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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 


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. 

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. 


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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

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