Carla Azar has worked with everyone from PJ Harvey to Jack White, but her soulfully bionic style crystallized within Autolux, a trio she co-founded in 2001. She tells Joe about her childhood in Alabama, being mentored by T Bone Burnett, the inner workings of Autolux, acting in "Frank", and overcoming tragedy by aiming for the light.
Although they were only active for five years during their initial run, Drive Like Jehu was one of the most beloved and influential rock bands of the 90s. Mark Trombino's grooves, which achieved a crucial balance between cerebral cleverness and visceral power, were--in part--the product of his obsessive nature. He tells Joe about how, after the band broke up, he was able to channel his perfectionism into a successful career as a producer, and yet another career as a restaurateur.
Chris Wilson's exceptional drumming helped establish Ted Leo and the Pharmacists as one of the most compelling bands of their generation. Chris tells Joe about listening to "Rhiannon" on the eight track in his mom's Camaro, losing his father at a young age, learning to be less self-critical, and overcoming a guidance counselor's low expectations to realize his dreams.
While he was still a teenager, London May made his first recordings with Reptile House for legendary label Dischord. Soon, he joined forces with rock icon, Glenn Danzig, in the band Samhain. He talks to Joe about his childhood as a punk rocker in Baltimore; working with a young Dan Higgs in Reptile House; being the father to a business-minded son; and his multifaceted career as a drummer, actor, pediatric nurse.
It's Episode 100, and our first guest, Fugazi's Brendan Canty, returns as guest host to extract the origin story of Joe Wong and The Trap Set. Joe talks about his childhood in Milwaukee; meeting his composing partner in the experimental theater scene; scoring for film and tv; and his time with artists such as Parts & Labor, Mary Timony, Marnie Stern, and Akarso.
By the time Ernie Isley joined his family's band at age 15, The Isley Brothers had already made major contributions to popular music, penning "Shout" and "Twist and Shout". A dexterous multi-instrumentalist and prolific songwriter, Ernie helped usher the group to new creative and commercial heights. He tells Joe about the band's six-decade-long legacy, losing his father, living with Jimi Hendrix, overcoming creative blocks, and writing the ultimate baby-making music.
For the past four decades, Amy Knoles has pushed the boundaries of percussion and contemporary music in general. As the executive director of California E.A.R. unit, she has championed the work of living composers worldwide. She serves as a mentor to bright, young musicians at CalArts. As a composer, she stretches the limits of sound and light. She's also worked in the rock world, with everyone from Flea to Zappa. She and Joe talk about their native Milwaukee, empathy, embracing lack of control, and how much crying is healthy.
Matt Tong's inventively staggered grooves and unhinged energy helped launch Bloc party to critical acclaim and worldwide commercial success. He talks to Joe about how he developed his unique style, issues unique to half-Asian people, why he left Bloc Party abruptly, couples therapy, and overcoming creative fear.
As the drummer for The Locust, Gabe Serbian powered one of the most unique, frenetic, and influential bands to hail from the fertile San Diego rock scene of the 90s. Gabe talks to Joe about growing up in a suburban nightmare, discovering metal and punk, ditching school to play drums, trashing the house of an enemy, and how fatherhood changed his life.
Matt Cameron burst onto the Seattle rock scene in the early 80s. His singular style combines brute force, exceptional finesse, and a keen compositional sensibility. Matt tells Joe about his SoCal childhood; why--despite a lot of hard work--he considers himself lucky; his tenure with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam; his parenting style; and why he doesn’t think of himself as a rock star. This is a great talk with one of best drummers working today!
In this bonus mini-episode, Matt Cameron answers listeners’ questions. He discusses Elvin, Tony, Gadd, spirit animals, rim shots, artistic instincts, musical confidence, click tracks, and more!
As drummer for Sunny Day Real Estate, William Goldsmith was the emotional core of one of the most influential and enigmatic rock bands of his generation. He was invited to join Dave Grohl as the drummer for the first incarnation of Foo Fighters, but it wasn’t a good fit. William sits down with Joe for an emotional, raw, and honest telling of his remarkable story.
