Like many children of the 90s, Ben Lee started a band that was inspired by artists such as Sonic Youth, The Breeders, and Sebadoh; but remarkably, that band--Noise Addict--quickly joined the ranks of its heroes. By the time Ben was 16, he was signed as a solo artist to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal Records; and by the time he was 18, he moved to Los Angeles.
Ben and Joe discuss: the overlooked discipline of "outsider artists"; being ten years younger than your musical peers; and the correlation between artistic and everyday presence.
Check out Ben's tour: https://www.ben-lee.com/events
Josiah Wolf possesses a uniquely compositional drumming style, coupled with a gift for dynamic sensitivity. He tells Joe about Why?, a band he co-founded in 2004; his creative partnership with his brother; being raised by Jewish parents who led a Jesus-centric synagogue; becoming part of a creative community; his exercise routine; and shifting self awareness.
Steve Gorman's natural sense of groove and knack for rhythmic hooks helped propel the Black Crowes to massive success. Over the course of a two hour conversation, Steve tells Joe about: growing up in Kentucky and Maryland; his love of Basketball; channeling obsessive-compulsive tendencies into rhythmic precision; his dysfunctional relationship with his former bandmates; the experience of writing a memoir; and the importance of family. Check out Steve's Book, Hard To Handle; and the new album by his band Trigger Hippy, Full Circle and Then Some.
Janet Fucking Weiss! 2019 has been an eventful year for Janet Weiss. She left Sleater-Kinney after a twenty-four year run and soon after suffered a major car accident. Janet tells Joe about growing up in LA; discovering drumming in San Francisco; finding an artistic community in Portland; the creative dynamic of Quasi; the emotional vulnerability required to be a great collaborator; what she loved about playing in Sleater-Kinney; why she left Sleater-Kinney; and her hopes and dreams. It’s Janet Fucking Weiss, folks. Do it up!
Anna Waronker was born into a storied music family, but--as a child--she dreamed of working at the post office or becoming an accountant. Her gift for angular melody and vivid lyricism led her to pursue the family trade after all. She tells Joe about: attending artsy alternative school Crossroads; recognizing her gift for songwriting; the evolving band dynamic of That Dog; co-parenting with another musician (husband and Trap Set alum, Steven McDonald); and the liberating feeling that accompanies scoring for film and tv. Be sure to check out That Dog's upcoming show 11/16 at The Regent in Los Angeles.
Mary Lattimore deploys her classical harp training to construct immersive, improvisatory sound worlds. A relentless road warrior, she routinely spends over 200 days a year on tour, both as a band member and a solo artist. She visited Joe on a rare day off to discuss: falling out of moving cars; growing up with a harpist mom; studying at Eastman; how meeting the Arcade Fire changed her trajectory; improvising with Thurston Moore; evolving from a hired gun to a solo artist; and living life with a "say yes" philosophy.
Paddy Boom began his career in the 1980s New York punk scene. In the early 2000s, his metronomic groove helped launch Scissor Sisters to wild international success. But a series of tragedies derailed his life, ultimately leading him to get back in touch with his creative roots. Make sure to check out Paddy's solo work, featuring alumni of David Bowie's 70s band.
Chris Carrabba's gift for melodic hooks and his sincere, vulnerable lyrical approach won him a devoted and durable fan base. He tells Joe about: growing up in a "wealth adjacent" environment; sleeping in Washington Square Park; how his music was informed by skateboarding; almost committing to a career as a teacher; leaving a band comprised of lifelong friends to develop his own creative voice; how an early backlash to his music affected him personally; and what he's done to evolve as an artist twenty years into his career.
Hugh Grundy's catchy rhythmic hooks and swinging groove helped The Zombies become on of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time. He and Joe discuss: growing up in post-war England; how he almost wound up spending his life working at a bank; the fine line between hard work and luck as it pertains to his career; recording hits like "She's Not There", "Tell Her No", and the classic Odessey and Oracle album; struggling to find his identity after the band broke up; working as an A&R man for CBS; how drumming saved him during the most difficult time in his life; and the joys of playing with the reunited Zombies, over 50 years after their original run.
Be sure to attend Joe's show with Trap Set alum Matt Cameron, Mary Timony, Chad Molter and a 12 piece orchestra, at Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge on November 21, 2019. TICKETS
Ali Koehler's propulsive drumming paints vivid pictures with a deliberately minimalist palette, but--due partially to an abusive teacher--she has always had a difficult time identifying as a drummer. Ali tells Joe about growing up in New Jersey; school band; her talent for resolving interpersonal conflict; playing with Vivian Girls and Best Coast; working in clothing production; becoming a mom; and how she has worked to achieve creative heights despite discouragement from an authority figure during a particularly formative period of her life.
Joe met this week's guest--Jimmy LaValle--on tour over twenty years ago. A lot has happened in the intervening time, and Jimmy catches Joe up on: the genesis and evolution of The Album Leaf; becoming a film composer; and raising a family. This conversation was a reminder of the magic that is felt on early tours and how that feeling is still within reach if we can learn from experience but also maintain some semblance of childlike wonder. In any case, it's always fun to see old friends.
