Sweetman Podcast, my weekly interview/chat podcast (new episodes up every Friday) has just turned three years old. I learned, long ago, in the blogging world you must celebrate your own birthdays or wins or whatever. So, well done me. Well done and thanks to the guests! Well done and thank you to anyone that has tuned in ever, and if you’ve regularly listened then you’d be on my Christmas card list. If I had one…
Actually it started with a couple of years of thinking about making a podcast, of listening obsessively to other podcasts both local and international (which I still do in most spare moments). Would it be music-focussed? Would I try and play new tracks from unsigned/unknown bands? Would I take some of the blog topics over to the podcast and open up discussions around Top 10 bands and albums and so on…
I decided, in the end pretty swiftly, that I wanted it to be a chat-styled interview show. A conversation. A discussion. I’d steer it. Ask some questions. If someone was on the obvious PR rounds but had something to plug that I was into I’d talk to them. But more often I’d just find someone who I admired, whose work I admired, or who I wanted to learn more about.
And it wouldn’t just be music. I wanted to talk to comedians and authors and visual artists and writers and actors and directors…
The aim became about artists, creatives; about why they did what they did and how they did it and the toll it took on them or their loved ones. Or just the time it took. How did they get to where they were, how did they know where they were going or when they were getting somewhere…anywhere…
That’s still – largely – the aim.
Most often people arrive at my house. The decision was to run it from home. To welcome people into my house. See where I live. Have a coffee or a cuppa tea or a beer or wine – or just a glass of water fizzed up via the SodaStream. We’d sit and chat and that would be that. Yes, the trusty hand-held recorder’s red-light would be on. But it was going to be a chance for me to be present. No longer any sort of anonymous blogger-troll type. (Which I’ve never been – my name and photo is easily found attached to anything I do, but you know, it’s the internet, old tags are hard to Ctrl/Alt/Del.
If I was travelling I’d find people or if I needed to travel I would.
So in the earliest days there were trips to various Wellington suburbs and then up to Auckland to get a few recordings. When we took a family trip to America I nabbed a chat with one of my writing heroes. On the way back home, and stopping off in Sydney, I got to meet one of my musical heroes. I did a random day-trip to Otaki to get a recording. In Hawke’s Bay there’s always someone to chat to. One time I sat on the side of the road, interview subject in the passenger seat. We were parked by the beach. It was the only way we could get a private/ish peace-and-quiet place at 9.00am on a Sunday morning…
But the majority of the conversations happen in my house.
And within a few weeks of the conversation happening – or sometimes it’s a month or more, in one or two cases a year or even longer – the “edited” conversation appears online. I don’t edit a lot, that’s not the point. I might add some music, I’ll cut out anything that sounds like a huge mistake or a distraction. But if the conversation runs two hours plus I’m happy to post it. People can opt in or out whenever, however.
I have a guy that helps me with the podcast. The Lo-Fi Sherriff. Without him there’d be no podcast. I’m so sure of that. He makes it sound great. He’s been a constant companion on this journey. I choose the cuts and tracks and I make the notes to edit but he engineers it all. He’s also been a fan and supporter of the podcast. That counts. Massively. He’ll often be the first to give feedback, to say he’s listened to a particular episode more than once. That counts. Massively.
It’s funny how these things start. And then all of a sudden they’re so much a part of your life you don’t remember when you weren’t doing it.
Katy and Oscar are part of this too – huge supporters. They also sometimes get chased out of their own house. Sometimes the in-laws doing some babysitting, other times Oscar’s in after-school care so that I can get a conversation down on tape.
There are many people to thank.
Yeastie Boys and T Leaf T and Le Petite Chocolat have all been dedicated supporters of the podcast. And I thank them in the show notes and intros to every episode. And I’m grateful for their support and contributions.
More recently a PressPatron account has been established to support the podcast and the Off The Tracks website. People can either donate a one-off or ongoing monthly contribution. And I’m amazed and grateful for the support there.
You can find this podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud or other pod-catchers and very simply via this site but chances are, if you’re still reading, you’ve long ago found the podcast.
The plan is there is no plan but to carry on. I have a few conversations already in the can for future episodes. I have more people I’m aiming to contact. And then there’ll be new names that I’ll catch up with or discover and want to talk to – there’s still plenty of people on my list that have either agreed and we need to make a time or I haven’t yet asked.
