Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tenacious D and José James

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jack Black
Guests: 
Kyle Gass
Guests: 
José James

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tenacious D on their new album and animated series: 'Post-Apocalypto'

Kyle Gass and Jack Black have been together making music for over two decades now as Tenacious D. Jack's become incredibly famous as an actor, and he keeps busy – he's got two movies out this month alone.

Despite this, Tenacious D is a project Jack and Kyle love to revisit. They're releasing their first album in six years, and putting together an animated series pretty much all on their own. They voiced all the characters in the series, and Jack was also responsible for the illustrations of the series. Safe to say their going back to their DIY roots! They've gone from playing tiny clubs in Hollywood to selling out 85,000 seat stadiums – granted they were opening for Metallica – but still!

The first episode for the new animated series, "Post- Apocalypto" just dropped on Youtube – with new episodes every Friday until November 2nd. In the series, Jack and Kyle survived the apocalypse, and the world is very weird now. There are monsters everywhere and Tenacious D is on the mission to change planet earth back to the way it was before. It's silly, it's dumb, and it's really, really funny.

This week, we'll talk with The D about this exciting new chapter in their music careers. We'll dive deep into their long lasting friendship, get the scoop on how the group formed, and they'll perform a snippet from an unreleased song. Plus, find out what was Jack Black's first paid gig. The answer might surprise you.

To mark the release of the "Post-Apocalypto" album they're also kicking off a huge tour all over North America – check out the tour dates here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Getty Images / Eva Hambach

The Song That Changed My Life, with José James: "Love and Happiness" by Al Green

José James is a singer from Minneapolis. He works a lot in jazz - collaborating with folks like Chico Hamilton and Kris Bowers. But his collaborators go beyond jazz – into hip-hop, electronic, and soul music, too.

He'll tell us about "Love and Happiness" by Al Green. José's introduction to Al Green was through the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack. Soon after listening to "Let's Stay Together," he fell in love with Al Green's music. But it wasn't until he heard "Love and Happiness" that something really clicked. He'll tell us how the song changed how he listened to soul music, and how it influenced how he makes music.

José James' new album, "Lean on Me," features 12 renditions from another one of his favorite soul singers – Bill Withers. The record is out now, and he'll be
hitting the road this fall
.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Instead of The Outshot this week we're doing something a little different. It's a standup routine from the comedian Ted Alexandro. It was recorded a few weeks ago at the Comedy Cellar, in front of the same brick wall that Louis CK stood in front of when he returned to the standup stage. He talks about CK and Bill Cosby, who was recently sentenced to prison for sexual assault.

A quick warning: Ted talks frankly here about sexual assault and abuse – there isn't anything too graphic, but if those subjects are sensitive to you or inappropriate for anyone you're listening with please keep that in mind.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Swamp Dogg and Joel Kim Booster

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Swamp Dogg
Guests: 
Joel Kim Booster

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: David McMurry/Courtesy of Swamp Dogg

Swamp Dogg: On His Musical Upbringing, New Album, and Six Decade Career

Singer/songwriter and three-time Bullseye guest Jerry Williams is best known by his recording name Swamp Dogg. He started in show business as a kid. He put out his first song at the age of twelve with his mom playing drums. Then, in the 60s, he was a record company man. He worked A&R, produced bands, and wrote a few R&B hits.

He adopted the name Swamp Dogg in the early 70s and put out a bunch of classics: "Total Destruction To Your Mind," "Rat On!," "Cuffed, Collared & Tagged."

His music is straightforward soul with a hilarious psychedelic lens.

These days, more and more people are getting hip to Swamp's music. His old LPs have been reissued and he's still making music! He's closing in on two dozen albums now, and just put out a new one called "Love, Loss and Auto-Tune."

Swamp Dogg tells Jesse about what's it's like to for him to still be performing today and, a time he was mistaken for being a white musician.

