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Life of the Record

Life of the Record

Classic albums, told by the people who made them.


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The Making of I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT - feat. Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson

For the 50th anniversary of Richard and Linda Thompson?s first album as a duo, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Richard helped pioneer British folk rock in the late 1960s with Fairport Convention, he was feeling burnt out and decided to leave the band to focus on writing. In 1972, he married Linda Peters, who had been performing in the folk scene during the same time as Fairport. Richard was under contract with Island Records and released his first solo album, Henry the Human Fly in 1972. The album was a commercial disappointment and Richard convinced Linda to start performing with him in the folk club circuit. Eventually they decided to record an album as a duo and booked studio time with their friend John Wood at Sound Techniques without informing their label. By working with musicians they had played with before, they were able to move quickly and fly under the radar of their label while cutting the album over a few days. When Island got word of the album, they held onto it for a year, claiming that the vinyl shortage was preventing them from putting it out. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was eventually released in the spring of 1974. In this episode, Richard Thompson describes his writing process for this album and how he was less focused on guitar than he had been up to this point and how he was more interested in songwriting. Since he was writing different characters, he explains how he found Linda to be a helpful collaborator who could sing in a variety of styles and fully inhabit the characters. Linda Thompson offers her perspective on the songs Richard was presenting and how her background in traditional music and acting helped shape her performances. Due to Linda?s vocal condition of dysphonia, her daughter, Kami Thompson, reads her interview responses throughout the episode. From integrating the electric guitar into traditional music, to coming up with the song titles first, to musical diversity and the importance of track sequencing, to taking inspiration from The Band, to a crash course in arranging horns, to a shared love of bleak songs in the folk tradition, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of VENEER - featuring José González

For the 20th anniversary of the debut album by José González, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After getting his start playing in hardcore bands in Gothenburg, Sweden in the 1990s, José González began studying biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg. While he was a student, he continued playing in multiple bands while recording his solo material on the side. His band Junip was working with a local label called Kakafoni and they agreed to release a 7-inch of the solo songs he was recording on a 4-track. The ?Hints? and ?Deadweight on Velveteen? single found its way to Joakim Gävert, who was starting a new label called Imperial Recordings with Magnus Bohman. They signed González to a deal and released the Crosses EP in the spring of 2003. The full-length album, Veneer, followed in the fall of 2003. In this episode, José González describes taking a new approach with his solo work by playing classical guitar and embracing minimal arrangements. By recording in his small apartment with inexpensive equipment and pirated software, he describes how these limitations helped shaped his sound. In addition, González describes reaching a breaking point in his mental health during this time when he was overwhelmed with his studies, personal relationships, and a lack of sleep, which led to him being institutionalized before the album was completed. From switching to music as a relief from biochemistry to discovering Nick Drake and alternate tunings to overdriving cheap tubes for added drama to an impromptu cover of The Knife?s ?Heartbeats? that became a classic, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of OUT OF STEP by Minor Threat - featuring Ian MacKaye

In celebration of the recently unearthed Out of Step Outtakes, we take a detailed look at the making of the original record. After Minor Threat formed in Washington D.C. in 1980, they began to find an audience in the American punk scene. Their first two seven-inch records contained songs written by Ian MacKaye, such as ?Straight Edge? and ?Out of Step,? which kickstarted the straight edge movement within punk. By 1982, guitarist Lyle Preslar had left for college and Minor Threat temporarily broke up. After speaking with H.R. of the Bad Brains, MacKaye was convinced of the impact the band was having and considered reforming. At that point, Preslar agreed to quit college and rejoin the band. Despite accusations of the band selling out by reforming, Minor Threat began playing shows in their hometown and embarked on a cross-country tour. Brian Baker decided to switch from bass to second guitar so they asked Steve Hansgen to join as the new bassist. In early 1983, they returned to Don Zientara?s Inner Ear Studio to begin recording as a five-piece. Out of Step was eventually released in the spring of 1983. In this episode, Ian MacKaye describes this pivotal moment in the band?s history when they decided to reunite and change their sound by adding a fifth member. Though they faced backlash about reuniting from their hometown crowd, this fueled the next batch of songs they would write as a band. MacKaye discusses how most of his lyrics on this record reflect the gossip and backstabbing that was prevalent in their scene at the time. In addition, tension within the band was rising over MacKaye?s lyrics and their overall musical direction. The new version of the title track reflected their differences as Jeff Nelson convinced MacKaye to include a spoken word interlude that explained how the straight edge lyrics were personal to MacKaye and didn?t represent the band?s views. From Minor Threat?s first 12-inch to a joke song about selling out to recording vocals live for the first time to the benefits of an expensive strobe tuner to hearing the call of punk to self-define, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of I SEE A DARKNESS by Bonnie "Prince" Billy - featuring Will Oldham

For the 25th anniversary of the first Bonnie ?Prince? Billy album, we take a detailed look at how it was made. Will Oldham grew up studying acting but decided to pursue music while he was attending Brown University. In 1992, he released his first single with Drag City under the name Palace Brothers. A series of albums followed under several variations of the Palace name, which reflected Oldham?s unique approach to treating the album, rather than the artist, as the primary entity. In 1998, he had an epiphany that he could inhabit a new character named Bonnie ?Prince? Billy for his music moving forward and put his concerns about an artist identity to rest. He began living in his father?s farmhouse in Shelbyville, Kentucky along with his brother, Paul, who had been studying recording and set up a makeshift studio. In this isolated environment, Oldham worked on writing songs and had the freedom to record himself in a way that he never had before. Eventually, Oldham invited other musicians including Peter Townsend, Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon and David Pajo to flesh out the songs that would make up the I SEE A DARKNESS record. In this episode, Will Oldham describes a newfound approach to making music at this time and how he viewed his former Palace work as his apprenticeship years. As Bonnie ?Prince? Billy, he found that he could portray a larger than life character who had the power to sing songs across the emotional spectrum. The Bonnie character opened up his approach to songwriting as he began to incorporate some traditional elements like bridges and dramatic builds. From a growing confidence in his singing to a deteriorating relationship and the decision to form a sub label to a love of post-apocalyptic landscapes to adding humor as a release valve to taking inspiration from contemporaries like PJ Harvey to the unlikely events that led to Johnny Cash covering the title track, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF by Mudhoney - featuring Mark Arm and Steve Turner

