Episode 471: Mike Doughty

30Jul

The way Mike Doughty tells it, it’s a bit of a minor miracle Soul Coughing lasted for eight years. It was long enough, however, to generate three LPs, a handful of alternative rock radio hits and enough stories to fill a few memoirs. Attempts to reunite have, predictably, fallen short, but Doughty has carved a path as an extremely prolific singer songwriter, culminating in last year’s Ghost of Vroom 2 EP. A collaboration with Andrew "Scrap" Livingston produced by Beastie Boy mainstay Mario Caldato Jr., the project finds the duo excited exploring new shades of the "deep slacker jazz” pioneered by his long bygone band. Doughty returns to the show to discuss the new project, his most recent memoir and the pandemic year. 

Episode 470: Michael DeForge

23Jul

The latest issue of The Nation — a double-issue on the subject of utopias — features a sprawling cover illustration by Michael DeForge. A group of smiling people are making art, making dinner, making out. Throughout it all is the constant presence of technology. It’s a fraught subject for any artist, but DeForge especially, whose work so often touches on science-fiction and politics. A pioneering — and prolific — cartoonist, DeForge has released eleven books over the course of the past decade, culminating with the short story collection, Heaven, No Hell. DeForge joined us to discuss the art in the era of Trump and Covid-19, the inevitability of writing about politics and the downsides of technology. 

Episode 469: Gilbert Hernandez

16Jul

Even among a list of peers that includes names titles like Eightball and Hate, there’s a strong case to be made that Love and Rockets is the most influential comic of its generation. It’s a fact that puts the series high on the all-time list. The 40-year-old series began in 1980 as a self-published book that was soon picked up by Fantagraphics. Two years in, Gilbert Hernandez gave the world “Heartbreak Soup,” a story that kicked off Palomar, a long-running exploration of magical realism in a Latin American village of the same name. It’s Hernandez’s longest-running storyline, and the one which which he has become most closely associated. Four decades later, the artist continues to grow and experiment, as evidenced by the recently released Hypnotwist/Scarlet by Starlight, a collection of two graphic novellas that embrace dramatically different forms of storytelling. 

Episode 468: David Rees

11Jul

“I know that I literally wrote the best book about pencil sharpening techniques that has ever existed or ever will exist,” David Rees explains, confidently. It’s a hard claim to refute. Rees knows a good niche when he sees it. It’s a characteristic that has lead to a both fascinating and nearly impossible to define career. Perpetually-correct Wikipedia alternately calls him a cartoonist, humorist and culture critic. You can also add musician, television host, writer and podcast to the list. And while he might dispute the former, he’s thrived with the latter courtesy of Election Profit Makers, a political betting podcast he hosts with Jon Kimball and Starlee Kine. 

Episode 467: Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh, Folk Implosion and Dinosaur Jr.)

9Jul

The pandemic found Lou Barlow enamored with a surprising new creative outlet. The musician took to social media like Instagram and YouTube, playing songs, performing covers and celebrating holidays with his young family. In one video, he’s dressed as the Easter Bunny. In another, he’s covering the Paw Patrol theme with his own lyrics. It’s a side of the Sebadoh/Folk Implosion/Dinosaur Jr. musician few have seen. Released in May, the fourth solo record under his own name (though, the counting is a bit tricky) Reason to Live finds the singer settling into a warm domestic life that mirrors those recent videos. 

Episode 466: Johnny Brennan

5Jul

Thirteen is a long time for any act to go between albums. That’s not to say that Johnny Brennan hadn’t kept busy in the meantime. The years included plenty of voice over work — including, most notably, a regular gig on Family Guy, courtesy of long-time fan, Seth MacFarlane. The Jerky Boys, too (Brennan is quick to point out) stuck around as well, soldiering on after the departure of collaborator, Kamal Ahmed. Last year’s self-titled eighth album finds the brand returning to prank phone calls, a medium that catapulted the group to the status of pop culture phenomenon, hitting its apex with major motion picture in 1995. 

Episode 465: Chris Carrabba (of Dashboard Confessional)

2Jul

In June of last year, Chris Carrabba’s motorcycle crashed. It was another terrible event in a year of them. A handful of months after the pandemic engulfed the U.S., the singer embarked on a series of surgeries and rehab. The world had thrown another wrench into what should have been a triumphant year for Dashboard Confessional. To mark its 20th anniversary, the group planned a tour, greatest hits album and reissues, only to be cut short by the pandemic. This year, has found Carrabba finding his way back, starting with virtual shows and culminating with the announcement of an unplugged tour that kicks off in September. In this candid conversation, Carrabba discusses the challenges he’s dealt with in returning to music.  

Episode 464: Pell (of GLBL WRMNG)

27Jun

It’s clear that Pell is calling in from a hotel room. He’s back in Los Angeles, wearing a Dodgers hat to match his former adopted home. Like so many, however, the pandemic brought the importance of home into stark relief for the rapper/producer. This latest trip to Southern California mostly involves moving some belongings and tying up some loose ends. The past year has found Pell sharing the spotlight as part of the Glbl Wrmng collective, fostering creativity in their hometown and raising awareness for causes like climate change. The group, like Pell himself, wear their allegiance to their roots on their sleeve, as evidenced by the hook of their first single, 504, “I'm out that 504, that's my home / Ain’t no need to ask, they know what I'm on / Baby I'm NOLA grown”

Episode 463: Chris Murphy (of Sloan and TUNS)

22Jun

This January, Chris Murphy was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Later that month, the Sloan bassist posted a photo on Instagram, stating, in part,  "It’s a drag but it could be worse. I have a great doctor who is on top of my treatment. Of course, I hope I get better. If I had to sum up my feelings in a facial expression, it’s the one I have." It summed up the musician’s general approach to things — self-deprecated, a little jokey and mostly positive in dealing a genuinely scary situation. It wasn’t long before Murphy was performing again for an online audience, as the pandemic continued to make live performance impossible. Above all, Murphy possesses a devotion to a devoted fanbase that has stayed devoted to the Canadian rock band through 30 years and a dozen albums. The musician joined us to discuss Sloan’s journey, his side project Tuns and dealing with facial paralysis during an already horrible year. 

 

Episode 462: Steve Lukather (of Toto)

16Jun

In February, Steve Lukather released I Found The Sun Again. The guitarist’s eight solo album arrived alongside an LP by Joseph Williams, featuring heavy contributions the Toto singer, along with bandmate David Paich. Lukather and Paich have maintained constants across the band’s 44 year history (though the latter has been forced to retire from touring over health-related reasons). It’s a timeline that’s seen ups and downs, but has managed to maintain a loyal international fanbase as many contemporaries have faded away. In this interview, Lukather discusses solo work, the band’s staying power and how he learned to love the yacht rock label. 

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