Episode 393: Chris Conley (of Saves the Day)

21Mar

In 2019, Saves the Day’s debut LP, Through Being Cool, turned 20. Unsurprisingly, the New Jersey band marked the event on the road, with a tour that found them playing the album in its entirety. Two decades and nine full lengths in, a lot has changed for the band, including several lineup shifts that have left frontman Chris Conley as the sole founding member. Now 40, the musician has come a long way from the teenager who penned one of emo’s most iconic debuts. Conley is now the parent to a teenager himself. But through all the ups and downs, his music has remained a constant. Hitting a major milestone has given him ample opportunity to reflect on his work and where he and the band go from here.

Episode 392: Nels Cline (of Wilco and CUP)

15Mar

For those exclusively familiar with Nels Cline’s work as the guitar player for Wilco, Spinning Creature may come as a kind of surprise. But well before the musician began playing with the indie rock juggernaut, he was never afraid to let his freak flag fly. A student of jazz and the New York rock and avant garde scenes that gave birth to legends like John Zorn and Sonic Youth, much of Cline’s work is a sort of musical 180 from the band. CUP, a duo that finds him collaborating with Cibo Matto alum (and his wife) Yuka Honda, mines deep veins of experimental pop. Following the release of the band’s debut last fall, Cline sat down to discuss his musical history, the ups and downs of the gig economy and finding his voice as a musician.

Episode 391: Redd Kross

6Mar

Formed in Southern, California by teenage brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald, Redd Kross was never one to follow pop cultural trends. Torch bearers for a more classic rock sound, the band rose the through ranks with hardcore legends like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks (even sharing members in the process). But the group was never truly belonged to any scene — and somehow belong to them all, in the process. Redd Kross kicked off the 90s by signing to Atlantic Records, finding some mainstream success alongside the rise of grunge music. Following an end-of-decade hiatus, the brothers returned to the band in 2004, eventually releasing sixth album in 2012, after a 15-year gap. It was only five years this time, as Beyond the Door hit legendary indie label, Merge. The McDonalds crowded around a microphone ahead of a show with tour mates (and shared bandmates) The Melvins to talk punk, major labels and K-Pop.

Episode 390: Dave Shumka

1Mar

This week marks the 12th anniversary of Stop Podcasting Yourself. What began as a venue for two Vancouver-based comedians has since become one of the longest running and most beloved comedy shows in the medium. For more than six-hundred weekly episodes, the show has been a remarkable consistent — and hilarious showcase for cohosts Dave Shumka and Graham Clark, along with a rotating cast of established comedians. Shumka’s podcasting bonafides extend beyond SPY, including the one-off musical series, Our Debut Album (cohosted with Clark) and his work on the well-received This Sounds Serious, a takeoff on popular true shows like Serial and Making a Murderer that is currently on its second season. On a recent trip to New York, Shumka joined us to discuss his podcasting career.

Episode 389: Carl Newman (of The New Pornographers)

22Feb

The New Pornographers are running late. It’s hard to say whose decision it was to drive from midtown at this time of day on a weekday — likely not former New York City resident, Carl Newman, if I had to guess. These days the ringleader and frontman lives a far more idyllic life, a two-and-a-half hour drive away in Woodstock. To hear him tell it, it’s a veritable retirement home for rock legends — well, insofar as rock legends ever retire. It helps, of course that Newman’s wife is the manager of the late-Levon Helm’s studio. For their part, The New Pornographers show no sign of slowing, even after the official departure of longtime collaborator, Dan Bejar. In fact, the band’s latest (their eighth), In the Morse Code of Brake Lights, is easily one of their best in years.

Episode 388: Annalee Newitz

16Feb

Punk rock, politics, history and some gracious nods to science — there’s a lot to like about The Future of Another Timeline. Annalee Newitz’s latest explores the possibilities of time travel in a world where the sci-fi standby is downright utilitarian. The book is a lovingly researched second novel for Newitz, who joined us back in 2017, shortly after releasing their debut, Autonomous, an exploration of artificial intelligence and big pharma set in the nearish future. Scientific accuracy has long been a focus for Newitz’s speculative fiction. Prior to the release of autonomous, they were best known as the founder of io9 and EIC of Gizmodo, with a focus on real-world science breakthroughs. The science has, perhaps, been fudged a bit to allow for a mundane sort of time travel to pervade through out, but in an era routinely referred to as “the darkest timeline” by many an online commentator, it’s an ideal lens with which to examine our own reality.

Episode 387: Renee Holiday

15Feb

Fresh off her hiatus, Renee Holiday is ready to put on a show. Late last year, the artist formerly known as Shaprece (full name: Shaprece Renee Richardson) put on “Beautiful” in her native Seattle. The multimedia event was held at the Can Can, beneath the city’s iconic Pike Place Market. After “regrouping” to deal with both self-imposed and external pressures, Holiday release “Ain’t Got No Love” in late-2019. The single eschewed earlier musical experimentations for a more straightforward sound. Holiday makes her home in Los Angeles these days, as both a performer in her own right and songwriter for other acts. During a recent trip to New York, the singer sat down to discuss her time off and the difficult task of finding one’s own voice.

Episode 386: Kevin Huizenga

8Feb

With The River at Night, Kevin Huizenga found his perfect hook. Casting his go-to surrogate Glenn Ganges as an insomniac, the cartoonist discovered an ideal frame for storytelling that that runs the gamut from the beginning of earth to the dot com bubble burst. It’s peak Huizenga, really. The work belies the cartoonist’s love of learning, visualizing a stream of information that leans heavily on a love of science drawing and history. The book taps into the same sense of delight in discover that permeates much of his work, with regular detours that are served well by the mental restless that can make sleep so elusive for so many. Set to the chaotic sounds of downtown Brooklyn early on a rainy Saturday morning, Huizenga discusses teaching, the business of comics and the possibility of embracing scientific drawing in a fuller form.

Episode 385: The Milk Carton Kids

31Jan

We don’t have a lot of time. I’m setting up my gear in some Sirius-XM meeting room, while Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan order lunch. They get something nice, a welcome change from the usual road fare. The Milk Carton Kids just finished an appearance on Steve Earle’s show, chatting with the country legend following an appearance on the Howard Stern after show. It’s a bit of cultural whiplash, but the duo take it in stride. The soft-singing, tight-harmonies indie-folk group found success only after pairing up, but since their 2011 debut, it’s been a steady rise. The group have become NPR darlings and have played alongside some of the genre’s biggest names. This time out, however, they’re giving a nod to humble roots, with the on-the-nose Very Small Venues at Very Low Ticket tour, which finds them performing far more intimate sets for a hardcore fanbase.

 

Episode 384: Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf (of Krewella)

25Jan

A lot has changed in Krewella’s world in the seven years since the band debuted with Get Wet. The group’s second full-length finds the one-time trio down a member, while having jumped from Columbia to their own label, Mixed Kids. But Zer0’s an album dedicated to fresh starts and sister duo Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf vibrate positivity as they discuss the project and their own positive life changes. Formed in 2007, when its members were in high school, the band grew up in the electronic dance scene and very much in the public eye, with Get Wet debuting at Number One on the U.S. Dance chart. As things are ramping up around them, ahead of their next record, Jahan and Yasmine the importance of taking time and finding their voice.

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