Click here to listen to Swamp Dogg's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Joel Kim Booster: On His Stage Persona, Defying Stereotypes, and Growing Up in A Conservative Christian Home

A quick warning: This next segment features some frank talk about sex. If that isn't the kind of thing you want to hear, just a heads up.

Joel Kim Booster is a writer and comedian. He's written for "Billy on the Street," "Problematic with Moshe Kasher," and Netflix's "Big Mouth." As a standup, he's appeared on Conan, Comedy Central, @Midnight and more.

He's Korean American and was adopted and raised by a white family in suburban Illinois. His upbringing was conservative and very, very religious - he was homeschooled until he hits his teens, and came out to his parents about being gay in his late teens.

In this interview, he talks to Jesse about his "hot" and "dumb" stage persona, his hopes for the afterlife, and the feedback he gets from other Asian American entertainers and his Asian American followers.

Joel's comedy album is called "Model Minority." You can find out the latest about Joel on his website: I hate Joel Kim.

Click here to listen to Joel Kim Booster's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Outshot: Simon Rodia's Watts Towers

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about the masterwork of a four-foot-ten-inch tall, 42-year-old, barely literate, Italian immigrant who wanted to make something big.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Director Nicole Holofcener and the creators of 'Lodge 49'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nicole Holofcener
Guests: 
Jim Gavin
Guests: 
Peter Ocko

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Writer and director Nicole Holofcener on her new film: 'The Land of Steady Habits'

Nicole Holofcener is a writer and director probably best known for her films "Friends with Money" and "Enough Said." She's also worked on TV shows like "Parks and Recreation," "Orange is the New Black" and "Sex and the City." Her latest project is a film called "The Land of Steady Habits" – it's out now on Netflix.

Nicole's projects are intimate and always feature strong female leads. For the first time, her movie centers on a man. "The Land of Steady Habits" is about a middle-aged, retired finance guy, named Andres played by Ben Mendelsohn. Anders is going through kind of a late midlife crisis. He just left his wife, Helene, played by Edie Falco. And his relationship with his adult son is drifting away – Anders is losing him to drug use. It's safe to say that Anders has trouble figuring out where he fits in these days.

Nicole will tell us how she adapted the novel by Ted Thompson into this very poignant film, and why she felt this was an important story to tell. Plus, she'll reflect on her childhood – when she moved to Los Angeles as a early teenager she couldn't believe that the guys on the Metro bus would be exactly like the jerks on the New York subway.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Jim Gavin & Peter Ocko on the new Television show 'Lodge 49'

AMC has produced some of the most stunning dramatic television programs in recent memory. "Mad Men," "Better Call Saul," and "Breaking Bad" come to mind – but they're television shows that are grounded in gritty realities. "Lodge 49" is one of the newest shows on AMC, and it's a drama like you'd expect from the network. But it's on a different wavelength, and it's very funny.

The show's about Sean "Dud" Dudley. He's a 30 something burnout who lives in Long Beach, California. One day he's metal detecting on a beach and he finds a ring. He asks around, and it turns out it belongs to a lodge for this secret society - the Order of the Lynx. Sort of like the Freemasons or the Elks. The ring brings him into the lodge, and before long, he becomes a member. He's fascinated by the robes and rituals, charmed and befriended by the members. He gets swept up by the mythology and mystery.

We spoke to Jim Gavin, the show's creator; and Peter Ocko, a TV veteran, showrunner and Executive Producer for "Lodge 49." They'll give us the scoop on all the quirks of the show, and their fascination with fraternal organizations. Jim Gavin grew up in Long Beach, naturally, we asked him some extremely specific Long Beach questions.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The Outshot: The genius of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson sang some of the greatest pop hits of all time, but who was the real genius behind those tracks? Michael Jackson, of course!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Sedaris and Paul Reiser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Amy Sedaris
Guests: 
Paul Reiser

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: TruTV

Amy Sedaris On Her New Show: At Home with Amy Sedaris

Amy Sedaris's TruTv show "At Home with Amy Sedaris" is up for an Emmy this year for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, so we're bringing back our interview with her from 2017.