For the 35th anniversary of Mudhoney?s first 12-inch record, SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Mark Arm met Steve Turner at a show in Seattle, they became fast friends and began playing in multiple bands together. They started Green River with Jeff Ament and Alex Shumway and eventually added Stone Gossard on second guitar. Tensions over the musical direction of the band eventually caused Green River to dissolve with Ament and Gossard going on to form Mother Love Bone and Arm and Turner deciding to form Mudhoney. With Mudhoney, they had a vision for fuzz drenched guitars and blending 60s garage with punk rock. They eventually added Dan Peters on drums and Matt Lukin on bass and had their first practice on New Year?s Day in 1988. Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop offered to pay for some studio time with Jack Endino so he could hear the material they were working on. From those sessions, they released the "Touch Me I?m Sick" single in the summer of 1988. At that point, they went back into the studio with Jack Endino to work on the songs that would become SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF. In this episode, Mark Arm describes his approach of ?vocalizing? rather than singing, and how playing guitar with this band changed how he thought about song arrangements. Steve Turner talks about his discovery of vintage fuzz boxes and how they informed the Mudhoney sound at a time when fuzz pedals were out of fashion. From the early days of Sub Pop to rocking baby blue 60s guitars to Dan Peters? unique drum patterns to Matt Lukin?s relief of playing simple songs to Sonic Youth knighting them as the next big thing to a pivotal moment in Seattle music, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of CHUTES TOO NARROW by The Shins - featuring James Mercer

For the 20th anniversary of The Shins? second album, CHUTES TOO NARROW, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After getting their start in Albuquerque in the early nineties as a band called Flake, James Mercer, Neal Langford, Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval eventually morphed into The Shins. Mercer had first conceived of The Shins as an outlet for his quieter songs that weren?t working for Flake. Sandoval joined him initially and when Flake called it quits in the late nineties, Langford and Crandall also ended up joining The Shins. They caught the attention of Sub Pop, who signed them to a deal and released their debut album, OH, INVERTED WORLD in 2001. The album was a result of a year of recording at home with inexpensive gear that managed to reach a large audience. For their second album, Mercer had left Albuquerque and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he set up a basement studio with some better quality gear and recorded the majority of the record at home. Ultimately, the band finished the record with Phil Ek co-producing and mixing at Avast! Recording Co. in Seattle. In this episode, James Mercer describes the pressure he was putting on himself to prove that The Shins weren?t just a fluke. With the goal of making a career in music, Mercer talks about this intense period when he was challenging himself as a songwriter to come up with interesting chord progressions and unique lyrics. Mercer also talks about the interpersonal relationships and shifting power dynamics in the band and how his close friendship with Neal Langford fell apart at this time. From wanting to make a stripped down and honest record to working with Phil Ek in a proper studio to the lineup change of Dave Hernandez replacing Langford to staying up all night to write a song at the very last minute to finding inspiration from a thrift store copy of Neil Young?s Harvest, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together. 
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The Making of HOUDINI by Melvins - featuring Buzz Osborne

For the 30th anniversary of the Melvins? 1993 classic, HOUDINI, we take a detailed look at how the record was made. Buzz Osborne, Mike Dillard and Matt Lukin had formed the Melvins in 1983 when they were teenagers living in Montesano, Washington. Drummer Dale Crover ended up replacing Dillard early on and has remained with the band to this day. When Osborne and Crover decided to move to San Francisco, Lori Black took over on bass, and they began a series of releases with indie label, Boner Records. By the time, they got to their fifth album, they decided to sign to a major label as the Northwest music scene had exploded in popularity and had attracted the attention of the major labels. After they signed with Atlantic Records, they enlisted their old friend, Kurt Cobain, to produce the album. In this episode, Buzz Osborne describes the difficult sessions that took place while making the record. Kurt Cobain was dealing with a heroin addiction at the time and would often not show up for sessions. Osborne talks about making the decision to fire Cobain right in the middle of the sessions. Ultimately, Cobain did have a hand in co-producing six tracks on the album and played guitar and drums on a couple songs. Osborne describes this period when the Melvins had already seen success on indie labels but decided to sign a contract with the major label powerhouse, Atlantic Records. Osborne describes his initial shock when Atlantic didn?t interfere with their creative process at all and let them make the record they wanted to make. From Osborne?s often nonsensical lyrical approach to the importance of dynamics in heavy music to a rotating cast of bass players to Dale Crover?s mastery of tempo and feel to combining classic rock with punk rock attitude to the Melvins belonging on a legendary label, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of Cursive's DOMESTICA - featuring Tim Kasher

