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45 minutes | 3 days ago
Episode 455: Alison Bechdel
There are all manner of reasons The Secret to Superhuman Strength was eight years in the making. For one, Alison Bechdel was dealing with the rather surreal experience of watching her book, Fun Home, be adapted into a successful Broadway musical (soon to be a major motion picture). There was also the matter of turning 60, which the cartoonist did last year — a perfect beat on which to end a book broken down by decades of her life. Perhaps the most time intensive part of the process, however, was funding the right hook. For Fun Home, it was reading list of her father’s favorite books. For the subsequent graphic novel, Are You My Mother?, it was the work of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. In her latest, Bechdel explores her own lifelong fascination with fitness. As the first book written after the passing of both of her parents, the author takes center stage in ways she hasn’t necessarily allowed herself in previous works. The subsequent story is both an exploration about identity and meditation on growing old.
43 minutes | 7 days ago
Episode 454: Steve Keene
As the conversation winds down, I go grab my painting off the wall for the artist to describe. It’s a rare opportunity. It’s also the second time in a month that I’ve done this on Zoom call, following a recent one with friends where we all realized we had Keenes on our wall. In certain circles, Steve Keene’s work has become a fixture. A generation discovered the artist through his cover paintings for bands like Pavement, The Apples in Stereo and the Silver Jews — realizing that he work could be purchased in bulk through his website. In a medium where seemingly everything has been attempted over the course of thousands of years, Keene pioneered a unique niche, with a form of mass production that has generated more than 300,000 works over the course of his career. The Steve Keene Art Book: Live from Subliminal Projects LA, CA is an effort to catalog a fascinating career. The art book — which is the first of Keene’s long career — is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
41 minutes | 10 days ago
Episode 453: Mary Lattimore
As a second generation harpist, Mary Lattimore may have been born to play the instrument. After picking up the instrument at 11 and studying at the Eastman School of Music, however, she began to forge her own path with the instrument. A stint in Philadelphia found the music integrating into the indie rock scene, adapting a traditionally classical instrument to accompany the likes of Kurt Vile and later Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Since 2013, Lattimore has released a quartet of solo records, including, most recently, last year’s Silver Ladders, recorded over nine days in Cornwall by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead. Lattimore sat down to discuss her evolving approach to the instrument, which included a recent Bandcamp-released ambient track designed to help listeners get some rest during the pandemic.
26 minutes | 12 days ago
Episode 452: Bonus - Chris Hillman (of the Byrds)
As much as anything, Time Between is an opportunity to reflect on a remarkable career. It’s one that found a young Chris Hillman falling in love with country and bluegrass, playing his way up the ranks and landings a gig as the bass player for an up-and-coming L.A. band called, the Byrds. The musician is every bit as modest in conversation as he is in his memoir. He’ll be the first to admit that he had no idea how to play the instrument when he took over duties for bandmate, David Crosby. But the young player knew talent — and opportunity when he saw it. In this brief conversation, we discuss Hillman’s time with the band and subsequent projects, including the Flying Burrito Brothers, featuring fellow recent Byrds expat, Gram Parsons. The musician discusses his reluctance to become a frontman, the lifelong process of learning the mandolin and why bands don’t last forever.
54 minutes | 17 days ago
Episode 451: Kevin McDonald
Last March, Amazon announced that the Kids in the Hall would be returning to television sketch com after 25 years. The troupe never really broke up — or at least not for long. In the intervening years, the quintet made a movie, toured North America and in 2008, released the miniseries, Death Comes to Town. The new show will return the troupe to the sketch comedy it has been performing since the mid-80s. Delayed due to the pandemic, writing for the series has already begun — albeit largely at a social distance. Ahead of the show’s return, Kevin McDonald joins us to discuss the series history and return — and how KITH is adapting its material for a changing world.
43 minutes | 24 days ago
Episode 450: Josh Radnor
In 2017, Josh Radnor entered the music world in earnest with a major assist from Australian indie-popper, Ben Lee. After two records as Radnor and Lee, he stepped out alone for the first time this year with a solo EP. Paired down down 15-17 songs, One More Then I’ll Let You Go is named in honor of a particularly fruitful period in Radnor’s burgeoning songwriting career. It’s a new world for Radnor, an actor know for TV roles like How I Met Your Mother and Hunters, who has also made a name for himself as a director with the films Happythankyoumoreplease and Liberal Arts. In this wide ranging interview, Radnor discusses music, gratitude and the role meditation and ayahuasca have played in his creative efforts.
