Making Of: Voice & Verse Podcast

by Deanna Chapman

It’s been a while since our last Making Of feature, but we’re back now with Evan Lucy, who hosts the Voice & Verse Podcast. If you’re into artists like Andrew McMahon and Dashboard Confessional, this is definitely a podcast you should check out. Read the interview below to get to know more about Evan and the podcast! 

Before we get started on the podcast questions, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get into the music industry and what do you do other than Voice & Verse?

I suppose I sort of fell into the industry. I started playing music when I was 13, and soon thereafter realized I was likely not going to be a part of the next great rock band. I was always good at writing throughout school, so it made sense to marry the two and start writing about music. From there, I went to the University of Missouri to study journalism and started writing reviews and doing interviews for the student newspaper. One thing led to another, and now my work has appeared everywhere from Billboard and Spin to Alternative Press and Rhapsody.

My full-time job isn’t writing about music – actually, it’s quite the opposite. I work for a digital fundraising consultancy, primarily working with political candidates and nonprofit organizations, but I still do a lot of music writing on the side in addition to hosting Voice & Verse and my other podcast, Simpler Sound.

What made you decide to start Voice & Verse and how did you come up with the name?

Talking to artists is always fun, but most of the question I have aren’t necessarily the most interesting for someone to read in a feature story. As a musician myself, I’ve always been fascinated with songwriting. Naturally, that led me to want to know more about how my favorite songs took shape, from the initial spark of an idea to the finished product. So I decided I would start a podcast to have a platform to ask these questions. It started as a bit of a selfish endeavor, just solely a way for me to scratch the itch, but it’s evolved into something that I think a lot of people seem to enjoy.

The first episode taped was with Nick Santino, formerly of A Rocket To The Moon, in November 2013, and the show launched in January 2014 with Joel from Good Charlotte as my first guest. The name was actually the hardest part. I probably went through 50 or so names before finally settling on Voice & Verse. I’ve always been a big fan of alliteration, and it just sounded right.

There’s been a lot of speculation on how people should and shouldn’t record podcasts, especially in the tech industry. What is your set up like to record and edit your shows?

I’ll admit my setup is pretty primitive, but it works for me. Most of my taping is done over Skype, which I then pull into GarageBand to edit. In terms of microphones, I like the Snowball, made by Blue. It’s a versatile little mic at a good price point, and it’s also compact enough to travel with whenever I have the opportunity to tape with a guest in person.

How do you go about choosing who you will interview? Do you seek out guests or just record episodes as you get the chance to talk to musicians and others within the industry?

I knew it was important to start strong out of the gate with great guests people would love to hear from. Fortunately, I’ve been able to build a great rolodex of band members, managers, and publicists over the years, including a lot of amazing folks who were willing to help out and be my guinea pigs early on – people like Joel, Brendon from Panic! At The Disco, Mike from MxPx, and Will from Cartel. Booking guests is a combination of reaching out to artists specifically and sorting through pitches to see who would be interesting. Plus, it’s a great way for me to talk to artists and songwriters I’ve somehow never been able to over the years.

Can you give us any info on who some future guests will be?

Oh, giving away secrets! I’ve got the next five or six episodes planned out and don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say I’m looking forward to taping with John from The Maine. The new Maine album is really great. I’m also excited about chatting with Alex from All Time Low in the coming weeks about their new record.

Hopefully, we’ll be doing a lot of 10-year retrospective episodes this year, too – chronicling classic albums from a decade ago. There are so many great albums from 2005, like Acceptance’s Phantoms, The Receiving End of Sirens’ Between The Heart and The Synapse, Thrice’s Vheissu, and Panic! At The Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I imagine you might see episodes centered around a few of those albums in the coming months as well.

Do you have any plans to change up the podcast in the future?

I think the podcast will be an ever-evolving thing. One thing I’d really like to accomplish is to highlight the amazing songwriters who aren’t necessarily performers. I recently had Sam Hollander, who was hugely instrumental in the late ’00s emo/pop-punk scene, on as a guest, and it was one of our best episodes.

