This Week: Part Two of our conversation with Ian MacKaye.
Four years ago, we began The Trap Set with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty. As we expand the show from drummers-only to all musicians, it only makes sense to begin with Brendan’s bandmate, Ian.
As a member of bands such as The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi, and The Evens—as well as co-founder of Dischord Records—Ian MacKaye has been involved in the creation and dissemination of an extraordinary amount of classic recordings. Ian met with Joe at The Dischord House in Virginia for a wide-ranging conversation that lasted nearly three hours. In this week’s installment, Ian discusses: his childhood in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington DC; his grandmother’s advice column; his love of Ted Nugent and The Beatles; how skateboarding informed his view of the world; discovering punk rock; his lifelong entrepreneurial spirit; co-founding Dischord Records; and how he often doesn’t listen to music for the lyrics.
Four years ago, we began The Trap Set with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty. As we expand the show from drummers-only to all musicians, it only makes sense to begin with Brendan’s bandmate, Ian. Tune in next week for Part Two!
Brooks Headley fell in love with music while listening to Dr. Demento on his grandmother’s radio. He’s also had a lifetime obsession with food, leading to a career working in--and eventually owning-- restaurants.
He talks to Joe about: having pragmatic dreams; being raised by an incredible, single mom; drumming for bands such as Universal Order of Armageddon, Born Against, Skull Kontrol, and (Young) Pioneers; cooking for the 1% at high-end restaurants; and how his love of fine food and punk rock converged to inform the creation of Superiority Burger, his vegan restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
To celebrate our 200th episode, past guest and friend of the show Patty Schemel returns, this time to interview Joe. They discuss how creating The Trap Set has affected the trajectory of Joe's life, and Joe talks about changes in store for the future of the show. Then, he answers listener questions. Thanks to all of you for listening!
Larry Herweg’s commanding drumming has helped shaped Pelican’s dense, longform compositions for nearly 20 years. He tells Joe about: growing up in Illinois; being a late (musical) bloomer; how a bad experience turned him off from lessons; the challenges and rewards of playing in a band with his brother; working at Whole Foods; and escaping retail to become a real estate agent.
In this bonus episode, Joe talks to John Good, vice president of Drum Workshop.
For 25 years, Zach Lind has carved a creative niche within the often rigid parameters of modern rock. He talks about: manufacturing pressure to force the creative process along; growing up with a professional baseball player for a father; being raised in a Conservative Baptist environment, and ultimately leaving the church; "musical monogamy" with the remarkably consistent Jimmy Eat World.
Mona Tavakoli is a modern polymath whose impressive versatility and fierce creativity have resulted in a 20 year tenure in Raining Jane, along with collaborations with artists such as Jason Mraz, Ebi, and Pat Benatar. She visited Trap Set HQ for a wide ranging conversation about: Strawberry Shortcake albums; a Tori Amos focus group; hanging out with Al Gore and Richard Branson in Antarctica; becoming Little Miss San Jose 1984; creating a signature cajon; and co-founding the non-profit Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls.
Budgie has the rare ability to metabolize influences ranging from taiko to dub, from gamelan to punk to Indian classical, all into a singular, uniquely fiery artistic identity. His poetic sense of rhythm has graced recordings by a range of iconic artists, but he is perhaps known for his partnership with Siouxsie Sioux. Budgie tells Joe about: a strange sense of freedom after losing his mother at a young age; his youthful attempts at abstract expressionism; why he thinks of music in visual terms; making a secret wax effigy of Siouxsie Sioux; working with The Banshees, The Creatures, The Slits, The Indigo Girls, and John Grant; hiding from his feelings and eventually—through sobriety—coming to terms with himself; and falling in and out of love.
We're closing out the year by revisiting a pensive conversation with one of the greatest drummers of all time, Steve Gadd. (This episode was recorded in 2015 and originally released in early 2016.) Thanks to all of you for making Trap Set a big success in 2018; here's to 2019!
This week, a fascinating bonus episode with Bill Cardwell--drum builder and co-founder of C&C Drum Company. Dozens of our guests have played Bill's drums; get to know the deeply compelling person behind the instruments.
Illinois band Hum created an expansive sound world, and Bryan St. Pere’s drumming is the beacon that guides the listener through thick fields of distortion. Bryan tells Joe about: his fascination with Bugs; loving Neil Peart so much that he used Pert Plus shampoo as a child; coming from a “family of struggle”; having a tightly wound temperament; why recording Hum’s landmark albums was excruciatingly painful; and how the band dynamic has evolved, now that Hum is back in the studio.
Jason Gerken likes to party. He also has the unique ability to make unexpected musical choices sound natural and powerful. Jason tells Joe about: why his parents tried to prevent him from becoming a drummer; working with beloved KC bands Shiner and Molly McGuire; his day job managing a bar; a brush with death; learning to work through negative self talk; and an impending Shiner reunion.