46 minutes | a month ago
Episode 449: Nicole Georges
Relative Fiction finds Nicole Georges returning to familiar territory. Eight years after the release of her book, Calling Dr. Laura, the podcast miniseries serves as both a followup and expansion to that deeply personal work. In both, the cartoonist explores the story of a father she grew up believing was dead. Following a tip from a psychic, she discovered the truth about her family and began exploring the stories about a parent she never knew. Narrated by Georges, the mini-series features interviews with family members, as she works to unravel greater mysteries about herself and her family. The show is her second podcast, following her advice show, Sagittarian Matters. Georges returns to the show to discuss freelance life, making personal work and finding love during quarantine.
43 minutes | a month ago
Episode 448: Butch Vig (of Garbage and 5 Billion in Diamonds)
It’s a perfect rock and roll story, and Butch Vig swears it’s true. The day that Kurt Cobain died is the day same day he met future bandmate Shirley Manson. Some things are just meant to be, perhaps. It was a profound turning point for the producer’s career. One of the era’s most successful producers going on to form one of the decade’s most popular rock bands, Garbage. These days, Vig continues to serve as a producer for some of rock’s biggest names, from the Foo Fighters to Silverspun Pickups. Last year, Vig reunited with his supergroup, 5 Billion in Diamonds, to release the band’s second LP, Divine Accidents.
43 minutes | a month ago
Episode 447: Kaki King
By most accounts, the heyday of the guitar as a pop cultural force is several decades in the past. But every so often, an artist emerges who breathes new life into the instrument. A musician happy to explore the fringes of her own musical boundaries, Kaki King’s instrument music is consistently fresh and nearly impossible to categorize. Released during the pandemic, Modern Yesterdays finds the guitarist finding new ways to interact and promote her music, stuck at home in Brooklyn with her young family. In this wide ranging interview, we discuss the development of King’s sound and the personal and professional lessons over the course of this very strange year.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 446: Bob Forrest (of Thelonious Monster)
Sixteen years is an eternity in this world. But for Bob Forrest, the time was right finally right for a reunion. A brilliant outgrowth of the Los Angeles 80s punk scene, Thelonious Monster flirted with major label success, signing to Capitol Records for 92’s Beautiful Mess. The group failed to reach the heights of contemporaries like Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili, finally self-destructing not long after its major label debut. Forrest would go on to release one of his strongest works in 1999 as The Bicycle Thief, but his most mainstream success would come from somewhere altogether different. His addiction saw its rock bottom in the mid-90s, kickstarting a journey to become one of the country’s best known drug counselors. In addition to running dependency services and recovery services, Forrest appeared along with Dr. Drew on the TV shows Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. The pair also cohost two podcasts. Last year saw the release of Thelonious Monster’s sixth LP, Oh That Monster.
51 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 445: Craig Thompson
Ginseng Roots finds Craig Thompson returning childhood memoir — albeit in an entirely different form. Currently being serialized as mini-comics through Uncivilized Press, the series is as much the story of ginseng cultivation as it is his formative years growing up in rural Wisconsin. It’s a chance to revisit some important aspects of his youth that failed to make it into his epic 600-page book, Blankets, as well as an opportunity to trace some global history through the roots of one important plant he and family members spent years harvesting. The move toward serialize, meanwhile, finds the artist interacting with his own work in a matter different than the customary seven or so years it takes for him to produce a complete graphic novel. In this conversation, Thompson discusses creating the deeply personal work.
42 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 444: Peter Stampfel (of Holy Modal Rounders)
“Something I realized after we spoke that I curiously never had noticed before,” Peter Stampfel wrote in an email shortly after our interview, “big similarity that hallucinogens and the Smith Anthology both had on me: I saw that the world was much more strange and much more vast than I had previously thought.” The musician’s own long, strange career has almost certainly had its own profound effect on generations of music, from being a driving force in The Holy Modal Rounders and, briefly, a member of The Fugs, to his more recent collaborations with anti-folk artist, Jeffrey Lewis. This year finds Stampfel releasing his most ambitious work to date. Stampfel's 20th Century In 100 Songs is a project roughly two decades in the making. The work finds the idiosyncratic singer tracing the history of popular music through a wide gamut of hand-picked songs. Now struggling with dysphonia, which has left his voice weakened and strained, the musician continues to write and play, looking to continuing expanding his already-broad musical scope.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 443: Craig Finn (of the Hold Steady)
“Power, wealth and mental health,” Craig Finn offers a succinct tagline for a hypothetical Open Door Policy movie poster. These themes, among others, including technology, working and inequality under capitalism clearly emerged as the lyrics for the latest Hold Steady record came into focus. To borrow a quote the singer, in turn, borrowed from Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Finn’s long-time fascination with hard-luck characters continues to populate the world of the Hold Steady and his solo work, but the stars of his songs have matured along with him. The band’s early records often featured tales of drugging and drinking, hard partying youth. These days, the work is more concerned with what happens next.
