Wheels Off with Rhett Miller

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Rhett Miller, musician and frontman for the Old 97s, hosts “Wheels Off” a show about the messy reality of the creative life. Conversations with musicians, writers, artists, actors, and comedians about the pivotal moments that shaped their work, what it means to create in a digital age and grapple with the challenges, and the joy, of living a creative life.

Episode Date
059: Jeff Tweedy

Grammy-winning musician Jeff Tweedy joins Rhett to talk about his new book and what the process of writing music has been like during the pandemic. The two discuss songwriting as a reaction to stress, how he discerns between imposter syndrome and anxiety, and why the power of observation is a useful writing trick. Jeff explains his above-average music consumption habit and the sense of awe he experiences when discovering a new album.

Jan 12, 2021
058: Kathy Valentine

Kathy Valentine, acclaimed musician, songwriter and author, joins Rhett from her home in Austin to discuss her new book, her career with The Go-Gos, and what it means to be a woman in music. Kathy describes the moment when she realized that she wanted to be in a band, what she learned from Joan Jett, and getting through tough times with humor and bravery. The two reflect on the magical moments that only seem to happen in LA, and that time when Kathy’s band became the wedding band to the stars.

Jan 05, 2021
057: Big Thief's Buck Meek

Buck Meek, lead guitarist for Big Thief and accomplished solo artist, joins Rhett from his home in Topanga Canyon, CA. to talk about how he’s been spending his time during the pandemic, including creating new music with Big Thief. Buck tells Rhett about learning guitar from local players while growing up in Texas, and the impact that the Kerrville Folk Festival had on his musical education before he went to Berklee. The two talk about removing the obstacle of self-reflection during the recording process, and the importance of trusting yourself as an artist.

Dec 29, 2020
056: Chef Silvia Barban

This week, chef Silvia Barban joins Rhett to spread some positive energy and share the story about how she learned to cook the food that would make her a culinary star. Silvia tells Rhett about spending time in the kitchen with her Grandmother in Italy, and the moment when she realized that she wanted to make everyone feel good with her food. The two discuss why creating food is like creating art, Silvia explains her approach of “transporting people” through meals she makes, and why her family called her “Earthquake” when she was a kid.

Dec 22, 2020
055: Singer-songwriter Suzanne Santo

Suzanne Santo joins Rhett from her home in Los Angeles to talk about focusing on self-care during the pandemic, the pressure to create, and how the forced downtime for the music industry could result in a new and improved model. The two wax ecstatic about Ohio, discuss live streaming and Zoom performances, and Suzanne recalls the time she sang “River” for Joni Mitchell.

Dec 15, 2020
054: Screenwriter Jack Burditt

Jack Burditt is an American producer and screenwriter who has worked on television shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Frasier, Modern Family, 30 Rock, and The Mindy Project. He joins Rhett from his home in California to talk about getting his start with a spec script for Seinfeld, balancing creative bravery with the need to pay the bills, and how staying away from social media (and television) finally allowed him to finish his novel. He tells Rhett about what he’s learned from writing sitcoms, and the two reminisce about that time he convinced Rhett (and friends) to appear on an episode of 30 Rock.

Dec 08, 2020
053: Musician Emily Wolfe

Emily Wolfe joins Rhett from her hometown of Austin to talk about writing music for her next record, why she was drawn to the guitar at a very young age, and where she developed her strong work ethic. The two discuss why the music industry is more challenging now than for previous generations, the enormous power of her live performances, and the unstoppable drive that keeps her going.

Dec 01, 2020
052: Comedian Wyatt Cenac

This week, comedian Wyatt Cenac joins Rhett to talk about figuring out his next creative project while adjusting to a new normal, what it feels like to perform online, and recalls the days when he was an intern at SNL. Wyatt tells Rhett about that time he took a test to determine what career path he should take, the unexpected impact of his “Happy Hour Record Club” (Instagram), and what it really means to be persistent.

Nov 24, 2020
051: Poet Maggie Smith

Poet and author Maggie Smith joins Rhett from her home outside of Columbus, OH. to talk about getting naked emotionally and how her new book, Keep Moving, came together through a series of notes she was writing to herself. The two talk about finding silver linings during the pandemic, and Maggie explains why it’s important to bring a sense of wonder to your work.