In celebration of the deluxe edition of Cursive?s DOMESTICA, we take an in-depth look at how the record was made. Following the breakup of the Omaha band, Slowdown Virginia, Tim Kasher reunited with his former bandmates, Matt Maginn and Stephen Pedersen, to start a new project called Cursive. They brought in drummer Clint Schnase and released their first 7 inch on their friends? label, Lumberjack Records, which later became Saddle Creek. Two full-length records followed, but when THE STORMS OF EARLY SUMMER was released in 1998, the band had already called it quits. Kasher had gotten married and moved to Portland, Oregon for a fresh start. As his marriage fell apart, he returned to Omaha and decided to reform Cursive. Pedersen had left for college at this point so Ted Stevens of Lullaby for the Working Class took over on guitar. Feeling like they had to make up for lost time, Cursive quickly put together an album?s worth of songs and entered the home studio of A.J. and Mike Mogis to record the album over nine days. In this episode, Tim Kasher describes his vision of a concept album about a failed relationship that took inspiration from his recent divorce. With songs written from the perspective of both the male and female characters in the relationship, Kasher was writing in a fictional style but couldn?t help but include elements from his own life. When the album was released in 2000, Saddle Creek wrote a bio mentioning Kasher?s divorce that impacted the overall perception of the album, which Kasher still maintains is not a ?divorce record.? From an attempt at being evenhanded in the storytelling to the Mogis brothers production skills to taking inspiration from the films, Eraserhead and Rosemary?s Baby, to a lifelong journey of understanding metal to fans asking Kasher for relationship advice, we?ll hear the stories around how the album came together.
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The Making of GIVE UP by The Postal Service - featuring Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello

For the 20th anniversary of The Postal Service record, GIVE UP, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Jimmy Tamborello was looking for vocalists to collaborate with for a Dntel album he was working on, he connected with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Gibbard agreed to provide vocals for a track that became, ?(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan.? The two of them worked so well together that they decided to work on more material and form a new project. Tamborello?s friend, Tony Kiewel at Sub Pop heard about their collaboration and suggested they would be interested in releasing a full album. Tamborello got to work creating instrumentals at his home in Los Angeles and would mail rough mixes of the tracks on CD-Rs to Gibbard in Seattle. Gibbard would then come up with the melodies and lyrics, recording his vocals and other instruments to send back to Tamborello. Over the course of the year, they would keep collaborating through the mail, enlisting Jenny Lewis and Jen Wood to provide additional vocals. After the ten tracks were nearly complete, they met in Los Angeles to finish mixing the album. GIVE UP was eventually released in 2003. In this episode, Gibbard describes how these Postal Service tracks that Tamborello would send were nice breaks in his writing schedule for Death Cab for Cutie, who were in the middle of writing TRANSATLANTICISM. Because their collaboration started so spontaneously, he describes how this approach opened up his writing and pushed him into new territory. Tamborello describes how he initially conceived of a more experimental project but quickly changed directions as the tracks became more pop oriented and Gibbard?s melodies were so infectious. With the limited technology of the early 2000s, he describes how the album was made almost entirely on a Kurzweil K2000 synthesizer and how he would manipulate sounds and sample classical records for added effect. As the concept of remote collaboration has taken off in recent years, GIVE UP remains a fascinating document of its time. From the unlikely marriage of indie rock and electronic music in the early 2000s to the slow process of mixing by mail to the spontaneous idea of asking Jenny Lewis to sing on the album, to the key influences of Bjork, Liz Phair, Conor Oberst and Stephin Merritt to the mysterious effortlessness of the whole project, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of SURFER ROSA by Pixies - featuring Joey Santiago, David Lovering and Steve Albini

For the 35th anniversary of Pixies? landmark debut album, SURFER ROSA, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Charles Thompson and Joey Santiago bonded as suitemates at the University of Massachusettes Amherst, they decided to form a band. By putting an ad in the Boston Phoenix for ?a female vocalist into Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary,? they connected with Kim Deal, who was the only one to answer their ad. Deal?s husband, John Murphy, introduced them to drummer David Lovering and the Pixies lineup was solidified. As they began playing around Boston, producer Gary Smith offered to record a demo for them at Fort Apache Studios. After Ivo Watts-Russell of the label 4AD heard the tapes, he signed them to a contract and they released some of the demo recordings as an EP called Come On Pilgrim. They turned their attention to recording a full-length album and Watts-Russell suggested a young engineer named Steve Albini. Albini traveled to Boston to meet the band and they began recording the next day at a studio called Q Division. In this episode, guitarist Joey Santiago describes the early connection he shared with Charles Thompson and how SURFER ROSA solidified the band?s sound and was an honest depiction of who they were. David Lovering talks about his approach to simplifying his drumming and why SURFER ROSA remains his personal favorite Pixies album. Engineer, Steve Albini reflects on how this record marked the first time he worked with a band he didn?t know and how he set out to prove his value by making unique suggestions and how that impacted the finished product. From Charles and Kim?s contrasting vocal styles to their trademark loud quiet loud dynamics to the benefits of metal picks and recording in a tiled bathroom to the uniquely dark subject matter of the lyrics to the recorded sounds of the session underway, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of VIOLENT FEMMES (Self-Titled) - featuring Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and Victor DeLorenzo

