interviews 2010

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

One of the figures in the music industry most closely associated with Michael Jackson is producer Quincy Jones. The multi-Grammy Award winner also had a long-standing relationship with Frank Sinatra and was the force behind "We Are the World". Jim and Greg spoke to Jones shortly before the release of Michael and asked him about whether some of these songs were better left unreleased. Jones believes that money will be at the core of lot of decision-making around Jackson's legacy. Jim and Greg also talk to Jones about his latest record Q: Soul Bossa Nostra, which features Jones tracks updated by Amy Winehouse, Ludacris, Talib Kweli and more.

Go to episode 266
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James Murphy

As the frontman of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy has made some of Jim and Greg's favorite records of the past decade. They thank him for that, as well as for getting everyone to dance again, despite not being your traditional lead singer. The regular ol' guy started as an indie rocker, but later fell in love with dance music, which he says has a point: to get you to move. He co-founded the DFA, or "Death From Above", record label with Tim Goldsworthy, and their roster would go on to include The Juan Maclean, The Rapture, and Hot Chip, among others. After LCD Soundsystem released some buzzworthy singles and 12 inches, the band put out three critically acclaimed albums: the self-titled debut in 2005, Sound of Silver in 2007 and This Is Happening, which became a Billboard Top 10 hit this year. Jim and Greg talk to Murphy about getting older in a business that values the young, and how he could have taken an entirely different path: as a writer for Seinfeld.

Go to episode 262
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Teenage Fanclub

Few bands from the early '90s are still going strong. But Teenage Fanclub is an exception. The Scottish power pop band formed in 1989, and, for most of its existence, has maintained the same lineup: guitarists and songwriters Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Gerard Love and Francis McDonald. Now they're also joined by keyboardist Dave McGowan. Jim and Greg talk to the band about their roots, their longevity, and the rarity of a band having three chief songwriters. They also ask them about the recording and reception of Bandwagonesque, the band's third record and the one that brought Teenage Fanclub its first taste of success in the States. In fact, Spin Magazine voted Bandwagonesque the #1 album of 1991 - favoring it over Nirvana's Nevermind, R.E.M.'s Out of Time and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. While in the Sound Opinions studio, Teenage Fanclub performs songs from its new album Shadows, plus an oldie from 1995's Grand Prix.

Go to episode 260
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Best Coast

Jim and Greg are joined by the members of Best Coast. The indie trio, named for lead singer Bethany Cosentino's beloved California region, has a unique combination of shoegaze rock and '60s throwback harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas. Their debut Crazy for You was a surprise hit for an indie release-reaching the Billboard Top 40. Cosentino talks to Jim and Greg about her own musical roots (Dad performed with 70's rock band War), rock heroes (Stevie Nicks) and personal writing style. She's joined by band mates Bobb Bruno on guitars and Ali Koehler, formerly of The Vivian Girls, on drums for a live performance in the studio.

Go to episode 258
Michael Rother

Michael Rother

Our guest this week might not be a familiar name to most. But, Michael Rother is one of the most innovative figures in rock. Along with Klaus Dinger, he formed Neu! and created three hugely influential albums in the 1970's. They were part of a great wave of German art rock of that period and continue to be name checked by everyone from Wilco to Sonic Youth to U2. Rother talks to Jim and Greg about his solo work and his time with Neu!. The band's back catalog is now available in a limited edition box set, and Rother is touring the country with a new band under the name Hallogallo 2010.

Go to episode 253
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White Mystery

One of the best parts of Jim and Greg's jobs is that they get to discover great, new music, sometimes in their own backyards. Even better is when they can shine a spotlight on new bands on the show. This week they do just that. They're joined by White Mystery, a young garage rock duo from Chicago. Sister and brother Alex and Francis White have been making music together since they were kids. Alex, 24, went on to front a number of bands, most notably Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra. They are, of course, being compared to that other famous White duo, but with Alex's massive screech and Francis' raw and dirty drumming, Greg hears more of a combo of Tina Turner and the MC5. What do you hear? Check out these live songs and videos

Go to episode 251
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Slayer

In the 1980's Slayer redefined the metal genre, bringing more speed and intensity than many had ever heard. But the musical virtuosity of members Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King and Dave Lombardo was often overshadowed by their lyrics and imagery, which at times referenced violence and satanism. That made them the target of groups like the Parents Music Resource Center, which was co-founded by Tipper Gore. But despite critics, they've been going strong for over three decades and are currently out on tour. Drummer Dave Lombardo and guitarist Kerry King sit down with Jim and Greg to talk about their favorite Slayer moments, working with Rick Rubin and what they'd say to parents concerned about their music.

