Former Rolling Stone editor Rod Yates sits down with some of music’s biggest stars and behind-the-scenes players and asks: How did they get where they are today? What made them who they are? How have they navigated the ups and downs of life and their career, and what have they learned along the way? The results are frequently funny, occasionally heartbreaking, often educational and always very, very revealing. Come behind the scenes and discover what makes these music-makers human.
Alexander 23’s path to this point has been anything but a straight line. He was studying mechanical engineering at university before he quit to pursue music full time with the band The Heydaze, which signed a deal with Island Records.
When they split he decided to focus on songwriting and producing, but when he found that unfulfilling he returned to playing music and building his solo career.
It’s all worked out well – not only is his solo career flying off the back of songs likes "IDK You Yet" and his debut album Aftershock, but he was also nominated for a GRAMMY for co-producing Olivia Rodrigo’s "good 4 u", all of which we talk about in this interview.
Ken Casey (Dropkick Murphys)
Dropkick Murphys' 11th studio album is called This Machine Still Kills Fascists.
The record features a collection of Woody Guthrie’s unpublished lyrics set to music.
The seeds of the project were sown some years ago when the band befriended Woody’s daughter, Nora. Her son was a fan of the Dropkick Murphys and saw in the band a group of kindred spirits who embodied Woody’s everyman working class ethic.
We talk about that whole journey in this interview, as well as going deep into Ken’s life and career with the Dropkick Murphys, from fighting Nazis at punk shows to the DIY spirit that’s driven them from the day they formed in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1996.
There aren't many artists touring the world right now who can say they were once part of the Obama administration. Bartees Strange can, thanks to his time as the Deputy Press Secretary for the Federal Communications Commission.
He also worked in the labour and climate movements, but before that he was an active member of the music scene in and around Oklahoma, where he was raised.
He admits he strayed from music for a few years after he moved to DC to pursue politics, but playing and performing kept calling him back. Little by little he started to refocus his energies on his music career.
In the years since he’s enjoyed a steady climb up the indie ladder, and he’s now two albums deep into his career, with his latest, Farm To Table, drawing on influences as diverse as country, pop, hip-hop and hardcore to make a sound that is uniquely his own.
We talk about it all in this interview!
My guest for this 100th episode is bona fide musical legend Don Was.
Don was a founding member of Was (Not Was), and he’s a GRAMMY-winning producer who’s worked with artists such as Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and John Mayer, to name a few.
He’s currently playing bass with Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir in Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros, and he’s also the president of one of the world’s most famous record labels, Blue Note Records.
We talk about it all in this interview!
Marlon Williams' voice has been turning heads since he was a teen singing in the church choir – it was enough to convince Bradley Cooper to cast him in A Star Is Born, in which his character performed a beautiful version of Roy Orbison’s "Pretty Woman" alongside Brandi Carlile. He continues to act to this day, but it’s music for which Marlon is perhaps best known.
He was raised in the small New Zealand town of Lyttelton, and cut his teeth in New Zealand before relocating to Australia, after which he toured the world on the back of his 2015 self-titled debut album and its follow up, Make Way For Love.
Marlon now lives back in New Zealand, which is where he was when we caught up in late July. And while we talk about his entire life and career in this interview, we started by talking about his new album, My Boy…
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
When Orlando Higginbottom – AKA Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – releases his new album When The Lights Go on September 9, it will be 10 years since his previous LP, Trouble.
Orlando wasn’t completely quiet over that period, having toured the world and released a series of EPs and singles. But after the success of Trouble he went through something of a personal and creative crisis as he struggled to figure out how to operate in the music industry, which was one of the things that contributed to the 10-year gap between albums.
We talk about that whole journey in this interview, as well as Orlando’s upbringing in Oxford, his path into music, his memories of playing with Flume in Sydney while touring Trouble and, of course, the making of When The Lights Go.