By any external measure, Hrishikesh Hirway is an incredibly successful polymath; but boy, is he ever hard on himself. Or perhaps his success is due—at least in part—to the fact he is so hard on himself…you be the judge! Hrishi tells Joe about: growing up in Massachusetts; the challenges posed by the American pop culture's skewed portrayal of Asian men; attending Exeter and Yale; creating music as The One AM Radio; hosting the popular Song Exploder and The West Wing Weekly podcasts; and the psychological chasm between creating podcasts and writing songs.
We're moving Trap Set Headquarters! This week, we're revisiting our conversation with the incomparable Bill Bruford. Bill happens to be a favorite drummer of last week's guest, Danny Carey, who spoke of Bill with loving derision during his episode.
See you next week!
Danny Carey is the rare artist with a wildly ambitious imagination, coupled with the virtuosic ability to manifest his singular ideas. Joe joined Danny at his Hollywood studio for one of our loosest, most freewheeling episodes yet! Danny talks about: growing up in Kansas City; his love of basketball; how his Midwestern work ethic helped him assassinate his competition; his love of Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, and Tony Williams; playing in a country band with Jeff Buckley; the origins and creative dynamic of Tool; and how becoming a father changed his relationship to time. As an added bonus, Tool bassist Justin Chancellor dropped by near the end of the chat.
Billy Brimblecom plays drums with an emphatic crispness, that has made him a valued member of his native Kansas City music scene since the 90s. After achieving many of his childhood musical dreams, Billy was forced to reexamine his priorities when his leg was amputated due to cancer. Although he is still a working drummer, Billy dedicates much of his time to Steps of Faith Foundation, a non-profit that helps amputees access artificial limbs. The organization's annual benefit concert is Saturday, November 9, and will feature Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Wynonna Judd, Sam Richardson, our own Joe Wong, and more!
Purchase tickets at: thundergong.org
Joey Armstrong co-founded SWMRS when he was still in grade school, and at the age of 24, he already has decades of musical experience. Joey talks about: the benefits of hailing from a well known musical family; working to develop his own musical identity; how School of Rock changed his life; sustaining a band with his best friends; and who he'd interview if he guest hosted an episode of the show.
This week, we're renovating Trap Set HQ; so we're sharing one of our favorite episodes, featuring the great Carla Azar. This episode was recorded a few years ago. Carla is currently busy with several projects, including a new Autolux album. We'll return in August with some of our most intense episodes to date!
When he was eleven years old, Steven McDonald co-founded a band with his older brother, Jeff. That band, which soon became known as Redd Kross, became a fixture on the late 70s LA punk scene and--remarkably--is still active today. Steven tells Joe about: precociousness; opening for Black Flag at an eighth grade graduation party; the joy and pain that came along with identifying as a punk; having a romantic relationship with a 26-year-old woman when he was 13; hanging out with Raymond Pettibone; signing with a major label; working as an A&R consultant for major labels; how he reconciles his permissive childhood with modern parenting; playing with Melvins and Off!; working as a producer; and much more! This is an action packed, "triple-LP" length episode.
As a member of influential bands such as Jawbox, Burning Airlines, and Channels, J. Robbins exhibits an exceptional gift for unorthodox yet unforgettable vocal melodies counterbalanced with jagged, angular guitar hooks. For over 20 years, he's built a parallel career as an in-demand producer for artists such as: Faraquet, Braid, and The Promise Ring. This is one of our most emotionally intense and life affirming episodes.
Aaron Harris comes from a family of ship builders. Although he broke from tradition to become a drummer, his drumming is finely crafted and architectural, evoking images of a sleek and efficient sea vessel. Aaron tells Joe about: music as an escape; leaving his hometown; working as a bike messenger and at Boston institution, Newbury Comics; co-founding the influential band, Isis; moving to Los Angeles; his parallel career as a composer; and celebrating his impending parenthood.
This week, we're taking off for the holiday; so we're revisiting one of our favorite episodes, featuring the incomparable Sara Lund. Sara is still playing with Nocturnal Habits and Hungry Ghost. If you're in Portland and you'd like to study with Sara, please hit up our friends at Revival Drum Shop.
Skateboarding and music have been forever intertwined. This week’s guest, Ray Barbee, while best known as a pioneering skateboarder, is also a serious musician. Ray tells Joe about: coming from a musical family; being consumed by skateboarding; going pro and sustaining a 30+ year career; his parallel passion for music and photography; and raising a family.
Jeff Parker—one of his generation’s preeminent guitarists—talks with Joe about: his aversion to formal education, despite having teachers as parents; attending Berklee; living in Chicago, “the creative music capital of the world”; Band Leader Syndrome; how environment affects art; and completing artistic works in the face of self-doubt.
Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) discusses the creation of the band’s massive sound; the evolution of the creative dynamic with his partner Stephen O’Malley; musical monogamy; collaborating with the legendary Scott Walker; running Southern Lord Records; and how being a father affects his relationship with music.
Hayden Menzies drums with a sense of controlled bombast; his beats are often as memorable as melodic hooks. He tells Joe about his musician parents; his tight relationship with his brothers; learning to navigate happiness; and balancing his work as a musician with his parallel career in visual art.