By Chris Bowman
In a continuing effort to initiate the uninitiated, we bring you a brief conversation with the UK side of this month’s installment of International Waters. Holly Walsh may be best known as the comedian who broke her elbow on a very public stage. Or possibly for her Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer nominated show Hollycopter. She’s appeared on many British panel shows including the pop music quiz show Nevermind the Buzzcocks and 8 Out of 10 Cats. Tom Allen is a Fringe festival veteran. After six consecutive appearances, he decided to sit it out this year. He’s a regular cast member on the BBC Radio Four show Bleak Expectations. He also writes and presents the show Dictionary Corner.
There’s a disturbing trend with the comedians who have been on this show. They are all exceedingly nice. Which begs the question: "What do they know that we don’t know?" For now, I think it’s residual Olympic fever.
International Waters: Holly, you are only the second repeat guest to appear on International Waters. Please describe how it feels.
Holly Walsh: Well, I feel like the first time I learned a great deal. Also, I’ve watched a lot of the Olympics, so I’m going to use some sporting phrases. I feel like I did enough in the first to get me through to the second one. But right now, I’m going to dig deep, I’m going to look forward, and I’m just going to do the best I can.
John Roderick is the lead vocalist and main songwriter for Seattle-based band The Long Winters. Roderick’s lyrics are razor sharp, highly sing-alongable, and often detail the sweetness and the struggle of relationships. In short, the man can write a mean pop song. The Long Winters is recording the follow-up to 2006's Putting The Days To Bed, due out in late spring 2010. I spoke to Roderick about the new record and the band's new, loose approach to the singing-songwriting exercise. As for the new sound, it's familiar, but not too familiar. But not too not familiar.
Chris Bowman: One thing that comes up again and again when speaking to creative types is procrastination. It’s ever present when trying to get things done. You allude to it in 13 Songs, the series documenting the creative process behind The Long Winters new record. What does procrastination mean to you?
John Roderick: I often get down on myself for procrastinating, chiding myself for laziness, calling myself a do-nothing, but then I'll have an intense burst of creativity seemingly out of nowhere. Procrastinating is very hard to distinguish from ruminating. I'd like to just call them synonymous and be done with it, but unfortunately the world works on deadlines and people want their favorite artists to make new stuff NOW!
I'm slow, I think about stuff a long time before I lift a finger, and I rewrite stuff that other people might consider finished. It looks like I'm avoiding work, and I joke about it, but I'm working.
To find out more about the new Long Winters record click Read More
Heather B. Armstrong is the creator of Dooce and is considered a pioneer of the “mommy blog” movement. She is the author of three books, including the most recent It Sucked and Then I Cried. Armstrong has faced more than a few challenges in her past including battling a sever bout of postpartum depression and denouncing Mormonism. The popularity of Dooce over the years has allowed Armstrong to turn a one-time hobby into a full-time career. Armstrong spoke with me about, blogging boundaries, the perks of running her own business, and turning hate into charity.
Chris Bowman: I watched the Today Show interview from last year featuring “Mom Bloggers”. One of the questions addressed the notion that what’s said on the blogs will live on forever. The response was that one needs to be comfortable with whatever it is they’re writing at the time, and to be sure they’ll be comfortable reading in five or ten years. Do you agree with that?
Heather Armstrong: I do. It’s a really layered answer to this question. My critics bring up this question all the time, saying that I’m violating my daughter’s privacy, saying that I’m giving all of her potential enemies this fuel to use against her in the future. First of all I think that privacy and the notion of privacy and information on the Internet is rapidly changing, especially this generation and next generation. And mommy blogging is becoming, much more mainstream than it used to be. A lot of us are writing about our children and the thing is, people have been writing about their children for years and years and have been using their family and children as material for books and comedy routines for many many years and I wonder if they’ve faced the same questions. I mean, their books will live on for eternity, the same as whatever is put online.
To find out more from Heather B. Armstrong click Read More.
We here at Maximum Fun do our best to bring you all things awesome. We look far and wide. But sometimes awesome is closer than we realize. Neil Pasricha is the creator of the 1000 Awesome Things blog. It’s a countdown of all the awesome things that we come across in our daily lives that we may not always acknowledge. Some of them you’ll immediately identify with, and others you’ll think to yourself, “Oh yeah! That IS awesome.” Pasricha spoke with me about awesome smells, chicken wings, and the kindness of people.
