Independent's Day Radio

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The music business is changing at the speed of light. The traditional model of the way music is made, distributed and enjoyed is going the way of the dinosaur, allowing independent artists to control their destiny. Want to know how it's done?Independent's Day host Joe Armstrong brings you independent artists, producers and music industry visionaries with in-depth interviews, live performances and inside information - without hype and direct from the artists who practice their craft.


  • Episode 205: Benjamin Jaffe

    Episode 205: Benjamin Jaffe


    Benjamin Jaffe spent over ten years as half of the Americana duo HONEYHONEY, making acclaimed records and crisscrossing the country playing catchy and memorable songs for dedicated fans. But every band has a life cycle, and after more than a decade of steady grinding, HONEYHONEY’s indefinite hiatus left Jaffe in the challenging position of having not been the primary singer in his former outfit. But the lemonade in this situation is that Jaffe is an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter, and performer in his own right, and shedding the conventions and expectations of a band meant that he was standing at the threshold of a musical tabula rasa. Jaffe took the ball and ran with it, and his newfound freedom to explore any and all disparate influences is evident on his solo debut album, Oh, Wild Ocean of Love. With Jaffe playing nearly all the instruments himself, smooth crooning rubs up against aggressive electric guitars, pithy and clever lyrics delve confidently into subjects familiar to fans of the best of Amer

  • Episode 204: Geoff Pearlman

    Episode 204: Geoff Pearlman


    It was a concert by glam rock juggernauts Kiss that opened a 9-year-old Geoff Pearlman’s eyes to the possibilities of a life in music. Guitar lessons soon followed, as did a series of high school rock and roll bands playing the usual Rush and Van Halen covers. But when most kids were picking traditionally sensible collegiate career paths, Pearlman turned into the wind and signed up at Boston’s Berklee College of Music - a breeding ground for legitimate musicians and a unique place to learn the particulars of the craft. After all, a profusion of musicians can play some guitar, but it is a select few who put in the work to dig in and play the instrument beyond what’s necessary to accompany themselves. A significant percentage of Berklee students leave before finishing a degree program, launching themselves into work opportunities - but Pearlman stuck around and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in professional music in 1991. He gigged in San Francisco for several years before settling in Los Angeles, a town wi

  • Episode 203: Robbie Fulks

    Episode 203: Robbie Fulks


    Robbie Fulks is a sort of latter-day Renaissance Man. After spending his formative years in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia, Fulks eventually settled in Chicago - where his fresh take on American roots music established his status as one of the progenitors of what would become the alt-country genre. Fulks' fearless and uncompromising approach to his art is exemplified by a longtime association with insurgent country record label Bloodshot Records and a friendly working relationship with firebrand Chicago-based producer and engineer Steve Albini. Over the last twenty-plus years, Fulks has released thirteen albums of his own, as well as accompanied numerous other artists both onstage and in the studio. Fulks is also known as a music journalist, having penned a blog and had his writing published in GQ, Blender, Chicago Reader and elsewhere. When he wasn't playing, recording, or writing, Fulks has hosted an XM satellite radio interview and performance program and spent twelve years teaching at the Old

  • Episode 202: Monks of Doom

    Episode 202: Monks of Doom


    In the great and colossal tree of music there are many, many branches - and out toward the tall leaves on the side that faces the highway to psychedelic oblivion there exists bands and artists that truly follow their own sun regardless which way the wind blows. Monks of Doom grew out of the late-80s California experimental music scene that birthed one of the original indie rock juggernauts, Camper Van Beethoven. As Camper started to build a fan base and garner industry attention, it seems that the band's peculiar blend of gypsies-on-acid folk and angular psychedelic pop weren't quite experimental enough for Camper members Victor Krummenacher (bass), Greg Lisher (guitar), Chris Pedersen (drums), and Chris Molla (guitar) - the latter of whom was soon replaced by their friend, session musician and eventual member of Counting Crows, David Immergluck (guitar). Indicative of their fearless approach to creating music, Monks of Doom's 1987 first album Soundtrack to the Film 'Breakfast on the Beach of Deception' was a

  • Episode 201: Mara Connor

    Episode 201: Mara Connor


    Mara Connor is a delight; she's a young singer/songwriter with the perfect bona fides to match her breezy Southern California vibe. Connor was born in Los Angeles to middle-western parents whose California dreams were big enough for them to chase them west. She studied theater in college in New York but changed tacks when she started performing with live music ensembles and she learned how audiences respond when you're playing yourself instead of a character. Now back in Los Angeles, Connor began working on her debut record and honing her songwriting chops, and although she's new to the game, she's artistically ahead of the curve. Connor's penchant for the heydays of California folk rock is evident in spades on her advance releases. The video for her premiere single, "No Fun," plays like a love song to the Laurel Canyon scene from long before she was born - the wardrobe, the roller skates, the pool parties, the yellow-sunset lens filter, the color palette, a clever nod to The Graduate, and the other star of t

