News Podcast

Ep. #70: Joel RL Phelps

Joel RL Phelps is an American musician and songwriter who once played in the now-defunct band Silkworm. Upon leaving Silkworm, Phelps began collaborating with new musicians, most notably William Herzog and Robert Mercer, and formed a unique rock group called Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio. The band’s new album came out Oct. 8, 2013 via Triple Crown Audio Recordings in Canada; it’s called Gala and marks their first release in nine years. Here, Joel and I discuss living in Vancouver vs. Montana vs. Seattle, missing Steve Albini, seeing Shellac at the Starfish Room in Vancouver in 1999, the themes on Gala, as they relate to his recovery from alcoholism, some background into his condition and when and how it began to manifest itself, his experience with clinical depression and other mental health issues, the process of trying to get reacquainted with one’s self, how addicts tend to interact with and disconnect from the world, how all of these experiences might inform the music and lyrics on Gala, how he was barely able to walk before he entered recovery, his work with 12-step and secular recovery groups and how that leads him to discuss ideas and approaches regarding addiction, his role in the formation of Silkworm and the band’s earliest days, dropping out of school quite a bit, the circumstances that led to his leaving Silkworm, why he didn’t appear in the documentary Couldn’t You Wait? The Story of Silkworm and how it impacted the film, playing in the Downer Trio and his general temperament towards music these days, his touring/travelling difficulties, how Canadians are really into Canadian things, the song “So You’ve Decided,” and more.

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