Rob Harvilla

Writer’s Workshop: Rob Harvilla, Village Voice

Looking back through the annals of rock journalism, just three publications carry the historical clout to be considered in the upper crust of music scribble: Rolling Stone, Creem, and the Village Voice. Rolling Stone, of course, wielded(s) the biggest brand name and Creem threw its weight behind being the badass on the block. The Village Voice on the other hand, while bohemian, paved its way relatively quietly with great writers, a careful focus on the written word, and of course, the best location.

When current shopkeep of the Voice’s storied music department, Rob Harvilla, took over for Chuck Eddy back in 2006 (shortly after the New Times bought the paper), he slid into a pair of rather large shoes. Not merely did he face filling the void left behind by the beloved Eddy, but also followed in a long line of Mohinder Surresh-caliber verbose superheroes like Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau. And perhaps most challenging, he came into the leadership fold right in the thick of the changeover between old and new media. In other words, Harvilla had his work cut out for him in carrying the the Village Voice’s high standard for musical credibility into the digital age. Fortunately for longtime Voice readers, he’s done a tremendous job and taken it all in stride.

Hidden Track: I read somewhere that you discovered your passion for music journalism while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist reading a Rolling Stone. Do you remember what article you read?

Rob Harvilla: Orthodontist, actually. Dr. Pfister. P-F. No specific article, but I can remember covers (first of my own subscription: Eddie Van Halen), specific features (Cosmic Thing B-52s), a few reviews (how can this guy not like They Might Be Giants?), etc. From that period I also remember that either Time or Newsweek did an Alternative Rock! cover story that broke the genre down into different categories and alleged that if I liked TMBG, I’d love Butthole Surfers, which remains to this day the single worst piece of advice I have ever received.

READ ON for more with Rob Harvilla of the Village Voice…

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