As the founding drummer of The Cure, Lol Tolhurst developed a unique style that is sometimes wild and tribal, sometimes precise and machine-like. He tells Joe about growing up in postwar UK; his lifelong friendship with The Cure frontman, Robert Smith; developing the band's sound through the process of elimination; overcoming addiction; and why he is now open to whatever possibilities the universe presents.
In this bonus, mini-episode, Carmine Appice remembers his relationship with the great Buddy Rich. You can hear Carmine's full episode by subscribing to The Trap Set for free.
While most drummers strive to "play for the song", Zach Barocas's unique, innovative drumming is an essential element of the song. He tells Joe about growing up in Rochester, NY; the unusual way he joined the legendary DC band Jawbox; and overcoming struggles with addiction.
Adam Wade's inventive, angular drumming first emerged in the early 1990s, as DC punk bands began experimenting with more complex, sophisticated song structures than their hardcore predecessors. Adam tells Joe about growing up in Greenwich Village; his time with two highly influential bands--Jawbox and Shudder to Think; how he evolved as a person when he stopped touring; and how he overcame artistic numbness.
Carmine Appice first achieved mainstream recognition as the drummer for Vanilla Fudge. Over the subsequent 50 years, he has established himself as one of the most influential drummers in the history of rock. Carmine tells Joe about his time in a gang; collaborating with Cactus, Rod Stewart, and Vanilla Fudge; and why he was compelled to sleep with 4501 women.
Laura Harris's powerfully lean style provides the perfect foundation for the expertly crafted, hook-laden songs of Ex Hex. She tells Joe about working at DC's legendary rock club, The Black Cat; her time in Dischord band The Aquarium; and how she moved forward after the end of a creative and romantic partnership.
Greg Fox has worked with many of the most exciting groups to hail from New York in the past decade, and his unique style also lends itself well to solo percussion music. Greg tells Joe about his childhood in Manhattan; the benefits of working at the now defunct music hub Manny's; the realization that not every promising collaboration works out as planned; and why he is excited to move forward as an independent artist.
Over the course of the past three decades, Todd Trainer has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s most unique rock drummers. Both visceral and sophisticated, he executes brilliantly composed beats with an instantly identifiable loping groove. He tells Joe about growing up in Minnesota; working in the school lunch line as a teenager; creating music with Steve Albini and Bob Weston in Shellac; his time working for a hair products company; and his current career as a drum instructor.
In this bonus mini-episode, the legendary Sly Dunbar answers your questions about Bob Dylan, Serge Gainsbourg, his favorite studio snacks, and more.
Sly Dunbar burst onto the Kingston music scene in the early 1970s. Along with his partner, bassist Robbie Shakespeare, Sly revolutionized Jamaican music and appeared on countless hits. As reggae music exploded in popularity in the 1970s and 80s, top international artists ranging from Dylan to Gainsbourg flocked to Jamaica, seeking the wicked groove only Sly & Robbie can provide. He tells Joe how he and Robbie have maintained their longevity, how they developed their groundbreaking sound at Channel One Studios, and why he still has an inexhaustible work ethic.
Ben Blackwell first made a name for himself as one of two drummers for the Detroit-based band The Dirtbombs. He has also been active as a journalist, songwriter, and owner of Cass Records. He met with Joe at his office in Nashville, where he oversees vinyl production for Third Man Records.
In this bonus mini-episode, Mac McNeilly answers your questions about The Jesus Lizard, prog rock, and working out. The topic of Phil Collins is also discussed.
When he was a young man, Gregg Keplinger sneaked into a coat room to hear John Coltrane play with Elvin Jones. He drew inspiration from that experience and developed a fiery, sensitive style of his own. Aside from his career as a drummer, Gregg is revered as a drum builder; and--due to his exceptional wisdom and empathy--he has mentored many of the greatest drummers from the Seattle area.