Amy's made a career playing characters - and we say this with absolutely *zero* shade intended - people who are kind of grotesque and weird- the weirder the better! There's Jerri Blank from "Strangers with Candy" - a middle-aged high school student with an overbite, weird highlights, and a penchant for mom jeans. There's also Mimi Kanasis- the crazed, kinda plastic-y, socialite on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." On "At Home with Amy Sedaris," she pretty much plays herself. She talks with Jesse about how that's a transition out of her normal comfort zone.

Also discussed: rabbits (she has one), monkfish (they smell bad when they're dead), and Girl Scout badges (she has them all!)

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Paul Reiser on Dramatizing The Tonight Show's Golden Days.

Paul Reiser is, of course, a long time stand up. Alongside Helen Hunt, he starred in the hit sitcom "Mad About You." He's great in Amazon's "Red Oaks," Netflix's "Stranger Things," he was in "Whiplash," too. He's also the creator of the Hulu TV series "There's...Johnny!."

It's set in the early 70s, behind the scene of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Reiser knew Carson about as well as anybody could. He dishes on what it was like appearing on his show almost a dozen times, how the show came together, and what it was like following up a hit show like "Mad About You."

The interview originally aired in 2017.

The Outshot: Who Needs Donuts?

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Who needs "Who Needs Donuts?" You need "Who Needs Donuts?"

This segment originally aired in 2017.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Boz Scaggs and Comedian Maeve Higgins

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Boz Scaggs
Guests: 
Maeve Higgins

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Raffi Kirdi / Getty Images

Boz Scaggs on his latest record 'Out of the Blues'

Boz Scaggs is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He just recorded his nineteenth studio album: "Out of the Blues." With a career that now spans five decades - he's recorded psych rock, folk, soul. He's probably best known for yacht rock smash hits like Grammy award-winning "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle." Both tracks were singles on 1976's critically acclaimed album "Silk Degrees" – the record went platinum five times.

Recently, his work has steered more towards the basics: some blues, some covers here and there, lots of stripped down instrumentation. But behind all that has been a commitment to atmosphere and production - music with an aesthetic that's dark and unsettling in one moment, then in another tender and loving.

We'll listen to a few tunes from his new album, which features a collection of blues songs like "Rock and Stick" and "On The Beach" – a somewhat obscure Neil Young composition. We'll also listen to "Got You On My Mind" from his debut solo album from 1965. His debut solo album was a collection of covers and traditional tunes. This song was originally composed by Howard Biggs & Joe "Cornbread" Thomas. At the time, he still performed under his birth name – William R Scaggs. Boz says it had been decades since he last heard that song.

He'll explain why he pleasantly surprised we were able to dig up the song and play it for him. He'll also tell Jesse why he thinks his singing voice is better now than it ever was before, and describes the first time he felt like a musician.

Boz Scaggs just kicked off a huge nationwide tour with shows in dozens of cities. Check out tour dates here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Brad Barket / Getty Images

Comedian Maeve Higgins on her new book 'Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl Somewhere Else'

Maeve Higgins is a comic and memoirist, very well known back home in Ireland. She moved to the New York City about five years ago. Naturally, she worked her observations about America and the Big Apple into her set.

The new routine really made her question her new reality as an immigrant to the US. She considered what lead her to make the move. What it says about her. What it's like being in this strange, amazing city thousands of miles away from home. She wrote a new book about her experience. It's called "Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else." It's a collection of personal essays that show a touching, funny and really human side to the consequences of immigrating to the US.

