Episode 382: Leslie Stevens

12Jan

When she arrives, Leslie Stevens is carrying a large beach bag. Protruding from its insides is a large cowboy hat sporting a massive feather. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the Los Angeles singer-songwriter, whose career found her flirting a number of genres, including time as the frontwoman of the punk band, Zeitgeist Auto Parts. But her the twang of her latest, Sinner, is perfectly suited to her musical stylings. With a foot firmly planted in Laurel Canyon, it’s clear she’s finally making the music she’s always wanted.

Episode 381: Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga (of Fastball)

4Jan

It hasn’t always been easy for Fastball. Some night, weeks and even years, playing rock and roll music can feel futile, especially when it’s not clear when the next show might be. But neither Tony Scalzo nor Miles Zuniga hesitate for a second when asked if they’re doing exactly what the should be. And while the future of the Austin band hasn’t always felt certain, the group has remained remarkably consistent. Now in their 25th year, Scalzo, Zuniga and drummer are clearly in it for the long haul, making the most out a lifelong career. The group broke quickly, a mere three years into its existence, when their sophomore album, All the Pain Money Can Buy yielding alternative rock staples like “The Way” and “Out of My Head.” 2000’s fittingly titled followup The Harsh Light of Day marked the end of their radio career, but the beginning of a growth as a band, building up a loyal following. In 2019, the group released its seventh LP, The Help Machine

Episode 380: Richard Wolff

29Dec

In 2019, Professor Richard Wolff was everywhere. He published two introduction to economics books — Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism — hosted a weekly YouTube show and podcast and made countless media appearances, all while serving as a visiting professor at New York’s New School.As he offhandedly points out during this conversation, we were his third podcast appearance of the day. It hasn’t always been like this, of course. The notion of a Marxist professor becoming a media darling would have seemed a crazy notion a mere decade or so ago. Wolff’s media prominence has come in the wake of financial collapse, Occupy Wall Street and a new wave of leftist politicians that made once verboten words like “socialism” mainstream political talking points. For decades, Wolff has honed a manner of plain spoken deliver of breaking down complex economic and political concepts that have perfectly positioned him to bring such ideals to online media.

Episode 379: Paula Cole

20Dec

In hindsight, things happened quickly for Paula Cole. Before her first record arrived, she was on tour with Peter Gabriel, playing stadiums in Europe. The following year, she released her debut and deleted with Melissa Etheridge on VH1. Her sophomore record, This Fire, sported two decade defining hits in “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait.” It’s a tremendous rise for a kid from a small New England town who went to school with dreams of becoming a jazz singer. It’s also the sort of trajectory that causes some to burn out or fade away a few years in. And while Cole has had her ups and down both professionally and personally, this year’s release of her ninth album, Revolution, is a testament to an artist who continues to focus on music with a message. The singer-songwriter, now 51, still has plenty to left to say. Cole speaks with that same thoughtfulness and passion when discussing both her life and her work.

Episode 378: Randy Randall (of No Age)

13Dec

Sound Field Volume One turned out quite differently than its creator planned. Randy Randall had grand plans for field recordings. Inspired by his early years growing up the Inland Empire, the No Age guitarist took a microphone to the freeways of Southern California. Turns out all freeways more or less sound the same. Lesson learned. The experience did, however, shape his first instrumental for the Arthur King collective. A more traditional collection of ambient tracks, the album takes the listener on a sort of sonic road trip, from Desert Sunrise to Shore Sunset. It’s an impressive collection for a first time ambient artist, and a far cry from No Age’s much loved noise rock.

Episode 377: Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy)

6Dec

NYLONANDJUNO finds Jason Lytle trying something new. It’s a set of songs constructed around limitations — in this case, all of the music is played on a synthesizer and guitar, with a broken bottom nylon string. It’s also an entirely instrumental album, a far cry from the singer-songwriter’s days fronting indie-rock mainstay, Grandaddy. The record finds Lytle joyfully exploring new territory more than 20 years into his professional recording career. With a number of his fellow Arthur King collective members in town for an art exhibition, the musician joined us to discuss the ups and downs of his long celebrated career, time as a pro skater and reconnecting with the joy of making music.

 

Episode 376: Aaron Espinoza and John Schlue

4Dec

The group’s URL evocatively posits the question, Who Is Arthur King? It’s not a particularly easy question to answer. It never is with a collective. For the sake of brevity, we’ll cowardly default its own description. Arthur King is an experimental music and visual art collective seeking to engage the tension between the known and unknown inherent in creative expression. For the sake of this interview, Arthur King is, in part, former Earlimart guitarist Aaron Espinoza and painter, John Schlue. The first of a three part series, the duo will be joined in coming weeks by Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and No Age’s Randy Randall. All parties sat down to discuss their on-going collaborations while putting on an exhibition in Manhattan. In this first part, Espinoza and Schlue discuss the collective’s multimedia work.

Episode 375: Electric Youth

30Nov

When Drive appeared in theaters, Electric Youth was still finding its sound. The track, created in collaboration with producer College, was a defining aesthetic touchstone for the film, appearing throughout. For the Toronto-based duo, it was as good a sign as any that they were on the right track. It was a sort of overnight success for Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin, a pair that had been together since middle school. Released in August, Memory Emotion maintains the group’s atmospheric synth-pop sound. Any one of the tracks could slot comfortably into the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Their first proper release in half a decade, the album comes on the heels of a diverse array of collaborations. There are several soundtrack contributions, along with 2017’s Breathing, an “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack From A Lost Film” — the result of an abandoned horror project by director Anthony Scott Burns. Garrick and Griffin have also collaborated with Gesaffelstein and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Episode 374: Imperial Teen

24Nov

There’s been an argument. Actually, that’s probably too strong a word. Some minor disagreement. The entire band is laughing about it by the time I arrive at the Brooklyn apartment. Like everything else they do, the conversation over some synth patch is downright familial. The quartet has been making music together for so long, they’re practically siblings, with all of the love and squabbles that brings. Ever since their debut record hit the since in 1996, Imperial Teen has been a staple of alternative and indie rock. Following the release of their sixth album, Now We Are Timeless, the full band (Roddy Bottum, Lynn Truell, Will Schwartz and Jone Stebbins) sat down to discuss nearly a quarter century of Imperial Teen.

Episode 373: Lonnie Jordan (of War)

17Nov

Having just secured a plate of pasta, Lonnie Jordan’s beaming. Even with a nightly club rider, life on the road as a vegan can be a tough one. But he swears by it, even when it means getting creative with a couple of slices of bread and some condiments. At 71, he swears he’s in best shape of his life, having sworn off the many vices of a touring rock musician. Toward the end of our conversation, I ask whether he’ll still be on the road at 81 and 91. “Try 101,” he answers with a grin. The last original member still touring under the War banner is has more than embraced life on the road, happy to play an impressive string of iconic hits, from the Eric Burdon-led “Spill the Wine” to “Why Can’t We Be Friends” to “Low Rider” to “Summer.” He shows no signs of quitting and apparently wouldn’t have it any other way.

- Older Posts »