It was sometime in the winter of ’96, I would spend much of weekends at a friend’s house playing Sim City 2000, browsing the Web and listening to music. I don’t recall the application, but much like Microsoft Frontpage I became aware of a piece of software installed on his computer that allowed for easy web design. So, it began, my first Violent Femmes site. Inspired by Mike Merryman’s unofficial Femmes page of the time, and the countless pages developed by fans of whatever topic you pleased, I began putting together a hodgepodge of random information in respects to the femmes, Biography’s, Photos, lyrics, pictures etc.
Sometime In ’97 I had completed the page, funky mismatched neon colored backgrounds, sprinkled gifs, inconsistent photo dimensions, table borders and all! Now it was just a matter of getting it on the internet. I can’t recall the name of the hosting provider but similar to angelfire, you were provided with hosting space granted your site displayed their ads; www.Violent-femmes.8m.com was born!
The Official Site had not been around long, maybe a year or two, but was what Ritchie described as a “Muse” so with little information, and little updates, I felt I had more to bring to the table. In 2020 it would be blatantly obvious to a 4-year-old I was no professional web designer, or even a novice by any means, but in the context of the period it really wasn’t all that far off base.
I began my first job while in high school the following year, and with a paycheck in hand, I quickly realized there were so many Femmes records to be had. I had already been on eBay poking around borrowing Moms credit card on occasion, but with contacts through the American Music Mailing List, eBay, Online record vendors, and friends with cars providing the ability to visit out of town Records stores; I began to amass a large Femmes record collection.
It was painfully obvious with the amount of records in existence vs. the amount of documentation on the internet, there was a huge imbalance, inspiring me to begin gearing my site towards providing complete documentation of every Femmes record I came by. With an ever-growing collection, and plenty of time to sit in front of a PC and type out all the details of a record verbatim, it wouldn’t be long before the site needed an overhaul with more direction.
Angelfire.com was gaining momentum, offered free hosting with no ads, so how could you beat that? So sometime in ’00 the site was rebuilt with the most “Complete Discography” in mind and launched at www.angelfire.com/goth/violentfemmes/ Taking suit of it’s predecessor and the 90’s “FrontPage” motif, It was a very simplistic page sporting a side scrolling marquee, Paint Shop Pro Graphic, and who couldn’t forget those table borders! Thankfully I had given up much of the uncoordinated assortment of random colors with no reason and focused on a color scheme this time.
The site seemed to do “ok” for the time, and within a couple years I had over 10,000 Hits (Site counter of course!) My guestbook was filled (remember those?) and numerous site awards that just so happened to be a thing at the time for some reason? So, I decided it was time to bring the site a bit more up to date. The internet was growing rapidly, sites were getting sleeker, and the days of FrontPage underlined links and table borders were on their way out the door.
In Late ’02 I bought the domain and launched www.ViolentFemmesRecords.Com. The site was by far more refined, though still a bit dated with left side navigation being all the rage. I used a single page organized with allot of links, with content always appearing in the middle of the screen. Thanks to dreamweaver I had a far more intelligent design, this time refined and focused even more on the discography.
Very few updates were made as this was a period in which Freak Magnet had launched as did their DVD, the Femmes were no longer producing new material, and I wasn’t discovering any new records. The site would remain intact till the latter half of ’06 when my hosting provider decided for unknown reasons to shut the page down. The bill was paid, yet I was unable to access it. All phone calls went unanswered, voice messages and emails ignored. The Domain name would then go up for sale for $600 before being reduced to $300 and finally being released for availability. In ’09 once again I acquired the domain name with a far more reputable register.
I had really liked the previous design, but this time with a firm grasp on HTML, and a bit of CSS know how, I simply redesigned the page with a new color scheme. This is how the site would remain for the next 11 years.
The sites design was growing evermore archaic by the year as the web left behind side navigation in favor of drop-down menus, and flat pages were replaced with dynamic sites. The real problem came in 2015 when the Femmes emerged with the Happy New Year Record Store Day release, 3 new albums to list! As the page currently stood with 150+ files containing the navigational links, that’s 150+ pages that need to be updated with whatever new links you choose to add, and unfortunately the motivation fell just short of that.
