Interviews focus on key moments of discovery, and the songs/artists that have soundtracked the guest's life. Hosted by journalist and radio presenter Jenny Eliscu (@jennylsq), these are laid-back but in-depth discussions, with music-makers and music-lovers. Episodes also occasionally feature clips from Eliscu's extensive archive, which includes 20 years' worth of interview audio.
"I always said, I felt like, when the five of us are together, the universe does something different," says Albert Hammond Jr, guitarist for The Strokes, of his band's cosmic connection. "From the moment I met them, even before we did anything, all of a sudden the world felt different. I can only explain it like in the Matrix when he sees the numbers, so then it didn't feel that weird when stuff would happen. I didn't know what was gonna happen, but it felt like something was gonna happen."
I had a blast interviewing Albert for episode 92 of the LSQ podcast. I am a massive fan of The Strokes (like, Top 5 all-time favorite bands kind of thing), and feel lucky to have a long history with them. Albert and I have known each other since the band's early days, when I got to write about them a bunch for Rolling Stone, and it's been awesome to watch his solo career develop alongside his band's. His new solo LP, Melodies On Hiatus, is one of his best -- 19 tracks that explore new facets of his musical personality while still brandishing his signature sound. In this interview, we talk about his childhood influences, an era when he was a rollerskating champion, the beginning of The Strokes, his songwriting process, and hopes for the future such as this one: "I'd love to create with [The Strokes], as I'm older. Because I feel like we're so interesting at different times with each other. So even at 60, I wonder what we would create? What would the band sound like? What would we do? Would our strengths and weaknesses change and how would that make our sound change? It still feels so exciting."
The incomparable Jenny Lewis joins me for LSQ #91 and, let me tell you, THIS is one of my all-time favorite episodes. Not only is Lewis an artist whose music I've admired since her days in Rilo Kiley, but over the course of our ~15 years of friendship, I've learned what a hilarious, generous, soulful and inspiring person she is, as well. The release of her excellent new album Joy'All gave us a chance to get together at her place in Los Angeles and dig in on some topics we've never really talked about before, including her parents' old band, Love's Way, her years as a kid actor and how those experiences shaped her approach to her music career, how her love for hip-hop inspired her to start by writing raps, before she wrote melodic songs. We also talk about how her evolution through the Rilo Kiley years, and why it was important to her to forge her own path. Get tickets for her upcoming tour here.
On the occasion of their new 26th studio album, The Girl is Crying In Her Latté, the legendary Los Angeles art-pop duo Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael) join the LSQ podcast to talk about the evolution of their sound; their work with producers such as Giorgio Moroder and Todd Rundgren, and why they value being able to produce their own music nowadays; growing up in LA seeing concerts by British Invasion bands they loved including The Kinks and The Who; getting to witness one of Jimi Hendrix’s first LA concerts; what they’re looking forward to playing during their 2023 tours, and more!
When she started playing guitar at age seven, Sunny War saw herself as the next Slash or Angus Young, a future shredder, certain to be a rock star, and definitely NOT a folk singer. And yet, here we are, it's 2023 and thanks to her excellent latest album, Anarchist Gospel, and a Triple A-radio hit single, "No Reason," she is finally getting well-deserved recognition as one of the most exciting folk singers of her generation. In episode 89 of the LSQ podcast, get to know Sunny's story, and how she went from playing in a punk band called Anus Kings and busking on the Venice Beach boardwalk to performing her ecstatic folk anthem "No Reason" on late night television and embarking on her biggest tour, to date. Get tickets for Sunny War's current tour here.
To celebrate the release of the paperback edition of her beautiful, best-selling memoir, Crying In H Mart, and its accompanying book tour, the author -- celebrated indie singer-songwriter Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast -- joins the LSQ podcast for a conversation that explores her early experiences in both writing and music. She also shares that her next book is already in development, as she plans to move to her native Korea for a year, to learn the language and document the experience. And an exciting scoop: She already has new Japanese Breakfast songs in the works and might even debut some of them on tour later this year!