She'll talk about her move to the US, how it impacted her personal life, and why she appreciates the openness of strangers she's met here. Maeve also co-hosts the podcast Mothers of Invention, a climate justice podcast alongside former Irish President Mary Robinson. She'll discuss what it's like to host a podcast with one of her childhood idols.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: Detroiters

Jesse explains the charming friendship in the Comedy Central show, "Detroiters," which, ultimately, is about two dumb dummies acting dumb.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Guy Branum

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Emily Lordi

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo:Jesse Thorn

Guy Branum On His New TV Show and The Importance of Being Charming

Guy Branum is a comedian, writer, actor, podcaster, and host of his own TV show: Talk Show The Game Show. He recently published a book out in stores now. It's called "My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un)Popular Culture," so we're re-playing our conversation with him from last year.

Before his career in media, Guy had his sights set on being a lawyer, completing a law degree and passing the bar exam before leaving that life behind. He realized he had an overwhelming passion for pop culture, and he began his career in stand-up. Eventually, he landed a writing and commentator position on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and was a writer on The Mindy Project. He is the host of Bullseye's sister show and Maximum Fun's own Pop Rocket podcast.

In this extended interview, Guy tells Jesse about his show and some of the challenges that came with creating it. He shares what it was like growing up gay in a farming town outside of Sacramento, his journey of coming out to his family and friends, and why he uses the word "charming" so often.

You can watch Guy's show every Thursday at 11/10c on truTV.

Click here to listen to Guy Branum's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Spotify

Cannonball: Donny Hathaway's Live

Academic and writer Emily Lordi makes the case for why Donny Hathaway's live album deserves to be added to the canon of classic music. She tells us why this 1972 record, largely made up of covers of other people's songs, is so essential to understanding the black artistic experience at the time.

If you want to know more about this album, Emily's 33 ⅓ book on the album is out now.

Click here to listen to Cannonball: Donny Hathaway's Live on YouTube.

The Outshot: It's Not Crazy, It's Sports

Photo: ESPN

Jesse tells us why there is no better person to capture the crazy things athletes and fans do than the documentarian Errol Morris.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell and Mike Pesca

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
W. Kamau Bell
Guests: 
Mike Pesca

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

W. Kamau Bell on his television show "United Shades of America"

W. Kamau Bell is a stand-up comic with a handful of albums and specials to his name. He's hosted not one but two TV shows.

In 2012, he landed a television show: “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” "Totally Biased" was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. And although he was the show's star, Kamau preferred to put the spotlight on his guests and just ask the questions--funny and serious both.

His latest show is the Emmy award-winning "United Shades of America" on CNN. It's up for another Emmy this year in the "unstructured reality programming" category. "United Shades" is basically a show about nuance, and about asking tough questions. "United Shades of America" is available to stream right now on Hulu.

This week, Kamau discusses his relationship with the South, his childhood, why he loves the television show "Doc McStuffins," and what it was like to be the son of Walter Bell, who served as Alabama's Insurance Commissioner. Plus, why he's really proud of his latest show "United Shades of America."

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Andreasilenzi via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Pesca on his new book "Upon Further Review"

What if baseball teams only played once a week? What if Title IX never was? Or if basketball rims were smaller than basketballs?

Those are a few of the excellent questions posed in the book compiled by Mike Pesca: "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History." It's a collection of essays from over 30 different writers - people like Robert Siegel, Nate DiMeo, Jesse Eisenberg and more all asking - then answering, thoughtfully - hypothetical questions about sports that range from the trivial to the existential.

Mike Pesca was a sports reporter here at NPR for a time and still contributes every now and then. He also hosts "The Gist," a daily podcast over at Slate, where he covers the news of the day. But most importantly: Mike Pesca loves a good hypothetical, and to argue about it – exploring every possible outcome.

