Episode 34: Trevor Hall

A spiritual hermitage at an Ashram and the turbulent road to release music

I don't associate musician's with positivity... but somehow Trevor Hall is positive. After getting really into Ben Harper in Middle School, Trevor decided to head west and attend a performing arts school. Shortly thereafter a record contract with Geffen materialized and it seemed everything was falling into place. 

But it wasn't to be. Geffen refused to release two of Trevor's albums and eventually dropped him. With nowhere else to go and a determination to make music his career, Trevor moved into an Ashram and without any music released, began touring relentlessly around the US. When he was tired of that, he went to study music and spirituality in India. 

It's an inspiring story and I hope it makes you want to do something fun with your life. It also seems like moving into an Ashram is the greatest life hack for a musician of all time. 

Episode 32: Dalton Rapattoni (American Idol)

Boy bands, dealing with depression and reaching 3rd place on American idol

Dalton Rapattoni and I have a few thing in common. We are both from Texas, we both have Italian surnames, and neither of us won American Idol season 15. Although Dalton did get a bit further. Ok look, he nearly won the whole damn thing and stole America's heart in an elaborate ruse to win over his ex girlfriend. True story. I'm not a fan of TV competitions or boy bands but Dalton has experienced both and it's a fantastic story. He's a great dude and I find his willingness to discuss his struggles with depression endearing. Enjoy.

Episode 31: Andrew Davie from Bears Den

Unearthing the intent behind Andrew Davies's songwriting. no formula and the power of interpretation  

In 2012 I was introduced to Kev Jones, Andrew Davie, and Joey Refsdal, AKA Bears Den. We'd spend the next year and a half on the road together traveling the world. When I met them they were opening for Mumford and Sons, and playing tiny venues around Europe and the U.S. Since then they've become a solid indie draw in both continents. With shows starting to exceed 5,000 cap rooms in Europe, I figured it was time to sit down with them and discuss the journey. I've already recorded an episode with multi instrumentalist Kev. It's fantastic and a lot of fun because he's both of those things. This time it is the principal song writer, Andrew Davie, or Davie for his friends. I wanted to learn about his back story but I also took this as an opportunity to dig into song writing. Writer's intent is fascinating to me and I wanted to know more about what he writes, what he does, and why he prefers to leave interpretation to the listener. Enjoy!

Episode 30: Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast

Bethany Cosentino's view on politics, growing up in California, dropping out of college, turning down major labels, sexism in the music industry and writers block

In 2009 Bethany Cosentino left college in NYC because she missed California. The move inspired her to contact an old friend named Bobb Brunno and together they started Best Coast. Within a year the band had essentially taken over the internet. You could not go to ANY blog without seeing something about that band. Since then the duo have become a fixture in American indie music. They play large festivals, TV shows, and bought houses...in Los Angeles. I've always found Best Coast's massive and completely unexpected success fascinating so I relished the opportunity to have Bethany on the show. She's a down to earth person with a refreshing perspective on this thing we call life. She also recommended that I go to therapy. So I guess I’m gonna go to therapy.

Episode 29: Michelle Cable (The Manager)

Artist Manager, Booking agent and business woman. Music entrepreneurship is the name of the game.

Every week on this show we talk to bands about what it's like to be a musician but now it's time to learn how those damn shows get booked! For the last 15 years Michelle Cable has managed, booked shows, and run a zine called Panache. She came up in the DIY / punk scene and built a tiny empire in independent music. Eventually she signed Mac Demarco and the rest is history. If you're interested in entrepreneurship, management, Mac Demarco, Ty Segall, or music in general, this one's for you. 

Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski

Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski

Episode 28: Lucy Rose Escapes

Finding clarity after losing sight of the things that truly matter

Ah my grand expedition to the U.K. So many adventures, so many beers. My first interview over in ye olde Angland was with Lucy Rose. Besides starring in my favorite video of the last decade, Lucy has steadily built a fantastic career as a singer songwriter in London. But about a year ago she wanted to give it all up. After becoming frustrated with her label (Columbia) Lucy decided to bolt. She took to Twitter, found fans that would host her, and she cruised down to South America to hang out. What was originally a fun little trip turned into a quasi tour. Her husband documented the whole thing and you can see it here. Eventually she came back home, walked into the Columbia office and said, “I’m going to make a record and none of it will be good for radio.” She was promptly dropped and self funded her new record Something’s Changing. If you’ve ever wondered why you are doing something, or lost sight of something you truly love, this one’s for you.

