This is the podcast of the UK music journalist James McMahon. Former Features Editor of NME. Former Editor of Kerrang! Sometime writer for The Guardian/Observer, The Independent, The Big Issue, The Face, The Spectator, Vice... and more.
BONUS EPISODE! Jeff Wayne
I thought I’d repopulate this interview I did with Jeff Wayne for the old Spoook podcast that I used to do way back when. Conducted during the misery of lockdown, the audio isn’t great – I really didn’t know what I was doing when it came to making podcasts back then – and yet it really is one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had with a musician ever.
I’ve been a fan of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds as long as I remember. I’ve bought the record again and again and again, and the remixes, and the concert tickets, and the merchandise, and it’s a love that was put in place by my dad giving me the record - on double cassette no less! - when I was really, really young. I don’t know whether it’s because my dad passed away recently, it’s probably because my dad passed away recently, but I’ve been thinking about the record loads as of late. We went to see the record performed live together in London in the mid-noughties and it’s a very happy memory. It reminded me how much Jeff talked about his dad, Jerry, in this interview, and how making this record that’s endured all my life was very much a labour of love for both of them, something that they shared together.
I’m not trying to make any great point here. Just something about dads I think. And Martains. And I just thought, if you missed out on this interview the first time round, you might enjoy having the opportunity to listen to it.
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Episode 66: The Sheepdogs
For almost twenty years now, The Sheepdogs, from Saskatchewan, Canada, have made some of the best classic, seventies fried rock ‘n' roll known to man, woman or beast – and their new album, their seventh, released in June and entitled Outta Sight, is as good a collection of songs as they’ve released to date.
This is another interview I conducted a few months back, when the weather was ridiculous – though I did remember to keep the windows to Spoook Towers closed this time. Who better to discuss the shifting shape of the rock music industry with than singer and guitarist Ewan Currie and bassist Ryan Gullen? And, of course, as is traditional on this podcast whenever Canadian acts come on the show, we talk a little bit about moose too.
Some day I will stop doing that - but today friends, is not that day!
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Episode 65: Geoff Rickly, No Devotion
Do you think a rock band can be cursed? Sounds unfeasible to the rational mind, but how else do you explain No Devotion, the group containing ex-members of Lostprophets and sometime Thursday singer Geoff Rickly?
Their band was literally born from unspeakable horror, their singer has navigated drug addiction and an extraordinary union with the notorious pharma bro Martin Shkreli – and I’d like to direct you to episode 11 of Shame – also on this feed a few episodes back - if you’re interested in more to do with that madness. And there’s been muggings and broken legs and… I mean, begone evil spirits! The power of Christ compels you!
Few bands deserve more of a break than No Devotion, and, returning after a break of seven years with excellent second album No Oblivion, I thought it was time to call up Geoff for a chat about all of the above.
It’s a good episode this. Bit longer than usual. But I think it’s all killer, no filler.
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Episode 64: Winston McCall, Parkway Drive
Parkway Drive played London last night. I couldn’t make it, but I did manage to grab frontman Winston McCall for a pre-soundcheck chat about the worrying statement that led to his group's cancelation of their north American tour earlier this year.
“The relentless nature of being in this band has given us very little time to reflect on who we are as individuals, who we want to be and the toll it is taking on ourselves and our friendships,” they wrote. And then, three months later, came album seven, Darker Still.
What’s going on there? It’s all good apparently, but here’s Winston to explain…
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Episode 63: Badly Drawn Boy
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So, you know that Embrace interview I uploaded the other day? The one I’d done a month or so back, in the stifling heat of a vicious, ice cap melting UK summer? The one I’d left the window at Spoook Towers open during – not something I normally do, but I was genuinely fearful that I would melt and become more puddle than man if I didn’t. Well, this episode – with Badly Drawn Boy, aka Damon Gough - should come with the same proviso.
It’s not the best audio. It is, however, an excellent conversation.
Total transparency. Damon is co-managed by my wife. He’s kind of family, really. But I’ve loved his music as long as I remember. I think he’s a truly unique songwriter, but if I’ve got one criticism of his work, it’s that it’s slowed down to such a crawl, that 2020’s ninth album, Banana Skin Shoes, was his first set of new songs in almost a decade.
Not long before this episode was recorded, I went to see him play at the Rhythmtree Festival on the Isle of Wight. It was a remarkable performance, a reminder of what a special talent he is and why I just can’t wait another ten years for an album. I thought then, that it might be nice to have a chat for this episode of the podcast, and see how he’s getting on with that follow up record. Because we all need a little nudge from time to time…
The Journalist and the Pharma Bro - a conversation with Christie Smythe
This episode originally aired on May 30th, 2022.
Oh hello! James McMahon here. It's been a time! I’m currently working on season 2 of Shame, a podcast about... shame, but I thought I’d share one episode of it early, mainly because the person I’m speaking to today - the journalist Christie Smythe - is writing a book, Smirk, about her relationship with the notorious ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli.
You know Martin Shkreli. Hedge fund dude. Bit of a troll. Actually, and I say this as a Wu-Tang Clan fan, a lot of a troll. Massively hiked the prices of life saving pharmaceutical drugs. Went to prison for securities fraud, though he's in a half-way house now. You know who Christie is too. You read about her in the 2020 ELLE piece 'The Journalist and the Pharma Bro'. You read it (and in the unlikely event you didn’t, you should do that now). The internet went bonkers, and you probably had opinions about it and her and Martin. Donald Trump did. And Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders too. But Christie – who is a very good journalist and an excellent writer, it should be said – has often been shrouded by the hysteria that surrounds Martin. And so now you can get the truth about what happened when a woman fell for – and I quote the Elle article here – ‘one of the least liked men in the world’ by subscribing for missives from Christie’s book at smirk-book.com.
I hope you enjoy this conversation. Season 2 is coming.
Shame is a Spoook Media production. Spoook is also a record label, a promoter, a shop, a Substack - it's many things. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. And please do Like, Review and Subscribe - it actually really helps people find our podcasts!
Watch the series trailer here: https://tinyurl.com/7r326hhc
Brilliant conversations about music
The Tom DeLonge episode (ep 13?) is especially good
The Joe Rogan of music podcasts
James McMahon has been my favourite music journalist in print for two decades. And now he’s my favourite music journalist in audio form!
I love this podcast
So many of my favourite bands, and so interesting to hear what was going on for them when they were making the songs I love and to reflect back on complicated rimes. James is a superb interviewer too.