Go to episode 250
Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus

A decade after breaking up, Stephen Malkmus and Pavement are back on the road. The indie rock king and his band recently took court in front of an adoring audience at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, Pavement's 1992 debut Slanted and Enchanted established their lo-fi,“ironic”sound, and they went on to release four more independent albums. While "Cut Your Hair" was the group's only brush with the mainstream, their influence on underground rock can't be underestimated. Stephen talks to Jim and Greg about the band's decision to reunite and their own influences, and he explains what's the deal with those handcuffs.

Go to episode 244
The Smiths

Stephen Street

Jim and Greg often like to invite a noteworthy record producer to come on the show to share some behind-the-scenes insights. This week they talk to Stephen Street. Stephen worked with The Smiths on three of their landmark albums during the 1980s. Then in the '90s, he recorded with Blur on five of their releases. He also produced the hugely successful debut by The Cranberries. Today he continues to work with top British bands like Babyshambles and The Klaxons. Stephen shares with Jim and Greg some of the backstory of making tracks like "Meat is Murder" and "Girls and Boys." He also expresses huge admiration for both Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur. Stephen thinks a Blur reunion is not far off-much more likely than a Smiths one.

Go to episode 243
Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde has been making music for more than three decades. But in that time, she's never released an album under a name other than the Pretenders…until now. She joins Jim and Greg to debut her new project JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. Chrissie and 31-year-old Welsh musician JP Jones describe how they began their collaboration over the trading of tapes and a whirlwind trip to Cuba. Chrissie admits the songs are intensely personal, and many deal with the two's unrequited love. As Chrissie explains, she's just too old for JP, despite him possibly being her "Perfect Lover." But their lost love, is our musical gain. Fidelity comes out in August.

Go to episode 239
Chris Jones

Chris Jones

In anticipation of this weekend's Tony Awards, Jim and Greg invite Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones to join them on the show. Jones has been watching the trend of intersecting rock and theater for years, and this year it seems to have come to an apex. All four of the nominees for Best Musical have rock roots: American Idiot, which features music by Green Day, Million Dollar Quartet, which is inspired by the famed recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Fela!, which is based on the music of African musician Fela Kuti, and Memphis, which tells the story of a rock DJ in Memphis in the 1950s. As Chris Jones explains, much of this trend is the result of economic interests–a new generation of theatergoers raised on rock and roll are now willing to pay big bucks for Broadway shows. He also credits shows like Spring Awakening for helping to bend the old musical rules. To Jim and Greg's surprise, Chris enthusiastically recommends American Idiot and doesn‘t think the band’s fans will be put off.

Go to episode 237
Phoenix

Phoenix

Next up we let the French invade. Jim and Greg are joined by the members of the band Phoenix. *For a while, they were known as“that band fronted by that guy with Sophia Coppola.”But now, with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix topping a number of Best Albums lists (including Jim and Greg's), they are more widely known by American audiences. In fact, you‘ve probably heard them in this commercial. But, don’t hold that against them. The men from Phoenix are huge music fans, mentored by the members of Air. They may make heady references to 19th century Hungarian composers in their songs, but never lose sight of the goals of great pop music. You can hear that in their live acoustic performance on the show, which includes a cover of the Air song "Playground Love."

*This interview originally aired in October 2009.

Go to episode 235
The xx

The xx

This week's guests are The xx. The young British band released their self-titled debut last year, and it went on to make Greg's list of top albums of 2009 (Listen here). Since then their music has appeared in a number of major television shows and ads, and they're playing Lollapalooza. The group is known for their intimate, call and response sound–one that emerged more out of necessity than art. Bassist and vocalist Oliver Sim explains that neither he nor Romy Madley Croft were confident to sing on their own. But Romy assures us that there's nothing romantic about their intimacy. The two have been friends since they were small children.

Go to episode 233
K'Naan

K'Naan

This week Jim and Greg are joined in the studio by K'Naan and his touring band. The rapper and poet, born in Somalia and raised in New York and Toronto, released his second, and most successful album Troubadour last year. K'Naan left Mogadishu at age 13 at the outbreak of civil war violence, but the country remains a major influence on his music. There are a number of Somali poetry styles, and as he demonstrates to Jim and Greg, it can lend itself to rap verses. Also, while he appreciates a good love song as much as the next person, K'Naan feels a responsibility with his music and tries to convey the violence and the reality of what he experienced.