Episode 27: Frank Zummo From Sum 41

Frank Zummo of Sum 41 AKA Drummer Of The Year.

A few years ago Tommy Lee, yes that Tommy Lee, burned his arm playing with fireworks on tour and needed a drummer to fill in for a show, that night. Who did he call? Frank Zummo. Frank flew in and not only crushed the gig, but did it with 0 rehearsal. Nada. None. Not even a soundcheck. Not a lot of people can do that. From winning guitar center competitions as a kid, to joining Sum 41, Frank Zummo has become one of the more sought after drumming professionals in the world. But how did it happen? How did a kid from Long Island become so good at hitting things with sticks? Fortunately I have the answers. Mr. Zummo stopped by the apartment in Los Feliz to discuss Motley Crue, Sum 41, and how to drum your ass off.

After this episode aired, Frank won the Alternative Press award for drummer of the year. BOOM BABY.

Episode 26: Dan Croll

Paving his own path, professional rugby, playing with Paul Mccartney, getting dropped by a label and self funding a new record.

I’m back at it this week with my new Liverpudlian friend Dan Croll. Prior to interviewing Dan I was in poor shape. Days of drinking, smoking, and brutal jet lag in London had brought my fragile American body to a breaking point… but then Dan arrived. We met backstage at Citadel festival in East London. I was on the brink of death, and Dan was pissed his set hadn’t lived up to his very high expectations. But after sitting in his air conditioned trailer for a few minutes we woke up and had one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. I found Dan at a crossroads in his musical career. Although his first album was successful his label deemed it not successful enough and dropped him from the roster. This sent the former Rugby standout into a funk that’s only now receding. Forced to confront his mental health, insecurities, and financial obligations, Dan wrote a record about becoming an adult that helped him push through a difficult period.

He’s also a funny dude and hates cider. Either way I think you’ll enjoy.

Episode 25: Alex and Sierra (X Factor Winners)

Winning The X Factor, Being mentored by Simon Cowell and the inside scoop on reality TV shows

Alex and Sierra won the 2014 season of the X Factor and I feel guilty about it. You see, my mom knows Alex and his family from Daytona. During the show she kept calling and asking me to vote etc… but I was on tour and didn’t have time to tune in. Eventually I forgot about the whole thing.

 But my mom is persistent. When I started this show she called me up and suggested that I interview Alex and Sierra. She reminded me that they were family friends and that they won the X Factor. Suddenly it clicked and I became super intrigued. I’ve never been near a reality TV set and became fascinated with how it all works.

 We were connected on the ole internet and Alex invited me over to his spot in Los Angeles. We got along swimmingly and I’m very happy my mom brought us together. Also I got to discuss Simon Cowell and his millions so that’s always entertaining. Whatever preconceptions you have about people on reality music shows, throw them out the window. Alex and Sierra are talented, humble, individuals that have made a great career for themselves. Starting a career in music is already insane, doing it with your significant other in front of millions of people on network TV is another ball game.

Episode 24: Tony Hoffer - The Producer

What a record producer actually does to turn sound into music

Tony Hoffer has produced many of my favorite records including Phoenix’s Alphabetical, and Beck’s Midnite Vultures. So clearly I was stoked when my friends and eternal homies The Griswolds hired him to produce their first record.

I showed up about a week into recording, uninvited of course and with numerous beers. It was an amazing experience because I got to hang out with my friends and watch one of my favorite producers work. Watching an accomplished record producer work is awesome. It’s like watching a director on set or a master negotiator talk someone off a ledge. They are part audio engineering genius, part musician, and part record sherpa.

In between songs Tony was nice enough to answer all of my nerdy questions about working with Beck and eventually I decided that turning our conversations into an episode was necessary. Part of this was also inspired by my girlfriend. We were driving one day and I was babbling on about different albums and producers and she asked, “What is a producer?” I paused. It’s an interesting question. Sure we all know what a producer does… but do we? How do you become a record sherpa? What does that entail? How do you get a bunch of unruly, drunk, band members in a room and force them to finish a record?

I didn’t know so I went to Tony’s and asked him. We talked about his early days playing guitar with Beck, why Phoenix loves crickets, and what exactly a record producer does.

Episode 23: Nick Wold from Dreamers

Killing yourself for music, studying jazz and the world of American alt pop

I’ve been wanting to interview garage pop trio Dreamers for some time now but they’re hard to nail down. Since releasing their debut record, This Album Doesn’t Exist, they’ve been on a mad dash across the country playing ever venue known to man. It’s an exciting time for the band. Their song 'Sweet Disaster' has resonated with alt pop fans of artists like COIN, Finish Ticket, Walk The Moon, The Griswolds, and the 1973. Currently, Dreamers are the new addition to the group but they’re on the precipice of firmly cementing themselves in American alt pop.

