interviews 2018

Amanda

Amanda Shires

This week, Jim and Greg talk to singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago. Amanda released her latest solo album To The Sunset in early August of this year to a lot of critical acclaim, especially for the intricately beautiful lyrics and genre-blending on the record (country, rock, acoustic, etc.) Shires talks with Jim and Greg about her time in the legendary Bob Wills band The Texas Playboys and about how getting her MFA in poetry elevated her lyricism. They also discuss her husband, singer, guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, and how becoming a mom changed her musical perspective. Shires also brought along her long fiddle and her guitar player and performs a special stripped down set.

Go to episode 679
susan

Film & TV Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs

This week, our guest is Emmy-winning music supervisor Susan Jacobs. Her job as a music supervisor is to carefully choose tracks for films and television that elevate the visual art to a different level beyond what's written on the page or shown onscreen. Just a few of the movies she's worked on include: She's Gotta Have It, Kansas City, Basquiat, Capote, Little Miss Sunshine, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and I, Tonya. She's really been a go-to music guru for a wide range of directors including David O. Russell, Spike Lee, Robert Altman, M. Night Shyamalan and more. Jim and Greg talk to her about one of her most recent projects, doing the music for HBO's miniseries drama Sharp Objects and about how she got into the business.

Go to episode 673
Geoff

Geoff Emerick

Geoff Emerick was in the right place at the right time- starting a job at Abbey Road Studios just days before The Beatles recorded "Love Me Do." By the time they began recording Revolver, Emerick had been promoted to engineer. It was up to him to make John, Paul, George and Ringo's creative dreams a reality in the studio, a challenge Emerick recounted in his 2006 book, Here, There and Everywhere. He went on to work on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, part of The White Album and Abbey Road.

Beyond The Beatles, Emerick worked with Art Garfunkel, Elvis Costello, Jeff Beck, Michael Jackson, The Zombies, Cheap Trick, Stevie Wonder and Wings. Emerick died October 2, 2018 at 72 years old.

We revisit Jim and Greg's conversation with Emerick from 2006.

For more from Emerick and his work with the Beatles, listen to our classic album dissection of Revolver.

Go to episode 672
wayne

Wayne Kramer of the MC5

It's been 50 years this month since the Detroit rock band the MC5 recorded their debut album live, Kick Out the Jams! This week, our guest is MC5 guitarist and solo artist Wayne Kramer, author of the new autobiography The Hard Stuff. The MC5 were known for its political lyrics, energetic onstage charisma and punk attitude. The band influenced artists like The Clash, The Ramones and Rage Against the Machine. Since the breakup of the MC5 in 1972, Wayne has put out some great solo records and found success as a film and television composer. Kramer talks with Jim and Greg about the political music he was making in the MC5, the Detroit rock scene and about the thrill of performing live. He also discusses how he overcame his drug and alcohol addictions and what he learned from his two year stint in prison.

Go to episode 671
dessa

Dessa

Dessa is a rapper, a singer, and a writer. She's a renaissance woman in the truest sense. Dessa has released four albums that showcase her signature sing-song style with the Doomtree hip hop collective out of Minneapolis. Her latest album is called Chime. Her book, My Own Devices: TRUE STORIES FROM THE ROAD ON MUSIC, SCIENCE, AND SENSELESS LOVE was released this month. And if that isn't enough, she recently participated in a science experiment to map her brain! Recently, she and guitarist Matthew Santos joined us and an audience at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago for an intimate, acoustic performance and a conversation.

Go to episode 669
stein

Seymour Stein

Seymour Stein is a living legend in the music industry: Breaking into the record business when he was only a teenager, Stein co-founded his own label, Sire Records, in 1966. Sire went on to sign superstars like Madonna and bring musical movements like new wave and West Coast hip-hop to a wider audience. Earlier this summer, Stein announced his departure from Sire and Warner Bros. and released a tell-all memoir. Greg revisits his 2015 conversation with Stein in front of a live audience at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago, under the auspices of the Lake FX Summit + Expo.

