Talkhouse is a media company and outlet for musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields. Artists write essays and criticism from firsthand perspectives, speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events, and offer readers and listeners unique insight into creative work of all genres and generations. In short— Talkhouse is writing and conversations about music and film, from the people who make them.
Kurt Vile with Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt)
For this week’s Talkhouse Podcast episode, we rounded up a pair of friends who deeply admire each other’s playing and songwriting—and who ultimately met because of a different episode of the Talkhouse Podcast: Kurt Vile and Julia Shapiro.
Kurt Vile first came into music fans’ consciousness as part of The War On Drugs, though it wasn’t long before he decided to dedicate his time to his solo material. He’s released a string of incredible albums since, including 2013’s instant classic Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze and 2018’s Bottle It In. As you’ll hear in this conversation, he’s been hard at work, writing "too many" songs for a new album. In 2017, Vile collaborated with Australian singer Courtney Barnett on an album called Lotta Sea Lice, and it was Barnett who turned him onto Julia Shapiro and her band Chastity Belt. When Barnett and Shapiro chatted on this very podcast back in 2017, that sealed the deal for Vile, who became a huge Chastity Belt fan—and eventual friend of Shapiro’s.
Now Chastity Belt, which started life about a decade ago in Washington State, has released four powerful albums over the years, most recently a self-titled set in 2019. But the occasion for this conversation is actually Shapiro’s second album as a solo artist. It’s called Zorked, a word that means kind of what you might think: extremely stoned, or maybe just completely out of it. That’s how Shapiro felt after moving to Los Angeles at the beginning of the pandemic, where her social circle was smaller and the world kind of closed in on her. The result is a weird, incredible set of songs Shapiro co-produced with her roommate Melina Duterte—aka Jay Som.
That might sound a little serious, but Julia and Kurt have a fun chat here, talking about how they met, how Kurt mistook Chastity Belt for another band at first, how Julia once crowdsurfed at one of Kurt’s shows, and Julia’s love of TikTok. She even tries to convince Kurt to sign up. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Kurt Vile and Julia Shapiro for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcast and social media outlets. This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!
A. C. Newman (The New Pornographers) with Liam Kazar
On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a pair of songwriters separated by a generation, but united by a serious dedication to the craft: Carl Newman and Liam Kazar.
Carl Newman—aka. AC Newman—is best known as the gravitational center of The New Pornographers, the lark of a supergroup that he started back in 1997 but that quickly found great enough success that it became his main gig. As you perhaps already know, the band also features the prodigious talents of Neko Case and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, though Newman does the vast majority of the songwriting. The band’s latest album is 2019’s In The Morse Code of Brake Lights, but as you’ll hear—maybe for the first time?—in this conversation, they’ve spent part of the pandemic working on a new one. If that’s not enough, the band’s classic debut Mass Romantic has just been reissued on vinyl, and in November and December the New Pornographers will do a tour on which they perform both that album and 2005’s Twin Cinema in their entirety.
Newman has also been spending some time on Twitter in the past couple of years, and that’s how he heard about Liam Kazar’s song “Shoes Too Tight.” Another Talkhouse guest from this year, Eric Slick, tweeted about the song, and Newman heartily endorsed it. It’s from Kazar’s debut solo album Due North, which came out earlier this year on Kevin Morby’s new label, Mare Records. And while it may be his first album as a solo artist, it’s far from the first thing Kazar has done: He was part of the Chicago collective Kids These Days, which also featured Vic Mensa, and he’s part of the band Tweedy with his pal Spencer Tweedy and Spencer’s famous dad, Jeff. But Due North is the first time that Kazar has been front and center as a songwriter, and he sounds like an old soul. Newman and Kazar talk a lot about songwriting on this podcast, and they also get into social media, Liam’s talented family, and lots more. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Carl Newman and Liam Kazar for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting services and social media channels. Today’s episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range.
Tiller Russell with Kevin Willmott
On the latest episode of the Talkhouse Podcast, Tiller Russell – the man behind both the doc series The Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer and real-life drama Silk Road – sits down with Oscar winner Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee’s screenwriting partner on BlacKkKlansman, Chiraq and Da 5 Bloods and a fine director in his own right om films such as C.S.A: Confederate States of America and The 24th. In a fascinating conversation, the two filmmakers discuss the parallels between their work, the theme of duality that runs through Willmott’s movies, making work that resonates in a post-January 6th world, how Errol Morris changed Tiller’s life, Kevin’s path to becoming Spike Lee’s collaborator, and much more. For more filmmakers talking film and TV, visit Talkhouse at talkhouse.com/film. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes of the Talkhouse Podcast.