But how did all of this happen? Why have they gone from three unknown dudes to 700,000 Spotify streams a month? Why are they supporting every goddamn band known to man? There is a reason and I needed to find out. Fortunately I’m friends with one of the band’s managers Cj Moy and I annoyed him until things finally went down.

Perhaps because the band is a fun, produced, pop rock trio, I was expecting something more zany or stoner rock-y, from front man Nick Wold. That’s not to say he’s not an engaging, gregarious individual, he is, but he’s also a thoughtful and intense personality. Nick has been at this for some time and approaches his band with the vigilance of an Olympic athlete. His musical career started out in the unforgiving and often times masochistic world of jazz then did a complete 180 to rock.

Either way he’s a damn good host and a fun guy to talk to.

Also just a note, we are doing a T Shirt giveaway for this episode. Sign up for our mailing list and we will pick two people by the end of the month and send out a dope a$$ Dreamers shirt / CD. Isn’t that nice? It’s FREE.

If you like this episode, or are just a person reading this, please subscribe on iTunes and leave a review. It will make both of our lives better.

Last thing, this episode is brought to you by Master Tour, Jabberjaw Media, and unofficially Focusrite. I just like their gear and want more of it.

Episode 22: Tim John ex-The Griswolds

Testicles, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll

As many of you know I spent 22 - 29 on the road as a tour manager. Many of the guests I have on my show are friends from this long and harrowing experience. Although there are many great stories from this time, one in particular stands out. It’s a story that involves a bassist in an iconic Australian band, a family of strippers, extra tight jeans, and a desperate attempt to save a body part.

My co host / co storyteller for this episode is Australian bassist, Tim John. A man with two first names that eventually became one of my best friends and party companion for three years. At one point we lorded over a mansion owned by Sour Patch, another time we wrestled in front of fans outside our tour bus in Kansas City, but this time was different. This was a race against time. A race to save everything that is important to a man.

Some of you may hate this episode. It’s different from everything else I release as it’s just a story. Normally our show features artists telling the story of their artistic life but this time one night was enough.

Ladies and gentleman without further adue, I give you, The Greatest Tour Story Ever Told AKA Raging Ball.

Last thing. If you are curious as to why Tim John left the Griswolds, it’s a long story that I have recorded. Go sign up for my mailing list. Do it right now and later this month I will email you the first half of this episode. The one where he explains what happened with the band. I’d like to apologize to my mom in advance for this episode.

As always if you like my show, please click subscribe!

Episode 21: Jennifer Clavin from Bleached

Women rock. It's not about gender, it's about the music. 

Since dropping out of high school in 2003 Jennifer Clavin has been involved with one cool punk project after another. Beginning as the singer for underground heroes Mika Miko, followed by a stint drumming for Best Coast, she eventually went off the grid and started her current and most successful project, Bleached.

I didn’t want this episode to be about women in punk bands. It’s a foregone conclusion she’s been asked about that a quarter of a million times but I, like every other journalist that interviewed her, couldn’t resist.

Since starting this podcast I’ve become interested in why there aren’t more bands comprised of women. Obviously Jennifer doesn’t have the the whole answer but she articulated some interesting thoughts on the matter and I'm glad I had her on. But it still makes me wonder. Why do people always bring it up? Why did I?

A few weeks ago I cruised over to her house outside Pasadena to drink La Croix, talk about the seducing world of punk rock, and figure out why the members of Mika Miko, a band with so much promise, decided to call it quits.

Episode 20: Tim Heidecker

The most interesting man in the world? He's an American comedian, writer, director, actor, and musician.

Since 2007 Tim Heidecker has been a cult comedy hero. His show Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job created a legion of dedicated fans and launched his acting, directing, comedy, producing, and music career. But long before all the comedy success Tim wanted to be a musician. He even had a band called The Tim Heidecker Masterpiece that performed around Philly and NYC. Music took a backseat when Bob Odenkirk helped Tim and Eric land their first development deal but in recent years he's been writing and releasing some fantastic tunes. From his piss drinking Yellow River Boys to the more serious singer songwriter album, In Glendale, Tim has made music a priority and I wanted to know more. So I stopped by his studio... In Glendale to learn more. Thanks to Chris Swanson for making this happen.

