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.

Episode 372: Sammy Harkham

9Nov

I had to double check, but its seems that, in all of my time writing about comics for various outlets, I’ve never actually interviewed Sammy Harkham. It’s shocking, really, given what a important player he’s been in the indie comics scene for some time. Thankfully, the release of Kramer’s Egot 10 presented the perfect opportunity. For fans of round numbers, next spring also marks the 20th (!?) anniversary of the influential publication, which the Crickets author produced at age 18. In spite of a somewhat irregular publishing schedule and a range of different publishers (most recently settling at Fantagraphics), the anthology has become a bedrock of alternative comics. The series is known for both experimental formats and the stellar quality of the work it publishes, featuring the industry’s biggest names and highlighting lesser known talents. Harkham joined us to reflect on the series and discuss his love for the medium.

Episode 371: Josh Gondelman

2Nov

At times, Nice Try is a book about failure. Josh Gondelman chronicles his struggles as as up and coming comedian, love woes and awkward teenage attempts to be cool — all topics that might be a touch too painful had things not worked out so well. When he meets up with me, he’s just come from his gig writing on the Showtime series for the beloved Bronx duo, Desus and Mero. It’s a gig he left John Oliver’s equally beloved Last Week Tonight for. Like I said, things are going just fine for the Brooklyn-based comedian. Indeed, when “the nicest guy in comedy” is what people call you behind your back, things are probably going pretty well. In the wake of his new collection of essays, Gondelman joined us to talk about standup, teaching preschool and reliving one’s awkward youth. Oh, and here’s Josh’s curated reading list for the inaugural and almost certainly finally RiYL book club.

Reading Syllabus:

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

Episode 370: Vivien Goldman

26Oct

In Revenge of the She-Punks, Vivien Goldman charts feminist ideology in punk across nations, languages and decades. Beginning with 70s pioneers like Poly Styrene, Patti Smith and The Slits, the book draws together threads that are often ignored in wider conversations about the genre. The book follows the rebirth of Goldman’s own musical career, with 2016’s terrific anthology, Resolutionary (Songs 1979-1982). Now doing double duty as a musician and author, Goldman continues to teach at NYU, where she’s affectionately know as the “punk professor.” Using her latest book as a starting point, Goldman joined us to discuss the secret history of women in punk, the lingering role of the holocaust in the birth of the movement and drawing inspiration from continued musical resistance.

Episode 369: SonReal

23Oct

The guest are running late. So far as I’m aware, my conversation with Aaron “SonReal” Hoffman is the first RiYL to get pushed back due to an appearance on Sway’s morning show. It’s a pretty good excuse, so far as those go. Hoffman is in good spirits when he arrives. The appearance went well. It was his second time free styling on the show, and things went far better this time It’s amazing what a few years and a little confidence will do. The Juno-nominated Canadian rapper’s maturity shows of his latest record, as well. The Aaron LP is his most sophisticated and personal to date, dealing with earnest themes of love, loss and family.

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