53 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 442: Adele Bertei
Peter and the Wolves is a lot of things. It’s both memoir and biography, as Adele Bertei recounts her early days in music, while showing an oft-ignored side of friend and mentor, Peter Laughner. The Pere Ubu/Rocket from the Tombs guitarist gave the musician her earliest break in Cleveland, only to die at age 24, following longtime substance abuse. Back in print, Bertei’s book is an effort to show a side of the musician beyond the easy live fast, die young headlines. After Laughner’s passing, Bertei moved to New York, becoming a fixture in the city’s burgeoning no wave scene. The subsequent decades have given way to a fascinating and diverse career, working as a backup musician for some of the era’s biggest names and recording dance hits of her own.
46 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 441: Matthew Sweet
There’s a darkness to Catspaw — something that lurks beyond the innocuous and even adorable title. Culled from an episode of the original Star Trek, Matthew Sweet’s usage is evocative of a certain doom. For an album finished before Covid-19 really took hold, the mood is certainly in keeping with the present moment. Not that things were particularly great prior to the pandemic, of course. Equally fitting is the truly solitary method in which the album was written and recorded — perhaps the most purely solo recording of a decades-long solo artist. In a remote interview, the power-pop star opens up about struggles with bipolar disorder and a unique and lasting career.
61 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 440: Chris Gethard
A lot has changed in the nearly five years since the the launch of Beautiful/Anonymous — some for the better and many for the worst. Certainly, the need to listen and be heard has only grown stronger during a pandemic that has left many alienated and alone. Earlier this month, host Chris Gethard announced that the Earwolf series will become a TV show, adding a visual element to the long conversations between strangers. Prior to launching the series, the New Jersey-born comedian was best known for his self-titled variety show, which started life on public access and managed to maintain a celebratory underdog quality, even after moving to Fusion and, ultimately, truTV. In a conversation that’s ever bit as honest and open as his listeners have come to expect, Gethard discusses his struggles with mental health and the role his work plays in fostering his own empathy. Apologies for some technical difficulties this time out.
47 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 439: Zac Maloy (of the Nixons)
The timing of Sonic Boom could have been better, as far as these things go. The first collection of original Nixons music in 20 years arrived about two months into a country-wide shutdown. In 2018, the band toured for the first time in nearly as long. The group’s breakup wasn’t the most amicable, but it’s amazing how bad feelings can dissolve with a couple of decades between them. For singer Zac Maloy, the breakup was an opportunity to explore new avenues in the industry, including the fruitful beginnings of a songwriting career that’s found him collaborating with musicians ranging from Carrie Underwood to Adam Lambert. Ahead of a livestream online event, Maloy joined us to reflect on the band’s career, life as a songwriter and how much to foster his own kids’ musical ambitions.
51 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 438: Emily Flake
In September, “Free Fall” seemed to be everywhere. In her latest long form work for The New Yorker, Emily Flake captured a sense of existential ennui that permeated much of the population six months into a pandemic-driven shut down. It was, one of the cartoonist’s most widely-shared works for the magazine since “Young and Dumb Inside,” which explored her decades’ long love for the punk band, Jawbreaker. Flake is probably best know as the long-time publisher of New Yorker gag strips, but her deeply personal comics essays strike an entirely different chord among its readership. Flake joined us to the discuss the process of putting heartfelt and personal work on paper and how the pandemic has impacted her comics.
49 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 437: Jimmy Chamberlin (of The Smashing Pumpkins)
In September, The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex returned for Honor. The group’s third album found it returning to its core to deliver the manner of improvisational jazz that it sets it apart from most of the drummer’s work. A lifelong musician, Chamberlin is undoubtedly best known as the drummer of alternative rock mainstays The Smashing Pumpkins and fellow Billy Corgan-fronted group, Zwan. But while he’s frequently regarded as among the best rock drummers, he’s had a fairly fascinating career one the other side of the career, serving as the CEO of music tech company, LiveOne Inc.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 436: Suzanne Vega
The timing of An Evening of New York Songs and Stories could hardly have been better. The album arrived nearly six months into a pandemic that completely disrupted the titular city. For a few months there, New York City was the center of the world, in a new and unprecedented way — a matter not so subtly hammered home by the LP’s coincidental September 11 release date. The album is a bittersweet reminder of the power of live music, as Suzanne Vega sings many of her best known song, and a selections of covers to paint a portrait of the city. As a nearly lifelong resident (having moved here when she was two-and-a-half), Vega’s songs are more often than not as quintessentially New York as the singer herself.
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