Being a professional songwriter is tough work, and often times these musicians have the greatest stories. Many of them have even made it a full-time gig after being in a band for years – someone like Tim Pagnotta from Sugarcult, who just worked on the incredible new Walk The Moon album and has also written hits for Neon Trees. I want to include as many of them as possible and also really diversify in terms of genres. I would love a scenario where I can bring on a country writer one week, a metal musician the next, and a pop artist immediately after. I really want everyone.

What are some of the goals you have for the podcast? Any certain number of episodes you’d like to reach or any guest you’d love to have on the show?

My only real goal is to keep having fun with it. There’s so much to learn about songwriting – no two people go about it the same way, and that’s the beauty of the creative process. The show will break 50 episodes by the end of the year, which will be a huge accomplishment considering I knew nothing about podcasting going into this.

In terms of dream guests, I’d of course love to sit down with Mark Hoppus or Tom DeLonge; Blink-182 was the reason I started playing music, so to see it all come full circle would be incredible. Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies is another songwriter who’s work I’ve long admired, as is Aaron Marsh from Copeland, who has a very intimate approach to the craft. Butch Walker, too. What a songwriter.

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know about the podcast?

Thank you so much for listening. I had no idea anyone would ever care about this, so to see people excited about nerding out with me over songwriting has been very fulfilling. You can stay up to date with the show at voiceandversepodcast.com and on Twitter @voiceversepod. Feel free to send in suggestions for guests you’d like to hear on the show, too! I’m all ears. And thanks for the great questions; this was fun.

Making Of: Off The Record

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Off The Record is the next podcast for our Making Of feature. We had the change to ask Jesse Cannon and Zack Zarrillo questions about the show and they let us know what to expect for 2015. Check it out below! 

Let’s start with the basics, how did you guys meet?

Zack: I met Jesse when I was young, without facial hair, and without a blink-182 tattoo. I was 16, and it was the summer that Man Overboard released Real Talk. PropertyOfZack was in its first year of life, and Jesse had taken notice that I started posting about the band. The first time we met was at Fireworks’ headlining tour with The Swellers, Man Overboard, and Transit. That will end up being one of the most important shows I’ll ever have gone to.

Jesse: Yes, where as I hadn’t gotten my first grey hair yet. I noticed Zack posting about Man Overboard and recognized his site as having a good tone and a lot more passion about music than most others around. Zack came by my studio while we were recording some Man Overboard stuff and the fact that he could hang out and not be a total geek (while still being a geek of course) was real cool and left a great impression on everyone. Over the years we always stayed in touch and I began writing for POZ and it grew from there.

What are you involved with other than Off The Record?

Zack: I am best known for writing PropertyOfZack, which is over five years old now. I also am a manager for Synergy Artist MGMT and focus on Knuckle Puck, Have Mercy, Light Years, and Real Friends. I co-own a record label called Bad Timing Records with Thomas Nassiff. I am also the Label Manager of Jade Tree.

Jesse: I am most known for recording bands like The Menzingers, The Misfits, Man Overboard, Basement, Transit, Animal Collective, etc. at my studio Cannon Found Soundation. I also wrote a popular book on the music business called Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business. I am currently writing another book, LOTS of articles and producing, mixing and mastering far too many bands in 2015.  I should probably also mention I am going to collapse somewhere in that workload.

Who came up with the initial idea for the podcast?

Zack: I believe this was me. I had wanted to start a podcast for truly nearly a year. I just could not figure out who to do it with. I got frustrated one night and started thinking about potential co-hosts, and felt like a moron when I didn’t think of Jesse immediately.

Jesse: Yes, Zack approached me about it and I was immediately in. I had taped numerous podcasts before that and always scrapped them when I was unhappy with the results. Zack came up with the idea and much of the direction. We taped our first episode and it immediately worked, unlike all the others I have worked on. I recently threw out 10 episodes of my other podcast whereas I am really psyched on every episode Zack and I do together.

How do you decide which topics to talk about? Do you plan ahead or does the music news throughout the week help dictate what will be covered?