For the 40th anniversary of Violent Femmes? classic debut album, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After bassist Brian Ritchie and drummer Victor DeLorenzo first started playing around Milwaukee as a rhythm section, they met a teenage songwriter named Gordon Gano. Despite having limited experience and still just being in high school, Gano had an extraordinary set of good songs that he had already written. Violent Femmes began playing as a trio but weren?t able to get many gigs in town so they started playing acoustically on the street. One day they decided to play for a line of people outside the Oriental Theater who were there to see the Pretenders. James Honeyman-Scott was on a break from soundcheck and became interested in this band playing outside the theater. He convinced the rest of the Pretenders to listen and Chrissie Hynde ended up inviting the Femmes to open for them that night. Though the impromptu gig didn?t lead to other opportunities, it gave them a boost of confidence to continue doing what they were doing. Shake Records became interested in releasing an album so they booked studio time with producer Mark Van Hecke. The label deal fell through but they decided to keep the studio time with the help of a loan from DeLorenzo?s father. The recordings they made ended up on Slash Records? radar and they eventually released the Violent Femmes debut album as is in 1983. In this episode, Gordon Gano reflects on being a bored and lonely teenager who had a drive to write songs as a way to get out frustration. Brian Ritchie describes his unconventional approach to the acoustic bass guitar that helps give Violent Femmes their signature sound. Victor DeLorenzo offers his perspective on using brushes, a snare drum and his invention called the trancephone in order to have a simple setup that could be moved easily and played on the street. From being booed by thousands of Milwaukeans to punk music played acoustically to embracing the improvisation of Sun Ra to the first album as a mixtape that continues to get passed between generations, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of LET GO by Nada Surf - featuring Matthew Caws

For the 20th anniversary of Nada Surf?s third album, LET GO, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Matthew Caws and Daniel Lorca formed the band in 1992, they eventually linked up with drummer, Ira Elliot. They spent several years grinding it out in their hometown of New York City where they worked multiple jobs and hustled to get their music heard. During a chance encounter with Ric Ocasek at a show at the Knitting Factory, Matthew Caws gave him a demo tape. A couple weeks later, Ocasek got back in touch with Matthew and offered to record them if they were able to sign to a label. Luckily, Elektra Records offered them a deal soon after and they went on to release their Ocasek-produced debut album, HIGH/LOW in 1996. Due to the unexpected success of the first single, ?Popular,? Nada Surf found themselves under a lot of pressure for their follow-up album. THE PROXIMITY EFFECT was released in Europe in 1998 but Elektra got cold feet and decided not to release the album in the U.S. and ended up dropping the band. With no record contract, they found themselves back in New York, working odd jobs and calling in favors for help recording their third album, which ended up becoming LET GO. In this episode, Matthew Caws joins us for an in-depth conversation about this pivotal moment in the band?s history when they went from being a major label success to suddenly being completely independent. Matthew describes how this period of his life was completely music-focused as he worked at a record store and spent all of his time going to shows and writing songs. The low pressure situation that they found themselves in inspired a more diverse group of songs and a more relaxed feel to their recordings than ever before. From sprinting home to remember song ideas to obsessively listening to a Sony Sports Walkman to writing a song in an Amsterdam bathroom to Chris Walla?s mixing skills to gratitude for recorded music, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of JAMBOREE by Beat Happening - featuring Calvin Johnson, Heather Lewis, Bret Lunsford, Steve Fisk and Gary Lee Conner

For the 35th anniversary of Beat Happening?s second album, JAMBOREE, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After meeting at the Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, Calvin Johnson, Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford formed Beat Happening and began releasing music under Calvin?s K label. In 1985, they released their self-titled debut album, which was later was picked up for UK distribution by Rough Trade Records. As the band was gaining interest beyond the Pacific Northwest, expectations were higher for their second album. Right before recording JAMBOREE, they linked up with their tourmates, Screaming Trees, in Ellensburg, Washington and recorded a joint EP in one night. They worked so well together that Beat Happening asked Screaming Trees? Mark Lanegan and Gary Lee Conner to co-produce their next record, along with their friend, Steve Fisk. In this episode, Calvin, Heather and Bret describe where the band was at when they were playing live more than ever before and developing relationships with other bands in the punk scene. Despite their limited technical abilities and lack of equipment, they describe the enthusiasm and optimism they felt about being in a band together at the time they made JAMBOREE. Producer Steve Fisk offers his unique perspective on first meeting a teenage Calvin and going on to record multiple Beat Happening albums. Co-producer Gary Lee Conner describes the unlikely musical pairing of Screaming Trees and Beat Happening but how they were kindred spirits, being outsiders with a shared DIY philosophy. From one borrowed distortion pedal to Screaming Trees as a cheering section to not understanding the concept of singing on key to the bravery of a cappella performances to the difficulty of having only one clave, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together.
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The Making of SONG CYCLE - featuring Van Dyke Parks and Richard Henderson

For the 55th anniversary of Van Dyke Parks? debut solo album, SONG CYCLE, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After being born in the South, Parks grew up studying music and working as a child actor before settling in Los Angeles, California in the early 1960s. While playing guitar in different folk groups around town, he got his first job as an arranger on ?The Bare Necessities? for Disney?s The Jungle Book. Parks began working as a session musician for Producer Terry Melcher, who later introduced him to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Parks was hired as a lyricist for the Beach Boys SMILE project, but ultimately left due to the rapidly deteriorating recording sessions and resistance from other members of the Beach Boys about the new lyrical direction. Producer Lenny Waronker then signed Parks to a contract with Warner Bros. as they recorded the first single ?Donovan?s Colours? before beginning work on a full-length album. In this episode, Van Dyke Parks reflects on his fascination with the developing technology of recorded music in the late 1960s. He also describes his fragile emotional state after the death of his brother and how traumatic personal and political events of the era informed his songwriting. Richard Henderson, author of the 33 1/3 book Song Cycle, offers his perspective on Parks? working methods at the time and how he was able to convince Warner Bros. to bankroll this massively expensive project. From the gold rush of Laurel Canyon to confirming his fellow struggling artists in song to the recording studio as an instrument to the orchestra as pop art to an insulting marketing campaign in the wake of SONG CYCLE?s release, we?ll hear the stories of how the record came together. Intro/outro music by ings from her song, "Love You." Episode art by Scott Arnold. 
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The Making of VS. by Mission of Burma - featuring Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott

For the 40th anniversary of Mission of Burma?s first full-length album, VS., we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Mission of Burma released their first recordings, the ?Academy Fight Song? single in 1980 and the Signals, Calls, and Marches EP in 1981, they felt like they hadn?t fully captured the sound they were going for yet. For this record, they decided they wanted a raw and lively sounding record that embraced the chaos of their live performances. By recording outside of their hometown of Boston for the first time, at Normandy Sound in Providence, Rhode Island, they were able to finally translate the unruly Burma sound to tape. In this episode, guitarist, Roger Miller describes this period when the band was getting more comfortable in the studio and experimenting with song structures and arrangements to craft a wildly diverse batch of songs. Bassist, Clint Conley, reflects on the context of this era and how challenging and contrary the Mission of Burma sound was for that time. Drummer, Peter Prescott, describes how the band used punk rock as a foundation but then were becoming influenced by the hardcore scene that was starting to develop. From the mystery of Martin Swope?s phantom loops to Roger Miller?s esoteric composition skills to Peter Prescott?s evolution into a songwriter to Clint Conley?s struggles with drugs and alcohol to Roger Miller?s worsening tinnitus that ultimately ended the band until their unlikely second act, we?ll hear the stories of how VS. came together.
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The Making of NEU! (Self-Titled) - featuring Michael Rother

For the 50th anniversary of the first NEU! album, we spoke to Michael Rother about the extraordinary circumstances of how it was made. After Rother had been invited to jam with Kraftwerk, he had a fateful meeting with drummer, Klaus Dinger. The two of them ended up joining Kraftwerk for a time before deciding to leave and form their own band. Rother and Dinger asked producer, Conny Plank, to record them as they put up their own money to book a studio in Hamburg for four nights in late 1971. Plank turned out to be a key collaborator as he was inventive and efficient in the studio and was able to keep them on track to record a full album in a short time. These whirlwind sessions resulted in the debut NEU! album, which was released in 1972. In this episode, Michael Rother describes this period of his life when he was influenced by the political changes happening around the world and in post-war Germany. He realized the importance of overcoming conservative structures, both politically and musically, and decided to abandon the more conventional blues-based music he had been playing as a teenager. Joining Kraftwerk had allowed Rother to connect with other likeminded musicians and inspired him to find his own musical identity. Rother describes the artistic kinship he felt with Klaus Dinger, even though their differing personalities eventually led to being estranged from one another in later years. From the power of Dinger?s drumming to the discovery of backwards guitar overdubs to Conny Plank?s use of phasing to the NEU! albums disappearing and reappearing over the years to the enduring impact of the music on younger generations, we?ll hear the stories around how the album came together.
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The Making of BRICKS ARE HEAVY by L7 - featuring Donita Sparks

For the 30th anniversary of L7?s breakthrough third album, BRICKS ARE HEAVY, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After L7 had released albums on venerable west coast indie labels, Epitaph and Sub Pop, they decided to go for major label distribution with their third album. Seminal Los Angeles label, Slash Records, allowed them more reach as well as a larger recording budget than ever before. After visiting their friends in Nirvana at Sound City during the recording of NEVERMIND, they met Butch Vig and decided he would be the right producer for their next album. In late 1991, they headed to Madison, Wisconsin to record at Butch Vig?s Smart Studios, just as NEVERMIND was blowing up and changing the face of popular music. In this episode, Donita Sparks describes L7 in this pivitol moment when they were going from the underground to the mainstream. Sparks talks about gaining confidence with her songwriting, getting more specific with her lyrics and embracing her pop side more than ever before. The result was BRICKS ARE HEAVY, an album full of personal songs by Sparks, Suzi Gardner and Jennifer Finch that went on to become generational anthems. From the mind blowing place in the mainstream to major label guilt to using songwriting as revenge to getting the nod from Yoko Ono, we?ll hear the stories around how the album came together.
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The Making of #1 RECORD by Big Star - featuring Jody Stephens, Terry Manning, Holly George-Warren and Rich Tupica

For the 50th anniversary of Big Star?s iconic debut, #1 RECORD, we take a detailed look at how it was made. After Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens had taken recording classes from Ardent Studios owner, John Fry, they began to learn the art of recording. John Fry generously allowed them to use the studio during the night as they recorded under the names, Icewater and Rock City. Meanwhile, Alex Chilton had quit the Box Tops and was living in New York City before deciding to return to his hometown of Memphis. Chris Bell invited him to join the band as they began recording what would become #1 RECORD. In this episode, Big Star drummer, Jody Stephens describes being a teenager caught under the spell of his bandmates? talents and the creative environment of Ardent Studios. Engineer/keyboardist, Terry Manning, reflects on his close friendships with Chris Bell, Alex Chilton and the Big Star clique, and his contributions to #1 RECORD. Holly George-Warren, author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man, discusses Alex Chilton?s unlikely journey of being the 16-year-old lead singer of a hit group to learning to be a songwriter and an independent person. Rich Tupica, author of There Was a Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of Big Star, describes Chris Bell?s sonic vision for #1 RECORD as well as his deterioration in the aftermath of the failure of its release. From wanting to be the Memphis Beatles to endless hours of recording through the night to bringing motorcycles into the studio to Alex discovering a new voice to the Bell/Chilton collaboration and rivalry to the distribution disaster, we?ll hear the stories of how the album came together.
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The Making of CELEBRATION ROCK by Japandroids - featuring David Prowse, Jesse Gander and Steven Hyden