  • Episode 200: The Teskey Brothers

    Episode 200: The Teskey Brothers


    The Teskey Brothers have been grinding it out in the bars and festivals in their hometown near Melbourne, Australia for a decade. While it's true that the four-piece is comprised of young devotees of the classic era of American soul and R and B, their reverence for the genre is far deeper than mere imitation. It's simple enough to learn some tried-and-true chord progressions and lean hard on the blue notes, but to so faithfully capture the elusive vibe of the 60s Muscle Shoals sound exhibits a musical maturity far beyond their twenty-something perspective. The Teskey Brothers - two proper Teskey siblings, along with a pair of musical blood brothers accompanying them on bass and drums - recorded their debut album, Half Mile Harvest, in their own studio - utilizing vintage recording gear to add an extra level of realism to their take on old-school soul music. When singer Josh Teskey's vocals distort - intentionally - on songs like "Pain and Misery," it's because he and his band mates took the time to learn the

  • Episode 199: Syd Straw

    Episode 199: Syd Straw


    Syd Straw released her first album, Surprise, in 1989. The record was full of earnest, broken-hearted songs with an impressive range for a new artist. The album's earthy tone landed Straw at the leading edge of the alternative country curve, and it led a seemingly open-ended invitation for Straw to lend her vocals to some of the best in the business. To name a few, Straw has been onstage and on records with Los Lobos, Wilco, Dave Alvin, Loudon Wainwright III, Leo Kottke, Rickie Lee Jones, Matthew Sweet, Van Dyke Parks, Freedy Johnston, James McMurtry, Marc Ribot, David Sanborn, Was Not Was, Victoria Williams, the dBs, Jimmer Podrasky, and The Golden Palominos. Subsequent albums followed in 1996, 2005 and 2008, and although releases may have been spread out, the quality of Straw's output never suffered. Although Straw is perhaps best known for her vocals, the unique and indelible spirit that she brings to a song or a project is what makes her a legend. She is quirky, to be sure, but she's also endearing, pleas

  • Episode 198: Davey Meshell and the TransAtlantics

    Episode 198: Davey Meshell and the TransAtlantics


    When Davey Meshell recently started a new band, the name choice was obvious; the handpicked members of the TransAtlantics spent their respective formative years on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean - in places ranging from New York and Maine, to Scotland and the Isle of Man. But the thing that unites them under one flag is a shared love of the classic era of American soul music. Meshell is best known around Los Angeles for fronting his black-leather band, the Neighborhood Bullys, which has a raw and uncompromising approach to rock and roll music. Meshell is at once affable and intense, and he grew up in a musical family - establishing himself as a go-to bass player for a number of well-known artists both in the studio and on the road. But Meshell's not-so-secret weapon is his powerful tenor voice, and it's that soulful howling that provided the genesis for the TransAtlantics. Whereas the Bullys' stock-in-trade is amped-up energy and catchy songs delivered at paint-stripping volume, the TransAtlantics turn

  • Episode 197: Chris Stills

    Episode 197: Chris Stills


    Chris Stills' brand-new record, Don't Be Afraid, plays like chronicle of a man who has forged his own identity out of a lifetime of unique experiences. Stills' family business is music, but that doesn't guarantee success or even acumen; stripes must be earned, and Stills doesn't take anything for granted. Chris Stills' parents are from two different continents with two distinct cultures, and he spent his formative years in both America and in France. After graduating from high school at the American School in Paris, Stills moved to Los Angeles and eventually to New York, playing in bands and honing his songwriting and performing chops. He garnered enough attention to get himself signed by Atlantic records and released his first album in 1998, after which he then hit the road - playing shows with The Jayhawks and Ryan Adams. Another album followed in 2005, and Stills found stage work in France - playing the role of Julius Caesar in a popular French musical, as well as landing a part in a 2010 French film. Betw

  • Episode 196: Chihana

    Episode 196: Chihana


    Chihana acquired her affinity for traditional blues and rock music from her parents' music collection - which would be pretty orthodox if it weren't for the fact that she grew up in Japan. She's a rare bird to be sure, but her fans don't listen to her solely because of the curiosity factor of being a young Japanese woman playing a traditionally western style of music - it's because she's good at doing so. To listen to her music, there are times when it isn't immediately apparent if she is singing in English or Japanese, which is a testament to both the ability of music to transcend cultural barriers as well as Chihana's obvious and considerable talent. Chihana's next goal is to conquer the American music scene, which, given that she is devoted enough to regularly tour her homeland of Japan by public transportation, should provide a suitable challenge for this unique artist.