Nabil Ayers was born into a deeply musical family and began playing drums as a toddler. Eventually, he toured and recorded with bands such as The Lemons and The Long Winters, his experiences as a drummer serving as the foundation for what has become an impressively multifaceted career in the music business. Nabil tells Joe about: being raised by a single mom; getting his first drum set from his uncle, free jazzer Alan Michael Braufman; the few interactions he’s had with his biological father, Roy Ayers; getting arrested and charged with a felony; co-founding Seattle record store, Sonic Boom; his career as a record executive; and his budding interest in writing.
Kevin Haskins's spare, hypnotic style laid the foundation for goth luminaries, Bauhaus. He tells Joe about: growing up in Northampton; seeing bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin; how the burgeoning punk scene gave him confidence to pursue music; playing the now-classic "Bela Lugosi's Dead" for the first time; the sense of devastation he experienced after the breakup of Bauhaus; working with subsequent bands such as Tones on Tail and Love and Rockets; and passing on his love of music to his children. Check out the new Bauhaus release "The Bela Session" out this Friday, 11/23.
Aaron Sterling's percussive prowess would have gotten him plenty of work during the golden age of the recording studio, but his attention to sonics and ability to self engineer make him a quintessential studio drummer for the modern paradigm. He discusses: overcoming social anxiety; working at California Pizza Kitchen; his largely unwavering musical confidence; how he built his career without compromising his values; and musical empathy.
Parker Kindred has a supernatural gift of musical intuition. His intensely imaginative, lyrical playing style imbues the music with a deep hypnotic subtlety. Joe joined Parker in his Williamsburg apartment to discuss: being “inside one’s body”; why identifying as a drummer makes him feel like a loser; working with artists such as Joan As Police Woman and Jeff Buckley; and what he would ask other versions of himself if he could travel through time.
Rob Ellis possesses the dynamic touch of a concert musician, the ferocity of a punk rocker, and the compositional sense of a New Music luminary; but it's Rob's extraordinary capacity for musical empathy that make him the perfect collaborator for iconic songwriters ranging from PJ Harvey to Marianne Faithfull. Rob tells Joe about his early memories in 1960s California; his Navy officer father, whose death at an early age cast a shadow on Rob's personal development; attending an elite public (boarding) school, wherein he was head choir boy; helping Polly Harvey become PJ Harvey; and the process of mending strained relationships with his family.
In this bonus mini-episode, Rob Ellis discusses his struggles with alcohol and the decision to become sober. Be sure to check out Rob's introspectively intense full-length episode, also available this week.
We're hard at work on new episodes, so this week, we're revisiting one of our favorite conversations with Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips. Steven has a new podcast of his own called Sorcerer's Orphan. See you next week!
Brendan Buckley’s omnivorous musical taste, disciplined approach, and granular attention to detail make him well-suited for work with artists such as Tegan and Sara, Roberto Carlos, Volumen Cero, JJ Lin, and—for the last 20 years—Shakira.
Brendan tells Joe about: growing up in New Jersey, his tiger mom, what it takes to play a choreographed pop gig night after night, improvising with Damien Rice, how losing his sister at a young age shifted his outlook on life, and his permissive but careful style of parenting.
Bill Bruford’s instantly identifiable sound and brilliant sense of composition made him the defining drummer of the progressive rock movement; but at age 60, after four decades in the music business, Bill unceremoniously walked away.
Bill tells Joe about: being a young jazz elitist; "leveraging himself sideways" from an upper-middle class family to the seedy life of a musician; doing a lot with “a modest amount of talent”; the creative dynamics of Yes and King Crimson; how he achieved his signature snare sound; retirement; and earning a doctorate from The University of Surrey. During the course of the conversation, Joe and Bill also christen a new band, Wongford. This is a can’t-miss episode with one of the all-time greats.
Rat Scabies and his influential band, The Damned, were integral members of the fledgling UK punk community. Rat's controlled bombast earned him comparisons to Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell. He and Joe met in Soho to discuss: Rat's post-war childhood in the outskirts of London; his father's job as an underground soft porn merchant; his theory on geography's key role in bands; the inner workings of The Damned; and his quest for The Holy Grail.
A classically trained percussionist, Fay Milton possesses an adventurous compositional sense and keen sonic sensitivity that helped Savages become one of the most exciting, critically-lauded bands of the last decade. Fay and Joe met in Soho, London, to discuss: why there is hope in the darkness; the lack of surfer dudes in Australia; Savages; Fay's new Project, 180db; and the desire to have children amidst the instability of a life in music.
Woody Woodmansey propelled the legendary Spiders from Mars to international stardom and helped the post-war generation escape the prison of banality. Woody tells Joe about growing up in Northern England; his life as a plumber and factory worker; how fate led him to discover music; writing music and touring with David Bowie; craving uncertainty; living a life of excess; and re-defining himself when the magic carpet of rockstardom was pulled out from under him.