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.
Mindee Jorgensen experienced a devastating loss at an early age and found solace in music. She tells Joe about: growing up in Iowa; marching band; making lifelong friends through punk rock; leaving home at 17; moving to LA; "The Hot Box", her weed-inspired podcast; and playing drums for one of her musical heroes, Dale Crover.
A consistently adventurous artist, Mary Timony inhabits the intersection of virtuosity and experimental abandon. Her diverse, decades-spanning body of work firmly establishes her as one of her generation’s preeminent songwriters and instrumentalists. She is also one of Joe’s closest friends.
Mary tells Joe about: growing up in DC; becoming a musician in spite of her traditional upbringing; battling depression; playing with Autoclave, Helium, Wild Flag, and Ex Hex; developing an acumen for the music business late in the game; and “big fat mamas”.
Today's episode is brought to you by SONOS.
Craig Wedren is a Midwest native whose father owned a fast food chain. He spent some time in DC, fronting the influential band Shudder to Think, while developing a career as a film composer, eventually moving to LA. In many ways, Craig’s life has the most parallels to Joe’s of any Trap Set guest.
Craig and joy discuss: divorce; Little Tavern; DC; Shudder to think; Musical Ecstasy; becoming “muted”; emerging the “muted” state via life coaching; vulnerability; and film composing.
Over the past forty years, Jay Bellerose has earned a reputation for musical excellence and rarified artistic integrity. He tells Joe about: growing up in large family in Maine; losing his father at a young age; working as a baker; the importance of being musically selective; and why he likes living at a deliberate pace.
Over the course of three excellent albums, Aldous Harding has distinguished herself as an incredibly compelling songwriter with a singular voice. Aldous and Joe discuss: impermanence, inner voices, the significance of standing up, and achieving exceptional feats as an ordinary person.
This week, we're hard at work recording new episodes, so we're sharing one of our all time favorite Trap Set conversations featuring the singular genius, Brian Blade.
Best known as the lead singer for LA band, Chicano Batman, Bardo Martinez has recently embarked on a solo career. Joe spoke to Bardo last year in front of a live audience at Ace Hotel, Palm Springs.
This week, we revisit one of our favorite episodes, featuring the great Mimi Parker of Low.
For 20 years, Tucker Rule's crisp, authoritative drumming has laid the foundation for the band Thursday. Tucker discusses: his childhood obsession with baseball; recording and touring shortly after learning to play; working with a boy band after Thursday went on hiatus; and why planking is an essential part of his daily workout routine.
The Zombies are, simply put, the greatest rock band in the world. This week, the band's co-founders Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone discuss: the formation of the band; why the group's initial tenure was so brief; why Colin was never jealous that Rod made more money as a songwriter; a day job with Mr. Smelly; the production of their classic Odessey and Oracle album; collaborating on Colin's revered One Year album; and why they are glad they evaded massive popularity in their youth. This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at Ace Hotel, Palm Springs.