Mac McCaughan (Superchunk) with Amber Tamblyn
On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a couple of friends who both happen to have new but very different projects out this month: Amber Tamblyn and Mac McCaughan.
Tamblyn is an actor-writer-director-poet-activist with a wildly diverse resume. She may be best known for roles on Joan of Arcadia and Two and a Half Men, but that’s only the tip of a pretty incredible iceberg. She’s written well received books of poetry—including 2015’s Dark Sparkler. She directed the 2016 film Paint it Black, which features a score by today’s other guest. She’s one of the founders of the Time’s Up movement and the author of a book about feminism and activism called Era of Ignition. And now she’s starring the FX/Hulu adaptation of the comic book Y: The Last Man, in which every man on earth suddenly dies—except one. It’s pretty awesome so far, and she’s great in it.
Mac McCaughan also wears many hats, chiefly as singer-guitarist of the long-running band Superchunk and co-owner of the righteously vaunted independent record label Merge. During the pandemic—after suffering a sort-of writer’s block—McCaughan wrote and recorded a solo album, though he didn’t exactly do it alone. The Sound of Yourself features a bunch of guests that Mac wrangled over the internet—one of the only good uses for that damn thing—including Mackenzie Scott of Torres, Michael Lerner of Telekinesis, and many more. It’s a quietly contemplative record that mixes McCaughan’s perfect pop with some more ambient instrumental passages—something he and Tamblyn talk about in this podcast.
Elsewhere in this lively conversation, we get to hear about how Mac and Amber didn’t quite cross paths during the pandemic, when he graciously loaned his house to Amber, her husband David Cross, and their young daughter. They also chat about writer’s block, and whether that exists, what it was like for Tamblyn to play an ultra-conservative in Y The Last Man, and their other recent projects, which include the score for Amy Poehler’s movie Moxie (for Mac), and a bunch of new books (for Amber). They also connect about ambient music and the sheer power of Bob Mould. Enjoy.
This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!
Kathy Valentine (The Go-Go's) with Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz)
On this week's Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got a fabulous cross-generational conversation between two women separated by a good number of years but united by a punk spirit: Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s and Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13.
It’s no overstatement to say that Kathy Valentine has a massive place in music history as part of The Go-Go’s, who burst from the L.A. punk scene of the late ‘70s and into the musical mainstream in the early ‘80s. They were the first (and still only!) all-woman band who wrote and performed their own songs to top the Billboard charts, and their debut album Beauty And The Beat remains a classic to this day.
It’s been an amazing career for Valentine and her band, some of which she recalls in her excellent memoir, called All I Ever Wanted, which came out last year. If you’re more of a viewer than a reader, there’s also a great Go-Go’s documentary on Showtime that covers the remarkable band’s career. This year—finally, after being eligible for 15 years—the Go-Go’s have been voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They’ll be inducted next month alongside Foo Fighters, Todd Rundgren, Jay-Z, Tina Turner, and Carole King. Good company. These days, Valentine lives in Austin, makes her own music when she’s not writing or doing charitable work, and occasionally gigs with The Go-Go’s.
Sadie Dupuis lived in Austin very briefly—the two get into that—not long before she started the band that would launch her career, Speedy Ortiz, in Massachusetts. With Speedy, she’s released three albums—the latest is 2018’s Twerp Verse—and as Sad13, she’s released another two, including last year’s fully vibing Haunted Painting. She’s also released a book of poems called Mouthguard, and perhaps most importantly, she’s been dissecting every episode of the Gossip Girl reboot exclusively for the Talkhouse newsletter. Yes, you should subscribe.
Valentine and Dupuis have a great conversation about everything from Sadie’s punk-rock parents—and her dad’s odd connection to the Rock Hall—to the Greenbrier alternative school to the soundtrack that Valentine created to go along with her book. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Kathy Valentine and Sadie Dupuis for chatting. If you like what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on all your favorite podcast providers and social media channels. This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme was composed by the Range. See you next time!
Revisited: Joe Pera with David Bazan (Pedro The Lion)
Comedian Joe Pera (Joe Pera Talks With You) and singer-songwriter David Bazan (Pedro The Lion) have elevated self-aware open-heartedness and detailed observation of humanity into, well, art. When David discovered Joe's show, he fell for it hard, and reached out to Talkhouse to see if we could arrange a convo. We loved the idea, and think you'll really enjoy the result.
Joe and David discuss a lot, including: their granular writing techniques; appreciating the gentle joys of life, like wearing green hats on St. Patrick’s day; how some performers only achieve their maximum authenticity onstage; and why live performers must be doms.
Check it out, and subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes of the Talkhouse Podcast.