Zack: A little bit of everything. I, throughout the week, save things to talk about via Instapaper, or drop suggestions in the show notes. When Jesse and I pop on Skype, we talk for anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes about what we want to talk about, and then go from there.

Jesse: We have a Google Doc where we will paste ideas and occasionally something will come across the web that will blow our minds and we will text or email the other person. We try to plan a nice variety for the show each week and put a lot of thought into not making each episode too focused since we know not everyone who listens cares just about punk or promoting their band.

What is your current set up for the podcast? Is that what you started with and do you have any plans to upgrade the hardware or software you use?

Zack: Jesse and I both got Yeti mics to have the same setup. We both record on our iMacs or MacBooks. I’ll let Jesse talk software. I recently got a boom mic, some acoustic proofing, and other goodies.

Jesse: Yes I bought the mic Zack has despite owning 45 microphones in my studio, I wanted our sound to be consistent. I occasionally improvise when I forget my mic at home and have to record at my studio on one of my real nice microphones. We both tape into Audio Hijack and then I edit inside Pro Tools HD. I feel really good about our setup except when we get bad Skype connections. Can we upgrade the Internet?

Are there any plans to have guests on the podcast in the future?

Zack: We had one guest over the summer. It’s something we may do again.

Jesse: We talk about it a lot, but then there’s always so much to talk about and we get so many users questions it’s hard to keep up.

Can you talk a bit about what goes into making the podcast each week (scheduling, show notes, etc.)?

Zack: We usually record on Mondays or Tuesdays and release our episodes on Wednesdays. Being consistent is important. We originally started posting the podcast on Tuesdays, but transitioned to Wednesday. Show notes are important; they’re where we keep track of any talking points and links. It shows up in your podcast listening app as well. I hope to be more diligent on show notes in 2015.

Jesse: It can be real tough to find time that works for both of us. I can’t tell a band to wait while I podcast if they’re in the studio and Zack has tons of meetings and big-shot-suit-type-work. I don’t think we’ve taped at the same time two weeks in a row over the past few months. It takes me about an hour and change to edit and mix each episode after it is taped. I try to get rid of every long pause and the pauses when we go to Google something. As well, finding the time to read all the articles and sort through what is boring and what is new and fresh can be over an hour a week. Trying to squeeze that into a 60+ hour work week can sometimes be overwhelming but when we tape the podcast I feel really good about it. It’s a good break every week and we have a lot of fun taping.

Since you guys cover music tech, what are some of your favorite music tech items that you own?

Zack: That’s an interesting question. I’ll let Jesse just nerd out.

Jesse: I got a Music Hall Turntable this year and it has really upped my listening enjoyment. I also moved to a new apartment where I have a desk that I can put my Genelec 1030s on the table and really hear details of a record. I love my Apple TV so that I can pump some bad dance music through the apartment before I go out. I can’t live without Rdio’s new releases page or checking Hype Machine every week to find new music.

What are some of your favorite podcasts to listen to?

Zack: I’ll just list a few: Roderick On The Line, The Talk Show, Accidental Tech Podcast, The B.S. Report, and StartUp.

Jesse: Rachel Maddow, Serial, Desus vs. Mero, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Tim Ferriss Show. Also if you like ours you’d probably enjoy Bridge The Atlantic, Pop Cultivation, Nothing To Write Home About, 100 Words or Less and The AbsolutePunk Podcast.

Can you share anything about what’s coming up for the podcast?

Zack: I think we’re just hoping to be better, and even more consistent in 2015. I feel like we’ve really hit a groove over the past few months, and I hope to keep it going next year.

Jesse: Zack and I both started other podcasts. I do interviews on creativity on my other one and I am hoping with us both having other outlets we can keep focusing on what we do well. I think our rapport and humor just keeps getting better. I would like to talk about Taylor Swift way less too. Thanks for doing this, the questions were really fun to answer!

Making Of: Sharing Needles With Friends Podcast

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Next up in our Making Of feature is the Sharing Needles With Friends podcast! Check out our interview with co-hosts Gene and Derek. They talk about how the podcast was started, what equipment they use, and what future plans are for the show. You can find the podcast here and find them on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

How did you guys meet and what led to you starting a podcast together?