Episode 19: Grace Shaw AKA Mallrat

The Blowout success for an 18 year old Australian "rapper" and Almost prodigy. 

Grace Shaw, also known as Mallrat is an 18 year old wunderkind from Brisbane, Australia. She was never supposed to be on my show. But I messaged Allday’s (Australian rapper) manager about having Allday on the show; He agreed but asked if it’d be cool to have on Mallrat as well. At first I was hesitant as I’d never heard of her. But then I listened to her EP Uninvited and was like, “Hell yes.” I don’t want to call her a prodigy because I think that word is reserved for Austrian Harpsichord nut jobs but she’s awesome at what she does. Uninvited is the first batch of songs she’s ever written. And she did it in her bedroom after school, in secret, and used the mic on the macbook pro. I mean come on people! At this time half a million people a month are listening to her music on Spotify. That’s a lot.

Anyway, she was nice enough to sit down with me on her recent trip to the US and talk about her unexpected success in Australia, and whether or not she’s a rapper. Well she says bubble gum rapper. Who knows?

Episode 18: Lucius

Benefits of going to Berklee School of Music, achieving the impossible and what it means to hustle.

A few years ago my cousin called and asked if I’d meet with his friends that’d recently graduated from Berklee School of Music. Reluctantly I headed over to a cafe in Brooklyn and sat down with Holly and Jess from Lucius. At the time they were two unsigned artists hustling a homemade record around town. No label. No tours. Nothing. Not much came from our meeting but I did walk away impressed with their tenacity.

Cut to like, maybe a year later and I started seeing Lucius posters everywhere on tour. I dug a little deeper and found out that they’d been signed by Mom + Pop and released their record to critical and commercial success.

Duets with Jeff Tweedy emerged, they played ACL, and firmly cemented themselves in the American indie music world. Seemingly, they accomplished the goals they’d laid out in that meeting and their career has been interesting to me ever since. I decided that I had to get them on the show.

SO, Holly and Jess were kind enough to sit down with me in Los Angeles to discuss what in god’s name they did after that meeting, the grind in NYC, and where their career goes from here. This was a lot of fun. Thanks to my cousin Michael for the introduction.

Lucius just released a single titled Million Dollar Secret and will be performing with Roger Waters in his band this year.

Shout out to our sponsor Master Tour, and the jabberjaw network. Next week we are back with Andy Warren from the Mowgli’s then Tim Heidecker.

Episode 17: Jonathan Hoeg - The Concert Photographer

Is it just Partying with bands and taking the right shots?  What it really takes to become a concert photographer. 

All of us want to travel around the world and party with bands because we know it’s a better life than the one we are currently living. Jonathan is the guy living that life. For the last 4 years Jonathan has been on tour buses across the planet shooting Andrew Mcmahon, New Politics, Panic at The Disco!, and 5 Seconds of Summer. But how? How did this kid from Long Island go from business student to rock photographer extraordinaire?

Episode 16: Chris Whitehall from The Griswolds

Coming off tour & why the griswolds' bassist quit

Hey everyone welcome to Sugar High, a podcast that explores what it's like to live a life in music. In today's episode we sit down with my good friend Chris Whitehall from the Griswolds to talk about what it's like when a band member quits mid tour, and preview next weeks episode with Lucius. Next week we are also having on famed concert photographer Jonathan Hoeg. So if you want to learn about how to take photos of bands around the world, tune in. 

And hey, if you loved this episode subscribe to the show on iTunes. Like come on. It's so easy and your life will be better immediately. That's because in a few weeks people like Mumford and Sons, Computer Magic, Alex and Sierra, and Bears Den, will teach you the secrets of life!

Sugar High premieres every Wednesday on Amusicblogyea. Sign up for the mailing list to get episode extras and other dope ish.

Episode 15: Kevin Jones from Bear's Den

History of Bear's Den and the abridged history of the mid 2000's west London folk scene

Bear's Den are a folk rock duo from London, England. In the last four years they've gone from playing open mics and small club nights to headlining large theaters around the world. Initially I wanted to interview both members together but I found both of their stories so interesting that I split them up. Today we sit down with co song writer, multi instrumentalist, and co founder of Communion music group, Kev Jones. I knew Kev's story was interesting and filled with challenges but I had no idea what I was in for. This episode is a history of Bear's Den, but it is also an abridged history of the mid 2000's west London folk scene. A scene that touched or somehow involved bands like The Vaccines, Mumford and Sons, Mathew and the Atlas, Catfish and Bottlemen, Daughter, and many more.