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John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Photo cred: D.L. Anderson
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
John Darnielle

John Darnielle began making music as the frontman of indie rock band The Mountain Goats in 1991. The band has since gained a cult following, and Darnielle has been hailed for his eloquent songwriting as one of indie rock's greatest lyricists. The Mountain Goats' newest release is All Eternals Deck, and you can see them on tour in the US and Europe this spring.

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest, John Darnielle, is both a member of and pretty much all of the band The Mountain Goats. For 20 years now he's been writing and recording intimate songs that are intimate in unusual ways for a singer/songwriter. Often written in the third person; often taking a form that's as much of a short story as a confessional. His dozens of albums have earned him a rabid following. His latest record is called All Eternals Deck. Let's hear a little bit of a song from that album, this is For Charles Bronson.

John Darnielle, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

JOHN DARNIELLE: Thank you so much.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

Carl Newman of The New Pornographers: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Newman

Carl Newman is a founding member and a main songwriter and vocalist of the indie supergroup The New Pornographers. He also writes and performs as the solo artist A.C. Newman.

Carl talks about the overlooked inspiration of songs you might hear in a grocery store and making the kind of music you love, whether it comes from obsessing over Pavement or Burt Bacharach.

You can catch The New Pornographers on a US tour this April. Their newest album is called Together.

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest, Carl Newman, is the front man and founder of the band The New Pornographers. For more than ten years now they've been one of the most popular bands in indie rock – out of Vancouver, British Columbia, they are a supergroup of sorts. The group features many leading lights of that music scene. Carl, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

CARL NEWMAN: Thanks for having me.

JESSE THORN: It's great to have you on the show. I was reading that you worked on a train steel gang?

CARL NEWMAN: Yeah, yeah. Back when I was 19, I think. It was my summer job.

JESSE THORN: What even is a train steel gang? All I can think of is Cool Hand Luke.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

Dan Charnas, Author of The Big Payback: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Dan Charnas

Dan Charnas is a veteran of the hip hop business and one of a few early writers of hip hop journalism. His newest book is The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Dan Charnas. He’s held basically every position there is to hold, outside of artist, in the world of hip hop; and has made the transition from a record company guy to writer. His new gargantuan book is, I think, one of the better books about hip hop I’ve ever read. It’s called the Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop. Dan Charnas, thanks for being on The Sound of Young America.

DAN CHARNAS: Thanks for having me.

JESSE THORN: The obvious question is: there are all these books of hip hop history, such as Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Brian Coleman’s Check the Technique and a million others; why did you think it was important to write a book that was specifically about the business side of hip hop?

DAN CHARNAS: That’s a really good question. I want to note that Jeff Chang’s book Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop was really one of the big inspirations for writing this book, because what Jeff did was - - he really wrote the first linear history of the culture and more specifically of the generation. None of the great books of hip hop really talked about how the records were made; not in terms of how they were made in the studio, but how the artists got signed, how they got developed, how they got pushed out into the world. But then the larger question of how did this obscure street culture that nobody knew about from the streets of New York become, within 30 years, the world’s predominant pop culture and a multi-billion dollar business. You can’t tell that story, which is a great American story, without talking about the business people.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

Comedy: Craig Rowin on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Craig Rowin

Craig Rowin has a message for the millionaires out there. Listen closely.

You can find more from him at CraigRowin.com, including information about his shows at the UCB Theatre in NYC.

Phil Collins: The Song That Changed My Life on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Phil Collins

Phil Collins is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, both as a solo performer and with his band Genesis. His solo sales total has topped 150 million worldwide, his sales with Genesis have topped 100 million, and he has won an Oscar, two Golden Globes and seven Grammy awards.

As part of our ongoing series, he chose "She Loves You" by The Beatles as the song that changed his life. Collins' latest album is "Going Back," a collection of covers of the Motown records that inspired him to become a musician. In recent years, a serious back injury has made it difficult for Collins to play, and he recently announced his retirement from music.

Click here for a transcript.

Scott Thompson, Actor and Comedian, The Kids in the Hall: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson is best known for his work in the sketch group The Kids in the Hall, whose TV show began airing on Canadian and US television in the late 80s and early 90s and continues its presence today. The all-male Kids in the Hall are renowned for their bizarre, compelling sketch comedy and portraying both women and men with equal aplomb, and Scott Thompson himself has played a variety of beloved characters from the Queen of England to the over-the-top Buddy Cole to the humble, everyday yes man Danny Husk.

