Ep. #94: David Heti

David Heti is a very funny comedian who once lived in Toronto and New York City and has just released his very first stand-up special, the intellectually stimulating and wickedly dark, It was ok, which is available now via davidheti.com. Last week David and I met for a chat at Sushi on Bloor in Toronto where we discussed the time he lived in Toronto and avoided sushi, whether he lives in New York, Ottawa, or Montreal, how to live and work, choosing an impassioned low-paying path even when you could’ve taken a well-paying, secure path instead, avoiding all animals, my definition of Passover, David becomes a religious guy here for a few minutes, how his family dynamic colours his impression of Passover festivities, the definition of It was okay, as it pertains to David’s new stand-up special, how he hyper-exaggerates his family life in his stand-up, my history of interviewing and eating with people and then sharing the results with the general public via podcasts, David calls me out on my rudeness/politeness only to have it all thrown back in his face, how David’s podcast I Have a Problem with David Heti works, how/when I eat and our work together on the fake talk show Long Night with Vish Khanna, David’s special someone, our food arrives and I snap a photo of David, how his mother processed his stand-up special, what we can actually learn about David from his comedy, how eating together tends to relax interview subjects, whether or not all of this ‘reality comedy’ by people like Louis CK and Marc Maron that people are raving about is really real or particularly better than someone like Jerry Seinfeld who “keeps his distance” in his act, the glory and recognition that comedians deserve, how David tends to antagonize or belittle his audience, how things get meta, how any buffoon can make someone laugh, the notion of shocking an audience with jokes, David’s history in stand-up and his artistic family and sister Sheila Heti, another pair of smart, comedic siblings I bring up for no apparent reason, David’s love for the work of Woody Allen but how most comedic enterprises fail to entertain him, the stuff he auditions for and whom or what he writes for, writing disposable topical jokes, late night talk shows, his future plans, which include teaching a comedy writing course at McGill and an eastern Canadian tour in support of It was okay, and then we paid the bill and wandered down a frigid Bloor Street during an hour-long blackout.

Related links: davidheti.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #93: Ought

Ought is a young punk band based in Montreal that consists of keyboardist Matt May, bassist Ben Stidworthy, drummer and violinist Tim Keen, and vocalist and guitarist Tim Beeler. The band formed in 2012 but has already honed a distinctive and explosive sound, which is captured beautifully on their debut LP, More Than Any Other Day. WIth its mix of righteous but mischievous poetry and charging music and dramatic vocals, Ought’s record is one of the most refreshing and inspiring rock records of the year. More Than Any Other Day is out April 29 via Constellation Records and here all of us chat about the band’s living arrangements, its impact on their music and how such arrangements might have made sense for the Jesus Lizard, why they chose to conduct this interview (the band’s third) as a group and what that says about the nature of their collaboration, how Ought might ba “new metal” band, the conscientiously democratic nature of their creative process, how this band came together in Montreal, landing on the same page without saying a thing, how Ought is not a ‘genre band’ but maybe Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth have seeped their way into the sound in some ways, Australia and a lazy reference to crocodiles, lyrics and poetry and whole milk and Jonathan Richman, righteousness and irreverence, the influence Montreal has had on Ought, student protests and how the feelings they conjure can infiltrate a band’s music, how the ‘you’s’ and ‘I’s’ in Ought’s songs are generally quite indirect pronouns, the making of More Than Any Other Day and what’s next, the video for “The Weather Song,” the song “Gemini,” and not one more thing.

Related links: cstrecords.org/ought vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #92: The Jesus Lizard Week with David Wm. Sims

The Jesus Lizard Week celebrating the release of Akashic Books’ BOOK concludes with the band’s ace bassist and principal archivist David Wm. Sims. Here, David and I discuss how BOOK was Johnny Temple of Akashic Books’ idea, how the two Davids in the band spent the most time among members making this book with Henry Owings, Sims’ compulsive penchant for archiving things, being an anti-hoarder, how much he learned about his bandmates via the process of writing this book, Mac McNeilly’s obsession with pranks as a kid, how he and guitarist Duane Denison love hearing technical details from musicians about their work and tried returning the favour in BOOK, his emphasis that he just wanted the book to be cool but has some regrets about stuff that didn’t make the final cut, how he has no idea what the band’s legacy is, how their major label situation had less to do with the band’s demise than another thing, band chemistry, the coincidental nature of dramatic shifts in the band’s history, his relationship with Steve Albini and Steve’s piece in BOOK, Rapeman, David Yow being silly, his doubts about BOOK being the final chapter in the history of the Jesus Lizard, whether or not he misses the band, future releases by the Jesus Lizard, his current musical and vocational interests, and then The Jesus Lizard Week becomes the week that was.

Related links: akashicbooks.com/catalog/the-jesus-lizard-book/ vishkhanna.com

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