For the 10th anniversary of Japandroids? second album, CELEBRATION ROCK, we take a detailed look at how the record was made. After the unlikely success of their debut album, POST-NOTHING, Japandroids found themselves leaving their hometown of Vancouver to tour the world and play to much larger audiences than they ever dreamed of. The expectations for their second album began to build as the band felt tremendous pressure to deliver a followup record that proved they weren?t just a one-hit wonder. In between multiple tours, they would record in two-day sessions with longtime engineer/producer, Jesse Gander. Eventually, they rented a house in Nashville to focus on writing the remaining songs for what would become CELEBRATION ROCK. In this episode, David Prowse describes how he and Brian King pushed themselves to make a record that would far surpass any expectations they ever had for the band. Engineer/producer, Jesse Gander, takes us through his first impression of Japandroids and how he was able to capture their unique punk and classic rock-influenced sound. Additionally, author and music critic, Steven Hyden, offers his perspective on Japandroids? embrace of classic rock mythology and why the record connected with so many people. From Brian?s attempt at revitalizing classic rock tropes to the difficulty of recording fireworks to capturing the feeling of being young to the unabashed embrace of the power of rock and roll, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of 3 YEARS, 5 MONTHS AND 2 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF? by Arrested Development - featuring Speech

For the 30th anniversary of the 2x Grammy Award winning group, Arrested Development?s, pioneering debut album, 3 YEARS, 5 MONTHS AND 2 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF?, Speech joins us for a detailed look at how the record was made. After getting his start in a high school hip hop group in Milwaukee called Attack, Speech left for more opportunities in Atlanta. He connected with Headliner at The Art Institute of Atlanta and the two of them formed Arrested Development, gradually adding group members, Aerle Taree, Montsho Eshe, Rasa Don and Baba Oje, along the way. Eventually, Arrested Development signed a deal with Chrysalis Records, which took exactly 3 years, 5 months and 2 days, giving their debut album its title. In this episode, Speech describes how we became conscious and wanted to form a hip hop group that was an alternative to the gangsta rap that was popular at the time. From being one of the first hip hop groups out of Atlanta to developing a melodic rhyming style to 4-track bedroom recording to the expensive art of sampling to Dionne Farris?s incredible guest vocals, we?ll hear the stories of how the album came together.
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The Making of HISSING FAUNA, ARE YOU THE DESTROYER? by of Montreal - featuring Kevin Barnes

For the 15th anniversary of the landmark of Montreal album, HISSING FAUNA, ARE YOU THE DESTROYER?, Kevin Barnes joins us for a detailed look at how the record was made. After of Montreal had already released multiple albums by this point, Barnes had mostly been writing in a conceptual and fantastical style as a way to avoid writing personal songs. For HISSING FAUNA, Barnes decided to write autobiographically about the difficulties they were experiencing in their personal life during this period. Barnes had gotten married and moved to Norway while expecting their first child and was struggling with anxiety and depression. The isolation and stress they were feeling informed the deeply personal songs that ended up on the record. After splitting with their wife, Nina, part way through the sessions, Barnes finished the remaining songs in Athens while writing from the perspective of the Georgie Fruit character they had created. From alienating band members by working alone to using the studio as an escape to the struggle to earn a living as an artist to the problematic Georgie Fruit character, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of PERFECT FROM NOW ON by Built to Spill - featuring Doug Martsch

For the 25th anniversary of Built to Spill?s astonishing third album, PERFECT FROM NOW ON, Doug Martsch joins us for a detailed look at how the record was made. After Built to Spill released their first two records on indie labels, they ended up signing with Warner Bros. for their third album. Signing with a major label left Martsch feeling conflicted but inspired to experiment in the studio and was determined to make an ambitious album that deserved to be heard by a larger audience. Martsch?s original vision was to change the lineup for the third time and play the majority of the instruments himself with Peter Lansdowne on drums. After reconnecting with producer, Phil Ek, in Seattle, they recorded the first version of the album but were dissatisfied with the results. Martsch then decided to bring bassist, Brett Nelson, back, along with new drummer, Scott Plouff, and record the album a second time. After Phil Ek drove with the tapes from Seattle to Boise, they found that the tapes had been damaged. The band ended up recording the album a third time and brought in collaborators, Brett Netson, John McMahon and Robert Roth to help fill out the arrangements. From envisioning a classic rock sound to the difficulties of analog recording in the nineties to combining ideas to make collage-style songs to stealing lyrics from his wife to the never-ending quest for perfection, we?ll hear the stories around how the album came together.
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The Making of ONE YEAR - featuring Colin Blunstone

For the 50th anniversary of the baroque pop classic, ONE YEAR, Colin Blunstone looks back on the unique circumstances around how his first solo album was made. After the end of The Zombies, a band he formed as a teenager with Rod Argent, Hugh Grundy, Paul Atkinson and Paul Arnold, Blunstone found himself unsure about continuing in the music business. The Zombies had recorded ODESSEY AND ORACLE at Abbey Road Studios in 1967, but the initial singles failed to generate interest so the band called it quits before the album was released. Blunstone began working as an insurance clerk in London when ?Time of the Season? unexpectedly started to chart in the United States in 1969. Producer, Mike Hurst, convinced Blunstone to make music again and he released a few singles under the pseudonym, Neil MacArthur. Later, former Zombies bandmates, Rod Argent and Chris White, talked Blunstone into recording a solo album under his own name with the two of them co-producing. From Chris Gunning?s breathtaking string arrangements to an unlikely hit of a 21-piece orchestra pop tune to a painfully honest account of his breakup with actress, Caroline Munro, to getting the old Zombies team back together again, we?ll hear the stories around how ONE YEAR came together.
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The Making of MIC CITY SONS by Heatmiser - featuring Neil Gust, Tony Lash and Sam Coomes