D: Gene and I met in high school. We have played music together and been in bands together for almost 15 years. We toured in a pop punk / emo band called “my lost cause” for 6 or 7 years in the early 2000’s. The podcast started kind of on a whim. We would sit around and laugh and bullshit about music for hours  at a time anyways so we figured we could throw some microphones in front of us and at least be able to have a recorded history of us being idiots.

G: We met in school about 15-ish years ago. We have been friends and bandmates ever since. We played in bands and toured together for a while and after that came to an end we would still get together and hang out regularly. Most conversation topics revolved around our love of music and sharing new discoveries with each other. One night we had the idea to just put microphones in front of our faces and have the same types of conversation. After we did episode number one we were both hooked and decided we should start having artist interviews as well as just our own witty banter.

What is your setup like for the podcast (mics, editing program, etc.)?

G: Luckily I (Gene) am obsessed with audio recording. I have 2 rooms in my house that act as a recording studio, a “console” room and a “tracking” room. Most of the live In Studio sessions are filmed and recorded in the tracking room while interviews are recorded in the console room. We use SHURE SM7b microphones and a Focusrite Sapphire pre-amp. We primarily record directly in to Logic Pro X in numerous ways. In live in studio interviews everyone is direct in. For phone interviews we patch the phone into an input on the interface, and for Skype calls we use an app called “Call Recorder” which we later sync up in Logic. We also have a remote rig which, which we used for example on the Frank Turner interview, and it involves a 13” MacBook Pro and a Focusrite Scarlett and it generally operates the same as in studio.

D: We all use Shure sm7b microphones. We run all of our content through Logic Pro. When our guests aren’t able to be in the studio we record their audio via Skype or run a direct in from the cell phone.

You guys have b-sides episodes that you post as well as the regular topic/interview episodes, what made you decide to separate and distinguish the two as separate things?

D: We really just wanted to be able to put more content out. On our topic/interview episodes we really like to focus as much attention as posible to the guest or album of choice. We wanted to have episodes that were very free form where we could just basically talk about recent music news and whatever else may come up. These are very fun for us because we don’t really prepare at all. We just hit record and let whatever happens happen.

G: Well, we looked at it from a 7” single standpoint. On singles, there is always the “title track” and the B-Side, which is of course the EXTRA song with the single. We thought it would be cool to do shorter mid-week segments with recent news and new music suggestions and just call them B-Side Episodes, because, well… we are clever? We THINK we are clever.

How far in advance do you plan out the interviews and the podcast in general? And how do you decide who you’ll be interviewing?

G: This always varies. Sometimes we end up booking shows out up to like 2 months in advance, all depending on the artists schedule. But, on the other hand we have had interviews that came together as quickly as “You want an interview? SURE, how does 8pm sound?” so we then just roll with it. As far as choosing guests it is a mixture of artists showing interest in coming on the show, working with some AMAZING publicists, and generally just trying our best to get some of our favorite people on the show. Half of the fun of this show has kind of become “You think we can get them to do it?” and we are almost always very surprised with the enthusiasm we have been shown from ALL of our guests.

D: Well that’s a tricky question. We try to coordinate the interviews weeks ahead of time. We are successful at that occasionally but sometimes it’s pretty last minute. It’s kind of funny because the last minute interviews seem to be some of the best and produce much more natural conversation. Mostly what happens is Gene and I will sit around and one of us will say “Dude, you know who would be awesome to have on the podcast? This person!!” And then we will scour the Internet for ways to contact that person or their management. I am consistently blown away at how lucky we have been in achieving results from this. We also have a few awesome people that will feed us great artists from time to time and that is a tremendous help.

Who would be your dream guest to interview?

D: That’s hard to say. So far everyone has been a dream really. It’s been amazing getting to know some of these artists that we really respect and enjoy. I would really love to speak with Ben Gibbard, Tim Kasher, and Colin Meloy sometime. They are all some of my favorite lyricists. Stephen Malkmus would be amazing. Pavement is one of my favorite bands and I love his solo stuff as well. Donald Glover would be amazing because he does so much awesome stuff that I’m sure it would be an amazing conversation. Dave Grohl would obviously be a dream come true to have on. The list goes on and on.

