Tag Archives: New Jersey

Ep. #154: Tom Scharpling

Tom Scharpling is a comedic writer, performer, and personality who hails from the state of New Jersey. He founded a fanzine and record label called 18 Wheeler in the early 1990s, he was a writer and executive producer on the TV show Monk during its eight year run on the USA network, he made contributions to the show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and has directed music videos and short films for people like the New Pornographers, Ted Leo, the Postal Service, and Aimee Mann among others. But along with Jon Wurster, Scharpling is most beloved as one-half of the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster and for hosting the popular and influential call-in music program The Best Show on WFMU in Jersey City, New Jersey. Scharpling commandeered the Best Show for 13 years, before ending its run in December 2013. This past October, he announced that the Best Show would be returning as a podcast, which can soon be found at thebestshow.net, and the Numero Group is also releasing a 16-CD Scharpling & Wurster Best of the Best Show box set this coming March. Here, Tom and I discuss soggy New Jersey, getting over winter, the current status of The Best Show, why the original Best Show stopped, quality trumps all, volunteering at a non-commercial station like WFMU, no money, working real jobs while putting a lot of time and energy into a volunteer project, working for Monk, whether or not the consumption of free content means that content has been devalued, people value phones more than the entertainment they’re consuming, the elimination of singles and music industry mistakes, loving the things that people make, making a living, The Best Show will be less a podcast and more of a live-on-the-internet type show, no doubt, commercials, I convey envy for some reason, how the end of The Best Show on WFMU impacted people, growing up lower middle-class in New Jersey, getting into comedy and music at a young age, loving game changers like SCTV, SNL, David Letterman, Bill Murray, and Howard Stern, starting a zine and record label, writing a screenplay, performance anxiety, getting into WFMU as an overnight DJ, how other people’s work might influence your own, it wasn’t really the best show, when The Best Show and Scharpling and Wurster began to click, there’s no fun in fundraising, the best is yet to come, Julie Klausner’s How Was Your Week? and Marc Maron’s WTF, not listening to other people’s stuff when you start making stuff, calling upon independent podcast and radio hosts for interviews, perceptions of success, the Scharpling & Wurster box set is special, reflection, Patton Oswalt, Julie Klausner, Jake Fogelnest, Damian Abraham, and others contributed to the liner notes in the box, Tom and Jon each wrote descriptions of the tracks, Fucked Up rule, future plans and media appearances, Letterman, going to Late Night with Conan O’Brien tapings, whether or not Tom was at a taping of The Chris Getheard Show featuring Sleater-Kinney instead of doing Jon Solomon’s WPRB radio show, what the Best Show might look like, smashing a phone with hammers, the song “Sun Glass” by Fucked Up, and that’s the end.

Related links: thebestshow.net numerogroup.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #104: Fucked Up

