Tag Archives: Robert Plant

Ep. #140: John Darnielle

John Darnielle is one of the most esteemed songwriters working today. Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, he is the founder and leader of a beloved contemporary folk and rock band called the Mountain Goats who have been prolific over the past 25 years and praised for their infectious, impassioned, and vivid songs. In 2008, Darnielle’s first book, Black Sabbath: Master of Reality, was published as a unique, fictional entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 ⅓ music series and he has also contributed a regular column called “South Pole Dispatch” in the American heavy metal magazine, Decibel. This past September, HarperCollins published Darnielle’s second book, Wolf in White Van, a dark, dizzying novel about isolation and connection and interpersonal impact that was promptly longlisted for a National Book Award. Here, John and I discuss active, entertaining three year-olds that don’t always sleep so well, parent partiality, the unique temporal structure of Wolf in White Van, mapping out the characters and getting to know them and the story, the famous case of Judas Priest being taken to court by parents after their children shot themselves, heavy metal, the fictional role-playing game Trace Italian, sci-fi and D&D, playing games with Jason Morningstar, trying on new identities, collective creative engagement and the life of the mind, typification and sub-genres, formulating the Trace Italian game that’s depicted in the book, why Sean Phillips created this role-playing game while he was in the hospital for doing an inexplicable thing, playing a game where you can only advance via mail order instructions, life and limitations, generating questions, the role music may or may not play in this book, not leaving music behind, Laurel & Hardy get chased by the alphabet, getting a typewriter at six years old, whether or not he might be good at most things, the book not the song, what’s coming up next for him and the Mountain Goats, a book tour might be more exhausting than a music tour, going dancing or seeing Robert Plant live, dad clocks, cooking on the road, coming to Canada and why crossing the border can be an unpleasant experience, how Propagandhi is the best, border guard mind games, other people have it worse, the song “Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes” by Propagandhi, and that was it.      

Related links: mountain-goats.com vishkhanna.com

John Darnielle

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Ep. #109: Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra was the lead singer of the influential punk band Dead Kennedys and has since gone on to do significant work as an actor, spoken word artist, and vocalist, as well as being the head honcho at the still busy and prolific record label, Alternative Tentacles. His first band since he left Dead Kennedys is called Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and their new album is called White People and the Damage Done, which they’re touring behind now, including stops at Call the Office in London, Ontario on June 16 and the Opera House in Toronto on June 17. Here Biafra and I discuss things like why Nardwuar the Human Serviette and I can’t pronounce Biafra, why Jello’s name came up in discussions about the Web Fast-Lane Vote spearheaded by the FCC, Guantanamo Bay and Chelsea Manning, the concept of the new album and how it delves into kleptocracy and retroactive feudalism, greed addicts, maximum wage, why “Shock-U-Py!” shows up at the end of the new album, how Jello engages with Canadian politics and our celebrity crackhead goofs, why people should stop talking about Hillary Clinton two years ahead of the election, thinking locally, why we should stop distracting ourselves, communication, reactivating our bullshit detectors, Jello has never felt alone in his thoughts and pursuits, what first turned him onto music as a kid, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Azuma Kabuki music, garage bands, the Music Machine, the Animals and Eric Burdon, Jello used to be able to sing like Robert Plant, East Bay Ray has the Dead Kennedys master tapes, Jello has nothing to do with Dead Kennedys reissues and they seem to be muting his involvement in the band, Jello is proud of Dead Kennedys and doesn’t think the rest of the band cares about the music, Jello’s theatre background in middle school, Jello can play a mean Scrooge, acting in The Hipster Games and being typecast on Portlandia, how Dead Kennedys came together in San Francisco and the emergence of hardcore, how method acting influenced Jello’s vivid lyricism, his roles in Highway 61 and Terminal City Ricochet, Jello’s very first songs were written for Dead Kennedys, why he never played in some early cover band or something, the early D.O.A. cover band Stone Crazy, how and why the GSM is his first proper band since DKs, the Melvins wanted to avenge Jello, why he quoted the DKs song “Soup is Good Food” in the GSM song “Burgers of Wrath,” where he’s at now with the other Dead Kennedys and what it would take for him to agree to play with them again, playing DKs songs with the GSM, Jello’s getting back into spoken word performance, honouring Ralph Nader, the crippling losses he’s suffered lately, how much the Stooges meant to him, the plight of independent musicians and labels like Alternative Tentacles in the age of file-sharing, AT is doing cool stuff with reissues of records by the Dicks, Voivod, and new releases by young bands like Death Hymn Number 9 and Itchy-O, making stuff is important, why the GSM is not playing Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec this month, scams, the song “Burgers of Wrath,” and then it’s bedtime for bonzo.

Related links: alternativetentacles.com vishkhanna.com

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