G: This is a really tough question. Ideally for me (Gene) I would love to have a chat with Morrissey, Thom Yorke, Noel or Liam Gallagher, or Leonard Cohen… but I feel like the chances of any of the above mentioned showing ANY interest in our silly Podcast is just obscene.

You guys have posted 94 episodes at this point, do you have a goal you want to get to or do you just plan on going with the flow?

G: There is no expiration date for SNWF! We have so much we want to accomplish and so many people we want to talk to! We are branching out even further by starting a record label to further share our love for the music we are so very fond of by releasing it ourselves to the world! Our HUGE dream idea is to one day support ourselves and live off of what we do with SNWF. It is not probable, but it is possible!

D: No goal. We have so much fun doing it that I really can’t envision us stopping any time soon. Even if no one listened we would probably continue to do it.

Can you give us any preview as to what you’ll be talking about next or who’s on the interview list?

D: We are currently preparing for our end of year episode right now where we will break down some of our favorite releases of 2014. We are hoping to have many past guests on to chime in with their list of year end favorites as well.

G: I can say that next year will be a VERY exciting year full of some pretty amazing interviews and SO much more, but I will stop there as there is LITERALLY so much in the works right now we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves!

Anything about the show I may have missed that you’d like to mention?

G: If you can’t tell by the Podcast, we love music. We especially love music on Vinyl and I don’t think I can ever express enough how much MORE people should view the LP as art. There is a feeling you get with searching, buying, and playing a record for the first time that can’t be felt in the digital world of instant musical gratification. Sure, all of those songs you love are likely there, but isn’t the best part about music a little bit of a social thing? Whether it is going to shows or hanging out with friends and putting records on, it’s a community and music can be the singular thread that ties us all together.

D: We are in the process of releasing a vinyl comp of some of the early guests of the show. It should be out soon so people should keep an eye out for it. It’s for a great charity organization called “the joy of music school” that gives instruments and music lessons to underprivileged kids.

Other than that we have some huge news to reveal early into 2015 that we are very excited for. I’m literally bursting at the seams to tell everyone about it. Keep watch.

Making Of: 100 Words Or Less Podcast

Up next in out “Making Of” feature is the 100 Words Or Less podcast hosted by Ray Harkins! Check out the interview below to find out what Ray does in the industry, how the podcast was started, and even get a look into what’s coming up for the podcast. You can check out the podcast at the official website here.

For those who may not know, let’s start with who you are and what all you do in the music industry?
A simple introduction is always necessary! I do many things in this strange musical landscape. My day job is the Senior Partnerships Manager at peta2, the youth outreach program of the worlds largest animal rights organization. In simplified form, I am the guy that gets bands, celebrities and companies to work with us on animal rights issues from animal adoption to veganism. I also help with No Sleep Records and growing their business from a consulting standpoint. I also help manage a producer named Beau Burchell (of Saosin fame) and finally, host of the independent music centric podcast called 100 Words or Less.

Where did you originally get the idea for the 100 Words Podcast and when did you get everything in place to start the show?
The idea of the show was born out of a previous show that I used to do with friends called First World Problems (if you dive deep into the 100 Words archives you will see those shows). It was a logistical headache getting 3 of my friends and guest together to speak about pop culture stuff peppered in with interview type questions. It was fun, but I knew I’d be able to be more consistent with the show if I struck out on my own. The episodes we were doing had a few month lull and I asked my friends if they minded that I broke out on my own, and the birth of 100 Words was there. That was close to 3 years ago now.

You recently did a behind the scenes episode with Tom Richfield, your producer. Was he your go-to guy as producer from the start? How did you two meet and start working together?

Tom is my hero. He got in contact with me close to a year after the show had existed, as I knew I couldn’t ask anyone that I knew to help me with this thing as I got it off the ground, but as the show grew it was apparent I needed help. Tom reached out as a fan of the show and offered his audio help, and the relationship blossomed from there. I shower him with free records, cash and whatever else I can get my hands on for his help. I’d move him over here to the US if I could and have him live at my house, but I can’t right now so I will only dream.

