, or ´D´, etc.), to get CD sales on a higher level again, let´s say, within the next 3-5 years or so?

Game over. It will never be stopped. The major labels should have addressed plan ´B´, or ´C´, or ´D´, in 1982 when the audio CD was first commercially available.




What´s your take on water marking each promotional CD with an individual, watermarked secret code? Do you think it´s the ultimate weapon from the music industry for putting a stop for a shameless and merciless Internet piracy?

Watermarking is a great idea and it could prevent some piracy. I blame the labels and most of these blog/fanzine sites once they are sent a promotional CD for review, they upload it to the internet and share it with the world by posting a free download link. I’m dealing with this sort of issue now with Whiplash’s label Pulverised Records. I have stressed to them many of times to watermark all promotional CDs – and they failed to listen to me and sure enough the brand new Whiplash release UNBORN AGAIN was one line for free.

A question of conscience for you Rob: How much have you personally downloaded music in your own music collection, either as MP3s in your computer´s hard drive, or burned CD-Rs stored in your bookshelf? Now be completely truthful – no white lies allowed! ;o)

This is completely the truth. Back in 1999 when I first learned about Napster, I would download music all the time not realizing how much of an effect it could have on an artist or label. So once I understood that I was stealing I put an end to it very fast.

Besides you are also a manager of the legendary N.Y. thrashers Whiplash nowadays. How do you find enough time to do both things properly enough? I mean, time sharing for different projects isn´t really everyone´s game, so I gotta assume you must be one hell of a guy at priorization, knowing exactly how to use your precious time as effectively as possible. Or, is this all about learning things the hard way – through your own mistakes and wrong choices you have made in your life possibly, ha!

It’s all about timing for me and once I know that my artist have some downtime. I jump right to the next project and actually that’s why it’s been taking so long to get this film out. Not only I do represent Whiplash, I also have other acts I’m currently working with; Dangerous New Machine featuring former Stereomud, Fozzy, Stuck Mojo members and Generation Kill featuring Rob Dukes – the current Exodus frontman and Rob Moschetti (ex-Pro-Pain, M.O.D.).

What kind of run have you thought of this documentary in advance for the markets for retailers around the world?

I have a full marketing plan already in place, so it will be up to who the distributor that we sign with with for its release.

I wanna sincerely thank you Rob for your time with answering to my questions and hope it was all worth it. If you have anything you´d still like to add to this interview, the rest of the space is saved for that purpose, sir… ;o)

You are very welcome, it was a pleasure… I think I have covered all ground. Just keep your eyes open for the final trailer to be posted within the next month or. Thank you Luxi for letting me to talk about this project here in



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BEHIND THE SUIT AND TIE contains insight from:

* Brian Slagel (Metal Blade Records)

* Doug Keogh (Roadrunner Records)

* Missi Callazzo (MegaForce Records)

* Carl Severson (Ferret Music)

* Paul Conroy (Ferret Music)

* Alan Becker (RED Distribution)

* Al Dawson (Earache Records)

* Burt Goldstein (Big Daddy Distribution)

* Eddie Trunk (VHI Classic, Q104.3, Sirius XM)

* Pat Egan (Re Records)

* Ray Harkins (Century Media Records)

* Ralph Graupner (Indevent Music)

* Gary Susalis (Music Choice)

* Ged Cook (Demolition Records)

* Bryan Mechutan (Demolition Records)

* Lee Barrett (Ascendance Records)

* Adam Watson (Plastic Head Distribution)

* David Ellefson (F5, MEGADETH)

* Rob "Blasko" Nicholson (Mercenary Management),(OZZY OSBOURNE)

* Rayny Forster (Moshpit Tragedy Records)