Go to episode 668
Bat Fangs

Bat Fangs

Jim and Greg sit down with Bat Fangs, a new rock duo comprised of guitarist/vocalist Betsy Wright (of Ex Hex) and drummer Laura King (of Flesh Wounds). Bat Fangs released a self-titled album in February and came on our hosts' radar after a stunning showing at SXSW. Wright and King talk to Sound Opinions about how '80s hair metal inspired them and the ways their music counters the toxic masculinity of that genre. (There's also a digression about how getting matching tattoos played into the band's founding.)

Go to episode 667
Mastodon

Mastodon

Based in Atlanta, Mastodon recently won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance and has sometimes been called (in what Jim thinks is a back-handed compliment) "a thinking person's metal band." This week, our hosts sit down with drummer Brann Dailor of Mastodon to talk about musical influences from Black Sabbath to Bowie, lyricwriting, and Game of Thrones. He also talked about the tragic events that brought the band closer together and shaped their musical projects, like watching family members battle cancer (Emperor of Sand) and his own sister's suicide in 1990 (Crack the Skye).

Go to episode 666
Brian

Brian Koppelman

Brian Koppelman has spent a lifetime in the entertainment industry. The son of record executive Charles Koppelman, he got his start as an A&R representative for labels like SBK and EMI. (He is credited with discovering fellow Tufts University student Tracy Chapman while still a college student.) A revelation later in his life brought him to his real passion: screenwriting. In the last 20 years, he has written, directed, or produced a dozen films, including Ocean's Thirteen and Rounders. His latest success is the Showtime drama series Billions, which he leads as co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer. The show follows U.S. District Attorney Chuck Rhoades's relentless investigation of shady hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod. Billions allows Koppelman to indulge his inner music obsessive while tackling topics like class, power, gender and sexuality, and corruption.

Go to episode 665
Sea

Phoebe Bridgers

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has been performing at open mics since she was 11 years old and grew up busking at farmers' markets in her native Los Angeles. Now 23, Bridgers has been lauded for her captivating musicianship, dusky vocals, and lyrical eloquence. (Channeling his other life as an English professor, Jim compares her to Joan Didion.) Bridgers's songs pull no punches, covering topics like heartbreak and loss, living with depression, and the shadowy underside of her sunny home state. She stopped by the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago to perform "Smoke Signals" and a few other tracks off her 2017 album Stranger in the Alps. She talks to Greg and Jim about the meaning behind the album's title, how to silence a restless crowd, and the pervasive sexism of the music industry.

Go to episode 662
Alice

Alice Cooper

This week, Jim and Greg revist their 2015 interview with shock-rock legend Alice Cooper. Cooper was born in Detroit but later moved to Arizona for high school, where he was a teenage jock in a rock band. His group, The Spiders, performed around Phoenix and LA for a few years before they changed their name to Alice Cooper (Alice's real name is Vincent Furnier.) Their first couple albums Pretties For Youand Easy Action didn't gain much traction but once they teamed up with producer Bob Ezrin, they found success with the album Love It to Death. A string of popular records followed such as School's Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare but for a time, critics couldn‘t see past the group’s on-stage antics. Alice is perhaps most famous for his special brand of shock-rock including props like snakes, guillotines and even straight jackets. Jim and Greg were very excited to speak with Cooper and discuss his on-stage persona, sobriety, music catalogue and relationships with other famous artists.

Go to episode 661
PJ Morton

PJ Morton

PJ Morton is an indie soul artist who has worked with industry heavy hitters like Solange, Erykah Badu, and India.Arie; but with his latest solo effort, 2017's Gumbo, he's finally receiving a new level of recognition. The album was nominated for two Grammys: one for best R&B album, and one for best song, for the cut entitled First Began. PJ joined Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot for a conversation and an intimate performance.