Does having a producer give you more time to focus on who to have as a guest and plan out the podcasts? Absolutely. Tom is the main reason that I’ve been able to grow this show as it’s really hard to pay attention to every single detail on top of editing and making the product sound good. It frees me up to pursue opportunities with the show I wouldn’t get to do if it wasn’t for his help.

This is more on the tech side, but what equipment do you use for the podcast?
It’s a pretty basic/barebones set up but for Skype/over the phone interviews I used a simple recording program that documents the conversation and turns it into an MP3. For “on the go” recordings I use a Tascam DR-40 and some Heil Microphones. My main concern is getting solid recordings that don’t impact the vibe of feeling like you are in some professional recording environment. I want people to be relaxed above all.

What’s the process like to get the podcasts posted?
It’s relatively simple. Record the show, send it over to Tom to edit/produce and then he sends it back to me so I can post it via a great service called Buzzsprout that helps us populate our show to iTunes.

Is there anyone who would be your dream guest on the show, but you just haven’t been able to schedule some time with or get a hold of?
I have been chasing down Tony Brummell from Victory Records for over a year now and he seems interested in speaking to me which is very flattering considering he simply doesn’t speak to the general public anymore from a press perspective.

What has been your favorite episode to record so far?
One of my favorites has to be my conversation with Davey Havok from AFI as he was so open to discuss anything about his life and share his views on many things that he openly doesn’t speak about. It felt very surreal to be in the Hollywood Hills, talking to such an influential figure in independent music about how much he hates “weed shops” here in California.

What made you decide to add a donate button to the show’s site? And what are some of the cool things people receive when they donate?
Donations are a simple way for people to contribute to something that they feel is valuable in their lives. It’s a simple way that most everyone who does something creative offers to people that listen to the show. It’s really rad the sort of communication I have with people who donate and then I become friendly with after the fact. Even people that give a few bucks, I kinda pester them after the fact because I am so grateful. People can get buttons/stickers of the show and even a chance to appear as a future guest.

To wrap it up, can you name some guests or plans you have for the podcast in the future?
I have a really special episode with Buddy Nielsen coming up shortly as well as a really in depth chat with Eddie Breckenridge from the band Thrice about so many different things. It’s great that people and friends are approaching me to want to appear on the show because they have something to say. I love that this thing has become a platform and that is very exciting.

Making Of: The Modern Vinyl Podcast

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We have a brand new feature called “Making Of” where we look into how music podcasts have been started and we’re proud to have Modern Vinyl as our first podcast! We hope to continue this feature with some of our other favorite music podcasts, so let us know if you have any suggestions. Check them out here and check out the feature below on how they got started.

How did you all meet and start working together?
James: I was dating a girl who told me I should start writing for Modern Vinyl, and since I wanted to get my writing out to more readers, I tweeted at Chris (who was and still handles running the site’s social media) to see if we could get me on the team. Surprisingly enough, I’m still here but the girl isn’t. Funny how that works out. As far as the podcast team goes, Mike hopped on to talk about Say Anything’s latest record Hebrews and he injected some life into our conversation, so I suggested we keep him on as a permanent member. Hey Mike, you’re welcome. Without the podcast, I wouldn’t know what Chris or Mike look like. Part of me wishes I still didn’t… just kidding, homies.

Chris: I think I initially met Mike through a writer’s call I had put out. His writing samples were solid and he started right away with some reviews and features. James reached out to me via social media, as he said, and he’s been a great asset to the site ever since.

Who initially had the idea for Modern Vinyl and what made you decide to start the site?
James: It was all Mike. Mike is the Mark Zuckerberg of Modern Vinyl. With slightly better facial hair. Mark’s got him beat on the brains, though.

Mike: Yeah, I just wanted to make something that would get me laid.

James: Probably should’ve done something better than this.

Mike: Wait…you guys aren’t getting mad groupies from this site/podcast?!

