New magazine tracks Baltimore's music scene

April 20, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

Like the bands they cover, the staff of Eleven magazine hopes they're on the verge of making it big.

Since the first issue in December, the bimonthly local alternative music magazine has seen its distribution increase from an initial run of 500 copies to 3,000 copies for the April/May issue. The magazine has grown from 12 pages to 20 pages.

Now, the staff of Generation X-ers hopes the Brooklyn Park-based magazine, which is available free at clubs and music stores, will rival Lutherville-based Music Monthly as the area's prime local music source. The magazine's goal is to promote up-and-coming local bands, the ones that don't get any airplay ++ or ink.

"We were tired of not hearing about them, so that's why we started this," said Jody M. Roesler, 24, the magazine's editor in chief. "We could imagine hearing [them] on the radio and selling music in the stores. Dare I say Baltimore may be the next Seattle?"

Eleven takes its name from a scene in "This is Spinal Tap," Rob Reiner's send-up of the comeback tour of a 1970s British rock band.

Managing Editor Scott Dembowski, 25, and Mr. Roesler aren't newcomers to the publishing world. They put out their own bike magazine when they were 15 years old. Jammin', which they wrote, edited and photocopied for friends at their alma mater, Brooklyn Park High School, lasted a year and a half and had five issues.

Mr. Roesler also draws from his stint as a reporting intern at The Sun and from a magazine publishing course he took while attending Towson State University.

Darryn Graham, 24, a computer network administrator at Catonsville Plumbing and Heating, threw in his expertise to lay out the magazine on a computer.

Their toughest problem has been finding the right combination of stories. For now, their format includes two features on local bands, a music review and an opinion page. Featured bands have included Julius Bloom and Eli in Lust.

Eleven's competition warns that putting out a specialty music magazine is not easy.

J. Doug Gill, editor of Music Monthly, said that at least six local music magazines have started and folded in the 10 years he has been publishing. He explained that the Baltimore music scene is too small to sustain a publication devoted to only one slice of it.

"Looking at one segment of the music industry in Baltimore -- it'll be a long haul," he said.

Mr. Gill said his 35,000-circulation magazine focuses on the more established local bands because turnover and breakups are more common among the lesser-known bands.

"Before we give up an editorial page, we want to see a product," Mr. Gill said. "If a local band can show us a CD, professionally made, at that point we put them on our editorial list."

Eleven's staff members say the allure of profiling unknown bands is that those bands may get as big as Pearl Jam, Nirvana or Counting Crows. And Eleven magazine will have spotted them first.

"Jody is really good at making predictions," said staff writer Bob Ballard, 25. "He'll hear a song on the radio and say, 'This will be a hit of the summer.'

"Sure enough, it is."

Eleven also hopes to recruit more writers and photographers and to increase its advertising base. Eventually, the four founders want to make the magazine their full-time jobs.

"Nothing would make us happier than go to the office and listen to tapes local bands have sent," said Mr. Ballard, for now a Glen Burnie auto parts salesman.

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