Go to episode 660
Ari

Ari Melber

This week, Jim and Greg talk to TV personality Ari Melber. Melber, who began his career as an attorney, is the host of The Beat on MSNBC, a show where he unpacks the day's news, and sometimes that involves integrating rap lyrics to help explain the stories. They talk about his love for rap music, how much he prepares for his show and the similarities between hip hop and the White House today.

Go to episode 659
Hinds

Hinds

This week, Jim and Greg are joined by the two leading members of the Spanish rock band Hinds! Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote are from Madrid where women-led rock bands are extremely uncommon. They tought themselves how to play and sing in their late teens and formed the band, choosing to sing their songs in english in the hopes of reaching audiences outside of Spain. It worked! Hinds regularly plays sold-out shows in the U.S. and has released two successful albums, Leave Me Alone (2016) and I Don't Run (2018). We talked to Ana and Carlotta about how they write their brand of rock and roll, how they perceive America and about navigating the music industry.

Go to episode 656
Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

On June 8, 2018, chef, author, television host and more, Anthony Bourdain died at age 61. This week, Jim and Greg revisit their 2008 interview with Bourdain about his love for food and rock and roll.

Anthony, or Tony as he liked to be called, explained to Jim and Greg that there are a lot of connections between members of the food world and the music world, the first of which is simply the hours. Both subcultures are nocturnal pleasure-seekers who often frequent the same greasy spoons and the same dive bars. But on a more cerebral level, music geeks and foodies are both obsessed, both opinionated, and both hate Billy Joel. Tony explained that when he served up grub to guests he preferred the tunes of Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, and even Connie Francis.

Go to episode 655
Margo Price

Margo Price

Margo Price is part of a new generation on the Nashville scene that infuse authentic country roots with strong songwriting chops. Her first album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter was recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis, and released by Jack White's Third Man Records in 2016. Her latest, 2017's All American Made, encompasses a variety of American roots genres, including outlaw country and soul, but she's quick to distance herself from ther current trend towards Americana music, noting that“There's a lot of people in the mainstream that are being turned on their heads right now, and really grasping for authenticity. I think it's only a matter of time before the Americana/Outlaw bubble bursts.”Price joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Goose Island Barrelhouse in Chicago.

Go to episode 655
Joni Mitchell

Lindsay Zoladz

Jim and Greg also spoke with Lindsay Zoladz, a music critic and writer for The Ringer. Her article "Joni Mitchell: Fear of a Female Genius" explores what makes her such a unique and special artist, as well as explains how Joni was received when the album was first released and its lasting impact. Lindsay also makes some suggestions for how to approach listening to the record for the first time and explains the inherent challenges Joni faced being a female genius.

Go to episode 654
Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges

Jim and Greg sit down with Texas soul singer Leon Bridges. Leon's debut album, 2015's Coming Home, was drenched in a retro 1960s vibe reminiscent of Sam Cooke. For his sophomore effort, Bridges told Jim and Greg that he didn‘t want to be put in a box stylistically:“I wanted to make something that was reflective of all the styles of R&B that I dig.”Leon’s latest album, Good Thing, takes a complete 180; and marks his transition into an adventurous new sound that's more akin to R&B artists like Prince and D'Angelo.

Go to episode 653
Bernard Purdie

Joe Wong

JoeWong While the lead singer in a band usually gets most of the spotlight at the front of the stage, this week we focus on someone much further back on the stage - the drummer. Someone who doesn't always get the attention, but is often just as deserving. To help Jim and Greg dig into the role of drummers, they spoke with drummer and composer Joe Wong. He's also the host of the The Trapset, a podcast all about drummers.