Go to episode 231
Beach House

Beach House

As Jim says, Beach House is in the house this week. The Baltimore duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand recently released their major label debut Teen Dream. They first gained notice with their self-titled indie release in 2006, and later with 2008's Devotion, though Jim and Greg were less enamored with that record. As Victoria and Alex explain to Jim and Greg, having more resources enabled them to expand their sound, without sacrificing the dreamy intimacy for which they're known. Victoria has a unique vocal style, but she insists it's just what comes naturally to her. Alex describes their musical pairing as“the best and most instantly rewarding.”

Go to episode 229
Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls

Speaking of“girl power,”this week's guests have plenty. The Vivian Girls visit the studio to perform songs from their new album, Everything Goes Wrong, as well as a special cover. The band's current lineup consists of guitarist Cassie Ramone, bassist Katy Goodman, and drummer Ali Koehler. They discuss with Jim and Greg their quick rise to indie success and the challenges they face as three females on the road.

Go to episode 227
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Mickey Leigh

Joey Ramone is one of rock's biggest legends, but very little is known about his actual life. As we learn in the next segment, the Ramones' lead singer, born Jeffry Hyman, had a turbulent life full of physical and mental illness. Jim and Greg get insight into his life from the punk rocker's brother, Mickey Leigh, author of the new book I Slept With Joey Ramone. They are also joined by the book's contributor and Punk Magazine co-founder Legs McNeil. As Mickey reveals to Jim and Greg, this is not a fairy tale. Joey suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in his teens. But it's an uplifting tale. Through music Joey was able to laugh at the dark areas of life and even overcome some of his insecurities. He became a beacon of hope to awkward kids everywhere–if Joey can do it, we can do it.

Go to episode 224
Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo

During our feature segment Jim and Greg are joined by Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo. However, it's not Weezer that accompanies him. It's the Chicago rock band The Cathy Santonies. Before visiting the studio, Rivers asked Jim and Greg to choose his songs and choose his backing band. Then after a brief sound check, they launched in completely unrehearsed. It's a return to Rivers‘ garage rock roots that preceded Weezer’s massive 1994 self-titled debut. He and the band have gone on to record a number of successful albums since then. But, as he explains to Jim and Greg, life as a musician has not been without conflict. In fact, Rivers Cuomo might be one of the most angst-ridden front men out there. Whether it's being accused of being too soft (Pinkerton) or too much of a sellout (The Red Album), Rivers has always had his critics. Despite that, he seems to be having fun, especially when rocking out.

The Cathy Santonies are guitarist-vocalist Mojo Santoni, bassist-vocalist Radio Santoni, guitarist Jane Danger and drummer Kaylee Preston. They are named after an often talked about but never seen character on Full House.

Go to episode 221
Peaches

Peaches

Jim and Greg are joined this week by Peaches and her band Sweet Machine. The singer and performance artist was born Merril Nisker in Toronto, but took on the electro-clash alter-ego Peaches for her first solo album The Teaches of Peaches. Peaches is now based and her latest album is I Feel Cream. As she relays to Jim and Greg, she wanted to focus more on the singing. She's also had the opportunity to collaborate with Pink, Iggy Pop and Christina Aguilera. As Peaches says, she waited for the mainstream to come to her, rather than move towards it. She and Sweet Machine perform tracks from I Feel Cream on the show, and you can hear all the live tracks here.

Go to episode 218
Kid Sister

Kid Sister

Chicago rapper Melisa Young, better known as Kid Sister, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. She began to get notice after releasing her breakthrough hit "Pro Nails" in 2007, and since then has become a mainstay in the club and festival circuit. However, it wasn't until November 2009 that she released her full-length debut Ultraviolet. Melisa explains to Jim and Greg that it just wasn‘t perfect, and she wouldn’t release it until it was. Now the album is an up-tempo blend of hip hop, electronica and house, and features guest appearances by Cee-Lo Green and Kanye West on a new version of "Pro Nails." But, Melisa assures Jim and Greg she hasn‘t gone Hollywood. She’s still got plenty of energy and appears to be happier just jamming out at the gym.

Go to episode 215