  • Episode 195: Jason Scott

    Episode 195: Jason Scott


    Jason Scott is a songwriter who has built his growing career in music into a cottage industry, with a full schedule and an entire network of musicians based in his native Oklahoma and surrounding states. Some of the gigs are wedding gigs, sure, but don't let that fool you. Scott is no Murph and the Magictones. He's a very talented young artist with a perfectly-tuned ear for narrative detail. It's the sort of fertile territory currently being mined by rising Americana star Jason Isbell - and the comparison is apt. Both writers are staunchly devoted to hewing closely to honesty at all costs; and both have a preternatural knack for telling a big story with the smallest of moments. Scott has figured out a unique business model that allows him to help finance his original songwriting with wedding gigs, and his ever-expanding tours are a proof of concept that there is a market for artists to do weddings that are far more artistically gratifying than yet another DJ spinning "The Hokey Pokey" for the billionth time.

  • Episode 194: Leslie Stevens

    Episode 194: Leslie Stevens


    Leslie Stevens has one of those voices - it's a perfectly engaging throwback to Patsy Cline and the golden age of Nashville's musical matriarchy. It's the kind of voice that sounds good singing anything, and she's a natural with a melody. But the thing that keeps people coming back to Stevens is her songwriting. In conversation, when she's not giving a quick-witted running comedic commentary of the world we all share, Stevens can be almost quiet. Ask her about herself, and her sentences get shorter still. But when the topic of the art and avocation of songwriting comes up, Stevens lights up like a firefly - and for good reason, because behind all that elegant vocal phrasing is a powerhouse songwriter who has been known to teach advanced songwriting classes at Los Angeles College of Music. She's amassed quite a resume over the last few years, including two albums with the backup band she calls The Badgers, lending her voice to projects with Brian Wilson, Father John Misty and Jonathan Wilson, several placement

  • Episode 193: Sam Marine

    Episode 193: Sam Marine


    Sam Marine played in bands in his native Gainesville, Florida and New York City before landing Los Angeles a few years back. His brand-new Big Dark City EP is Marine's third release, and on it he has perfected his particular brand of muscular, country-tinged rock and roll. Call it Americana if you wish, but the genre has always overlapped the straight-ahead, cranked-amp jangle of the classic rockers. Marine knows this, and he smartly recruited Los Angeles' rising star Brian Whelan to produce Big Dark City. The result pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. While he's not on the road or gigging around town, Marine works as a bartender, and the cast of characters and late night lifestyle of the world's second oldest profession provides him with ample inspiration for his songwriting. The title track is a swaggering mid-tempo rocker that sounds like a lost Steve Earle classic. "Dawn Come and Gone" serves up a ramped-up, four-on-the-floor stomp tempo and showcases Marine's confident vocals with a bit of Sun Recor

  • Episode 192: Davey and The Midnights

    Episode 192: Davey and The Midnights


    Davey and the Midnights are a band. Sure, Davey Allen's name is featured front and center - and for good reason. His tight vibrato tenor and accessible songs are the focal point of the ensemble. But the Midnights are a band like Tom Petty's Heartbreakers or Bruce Springsteen's E. Street Band. Something special happens when they get together and settle into a groove. And although their music is billed as a sort of countrified rock, there certainly is a pocket to what they do. Once they get going, the band sits somewhere in the middle ground between the Grateful Dead and Little Feat, with a bit of traditional west coast country mixed in. Allen strums the acoustic guitar while he sings, guitarist Gregg Cahill's Telecaster picking owes more than a casual nod to Jerry Garcia without wandering off on extensive and meandering improvisational explorations, Brandon Conway's pedal steel employs a bit of the shimmery Leslie rotating speaker effect - making his instrument sound akin to a Hammond B3 organ at times, Corey

  • Episode 191: Mojo Monkeys

    Episode 191: Mojo Monkeys


    David Raven, Billy Watts and Taras Prodaniuk make their living making other people sound good. Their collective credits include albums and tours with Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Dwight Yoakam, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, June Carter Cash, Lucinda Williams, Mike Ness, Dixie Chicks, Richard Thompson, Jim Lauderdale, Peter Himmelman, Buck Owens, T-Bone Burnett and countless others. They're journeymen in top form, they're still on the journey, and they've been friends for decades. After spending so much time backing up other artists, they long ago decided to start their own trio, Mojo Monkeys, as a place to get their collective musical rocks off. The years of hard work shows in Mojo Monkeys. Unconstricted by a big name on a marquee, these guys can follow their own muse. There are funky grooves, and expert lines that duck in and out of a greasy and spicy New Orleans-influenced musical stew. For all their chops, the band never veers into ponderous wanking territory. Put another way, Mojo Monkeys isn't a side