For the 25th anniversary of Heatmiser?s third and final album, MIC CITY SONS, Neil Gust, Tony Lash and Sam Coomes talk openly and in detail about the unique circumstances around how this record was made. When Heatmiser embarked on recording their third album, it was a huge turning point for the band, as they signed a deal with a major label and began building their own studio. Elliott Smith was starting to have success as a solo artist and was coming into his own with songwriting and recording, which led to a lot of tension over the direction of the band. Neil Gust talks about forming his close friendship with Elliott and bonding over music, but how that was changing rapidly in the wake of Elliott?s success. Tony Lash describes butting heads with Elliott in the studio since they were teenagers and how it was reaching a breaking point. Sam Coomes gives an outsider?s perspective as he talks about never officially joining the band and attempting to play peacekeeper during the fraught sessions. As the tensions rose, Neil, Tony and Sam describe the decision to bring in Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock as outside producers to help get the record finished. From drastically changing the sound of the band mid-tour to writing songs about interpersonal band dynamics to guys in their twenties being unable to communicate to the contractual obligation that ultimately ended the band, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of JOHN PRINE (Self-Titled) - featuring Margo Price, Amanda Shires, Erin Osmon, Dave Prine, Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman

For the 50th anniversary of John Prine?s debut album, we take a detailed look at the extraordinary circumstances of how this record came to be. In this episode, John?s older brother, Dave Prine, describes the shocking moment when he realized his brother?s staggering talent. Erin Osmon, author of the forthcoming 33 1/3 book about this album, takes us through John?s discovery story and how he first made an impact at folk clubs in Chicago before being discovered by Kris Kristofferson and Jerry Wexler. We?ll hear about the unlikely pairing of Prine with legendary Atlantic producer, Arif Mardin, and session players, the Memphis Boys, who had never made a folk record before. Keyboardist, Bobby Wood, and drummer, Gene Chrisman, of the Memphis Boys, discuss what it was like to record these songs at American Sound Studio with a very nervous and inexperienced young performer. Additionally, we?ll hear from another generation of Nashville songwriters and Prine collaborators, Margo Price and Amanda Shires, who describe why many of the songs from this record have become standards. From Prine?s wry sense of humor to his ability to write characters to covertly writing about controversial subjects to his deep empathy, we?ll hear the stories around how this record came together and why it ended up becoming one of Prine?s most enduring works.
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The Making of CIVILIAN by Wye Oak - featuring Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack

In celebration of the 10th anniversary, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack reflect on the writing and recording of the third Wye Oak album, CIVILIAN. In this episode, they describe this intense period as a young band when they were taking every touring opportunity available and were getting burnt out by working constantly. For CIVILIAN, they were moving out of their comfort zone with recording as they sought help beyond their tight knit Baltimore community and went to Dallas to have the record mixed by John Congleton. On a personal level, Jenn talks about the panic attacks she was experiencing along with a sense of shame that she was feeling in response to her music career taking off, distancing her from the people she loved. In addition, Jenn and Andy talk about a key romantic relationship that was ending, which greatly informed the songwriting for this record. From ominous energy in Dallas to questioning religion and long-term relationships to capturing the right guitar solo to making beautiful ugliness, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of THE SOPHTWARE SLUMP by Grandaddy - featuring Jason Lytle

In this episode, Jason Lytle reflects on the process of making Grandaddy's second album, THE SOPHTWARE SLUMP. Jason talks about being "a man with a mission" while holing up in a farmhouse outside of their hometown of Modesto, California and tracking and mixing nearly everything himself. During this era when bands were starting to record themselves, Jason describes how he was obsessively buying gear and learning the craft of recording while being inspired to experiment after hearing Radiohead's OK COMPUTER. Since Grandaddy had signed with major label, V2, prior to the making of the record, Jason describes the pressure he felt as the band was gaining popularity and the curse of the sophomore slump lingered. From writing cautionary tales, sci-fi epics and songs about drinking and failed relationships to sending a joke version of the album to the label to sharing a stage with Elliott Smith, we'll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of MOUNT EERIE by the Microphones - featuring Phil Elverum

In this episode, Phil Elverum reflects on the experience of making MOUNT EERIE, the last album made under the Microphones name before adopting Mount Eerie as his project name. Phil gets into the process of taking a different approach from his previous album, THE GLOW PT. 2, and conceiving of a theatrical story about death and transformation. As his final album recorded in Olympia, Phil talks about embracing collaboration and enlisting friends from the Pacific Northwest music scene, including Mirah Zeitlyn, Khaela Maricich, Kyle Field, Karl Blau and Calvin Johnson to take on the roles of different characters. From the initial inspiration of driving around in Florida shortly after September 11th happened, to the difficulties of solo recording a 10-minute samba drum section to tape to taking inspiration from artists like Sade, Bjork and Timbaland to the young person?s search for meaning, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE by Low - featuring Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk

For the 20th anniversary, Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk reflect on the making of the classic Low album, THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE. After Low had made several records in their signature slow and minimal style, they were beginning to expand their sound while recognizing the possibilities of the studio. For THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE, Low took their time recording with Steve Albini in Chicago and later enhancing the recordings with Tom Herbers in Minneapolis. The recordings represented a turning point for the band as they built the songs up more than they had in the past with guest musicians, lush string arrangements, layered harmonies and keyboard textures. Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk?s songwriting in this period was heavily influenced by the birth of their first child, Hollis, who also makes an appearance on the record. From writing mournful songs about the cycle of life to figuring out how to translate parts to string players to studying the original innovators in the studio, we?ll hear the stories around how the record came together.
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The Making of LIGHT GREEN LEAVES by Little Wings - featuring Kyle Field

In this episode, Kyle Field reflects on the experience of making LIGHT GREEN LEAVES, Little Wings? second album for K Records. Kyle gets into the process of conceiving of a record about the fall and ambitiously deciding to make three completely different versions of the album for three different formats. As Kyle reflects on the writing and recording of each song from the album, we?ll hear a detailed look at his creative process. From moving to the Pacific Northwest on a quest, to living in a house full of musicians in Portland, to being nostalgic for the Central Coast of California, to making the decision to try and make it as an artist, we?ll hear the stories around how LIGHT GREEN LEAVES came together.
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The Making of ONE MISSISSIPPI - featuring Brendan Benson

For the 25th Anniversary, Brendan Benson looks back on the process of making his debut album, ONE MISSISSIPPI.  In this episode, Brendan Benson reflects on the experience of unexpectedly being signed to a major label at a young age and all of the pressures that came along with that. After initially recording 4-track cassette demos with Jason Falkner, Brendan takes us through the process of making the record in New Orleans, controversially scrapping it, and then remaking the record again in San Francisco with a new band and a young Ethan Johns as the producer. From the competitive songwriter scene in Los Angeles, to touring with no experience as a frontman, to falling in love while having to work a record, we?ll hear the stories around how ONE MISSISSIPPI came together.
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The Making of PLEASED TO MEET ME by the Replacements - featuring Bob Mehr and Luther Dickinson

In celebration of the PLEASED TO MEET ME Deluxe Edition, we look back at the unique circumstances around how the record was created.  Bob Mehr, author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, offers a detailed perspective of this uncertain period when the Replacements entered Ardent Studios after splitting with guitarist Bob Stinson. Luther Dickinson, son of the late producer, Jim Dickinson, reflects on his father?s contribution to the album, as well as his own experience of joining the band in the studio as a teenager. Additionally, we?ll hear from Paul Westerberg himself, in a 1987 Warner Bros. interview with Julie Panebianco, where he shares his thoughts on the writing and recording of PLEASED TO MEET ME.  From alcohol-fueled and trick-filled sessions in Memphis to the controversy of using horns and strings to the existential conflict of being an underground rock band in a major label world, the episode offers a unique look at this pivotal moment in the Replacements? history.
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The Making of ELLIOTT SMITH (Self-Titled) - featuring Larry Crane, JJ Gonson, Tony Lash, Slim Moon and Leslie Uppinghouse

For the 25th Anniversary, Elliott Smith?s friends and collaborators, including Larry Crane, JJ Gonson, Tony Lash, Slim Moon and Leslie Uppinghouse, offer a unique oral history of how the Self-Titled record was created. With many new details that have never been heard before, Tony Lash and Leslie Uppinghouse describe the DIY processes that Elliott used while recording songs at their homes. From Elliott teaching himself how to play cello, to using cracked and out of tune guitars, to calling family members for help remembering lyrics, you?ll hear stories about how the album came together. Larry Crane, JJ Gonson and Slim Moon also reflect on where Elliott was at during this period, when the Self-Titled record ended up becoming a turning point in his solo career.
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The Making of PENTHOUSE by Luna - featuring Dean Wareham

For the 25th Anniversary, Dean Wareham looks back on the process of making Luna?s third record, PENTHOUSE.  In this episode, Dean Wareham reflects on recording at Sorcerer Studios in New York City with engineer Mario Salvati and producer Pat McCarthy. Dean Wareham gets into the process of pushing for better performances, major label pressure, the grunge era and working with Tom Verlaine.
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The Making of ESCONDIDA - featuring Jolie Holland

For the 15th Anniversary, Jolie Holland looks back on her first studio album, ESCONDIDA. In this episode, Jolie Holland reflects on recording in the redwoods with Lemon DeGeorge and her band of San Francisco musicians. Jolie Holland gets into the process of going from the lo-fi aesthetics of Catalpa to the studio environment and finding new fans like Bob Dylan and Daniel Lanois along the way.
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The Making of BOWS & ARROWS by The Walkmen - featuring Paul Maroon, Walter Martin and Peter Bauer

For the 15th Anniversary, Paul Maroon, Walter Martin and Peter Bauer look back on writing, recording and touring the classic Walkmen record, BOWS & ARROWS. In this episode, members of The Walkmen reflect on recording in the south during a hurricane, opening for Incubus after 9/11, a tiger balm incident with Hamilton Leithauser, and the contentious process behind their biggest song, "The Rat."
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The Making of ÁGAETIS BYRJUN by Sigur Rós - featuring Kjartan Sveinsson

For the 20th Anniversary, Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rós looks back on the writing and recording of their breakthrough album, ÁGÆTIS BYRJUN. In this episode, Kjartan Sveinsson reflects on being an undiscovered, ambitious band in Iceland, working day jobs while recording at night, finding inspiration in broken equipment and rudimentary software, and repurposing bass riffs from Nirvana.
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Life of the Record - A podcast where artists look back on the making of a classic album. Featuring Sigur Rós, The Walkmen, Jolie Holland and more. 
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