Go to episode 652
JoeWong

Bernard“Pretty”Purdie

In the 1960s and '70s, Bernard“Pretty”Purdie was one of the most prolific session drummers out there, laying down the beat for Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Al Kooper, Nina Simone, Hall & Oates, Miles Davis and hundreds more. His distinctive style, known as the“Purdie Shuffle,”has influenced generations of drummers, but has been frequently sampled in hip hop since the 1980s. Sound Opinions producer Ayana Contreras spoke with Purdie about his career and contributions to popular music.

Go to episode 652
John Prine

John Prine

This week, our guest is singer-songwriter John Prine. Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Prine began his career as a mailman and started writing folk songs along his route. He performed them live in the Chicago folk scene and was soon signed to a major label. While he put out great releases in the '70s, record companies often didn‘t know what to do with him - he was a talented songwriter and a gregarious performer, but he just didn’t fit the rock mold at the time. Prine started his own label Oh Boy Records in 1984 and has remained independent since. Over time, Prine has managed to get better at his craft while also having to overcome cancer, which altered his singing and speaking voice, making it deeper and more gravelly. His latest album, The Tree of Forgiveness, is his first in 13 years and is his best performing album of his entire career. Jim and Greg talk with John about his career journey, writing songs like "Sam Stone" and about working with everyone from Steve Goodman to Phil Spector.

Go to episode 651
Kerry

Slayer

In the 1980s, 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. Now after 37 years of enthralling audience and flipping off its critics, the band is calling it quits. They‘ll embark on a farewell world tour, minus members Hanneman, who died in 2013, and Lombardo, who left the group that same year. Today we’re revisiting our interview with guitarist Kerry King and former drummer Dave Lombardo. They talk about working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, ticking off Tipper Gore and more.

Go to episode 649
Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

For his latest record, The Nashvillve Sound, Grammy-wining country singer Jason Isbell set out to document his life as a father and an artist in 2017. What came out of that process is an album that has been described as his most political yet.“It came out political because what else is there in the public consciousness right now if not that?”Jason asks in an interview with Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis. Jason Isbell came by our studios to talk about performing during a politically divided time, how his time in Drive-By Truckers spurred his songwriting, and how vampires works as a great topic for a love song. He also performed a solo acoustic set.

Go to episode 647
Regrettes

The Regrettes

Greg Kot interviewed The Regrettes, an LA band that is one of their favorite recent discoveries. The pop-punk quartet blends the raucous energy of Bikini Kill with the harmonies of The Ronettes to great effect. The Regrettes talked about their beginnings as well as their bold, empowering lyricism. The group also performed a special, stripped down acoustic set of songs from their 2017 debut album Feel Your Feelings Fool! without sacrificing their signature energy.

Go to episode 645
Music Industry

Antibalas

Jim and Greg are joined by Antibalas, a Brooklyn-based afrobeat band. The 12-piece group has specialized in socially aware horn-heavy music inspired by afrobeat artists like Fela Kuti. They've recorded 6 albums, and have also collaborated with other artists like Mark Ronson and The Dap-Kings. The group spoke with Jim and Greg about the messages in their music, notable collaborations, and about how the changing music industry has impacted a band their size.

Go to episode 642
Buried Treasures

A Giant Dog

A Giant Dog is a rock band out of Austin, Texas, whose power and charisma on stage make the outfit unique. Made up of Sabrina Ellis, Andrew Cashen, Andy Bauer, Graham Low, and Daniel Blanchard, Greg fell in love with this band when he saw them several times at SXSW in 2017. Greg interviews the band about how they came together, signing with Merge Records and how their antics onstage have changed over the years. Plus, they perform live.

Go to episode 641
Don Was

Don Was

This week, our guest is musician, producer and label president Don Was. Was hails from Detroit and since the early '80s has been a part of the group Was (Not Was). In Was (Not Was,) Don is the bassist, a songwriter and a producer, creating unique music that blended the genres of jazz, pop, rock and dance music. He then found a second career as a super producer, working with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and more. Then beginning in 2012, Was became the president of the legendary jazz record label Blue Note Records. He talks with Jim and Greg about the methodology behind Was (Not Was), working with The Rolling Stones throughout the decades and his transition into being a label head.