And yes, there are a small handful of people that have been asked and have said no. I never bug people about this. I’ll ask. And if for whatever reason there’s no answer or there’s a no for an answer then that’s where it ends. No (further) questions asked. That’s fine.
Talking about yourself is odd. But it’s cathartic. Profound. Beautiful.
I sit and look at people for an hour or two or nearly three hours while they talk. And while they listen – because, hey, I’m in there too. Sometimes I do more talking than the guest, other times I don’t.
While I look at people their face changes. They look different. They morph. I can feel myself getting to know them (better) through their words.
This is fascinating to me. And it’s a huge thing to have had these conversations, people not just celebrating triumphs but documenting failures or failings, talking deeply about the things that matter to them, and indulging in the mundane and ordinary. In an age and era of click, share, like, move on it feels important to sit down for an hour. Or more. And if I can keep doing this every week and people agree and are interested to do it and to listen then I’ll hope to celebrate a fourth birthday for the podcast. And then even beyond.
Thanks so much to everyone involved.
So, I know you can get to these links in any other way, or have been there already, but I’d like to thank – and link to – in (mostly) the order they appeared on the podcast:
Film score composer and friend Rhian Sheehan.
Head Like A Hole frontman Booga Beasley.
Backing singer, lead singer, DJ and local legend Lisa Tomlins.
Australian music-writing legend, DJ, radio show host, label manager, band manager and author Stuart Coupe.
Radio stalwart – creator of Matinee Idle and long-running or fill-in host, newsreader and producer/editor/engineer Phil O’Brien.
Singer/songwriter and poet Hinemoana Baker.
Singer/songwriter Mel Parsons.
Las Vegas-based Kiwi visual artist (and one of my oldest, dearest friends) Matthew Couper.
Comedian Alice Brine.
Blogger, musician and raconteur Alan Stuart.
Cook, caterer and business owner Reece Morrow.
Ian and Paul, members of my favourite ambient-metal/post-rock duo Into Orbit.
Singer/songwriter, composer and world traveller Leila Adu.
The legend Dave Dobbyn.
American blues guitarist and regular visitor to New Zealand Chris Cain.
Former Fur Patrol frontwoman and now solo sensation Julia Deans.
Canadian country musician – and soon to be world famous mega-star – Tami Neilson.
Writer, former venue owner, band-manager, booker, poster-guy and businessman – he’d hate being called that I’m sure – the owner and overseer of Phantom Billstickers Jim Wilson.
Young musical wunderkind Jesse Sheehan.
Music therapist, educator and musician Pip Algie.
Musician and guitar pedal maker – and close friend – Ben Fulton.
My Best Man and one of my best-ever friends – and disastrous, aborted first-podcast-attempt-guest Sam Walters.
The Flying Nun creator, author (and now on the Queen’s Honours list) Roger Shepherd.
Australian-based, Kiwi-born singer/songwriter Lisa Crawley.
Wine-industry stalwart and one of my best friends Fraser Agnew.
The guitarist from one of my all-time favourite bands, the world-conquering but proudly Napier-based Jeff Boyle of Jakob.
One of my writing heroes, and now a friend, the legendary Leonard Cohen biographer, writer of books about Serge Gainsbourg and Neil Young also as well as a collection of short stories, ukulele enthusiast, singer/songwriter, long-standing contributor to Mojo magazine and the woman that was there on the tour bus with Black Sabbath and Van Halen, an early champion of Motley Crue and in later days she swapped metal for enthusiastic, insightful writing about all things alt-country as well as contributing liner-notes to a Johnny Cash boxset after spending days staying with him and so many other stories of course, the British-born, American-based musician and music journalist Sylvie Simmons.
Comedian, writer, blogger, actor, musician, raconteur Jonny Potts.
Singer/songwriter and now music publisher Jan Hellriegel.
Singer/songwriter, painter, actor, writer, regular contributor to Off The Tracks via his fantastic guest-blog, and dear friend Jon McLeary.
Singer/songwriter, producer, wizard Delaney Davidson.
Legendary jazz pianist, composer, educator, bandleader, and one of my musical heroes, the Kiwi-born, Australian-based Mike Nock.
Singer/songwriter Charlotte Yates.
Singer/songwriter, author and one half of The Go-Betweens, Robert Forster.
Filmmaker Costa Botes.
Actor Aidee Walker.
Musician and composer Sean James Donnelly (aka SJD).
Singer/songwriter Nadia Reid.
Music journalist, author, musician, broadcaster Nick Bollinger.