Chris: Haha, well, I had the initial idea, but there’s no real crazy story as to why I started the site. I was working at a small town newspaper and wanted another creative outlet for some writing. It seemed like there was an empty space (which isn’t common in this digital journalistic/blogging world) for a site devoted to physical media. Of course I was already passionate about vinyl records and the format, having a pretty sizeable collection, so it just seemed natural to write about something I was already into. After the first post, everything else (and the eight, nine thousand posts that followed) were history.

James: I definitely bring the angst that a music site desperately feeds off of. I turn twenty next week so I’m a perfect foil to Mike and Chris’ knack at being the podcast’s grumpy old men.

Mike: I knew about MV during its early days of white on black. I reached out to Chris when he was looking for writers. I was just out of college and looking for writing gigs to beef up my portfolio. I did a little writing for the site, but work and music was taking over my life, so I had to stop writing. When Chris and James started up the podcast, they asked me to talk about Say Anything’s new album. For whatever reason, they asked me to come back on and join the show regularly. 

Chris: I hate you for bringing up the “white on black” days. 

James: We could always bring back the first hundred posts of the site. Those are gold.

Did you initially know you also wanted to have a podcast or did that idea come later?
Chris: The idea definitely came later. The site and the idea of what the site could be has slowly expanded throughout the last three years. I usually don’t take on any expansion without knowing that our readers can support it, so the podcast only came about when I knew a large block of people would be listening. The first episode came about right after this year’s edition of Record Store Day.

James: I’ve been writing for the site since March 2013 and there wasn’t really talk of a podcast until a little before 2014 began. Chris and I bought microphones, and the result is now twenty episodes deep as I’m typing this. Like Chris said, we recorded Episode 1 of the podcast the week after this year’s Record Store Day and received so much feedback that we realized the support behind this idea was worth enough to keep recording hour-long music talks.

Mike: I was a big supporter for the idea of a podcast for a while, but Chris shot down the idea. I think even now, the podcast is morphing and growing into something truly special. We are friends talking about music, what more could you want?

Chris: I do shoot down many many ideas and Mike is probably right. Mostly I shoot down James’ ideas but sometimes I like to switch it up.

James: I’m going solo after this interview.

How do you go about choosing topics for the podcast? What about the songs you guys play?
Chris: The songs usually match up with a label we want to feature. The label will pick out some songs from bands they’re promoting or I’ll recommend a few tracks. They’ll also come from our sponsors at times. For topics, we really try to not put limits on what we’ll talk about. In other words, it doesn’t have to be vinyl stuff. It’s more of just a general music podcast.

James: For our “mixtape” episodes, however (the first was Episode 10, and our second is going to be Episode 21), we actually do seek out music to put on our podcast. Those episodes are a little different, of course, so the format Chris listed is pretty much the standard. We’ve pretty much been topically flexible since we started, usually dedicating an episode to an album we feel like we can discuss from an hour when the time feels natural to do so. Some of our episodes have surrounded recent news we’ve covered – reissues, fall tours – but overall, we’re more of a general music podcast than our name suggests. We also let the podcast’s direction come from reader questions at times. Yes, we really do answer those. Chris did blatantly ignore one once…but other than that…

Mike: Sometimes we’ll be inspired about podcast topics during the actual recording.

How far ahead do you plan out each show?
Chris: We try to plan it out well in advance, but it doesn’t often work out that way. With three people all having full time gigs elsewhere, it’s tough to be too far ahead in regards to preparation. We do plan ahead in regards to episode types, as we have “mixtape” episodes, interviews with various label owners and musicians and just our general format episodes. We’re generally on the ball?

James: Chris usually shares Mike and me on a Google Doc that we fill, over the course of the week leading up recording, with our notes. As of late, with school on my end (as a student), school on Chris’ end (as a teacher), and work/music/life on Mike’s end really picking up speed, it’s hard to take thorough notes, but I think if we did prepare more, it would lead to more structure and less of a conversation.

Mike: Our documents for the podcast typically turn into long chats over music. We use these conversations a lot in the actual recording. So some of it is planned, but a lot of it just natural conversation. 