Go to episode 639
Sir the Baptist

Sir The Baptist

Sir The Baptist is an up-and-coming artist that blends hip hop swagger with his gospel roots. But, he doesn‘t turn a blind eye to what’s going on in the world around him. Not unlike The Staple Singers, Sir is an artist who believes in delivering a message in his songs, whether it's tackling domestic violence with "Deliver Me," or with violence in the streets with "Wake Up." He grew up in the church, in fact, his father was a preacher. That background is what keeps him committed to making music that helps to“change the world.” Sir and a 10 piece band joined Jim and Greg in the Jim and Kay Maybie Performance Studio to perform songs from his debut album, Saint or Sinner (one of Jim and Greg's Best Albums of 2017), and to talk about the message in his music.

Go to episode 638
Cover Me

Ray Padgett

Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot talk to author Ray Padgett about his book, Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time. They discuss what makes a good cover version of a song, as well as what makes a bad one. Plus, they dig into some notable rock covers that Ray mentions in the book. Then, Jim and Greg share a few of their favorite cover songs:

Go to episode 636
Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa is a young rapper who hails from the South Side of Chicago and isn't afraid to write about taboo topics like violence, racism and social injustice. While Mensa is a protégé of rap legend Jay-Z, he has his own unique style and swagger: he loves skateboarding, is gregarious and has a pretty stellar singing voice. His debut studio album, The Autobiography, is an ambitious record chronicling the entirety of his 24 years of life, and it's full of hard hitting beats and impactful (and sometimes hilarious) lyrics. Jim and Greg talk to Vic Mensa about overcoming drugs, his love for rock music and how he made a record that plays like a book.

Go to episode 635
Alison Moyet

Alison Moyet

English singer and songwriter Alison Moyet rose to fame in the early '80s as the lead singer of the synth-pop duo Yaz. Songs like "Only You" and "Situation" showcased her soulful vocals and dynamic voice. Since the group broke up in 1983, she's gone on to have a successful solo career and recently released her latest album, Other, which talks about the beauty in diversity, change and more. Jim and Greg talk to Alison about her new material, lifestyle changes and being an outsider in the music industry. She also performs two songs live from her new album.

Go to episode 634
Iron and Wine

Iron & Wine

Sam Beam, otherwise known as Iron & Wine, has been making acoustic and indie folk music for over 15 years. He hails from the South and was actually working as a college film professor when he got the call that the famous music label Sub Pop wanted to sign him based on his demo. His debut record, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was released in 2002 and he did everything on it from writing, producing, playing the instruments, vocals and more. Sam Beam has released six studio albums to date and recently collaborated with singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop.

Sam is also married and a father to five daughters. In 2017, he released his latest album Beast Epic. Jim and Greg interviewed him in front of an audience at the Goose Island Barrelhouse where he also gave a live performance.

Go to episode 633
Repo Man

Alex Cox

Filmmaker Alex Cox joins Jim and Greg this week for a lively conversation about his punk rock-infused movies like Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, and Walker. Though originally from Liverpool, Cox first encountered punk rock through the Los Angeles scene of bands like Fear, Suicidal Tendencies, and Black Flag. When he made his debut film Repo Man in 1984, he enlisted all his favorite bands for the soundtrack. The movie was initially a flop, but the popularity of that legendary soundtrack album eventually turned it into a cult classic. Cox followed up that with another definitive punk film – Sid and Nancy, a biopic of the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

Sid and Nancy was the beginning of a long collaboration between Cox and Joe Strummer of The Clash. Strummer appeared in and composed for the spaghetti western homage Straight to Hell and the controversial 1987 film Walker. Alex Cox speaks with Jim and Greg about working with Strummer, enlisting both Iggy Pop and Michael Nesmith of The Monkees to make Repo Man, and the difficulties of making political films in Hollywood.

Go to episode 632