KP, the singer-songwriter at the helm of Black Belt Eagle Scout, joins the LSQ pod to talk about their beautiful new album, The Land, The Water, The Sky, recorded as KP was transitioning back to living in their homelands in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, in LaConner, Washington. We talk about how KP first got into playing and writing music, learning to play Für Elise by ear on the piano as a child, figuring out that their favorite guitars are the ones that sound the warmest, learning to play drums at Portland's Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls and later teaching at the camp, getting involved in the house show scene, loving post-rock, being inspired by the musical flexibility of the great Buffy Sainte-Marie, and more.
Ryan Lott and Ian Chang from the experimental trio Son Lux talk about their Academy Award-nominated work on the score and soundtrack for the beautiful, epic film Everything Everywhere All At Once, which is as brilliantly unclassifiable as the movie itself. Their score is nominated for Best Original Score and the end credits tune (a duet between Mitski and David Byrne, who cowrote the tune with Son Lux) is up for Best Music (Original Song) at the upcoming 95th Annual Academy Awards. They also delve into their personal histories with music, from their childhood music lessons and impactful discoveries of artists including Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Prince, Miles Davis, Jeff Buckley, Seal and more. And Lott narrates Son Lux's development from a solo project that he began in 2008 as a creative outlet while he was working as a composer for a dance company, to the full-fledged touring band and collaborative unit thanks to the addition in 2014 of Chang and their bandmate Rafiq Bhatia.
Post-punk pioneer Gina Birch (bassist and founding member of UK band The Raincoats) joins the LSQ podcast on the eve of releasing her first ever solo album, the refreshing and irreverent collection I Play My Bass Loud, produced by Youth and out this week via Third Man. In episode 85, Birch talks about important music memories from her childhood (hearing her brother's Bob Marley records through the bedroom wall, seeing The Slits in concert and realizing that girls could also play in bands, and more), the early days of The Raincoats and how embracing their inexperience and enthusiastically presenting songs that were still "in the process of becoming" was a key part of their approach. We also talk about her work in visual arts, as a music video and short film director, and more recently via large scale paintings like the one you see a portion of on the new album's cover. Get a copy of I Play My Bass Loud and check out Birch's upcoming tour dates here.
For the first episode of Season 6 of the LSQ podcast, I was honored to welcome an artist whose words and music I have admired for nearly thirty years now: the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle. In episode 84, John shares fascinating insight into his early creative inklings, the music he loved as a kid, and how he went from clinging to his Aristocats soundtrack to embracing Elton John and the Bay City Rollers and eventually unlocking a secret passion for heavy metal. He also describes his transition from writing poetry on its own to combining his verses with music, initially singing haunting melodies over the sound of static from his black & white TV, and then developing the boombox recording method he used when he started as the Mountain Goats in the mid-Nineties. And we dish about how he got involved with Rian Johnson's new mystery series, Poker Face. (He wrote the music for it with Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, and also has a small acting role.) Darnielle and the Mountain Goats' Matt Douglas are currently on tour in the U.S. as a duo. Get dates and tickets here.
U.K. artist Kae Tempest, on the first time they ever spit rhymes in public, at age 15: “I remember pushing through the crowd. I remember the tunnel vision. I remember reaching for the mic. I remember, like, the heat, the fever — your whole body beginning to like go into almost like unbearable minute precision-detail slow motion, and then the words. That was 20 years ago. More! And it's the same feeling that I have each time I'm about to approach the mic. It's this, like, deep connection to the word. And I remember the place transformed, people transformed, I transformed. And then from that night, until today, I haven't thought about anything else but rhymes. When you receive that much inspiration from something, and you're able to suddenly give something back, you're able to publish a book or make a record, and you can contribute — you can stand on that line that goes all the way back and your contribution can be felt going forwards. It's the most incredible kind of epiphany moment of achieving balance or things being right. It's my, kind of, life-force, really.” Kae’s latest album, The Line Is A Curve, is a powerful collection of musical vignettes that explore our drive for connection, and it’s one of my favorite LPs of 2022. Kae is on tour in Europe until mid-December and in Australia and New Zealand in early 2023. Get tickets here.