Photographer, lecturer, DJ, venue owner, label owner, tour manager, promoter, educator, music fan and author Blink (b. Ian Jorgensen).
Film and theatre writer/director Dean Hewison.
Musician and film composer – and huge Prince fan – Victoria Kelly.
Musician Debbie Harwood.
Author, blogger, pop-culture obsessive, traveller and my good buddy and brother in law James Robinson.
Hard-working guitar legend and singer/songwriter Paul Ubana Jones.
Singer/songwriter and Kiwi music legend Sharon O’Neill.
Film composer, guitarist, producer, former member of The Mutton Birds David Long.
Singer/songwriter Anthonie Tonnon.
Film critic/reviewer and film maker Graeme Tuckett.
Drummer, beat-maker, DJ, producer, musical mastermind – and composer of the Sweetman Podcast intro/outro sting – as well as dear friend and one of the bravest, smartest musical minds I know Riki Gooch.
Musician Paul McLaney.
Drummer, beat-maker, producer and DJ Myele Manzanza.
Actor/Director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.
Podcaster, musician and dear friend Nik Jarvie-Waldrom.
Legendary actor and educator, director and creative life-force Miranda Harcourt.
The man behind Split Enz, The Swingers and Schnell-Fenster, painter, singer/songwriter and film composer Phil Judd.
Poet Sarah Jane Barnett.
DJ and music collector Simon Bendall (aka DJ Bill E).
Journalist and broadcaster and one of my best mate Patrick Gower.
Actor/Writer/Director/Hurricane! Danny Mulheron.
Poet, historian, memoirist and Huge Bob Dylan Fanatic Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.
Legendary Kiwi music scribe, author, journalist, documentarian, TV producer and trouble-maker Colin Hogg.
Record Store Clerk, DJ, Critic, Food-blogger, Musician and pal Jeremy Taylor. (We also had a second track, down the line, specifically about Record Store Day).
Musician, arranger, promoter, educator Dr. Rodger Fox.
Pianist, composer, educator and music critic Norman Meehan.
Politician, author and parent Holly Walker.
Model, actress, writer Janna Lapidus Leblanc.
Radio host and podcaster Melody Thomas.
Filmmaker Gaylene Preston.
Documentary subject, band manager and muse Tamzin Beazley.
Musician and record label owner/distributor Steve Garden (of Rattle Records).
Musician from the legendary Peddlers, British-born now Kiwi-based Roy Phillips.
Musician Jonathan Crayford.
The CEO of Changing Minds Taimi Allan.
Musician and producer Wayne Bell.
Writer, director producer and actor Stuart McKenzie.
Kiwi blues legend Midge Marsden.
Beer brewer Stu McKinlay (Yeastie Boys).
Event organises and creators/directors of LitCrawl and Loemis Festivals Claire Mabey & Andrew Laking (aka Pirate & Queen).
Musician Luke Buda.
Singer/songwriter and TV star/broadcaster Anika Moa.
Writer Kirsten McDougall.
Musician, Wellington Music Historian and friend of Henry Rollins Jules Desmond (with a second take discussing more of the same but different).
The Godfather of NZ Comedy and owner of The Classic comedy club Scott Blanks.
Musician, teacher, busker Vorn Colgan.
Musician Adam McGrath (of The Eastern).
Actor Gavin Rutherford.
Writer, critic, judge and wine enthusiast/entrepreneur Yvonne Lorkin (of WineFriend).
Musician Adam Page.
Drummer Ant Donaldson.
Visual Artist Marie Le Lievre.
Journalist, broadcaster and poet Richard Langston.
Writer, mermaid enthusiast and art critic/curator Megan Dunn.
Musician Ebony Lamb (from Eb & Sparrow).
Musician, poet and sailor Andrew Fagan (of The Mockers).
Musician and Captain of the good ship Slow Boat Records Dennis O’Brien.
Vlogger, podcaster and record collector James Buttery.
American musician, actor, film composer Elvis Perkins.
Musician, engineer, producer and sound tech, Gil Eva Craig.
Acting legend Lisa Harrow.
Musician, mental health advocate and venue owner Roy Brown.
Musician, artist and film-maker Fane Flaws.
Producer, event organiser, journalist and broadcaster Mark Cubey.
Singer/songwriter Emily Fairlight.
Poet Chris Tse.
Journalist, broadcaster and singer Sarah Bradley.
Author and Tour Manager for The Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead Sam Cutler.