This is a little more on the tech side. What equipment do you guys use to record, edit, and publish the podcast?
Chris: It’s a pretty low-tech process. Personally, I use a Blue Yeti microphone, along with Audio Hijack Pro to capture audio from all three Skype accounts. Then I just edit in GarageBand. People really try to overcomplicate the process but that’s about all you need to do.

James: I edited the “mixtape” podcast in Logic Pro, but essentially our recording process is so low-tech with Skype and varying microphone setups that it didn’t make much of a difference. I use a Blue Snowball microphone to record usually, but sometimes I have to record outside of my dorm room so I have used my laptop’s internal audio before. Chris forgot to mention this, but we use Blubrry to host and publish our podcast. We’re also available on iTunes and can be downloaded using the Overcast app as well.

Mike: I just sit in my really hot room recording on my MacBook Pro. 

Chris: Yeah, we should call it the “MV Sweat Hour” because literally all we do is sit in really hot locations (with the windows closed) and yell at each other. It’s kind of magical and loving all at once. One time James’ entire shirt had been overtaken by a sweat stain. Sorry James. That just really made me laugh that day.

James: What can I say? I’m hot.

Which episode has been your favorite so far?
Chris: That’s a good question. I liked “No Guitars Allowed,” which is the first appearance of our “Roundtable” feature. This is a more produced piece where we talk about a new release in depth. That was also the first appearance for Mike, who’s become a valuable part of the conversation. I also really like “Mixtape #1” which has 10 hand-picked songs from me and James. I look forward to doing many more of those.

James: I think “No Guitars Allowed” really allowed us to establish one of our best episode formats, the album roundtable, and Mike was thus there from the beginning of that idea. We also featured some great music from Lame-O Records, which I actually got permission to use after eating awesome tacos with the label owners during a day trip to Philadelphia. But, I think my favorite episode thus far has to be “These Are Dark Times,” where we discuss some really pressing matters regarding Urban Outfitters as a true-blue vinyl retailer (I had an excellent analogy about this during the hour; listen for it), shows we missed out on, and some great music from Park, Dads and Vasudeva – the last of which is great music to do work to.

Mike: Hands down the “No Guitars Allowed” episode is my favorite. It was the first episode i showed up on and it felt like a fluid conversation. Chris and James already nailed it on why this episode just really set the bar for future episodes. I also really enjoyed the episode where we go on a rant about Sizzler – we ended up naming the episode “Sizzler!” because of it.  The “feelings” episode we just recorded has a lot of good moments too. 

Any exciting future guests or plans for the podcast you can tell us about?
Chris: We’ve got a whole bunch of guests in the pipeline. We’ve got some bloggers, some label personnel and some fellow podcasters. Some big ones that I’m excited about are possible conversations with Waxwork Records and Mondo (I’m big on soundtracks if you can’t tell) and guest spots from the other podcasters in our scene. Also, another “mixtape” episode, some more fun games (Pick Your Poison is my favorite) and who knows what else!

James: I’m pretty sure punk celebrity and musician Chris Farren said he’d guest on our podcast sometime in the future – I’ll have to set that up soon. Zack Zarrillo of PropertyOfZack/Bad Timing Records fame expressed interest in coming on, so that’ll happen before the end of the year, I’m sure. I would love to do more “mini” podcasts – quick shots centered around one topic that can be digested in one setting. We’ve done our “feelings” episode (that’s Episode 20, if you’re wondering) already, so I wonder what things you’ll see from us next? More ragging on me I assume? Whatever it is, I know we’re thinking of ways to keep it interesting – and I honestly think we wouldn’t be opposed to any ideas we’d get from our listeners.

Mike: We have the pop punk themed episode coming up where James will go on a long rant trying to convince Chris and I to give pop punk a chance. I think it will be our 100th episode special. 

James: See what I mean?!

Chris: I think for our 100th episode I’m going to fire James. Like really go off on him. Oh, thanks for this interview by the way.

James: R.I.P. Modern Vinyl’s sex appeal.