Danny Husk is the inspiration for one of his newest projects, a series of fantasy adventures in graphic novel form. The first of those is Husk: The Hollow Planet.

You can find more from Thompson at his podcast Scott Free and website, NewScottLand.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. The Kids in the Hall are one of the most beloved sketch comedy groups in the world. From their roots in the rock and roll scene of mid-1980s Toronto, through their television program in Canada and the United States and through today, they’ve been known for some of the weirdest, most bizarre, compelling, hilarious comedy that anyone in the world has to offer.

One of the most singular of their singular members is my guest today, Scott Thompson. The Kids were known for their weird, strange comedy. But one of Scott’s most famous characters was Danny Husk, a man whose only weirdness was how banal he was. In this clip from the kids in the hall TV show Danny Husk is sent by his boss on a woodland retreat to find his inner warrior. The retreat leader is played by fellow Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald.

So it’s pretty interesting that Scott chose Danny Husk to build a graphic novel around; not just any graphic novel, but a fantasy graphic novel called The Hollow Planet. That book is in stores now, and Scott Thompson is with me today. Welcome to The Sound of Young America, Scott.

SCOTT THOMPSON: Thank you very much.

Click here for a full transcript of this show.

Weird Al Yankovic: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
"Weird Al" Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody music and the all-time bestselling accordionist. His new children's book is When I Grow Up. His new album is due this summer.

JESSE THORN: I’m tempted to say that my next guest needs no introduction, except that it occurs to me now that this is the radio and you can’t see him. He’s Weird Al Yankovic; probably the best song parodist of all time. He’s sold more than 12 million records, and now he has a brand new book for kids called When I Grow Up that was a New York Times best seller. His new record comes out in the summer, and it’s such an honor to have him on The Sound of Young America. Weird Al, welcome to the show.

WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: I appreciate that, thank you.

Click here for a full transcript of this show.

The Alumni Newsletter: February 22nd, 2011

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Barry Gordon, Co-Star of A Thousand Clowns: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Barry Gordon

From our special screening of the film A Thousand Clowns at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, a special podcast-only episode of The Sound of Young America: Jesse's conversation with Barry Gordon, the then-15-year-old co-star of the film. Released in 1965 and now out-of-print, the movie stars Jason Robards as Murray, a comedy writer who struggles to come to terms with growing up – something he must do if he wants to stop child protective services from taking away his adopted son Nick, played by Barry Gordon.

Barry Gordon was a child actor who played the role of Nick on the Broadway and touring versions of A Thousand Clowns before making the film; he's since, by turn, been a voice actor, a lawyer, the president of the Screen Actors Guild, a talk show host, a teacher and even a congressional candidate. One of his recent projects has been hosting Left Talk with Barry Gordon. We're very pleased he could join us for this special screening and Q&A, and many thanks go to him and the Cinefamily for helping us put on this event.

The film has finally come back into print - you can get it from Amazon by following this link.

Dick Cavett, Talk Show Host and Author: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Dick Cavett

Dick Cavett is best known as a talk show host who spoke with (and listened to) some of America's most celebrated entertainers. With a playful yet sophisticated wit, he hosted The Dick Cavett Show, which aired on ABC and on PBS from the late 60s to the early 80s and won several Emmys. His past also includes stints writing jokes and working with Jack Paar and Johnny Carson at The Tonight Show. He currently contributes to the New York Times' Opinionator blog.

In his newest book, Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets, he tells some of his best stories about his time as an interviewer and host.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is one of the great talk show hosts of all time, Dick Cavett. He won three Emmy awards for his shows; both on ABC, and on PBS. These days, he spends a fair amount of his time as a blogger-columnist for the New York Times. Some of his favorite pieces written for The Times have now been collected in Dick Cavett’s Talk Show. I learned in the book that I would be remiss to introduce him without also mentioning that he was State Pommel Horse Champion of the great state of Nebraska.

DICK CAVETT: Absolutely.

JESSE THORN: Mr. Cavett, welcome to The Sound.

DICK CAVETT: Gosh, thank you for that.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.
Click here to download or stream the audio of this interview.

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