Chris Bowman: 1000 Awesome Things was originally started as a diversion from all the bad news that seems to circulate every hour of every day. How did you settle on this idea?
Neil Pasricha: Well basically, I started in June of 2008. At that time, if you flipped open the newspaper it was filled with the same stuff every day. The polar ice caps were melting, there were pirates storming the seas, the economy was on the verge of collapse, and there were wars going on all over the world. Everything was so heavy. 1000 Awesome Things was meant to be that one little place where we turn the lights out, put a blanket over our heads, and just talk about popping bubble wrap, or snow days, or the smell of a bakery.
To find out what else Neil Pasricha has to say click Read More
Ernest Greene a.k.a. Washed Out is a 26-year-old musician from Perry, Georgia. Greene has been making music for the last few years, but in recent months people have really begun to take notice of the magic he creates within the confines of his bedroom. His music sounds like a hazy, sun-soaked, 80’s synth-pop dream. The Life Of Leisure e.p. is available now digitally and through Mexican Summer in early October. If you’re looking to stretch out the remaining warm days, grab Life Of Leisure. Greene, as friendly a guy you could ask for, talks about perseverance, confidence, and the moment his parents finally acknowledged that he might be on to something after all.
Chris Bowman: Early in your music-making career (it’s still early!) you experimented with hip hop instrumentals and lo-fi rock. Then you wrote some songs for an “aggressive” type of dance project called Bedroom. That experience changed the direction of your own music. Aside from lo-fi, Washed Out doesn’t sound like any of those genres. How did you land in the 80’s synth-pop field?
Ernest Greene: That’s a good question. I really can’t think of a great answer I guess. Let’s see, a couple of years ago I was really into Caribou. Are you familiar with his stuff?
To read more with Washed Out click Read More
Shafiq Husayn is 1/3 of the Sa-Ra Creative Partners. Earlier this year Sa-Ra released Nuclear Evolution: The Age Of Love to much critical acclaim. Over the years Husayn has worked with Afrika Bambatta, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Jurassic 5 and many more. He was also a member of Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate. On October 6th Plug Research will release Husayn’s Shafiq En’A-Free-ka. There are more than 30 contributors on the record including Bilal, Count Bass D, Fatima, and Sonny Coates. The end result is the work of an artist at the top of his game. Husayn speaks about democratic creativity, balance, and being the best person you can be.
Chris Bowman: It’s not often I use the term bangin’ but Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka is exactly that! The U.N. Plan? Bangin’! Aside from the traditional African rhythms and other international influences, your music has a fairly heavy electronic influence to it. Who or what inspired you along the way to incorporate the electronic aspect?
Shafiq Husayn: Um. Basically just being a fan of music, a student of music. I’m gonna have to first go to a lot of those electronic records like the Dick Hyman/Moog series, Raymond Scott, Bob Moog. As far as actually incorporating it on wax, I would have to say Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, Kraftwerk, and Afrika Bambaataa.
For more from Shafiq Husayn click on Read More
Kevin Allison is a comedy writer/performer best known for his role as a member of The State. In August, Allison launched his new project RISK! A weekly live storytelling event described as “the Moth, only edgier.” And later this month (September) there will be a podcast version of the show on Breakthru Radio and iTunes. Allison spoke to me about taking a chance, putting it all out there, and bringing people together.
Chris Bowman: It’s been a pretty big summer for you. First, after much anticipation, The State was released on DVD, and now RISK! How long have you been planning this project?