Mike Pesca will talk about his new book, what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters, how he keeps up with the news for his daily podcast, and how his Long Island accent impacted his work in radio. Plus, what it was like to guest host "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me" and the outcry he faced when he interviewed Kim Kardashian West when he hosted.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: Remembering Aretha Franklin

For this week's Outshot Jesse breaks down "Aretha Live at the Fillmore West." This was the second live album by Aretha Franklin recorded in the spring of 1971 in San Francisco.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tracee Ellis Ross and Megan Mullally

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tracee Ellis Ross
Guests: 
Megan Mullally

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Megan Mullally: On her Childhood, The Return of Will & Grace, and Performing with Donald Trump

Megan Mullally is one of those actors who just kind of radiates confidence and poise. In the nearly 100 roles she's had on film & TV, that's made her stand out. She's kind of a character actress - a lot of the time she plays people with huge personalities.

If you're a fan of Parks and Recreation, you'll remember she played Tammy, the ex-wife of Ron Swanson- a kind of menacing, toxic seductress. Ron is played by Nick Offerman, by the way - Megan's real-life husband.

She also has some unforgettable credits on shows like Bob's Burgers, Childrens Hospital, even a few episodes on 30 Rock.

But she's probably best known for her role in the groundbreaking sitcom "Will & Grace" where she plays Karen Walker- a kind of deranged, sociopathic, judgmental socialite who works for Grace on the show.

During its original run, between 1998 and 2006, the show earned 16 Emmy awards and over 80 nominations. Last year, the show returned for a 9th season. Megan, who's already won two Emmys for her role as Karen, is now up for her third award in the supporting actress category.

Megan tells Jess about why she feels she was born - yes, literally born - to be in showbiz. Plus, she talks about the time she sang the theme song from "Green Acres" on stage at the Emmys with Donald Trump.

If you haven't seen the new season of Will and Grace, you gotta! It's free to stream on NBC's website right now.

Click here to listen to Megan Mullally's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Tracee Ellis Ross: On Directing and Growing Up with Diana Ross

Director and actress Tracee Ellis Ross was born in Los Angeles to music executive Bob Ellis and singer Diana Ross. Yes, THE Diana Ross!

For a while she worked in indie films and made for TV movies, then in 2000 she broke through on the sitcom "Girlfriends" - she starred as Joan Clayton. The show ran for eight smash hit seasons on UPN and the CW.

In 2014, she took on a role in a new series: ABC's "Black-ish." Starring alongside Anthony Anderson, Tracee plays Dr. Rainbow Johnson, an anesthesiologist who's married to Andre, Anderson's character. The show focuses on Dre and Bow, as they're called. They've settled down in the suburbs and started a family. As the kids grow up and the family settles in, Dre and Bow realize the life their kids are leading is very different from their own. The show touches on race, class, and politics.

The role has earned Tracee a Golden Globe award for Best Actress, and now she's up for the same honor at this year's Emmys.

Tracee talked with Karen Tongson, professor of English and Gender studies at USC, and co-host of Pop Rocket, Bullseye's sister show over here at Maximum Fun.

In their conversation, Tracee and Karen go deep into her acting and work directing Black-ish, and she talks about what it was like to grow up in a New York apartment when your mom is Diana Ross.

You can stream or buy all four seasons of Black-ish on a bunch of different platforms right now. Like we said before, she's up for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards this year. Wanna see if she'll win it? Tune in September 17.

Click here to listen to Tracee Ellis Ross's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesy of Entertainment One

The Outshot: "The Eye Has to Travel"

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about Diana Vreeland, the subject of the 2011 documentary "The Eye Has to Travel." It's about the life of Diana Vreeland. You could say she was a fashion editor, but that certainly undersells her. She is the fashion editor's fashion editor - a transformational figure who carried women's style from the Edwardian to the modern. She convinced the world to wear blue jeans and bikinis. She ran Harper's Bazaar, then Vogue, and changed them both forever. Above all else, she spoke with the perfect combination of audacity and charm.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jonathan Gold and Beth Ditto

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jonathan Gold
Guests: 
Beth Ditto

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Remembering food critic Jonathan Gold

This week, we'll remember the late Jonathan Gold by revisiting our conversation with him from 2011. Jonathan died last month of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

His work in food criticism was legendary. He was the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. His award-winning work regularly appeared in numerous newspapers including the LA Weekly. His articles and reviews also appeared in Blender, Spin, Rolling Stone and Gourmet magazines.