Fucked Up are a really awesome and prolific band from Toronto who make great, smart rock records and do remarkable, community-minded things for people less fortunate than themselves. On June 3, Matador Records is releasing the band’s fourth proper album outside of the thousands of singles and EPs they’ve released over the past 13 years. The new record is called Glass Boys, I saw some of it get recorded in Chicago at Electrical Audio last summer, and there are at least two versions of it, one normal, one slow, that you can listen to. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Fucked Up’s practice space and, like some journalistic Noah, interviewed the band in pairs, starting with singer Damian Abraham and drummer Jonah Falco, following up with bassist Sandy Miranda and guitarist Ben Cook, and finally guitarists Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker. So yeah, Damian and Jonah are first and we talk about their mysterious practice space, Sloan and Danko Jones, beefs, Career Suicide, 13 years of Fucked Up and serious practice spaces, roller coaster land, my odd hair day, the band’s current collective emotional state, #marriage, Sandy, hair, and cars, who in Fucked Up actually knows what’s going on, the lyrics of Glass Boys and the burden of nostalgia, working towards the future, punk rock and archiving, music is non-formalized, Mike’s interesting instrumental ideas and multiple drum kits, alternate tempos and the half-time, spatial version of Glass Boys, many suggestions for special guest ‘back-up’ vocalists, J Mascis, Gord Downie is a good person, Mike likes songs, marijuana, Damian thinks Glass Boys is a concept record, being perfectly set up to fail, where we fit in and fulfilling our dreams, the song “Warm Change,” Sandy and Ben and I talk about her broadcasting experience, which includes doing the Mods and Rockers radio show on CIUT with Damian and Collective Concerts’ Jeff Cohen when she was a teenager, another show she did on CKLN, and working for Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, driving all the way to New Jersey to play for 25 minutes, how Sandy joined Fucked Up in March 2001, Ben was a fan of Mods and Rockers, Smegheads, Toronto punk, Melanie Kaye, opening up for the Stooges on August 6, 2008, Ben’s first Fucked Up show was in Montreal after being their roadie, Ben thinks Mike had a crush on him, packing tea, Ben was the buffer, removing oneself from an emo, dysfunctional group, Fucked Up Zen, Sandy might be losing it, some people are getting along better, Ben goes off about stuff sometimes, Toronto people should be louder, recording chunks of Glass Boys with only certain members at places like Electrical Audio in Chicago, the songs are written together, Mike and Jonah took lead roles, other people played bass on this LP and Sandy’s not really ok with that, proper pairing, ill communication, bands are too much like families, Ben thinks Glass Boys is about Mike and Damian’s weird vibes about getting older and now they’re friends, Sandy thinks it’s about end times and the uncertainty that comes with growing older, Ben is surprisingly optimistic, Fucked Up has more gas but there might be a hole in the tank, the song “Sun Glass,” it’s not all cotton candy and unicorns, the song “DET,” drugs, I try to ask Josh and Mike about the song “DET” but it’s a Damian song and it’s very personal, I went to a bakery, New Jersey might be better than Japan, work is work, Mike begins to become a very difficult interview subject, Mike thinks that he’s 29 and I’m old, I try to take him seriously, Mike goes through the litany of philosophical questions that Glass Boys attempts to answer, Mike says he and Damian didn’t actually write this record together, tension vs. weirdness, Mike played piano when he was a kid, Josh was in a Toronto hardcore band called Youngblood when he was 12 years old, at one point Mike was an aimless drifter, I keep asking Mike about songs Damian wrote, Damian references historical and literary figures, I didn’t do my research, another question about Fucked Up’s “tensions,” Mike blames the media, I’m asking stock questions apparently, Mike and I have interview tension, Mike breaks down the FAQ he’s been getting about Glass Boys, Mike didn’t know Sandy was upset, Josh is “honest guy,” Mike doesn’t think administration talk is good podcast fodder, how the ideas (not “concepts”) for Glass Boys came to be, writing about the music industry, Mike seems into my question about his references to “echo” on this album, the hardcore punk continuum, embracing nostalgia and taking responsibility for one’s place in time, what Fucked Up talk about amongst themselves, Positive Force, the groovy rationale behind Glass Boys’ multiple tempos, where the album title comes from, Mike likes writing, pharmacists don’t have to have good origin stories, the Year of the Hare Zodiac single and my haircut, Mike wants to know how my podcast works, Mike works out and he beat me at an arm wrestle in Newfoundland and I didn’t like it, Josh wants this horror show to end, Mike thinks the slower Glass Boys songs might be longer than the regular ones, “Sun Glass [Slow version],” Nils Bernstein, and then the fiasco is over.

Related links: fuckedup.cc matadorrecords.com/fucked_up vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #82: Peter Elkas

Peter Elkas is a talented rock and soul singer, songwriter, and musician based in Toronto. In the early 90s, he was in an inventive Montreal band called Local Rabbits and when they stopped playing together, Elkas set off on an acclaimed creative trajectory of his own. 10 years ago Elkas released Party of One, his first of three solo albums thus far and he’s celebrating this milestone by reissuing the record on vinyl for the first time and making it exclusively available at shows he’s playing, primarily in southern Ontario throughout April, including a Guelph stop at the Ebar on April 3. Here, Elkas and I discuss the 12-string Fender Stratocaster he brought along to our interview, Randy Bachman, Full House, how many guitars is too many guitars for a general audience to care about, dadhood and having to explain things to small humans, my dad can build you a bookshelf and I can barely build you a sandwich, demystifying the power of our dads, 10 years since Party of One and its “gimmicky” reissue, small people playing piano, the struggle of sit-ups, how we can’t remember the name of the movie A Scanner Darkly, Don Kerr as musical saviour for Pete after Local Rabbits ended, a band from Windsor called the Poumons and another outfit called the Burt Neilson Band, the Light of Day foundation and Pete’s role in it, the multiple times he’s shared stages with/met/fingerprinted/performed before rock icon Bruce Springsteen, playing the Stone Pony in New Jersey, passion versus practicality versus pain, the beneficially slow prep for a follow-up to Pete’s last album Repeat Offender, the song “I See Fine,” and more.

Related links: peterelkas.com newscotlandrecords.com vishkhanna.com

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