I'm a researcher.
If anything interests me in the least, I find out more about it. The more interesting, pertinent, relevant or time-sensitive, the deeper I go. It's ingrained in me to ascertain much information as possible (or at least feasible given whatever constraints) about anything I care about.
When I first really got into music, I'd do my damnedest to research different aspects of specifics I was interested in. The problem I encountered was there was little to be found. The Internet was in its infancy then (this would be early-mid '90s), so my info was relegated to very-difficult-to-find magazines, even-more-difficult-to-find books, zines, liner notes and second hand info and stories.
These were also times when one had to actually engage with others to ascertain information about bands who weren't on an Epitaph-esque or higher level of label. There was footwork involved. Local bands? Better find someone in the know. I digress.
First hand info was next to impossible to come by where I was, but I took any opportunity that presented itself to ask questions and get answers straight from the source. I started going to music festivals and realized I could bug the shit out of a lot more people. A great deal of folks took inordinate amounts of time out of their day to listen to me tell them how great they were before asking the most obnoxiously specific questions I could think of. I'm excitable.
Fast forward to now - I've damn near accidentally contacted these same folks; tags on social media, sharing of stuffs and whatnot. It's not uncommon to see a notification from someone who's music I dig, only to think, "Did I contact them at some point?"
The idea in bringing this up is to highlight my favorite area to glean more information about the music I'm so fond of: podcasts.
I've mentioned this before, even had a few podcasters I admire submit to interviews and such, but I really want to highlight why the podcast medium is so great for the music medium.
There are certain intricacies in tone of voice that require exponentially more typed out words to get across, often still without doing them justice. Hearing the excitement, musing, hope, sadness, humor, etc. while listening to someone talk about what was, is and will be just does wonders for me. Especially if it's someone I desperately want to hear more from.
Over the last few years, the podcast medium has really taken off, and with it more and more guests, both niche and broad, have been shedding light on their experiences. And you can just download it on your phone or computer or similar device and listen to it whenever you want! I'm still excitable. Sue me.
Maybe I appreciate this so much because of my age, where I can still accurately recall just how difficult it was to come across any of this information I now get so easily. For that matter, I can now get any of those albums I could never find, were so rare I didn't know of them, or I had completely forgotten about. Luddites, I feel you, but I'm excited every day about all of this.
When I go to update my absurdly long podcast list, I get unbelievably excited when a new episode of a music podcast I love pops up. Sometimes time doesn't allow for more than a select few to be ingested, but there's something to be gleaned from, literally, every single one. Everyone's different experiences make up the whole, so even those I'm unfamiliar with or not terribly excited about are still giant wells of information, first hand no less.
At least one podcast exists for damn near anything you're interested in. Looking for new music or ideas for stuff to listen to? You have choices. A lot of them. Want to know what's going on with your "where are they now"s? Type a name into the search bar. They'll probably pop up on someone's podcast. Maybe they have their own! Don't care what anyone has to say and only want to hear music? Someone has curated a show for you.
I'm still somewhat in disbelief. Podcasting seems like it was built for people like me. I should probably get to the point.
I lost my driver's license about 9 years ago for reasons that aren't what you think, but were nonetheless valid. Due to this, I spent a lot of time on public transit, so I bought an iPod. I was always looking for new stuff to listen to, and came across podcasts fairly early in the formation of the medium. From this, I was provided with an endless amount of free content that I could specify to my liking. I could use it for research, comedy, music, whatever I wanted.
As time went on and life threw an unusually heavy amount of curveballs at me and mine, I had less and less time to give in person to anyone, and my social contact was relegated mostly to online activities and other things I could do either at home or in the car. One upside of that is I'm writing this, some 200+ articles and posts into my tenure at Sound Convictions. The other upside is all the music and podcasts I get to listen to.
These people who give of their time and resources to bring content into the world in support of things they love have really meant a lot to me. I've made some wonderful friends over time because of the large context these folks play into in my life. You may have your version of celebrity; mine is the folks who support music worth supporting, either by playing it, promoting it, ingesting it, buying it, showing up for it and, in this instance, doing podcasts about it.
These are the people I can get behind. These are they who labor out of love.
These are people and shows I've formed relationships with. These are people who pay for you to have content for your listening pleasure. Sure, it seems disposable to some, but so does everything I put out there. To us who do it because we care, this isn't disposable; this means everything to us. This is how we give back.
Oh, man. You're still reading. Sorry about all that.
Since it's been almost exactly 2 years since I really dug into this area of music, I thought I'd go back to the initial 6 I made mention of , along with several more I've been digging since, with a few new words to give you an idea of what they're about and what you're in for. Also, these are all available with a very quick search on iTunes or whatever app you utilize for such things. The links provided are to the official (or closest I can come to official) site.
