A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.
R.E.M. was formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck, and drummer Bill Berry. In 1992, the band released their eighth album, Automatic for the People. In honor of the 25th anniversary of its release, in this episode, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills take apart the song, "Try Not to Breathe." [more inside]
In 2005, Nickelodeon premiered an animated series called Avatar: The Last Airbender, about a young boy and his friends who have to keep peace and balance in the world. It combined fantasy and martial arts, and ran for four seasons, won an Emmy and a Peabody, and in 2012, spawned a sequel called The Legend of Korra. This time, the story was about a girl, Korra, a teenager, and just as the characters were older and the world they inhabited was older, the themes of the show matured as well. In December 2014, after 4 seasons of its own, the series and franchise aired its finale. It made headlines for the final shot of the very last scene, where Korra and her female companion Asami come together as a couple, romantically. Composer Jeremy Zuckerman used a mix of Chinese and western instruments for the series. In this episode, he deconstructs the music he wrote, reflects on the significance of that scene, and also what it felt like to close the curtain on a franchise he'd been working on over the course of twelve years of his life. [more inside]
On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart while reentering the earth's atmosphere. John Roderick, singer and songwriter of The Long Winters, wrote "The Commander Thinks Aloud" about that fateful moment. This episode was made from an interview I did with John Roderick in front of a live audience in Seattle, where we discussed how and why he made this song. [more inside]
In November 2014, Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan released his 11th album, called 36 Seasons. [more inside]
The National formed in 1999. They’ve released six albums, and have been nominated for a grammy. Their music is everywhere from Game of Thrones, to Bob’s Burgers, to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. In 2013 they released their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, which debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts. The band is made up of singer Matt Berninger along with two sets of brothers: guitarists Bryce and Aaron Dessner, who are twins, and Brian and Scott Devendorf, who play drums and bass, respectively. In this episode, Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner break down “Sea of Love,” a song that they co-wrote. You’ll hear how it went from Aaron’s original guitar demo to a densely layered recording with contributions from their bandmates and others, and they’ll talk about how collaboration is an intrinsic part of their process and their band identity. Episode Page.
Tycho is the project of Scott Hansen, along with guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O’Connor. I spoke with Scott in front of a live audience in San Francisco (thanks to Noise Pop). In this episode, he breaks down the title track from the 2014 Tycho album Awake, including a note he misplayed, and a vocal part you aren’t really supposed to know about. [more inside]
Stars is a band from Toronto, who have been making music together since 2000. Their seventh album was released in October 2014. In this episode, they talk about the inspiration for the phrase No One Is Lost, which is the title of this song as well as the album. And you’ll hear the original version of the chorus: one that they wrote, recorded, mixed, and finished but then, ended up changing completely. [more inside]