In 2007, his work earned him a Pulitzer. To this date, he's still the only food critic to ever earn that honor. Along with the Pulitzer, he was also the first food writer to be honored as a National Magazine Award finalist in criticism by the American Society of Magazine Editors

If you're not familiar with Jonathan Gold, a documentary from 2015 called "City of Gold" might be a good place to start. Or you might want to check out the segment he did for This American Life in the late 90's, which revisits his astonishing exploration of mapping Pico Boulevard using his sense of taste.

When he joined Jesse they talked about about the one food fear he just couldn't overcome, and how he discovered Los Angeles one meal at a time. Plus, he threw shade at the burritos from the Mission District in San Francisco.

Friends of Jonathan Gold have organized a online fundraiser to help his wife and children with funeral and other ongoing expenses. You can visit the page for the drive here.

Listen to this interview on YouTube

The interview originally aired in 2011.


Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Beth Ditto on Going Solo

Beth is a singer and songwriter. She was born and raised in Searcy, Arkansas and moved to Washington State out of high school and made a name for herself as the singer in Gossip.

The band first broke through in the early 2000s, coming up with dance punk groups the Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, and Liars. But Gossip was different – they were proudly queer, and female led. Gossip broke up in 2016, and in the wake of all that, Beth Ditto has released her first ever solo record called Fake Sugar.

In conversation with Jesse, Beth opens up about her childhood, from setting up punk shows in her small Arkansan town to her move to Olympia, Washington after high school. Beth talks about the process of creating her new solo album, and about her time fronting Gossip.

Beth's album Fake Sugar is available now.

She'll be opening for Sam Smith this summer. Check out the tour dates here.

The interview originally aired in 2017.

The Outshot: Sly and the Family Stone's Perfect Album

Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

This segment originally aired in 2016.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Randy Newman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Randy Newman

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Pamela Springsteen

Randy Newman on Songwriting, Authenticity and Baseball

Randy Newman is a legend: Countless scores. Dozens of albums. Academy Awards, Grammys, Emmys. A songwriting career that's spanned decades. He's written some of the best tunes to come out of the 20th century.

Hear his name and you'll start thinking about hits like "You've Got a Friend in Me," "Short People," and "I Love L.A." But look a little deeper into his body of work - it won't take much - and you'll find a songwriter and singer who's produced some of the most complex, captivating, pop music ever recorded.

You probably know this already, but just about every week we bring you a recommendation at the end called The Outshot. We can't think of a musician Jesse's written more Outshots on than Randy Newman.

Randy's songs are catchy. That's part of it. He grew up around the birth of rock and roll to a musical family. His uncle, Alfred Newman, composed music for some of the greatest films out of Hollywood's Golden Age.

And he's funny, but not like Weird Al or Spike Jones funny. There are laughs, but it's always behind a dark, kind of cynical side undertone; and he's got a genuine sense of comic timing and wit. His best work marries a love of modern pop and soul music, an intimate knowledge of classical music and The Great American Songbook, and comedy, which he says he got from his Dad - an internist with a biting sense of humor.

Randy's carried that tradition on for his latest album - last year's "Dark Matter." It's available to stream and buy now.

Also, if you live in LA you can see him live at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday, August 12 alongside a full orchestra. If you're up in Northern California, you can see him at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa on August 4.

In this conversation, Randy explains why, over the years, he's struggled to like one of his most critically acclaimed songs. He talks about how he's changed his approach to songwriting over the years. What's easier now? What's harder? And lastly, what's the deal with "I Love L.A."? Is it sincere? Ironic? Hard to tell with a guy like Randy.

Click here to listen to Randy Newman's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/GettyImages

The Outshot: Levitated Mass

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about a powerful and amazing big ol' rock that is Levitated Mass, a sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by the artist Michael Heizer.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

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