Soon, Buddyhead spawned a weekly radio show (Monday nights, 9 to midnight Central, broadcast on www.killradio.org), broadened its coverage to include other artists and photographers, and posted some sharply insightful humor pieces, including an "interview with a punk rocker" (who likes only "the first album" from every band mentioned) and its 33 "Rules of Rock" (number eight: "Don't play funk. Don't even joke about playing funk"). The site now gets two million to three million hits a day, and Buddyhead recently rated a mention in Spin.
However, that article hints at how far Keller's site has strayed from its origins as a virtual gallery, for better or worse. Spin focuses nearly entirely on Buddyhead's gossip section, which famously made public Fred Durst's e-mail address and phone number (eventually prompting a vaguely threatening response bearing the subject line "Time to pack up your shit" from firstname.lastname@example.org) and which regularly skewers musicians, big-name and obscure alike. Faithful readers might have been stunned at Keller's revelation in the Spin piece that the gossip page might end up on the chopping block, but he clarifies this was a spur-of-the-moment response inspired by frustration.
"It kind of bummed me out," he says. "We do a lot of good interviews, artist features and photographs, and then Spin focuses on how we put up Fred Durst's phone number, which didn't take much. I mean, it's cool that we're getting notoriety, but it almost seems like [the gossip page] was too easy to grasp compared to the other stuff."
Keller says the site will soon add new photography and CD reviews (this section was last updated in February), but if the latter section were scrapped, few bands and labels would shed tears -- they've already shed plenty after suffering merciless lashings from Keller or his main cohort, Aaron Icarus. Local groups have hardly been immune to their venom: The Anniversary "somehow managed to make a record without one shred of originality"; the now-defunct Hillary Step "gets an A in the class of white kids playing wussie music for other white kids." The Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor proposed in this space roughly a year ago that Buddyhead's beef was personal and that it was predisposed toward negative reviews for groups it saw as Get Up-related (Kansas City/Lawrence area acts, bands on the Kids' Heroes and Villains imprint and its parent label, Vagrant).
Keller, who couldn't be reached for comment for the previous article, contends there's nothing personal about Buddyhead's harsh reviews of emo-leaning bands. "It's never a malicious thing," he says. "There's always some kind of wit to it.... Well, maybe there are a few that are malicious." (Keller's and Icarus' suggestions that less-than-worthy bands be "shot in the back of the head one by one" or subjected to a variety of groin-related abuses have generated plenty of heartfelt "stop the violence" letters to the editor, which are in turn posted and mocked.)
Regardless, a few local bands have escaped Buddyhead's wrath. Shiner's Starless and Making Love EP both earned relative raves, and Icarus gave The Casket Lottery's Moving Mountains the highest begrudging praise an emo record could receive from Buddyhead, admitting "this is the best that genre possibly has to offer." Midwest bands don't bear the brunt of Buddyhead's criticism, Keller maintains, any more than the site singles out certain labels for criticism (a charge numerous pop-punk imprints have leveled against the site).