  • Episode 190: Double Naught Spy Car

    Episode 190: Double Naught Spy Car


    Musicians make music for all manner of reasons, and Los Angeles' Double Naught Spy Car is what happens when four ace players get together to make music for themselves. To hear them doing their thing, one might think that the band has an identity crisis. Disparate styles crash against one another like an iceberg and an ocean liner - and the delicious challenge is watching the whole thing stay afloat. Begging a mixed metaphor or two, it's a musical high wire act that is a thrill to experience or perhaps a perfectly noir-twisted soundtrack to a Charles Bukowski acid trip. At a cursory listen, Double Naught Spy Car sounds like an instrumental surf band with a Zappa jones. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Lacques' lefty lap steel provides both dreamy "Sleepwalk"-esque melodies and ethereal atmospheric shades. Marcus Watkins' space invaders analog delay screeches, ripping solos and gusty chording complements Lacques' unique and individual approach. Bassist Marc Doten provides a solid foundation from which to improvise as

  • Episode 189: Suzanne Santo

    Episode 189: Suzanne Santo


    Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe have been making music as HoneyHoney since 2006, and they have three albums and incalculable touring miles under their belt. After over ten years of grinding it out side by side and making honest headway in the music business, the duo decided to get a little breathing room. Both Jaffe and Santo have things to say on their own, and Santo's stellar new Ruby Red is the first of these releases. Santo's solo flight started when artist and producer Butch Walker saw her play at a show and asked her to contribute to a project on which he was working. The collaboration was fruitful, and it led to Santo tapping Walker to produce her first record under her own name. That new record, Ruby Red, is evocative, haunting, and replete with a dark undercurrent that echoes the California-style stark sunshine noir that HoneyHoney long ago established as a leitmotif. Ruby Red's ten songs (plus a bonus acoustic version of the rocker, "Regrets") positively smack of longing - of both an emotional and a car

  • Episode 188: Ben Bostick

    Episode 188: Ben Bostick


    Ben Bostick's gritty baritone is reminiscent of Eddie Vedder fronting a Bakersfield roadhouse house band, and his songs run the gamut from heartfelt, aching ballads to uptempo ruminations on rural bravado and youthful sexual escapades. But Bostick is no bumpkin or bro country pretty boy; he grew up in the Carolina boondocks and studied English at New York University - and it is that juxtaposition of backwoods guilelessness and urban polish that has refined his lyrical approach to songwriting. He knows that a great writer must both ably write and sing a song in the voice of a narrator that may or may not reflect their own perspective. Bostick is more than willing to work for his success - either by slogging away at the kinds of typical backbreaking menial jobs that struggling artists take to subsidize their dreams - or more recently by busking for tips hours a day, several days a week on the Santa Monica pier and playing paying gigs far and wide. He's paid his dues playing varying styles of music as well - amo

  • Episode 187: Ronan Chris Murphy

    Episode 187: Ronan Chris Murphy


    Sometimes, when people set off down a path in life, the universe presents an alternate path. And sometimes, that alternate path turns out to be better suited for the person anyway. As a youngster, Ronan Chris Murphy dreamed of being a rock star, but as soon as he started playing in bands, he also found himself tinkering with nascent home recording technology - which at the time consisted largely of tabletop analog cassette multi-track recorders. Bands need demos, after all. His performing career was by no means a failure; Murphy managed to parlay his stature in the vibrant punk scene in his native Washington D.C. into tours - sharing stages with acts like Dinosaur Jr., The Flaming Lips, Gwar and The Rollins Band. As he rode around in a van rocking America city by city, Murphy's reputation as a producer and audio engineer continued to grow. At some point, Murphy had a watershed realization - that he got as big a thrill behind the studio mixing board as he did onstage, and he began to focus his energies on the

  • Episode 186: Gerry Spehar

    Episode 186: Gerry Spehar


    Gerry Spehar's story is unlike many others'. The first part is pretty standard for a young, aspiring musician; he started out on a Stella guitar given to him by a kindly uncle, honed his chops and hit the road. There was some success - he bummed around Europe, playing anywhere that would have him, and he then returned home and formed The Spehar Brothers with his brother George. They worked hard, earned fans and opened for artists like Boz Scaggs and Townes Van Zandt - but Spehar hadn't built the kind of career that prevented him from leaving the popular duo not long after he and his wife Sue learned that they had a second child on the way. Spehar's selfless, courageous choice brought him another kind of success, this time in the banking world, thus providing a stable, financially secure life for his family and affording him the ability to buy a home as well as a nice guitar. He never stopped tinkering with songs, however, and when their kids were grown, Spehar and Sue began to write songs together, filling th

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