KEXP Live Performances
This comes from a listener-funded radio station in Seattle and has possibly the highest audio quality of any music podcast, period. Acts playing in or living in the area stop by for 20 minutes to a half hour, play a few songs and talk a little about what they're up to or about the songs they're playing. This is the podcast equivalent of Vice or Stereogum, as far as guests are concerned, but getting to hear acoustic or just different versions of songs is pretty awesome, if there's someone on you deem interesting.
Nothing To Write Home About
Matt Pryor's (The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, Lasorda, Terrible Twos, solo work, generally awesome person) when-he-feels-like-it show contains some of the better behind-the-scenes talk regarding varying facets of the music industry. At the same time, he's something of a Marc Maron-esque figure, in that he's very quick to question anything that doesn't make sense to him, rather than the ego stroking one may find on like-minded podcasts. Also like Maron, his growth as a podcaster and empath is notable since starting this show.
As previously stated, this is about half for those who like to keep up with news and editorial within today's punk-related scene, and half for general punk rock enthusiasts. Lots of short interviews, song premieres, etc. Sometimes they're worth listening all the way through for, sometimes not, entirely depending on how much you care about "punk news".
Food Is The New Rock
The idea behind FITNR is so brilliant that I'm surprised I don't listen religiously. The idea is to talk to musicians about food and chefs/food celebs about music. Maybe I don't take them all in because there's more of an overall emphasis on food, something I'm far less discrete about, but the quality of the show is almost incomparable within the realm of like-minded programs. If you like both of those things talked about at length by folks who have great things to say in regard to both, I highly recommend this show. If not, pick through guests, as I'm sure you'll encounter a few to your liking/curiosity.
Washed Up Emo
Tom Mullen's righteous crusade to ensure the golden age of emo's memory is kept in appropriate perspective and reverence hasn't gone unnoticed by an ever-increasing number of fans and musicians alike. Washed Up Emo's love, care and sheer force of will have served the emo community well, giving it something of a hub for both young and old with equal respect for both.
100 Words Or Less
Ray Harkins' brainchild is one of the few podcasts of which I'll heartily suggest you listen to every episode. If you have any interest at all in any aspect of independent music or the culture therein, these conversations are invaluable for their takes on scene history, stories and ideas. There is a cross-correlation between damn near every aspect of scenes within the indie music world, and the insights found here alone are worth your time. Also, the website is its own force to be reckoned with.
The titular Jonah Ray (The Nerdist podcast, The Meltdown) and friends provide an almost entirely listener-provided amalgam of songs to soundtrack their otherwise mostly nonsensical, inebriated inside jokes. Guests are random and occasionally of household name status, although you just have to listen to find out because they don't bother telling you beforehand, aside from an occasional hint in the episode title. You'll have to determine for yourself if this is your cup of tea, but the music tends to be pretty great and of the variety you'd probably not stumble across.
This Is Rad!
Slight conflict of interest aside, my buddy Kyle Clark (who you may recognize as the fellow laughing in the background of most of The Nerdist podcasts), alongside Matthew Burnside and Natalie Hazen (Nerdterns) discuss one rad topic an episode, usually with a guest or two. The subject matter varies episode to episode, but when music gets discussed, I promise you there will be something there you've never considered. Kyle alone is a genius and human encyclopedia of everything, and combining him with anything/one of interest just may blow your mind. Just look for an episode centered around some aspect of music.
Dying Scene Podcast
The good folks at by far the furthest-reaching and granular news source for punk-related goings on do interviews, album reviews, curate playlists, etc. Basically, they're you and your friends bullshitting about music, only taken very seriously and in a celebratory manner by those who genuinely love it and dig deep.
Jake Bannon (Converge, Deathwish Records, tons of other cool stuff) talks to folks involved in hardcore, a lot of the time centered around the Deathwish community. If either of those things piques your interest, you'll love this. If not, chances are you'll get nothing out of it whatsoever, although I recommend giving a couple episodes a try. You never know when interesting info will pop up.
Hymns To The Dead Goddess
Even more specific comes a podcast not updated for over a year, but stands as an indispensable piece of history. Up for you to lose months researching, inside Hymns are contained some of the most dug for, sought out, how-the-fuck-did-you-ever-come-across-this-amazing-shit music I've ever encountered. Lovingly curated metal, crust and the like that was a better resource for new (or new-to-you), interesting music than all of your friends combined. Your most high-quality, obscure-reference-oriented go-tos have never even heard of this stuff. Absolutely indispensable, provided that's your bag. And it's entirely focused on the women who provide the music. Does it get better than this? I don't know. All praise to Lilith.