The issue just became even more pressing the following year as the Femmes started a pledge campaign to fund their new material, they were back on the road touring, so it was inevitable there would be more releases. I had already graduated with my bachelors in C.S working in the I.T. field I had a much firmer grip on markup, CSS & SQL, also recently discovering bootstrap, I figured now was the time to move the page to the 21st Century utilizing all my skills to finally make a site that was Dynamic, Secure, Easy to update, and responsive for mobile viewing.
went at it at full steam. The design was similar to what you see today, utilizing a transparent navbar for navigation, but on top of that I got really creative with the lyrics using a handwriting font (same seen on this site) they appeared over a sheet of notebook paper with an invisible scroll bar; giving the appearance you were reading them as they were written. The AM Mailing list/90’s retro page appeared as a “Window 95” desktop, all the icons opened up directories with links to old Femmes photos, text, merchandise etc. with individual directories organized by years in which you would open to view links of each issue of the AM Mailing list. When clicked they would open up in a pop-up window with the appearance of Outlook Express and scroll as if you were reading the saved E-Mail in the late 90’s.
As it’s now 2020, Violent Femmes Records has been in existence for more than 20 years. I am not aware of any other Femmes Site besides the Official that has been around as long. With the sheer overabundance of data added and the vast improvements of Search Engines over the last 2 decades, individual sites on such topics are practically irrelevant. In fact, another source online contributing almost all the data hosted on this site has been slowly pushing ViolentFemmesRecords towards irrelevancy, and with millions of more users, rightfully questions my sites existence. All these factors are presently and have been on my mind for several years.
Another subject that bears weight is the low volume of users that visit the site, though with the Femmes being extremely active that last couple years, I have seen a slight increase nevertheless is the increase enough to justify the monthly costs of hosting and the yearly cost of the domain name? This monetary cost of course doesn’t compare to the countless hours of inputting all the data, Site redesigns, and updates. I want to make it clear though this isn’t an invitation to a pity party, but more of an attempt to provide insight in what thoughts come to mind when planning to rebuild the site, or when renewing the domain name yearly, and why the site has remained in such a stagnant state for the past 11 years.
I have known for some time now that if It was going to be done, it would need to be done right, not only could I not just focus on the Discography portion, I needed to catalog something(s) found no where else on the internet. The Am Mailing List was the first to come to mind, and after 2 years back and forth with Pat, I was finally able to secure the floppy disks with the bulk of them. I had also noticed several sites including wiki, pointed at my site. Not to the records archived, but rather the Articles section. Including not only the most complete discography, but Articles, Interviews, and the treasure trove of information on the Femmes contained within the 10 years of American Music Mailing List, I had enough to keep my site relevant. Though now where do I begin? I have attempted this 2 times previously, and lost steam before getting all the data put in…
I built a site a year ago with the WordPress platform to serve as a blog/tutorial depository and had really gotten to like the idea of the backend already built with a plethora of options for customization and input available. Now granted WordPress can also be extremely limiting as it’s hard for individuals with design experience to manually adjust code with the multiple style sheets and theme layers prohibiting the idea of on the fly styling or markup, hence the never ending supply of plugins to do the most simplest of tasks in which I try my hardest to keep at a minimum. I’m sure there are better options in terms of simply providing a pre-made back-end with more functionality catered towards developers, though I believe WordPress is more than adequate to build a sleek responsive page for the purpose of the femmes Discography.
With my mind set, I put the Violent-Femmes.Com domain I had been holding onto for years into use. I opted for a new hosting provider, installed wordpress and set up SSL, now ready to rock, what’s our approach? I had failed in my prior attempts so I decided to flip it and attack the monotonous data input first, that way when finally completed, the styling would all that would be left.
So, it would seem that the 3rd time is a charm, the site has been completed, restyled, and lots of extra data added. With the new Secure connection and other quirks, I hope to boost my search engine rankings to get more hits as well. The new design allows for quick and easy updating from anywhere, and the responsiveness caters to the growing number of people using handset devices as their primary internet platform. I added two additional sections for Promotional Press photos and Concert Posters, not only to provide what I felt was a nice touch, but media I personally have always been interested in.
So, what’s the future prospect for ViolentFemmesRecords? Well it’s hard to say at this point in time. Ultimately, I would like to make a big enough splash with the new design to catch the attention of the Femmes themselves in an effort to get the only thing I ever wanted from the band; an acknowledgment that my site exists, preferably with a link on the Official site assisting with growth of visits, but its been more than 20 years now so I suspect that’s a long shot. I’m far from my teenage years, I have a Family, career, house etc. to tend too anymore and my available time is depleting with each year. My interest in the femmes is not what it was when I was a teen so this may very well be the last overhaul of the site, but I can’t say that with certainty. Though what I can say is that more articles, will be added and if any new femmes albums are to be released, you can bet they will be added with a placeholder proceeding the street date.
I would also like to add more Concert posters and the few press photos out there I’m aware of but that will depend on contributions, which have been absolutely zilch in the last 20 years so I won’t be getting my hopes up on that. In the meantime, I feel I have posted enough data to provide hours of reading to any serious Femmes fans wanting to broaden their knowledge on the band, and ultimately that is what I set out to do from the beginning……