Kevin Allison: Gosh, you know. It’s so funny. I did a show last November called F*** Up. It was five characters and each one told a story. That’s what I’ve been doing for years and years whenever I perform as a solo artist. I’ve done a few one-man shows, and you know what? I think it was just getting really old. I hadn’t realized I was yearning to do something different. So F*** Up was characters all based on me, different aspects of my personality. And I found myself really struggling to connect with the audience. I was playing it too big, then I tried to play it down but I just felt like I wasn’t quite connecting. Then I did it in San Francisco at SF Sketchfest, and a lot of the guys from The State were there and again I felt like “Gosh, this isn’t quite working for me.” I was walking away from the show with Michael Ian Black and I said, “Well, what do you think?” (Laughs) Because he could tell that I wasn’t too thrilled with how the show had gone. He said, “You know, I really feel like you just want to speak as yourself to the audience.” And I was like, “You’re absolutely right.” I’d wanted to do that for a long time. So within weeks I just started going up places, telling my own stories and immediately the connection was palpable. I was getting big reactions and people were approaching me after saying, “Gosh, I just loved that.” But I was on to something. This story telling thing is booming in New York right now. And I noticed something. Anytime someone would go out on a limb, where they were revealing something a little bit more serious and profound than you’d see at your normal comedy show the audience would respond that much more. The audience was like, “I appreciate that you’re laying it all out there with this one.” And so I thought well why don’t I just put a show together where that’s the entire theme. Tell personal stories and in some way or another try to push yourself to do something on stage that you’ve never quite done before.
For more from Kevin Allsion and why stories of misfortune can be good for you, click Read More
Julie Fader is a Toronto based singer/songwriter and artist. She’s also a touring member of the Chad Van Gaalen band, Great Lake Swimmers, and the Sarah Harmer band, among others. But on 09/08/09 Hand Drawn Dracula will release Outside In, Fader’s first solo effort. It’s a sonically gorgeous, multi-layered record full of warms textures and heartfelt sentiment. Fader spoke to me about the influence of environment, the importance of trust, and learning to let go.
Chris Bowman: Outside In is your first solo record, but you are not new to this. How did you get your start?
Julie Fader: Seventh grade. When I moved back to Hamilton, Ontario. I had to make a decision between vocal and instrumental and the thought of singing was horrific. So I chose flute. My parents made me take private lessons because my dad was super excited that I was going to try and learn an instrument. They had never forced me to take lessons. My brother and sister had to go for violin lessons and piano lessons and they didn’t take to either. So (my parents) decided with the youngest child that they wouldn’t make me do that. But having to take lessons was fun. Years later, being such a music fan, I was drawn to people that played music. I would hang out and listen to them jam. So when a bunch of people were playing, I brought my flute and a couple of songbooks because the idea of playing by ear seemed far fetched. So we learned some Neil Young songs and that’s how I got my start.
Sarah Haskins is the correspondent on, and creator of the Target Women segment on Current TV’s infoMania. The segment takes aim at the absurd ways in which advertising on television appeals to women. Haskins, just back from vacation, took some time to talk about comedy, guilty pleasures, and branching out.
Chris Bowman: First off, how would you describe what it is you do on infoMania’s Target Women?
Sarah Haskins: I would describe it as a work of art. No, (laughs). I would describe it as a short segment where I make fun of advertising and marketing trends aimed at women, in entertainment.
CB: Would it be something similar to a pop culture critic maybe?
SH: Yeah. I mean it sort of is a pop culture critic. I very much focus on advertising so it’s sort of just general media messages too. I would by no means say that I am a pop culture expert. I am always a little afraid of using that term. People are like, “What do you think about this?!” And I’m like, “I don’t know, I don’t watch TV.”
BAGHEERA is a young band from Liverpool, England. With only the self produced, released, and shared Hollow Home e.p. under its belt, (and under 7000 hits on their Myspace page) it’s safe to say they’re new to the game. But it’s not too hard to see that this band is going places. The as-yet-unsigned trio consists of Tom Cowcher, Sam Twidale and Jacob Silkin. All of whom are students of music at the University of Liverpool, and by the sounds of things they have been paying attention. Tom and Sam took some time away from rehearsals to talk about who they are, perfectionism, and how a young band can sound so accomplished so early in a career. Also included is the link to the Hollow Home e.p. We don’t condone stealing, so understand that the band intended to give this away for free. And enjoy!
Chris Bowman: So first off, this is BAGHEERA from Liverpool, not Missouri.
Tom Cowcher: Yeah, that’s right. I think there’s a Dutch symphonic rock band as well, with the same name. We’re not them.
CB: So there’s three Bagheera’s then?
Sam Twidale: Yeah, maybe.
TC: Maybe more!
For more from BAGHEERA click on Read More