Nov 17, 2020
050: Singer-Songwriter, Kevin Morby

In this episode, Rhett chats with musician Kevin Morby about his latest album, Sundowner, and what he’s been up to creatively since the album’s release. Kevin tells Rhett about growing up in the midwest, his early influences and the impact that a particular Nick Cave performance had on him, and what happened when he sent Jon Hamm an email. 

Nov 10, 2020
049: Pixies Guitarist Joey Santiago

Joey Santiago, composer and lead guitarist for The Pixies, joins Rhett to talk about what he’s been up to during the pandemic, his renowned career and friendship with Pixies lead Charles Thompson, aka Frank Black. Joey tells Rhett about the first time he saw a live guitar performance and why it inspired him to learn to play. They discuss the benefits of seeing cover bands and that time at Largo when Joey was due to perform with Rhett (but didn’t show up).

Oct 27, 2020
048: Musician Joe Pernice

Musician, writer, and actor Joe Pernice joins Rhett from his home in Toronto to talk about his career in music, which began when he joined the Scud Mountain Boys while in grad school. Joe tells Rhett about the complex musicality of Barry Manilow songs, which he covers on his new album, what he does to clear his head, and the importance of replacing ‘micro-damaging things’ with micro positive things.

Oct 13, 2020
047: Gordy Quist from Band of Heathens

Gordy Quist, singer-songwriter and guitarist for the Band of Heathens, joins Rhett from his studio in Austin to talk about how he went from being a linebacker at Dartmouth to a successful “middle class” musician, the sense of brotherhood he gets from being in a band, and why being an independent artist has given Band of Heathens longevity.

Sep 29, 2020
046: Duane Betts from The Allman Betts Band

Duane Betts is a singer-songwriter and guitarist for The Allman Betts Band. Duane joins Rhett to talk about recording the new Allman Betts album “Bless Your Heart” and what he’s been up to while quarantined in Wyoming. Duane tells Rhett why he originally wanted to be a drummer, how he manages stress and the feeling of imposter syndrome, and shares some of the lessons he learned from his father, musician Dickey Betts.

Sep 15, 2020
045: World Cafe's RAINA DOURIS

Award-winning radio personality Raina Douris joins Rhett to talk about her career in radio, the interviewing techniques she’s learned over the years, and how she builds trust with her guests. Raina tells Rhett about her dalliance with acting, the time she interviewed Willie Nelson, and why interviewing helps her live in the moment.

Sep 01, 2020
044: Singer-songwriter CHUCK PROPHET

From his home in San Francisco, singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet joins Rhett to talk about how he’s been spending his time during the pandemic, why songwriting shouldn’t be explained, and the story behind the artwork on his forthcoming album. The two discuss the overlap between comedy and music, and Chuck vividly recounts the early days of the San Francisco punk rock scene.

Aug 18, 2020
043: Singer-Songwriter Zach Rogue

In this episode, Rhett talks with indie rock singer-songwriter and leader of the band Rogue Wave, Zach Rogue. Zach tells Rhett about the new album he just finished and recalls the early days of his career when he went from a professional in the tech industry to a professional musician.

Aug 04, 2020
042: The American Songster, Dom Flemons

In this episode of Wheels Off, Rhett chats with multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and music historian Dom Flemons. They talk about what went into the recent reissue of his album Prospect Hill, his deep knowledge of music history and why he’s mindful of the message behind music he performs. Dom tells Rhett about the experiences he had as a busker that taught him about attracting an audience, and why he advocates for “taking it easy” when you can.

Jul 21, 2020
041: Billions Showrunner Brian Koppleman

Writer and showrunner Brian Koppelman joins Rhett to talk about working in the music industry in his early 20’s and the breakthrough that led him to becoming a full time writer. He tells Rhett about his writing process, why meditation is so important to his creativity, and how songwriting has been his ‘salvation’ during the pandemic crisis.

Jul 07, 2020
040: Welcome to Hard Times: Singer-Songwriter Charley Crockett

From a truck parked in Austin, TX, singer-songwriter Charley Crockett chats with Rhett about the incredible life experiences that have led to his new album, the forthcoming Welcome to Hard Times. Charley tells Rhett about growing up in South Texas with a single mom, and the “broken road” that led to years of busking around the country, from the streets of New Orleans to the subways of New York City. They talk about what’s happened in the year since his heart surgery, how he’s coping with life during the pandemic, and why “2020 is the year of clear vision.”

Jun 23, 2020
039: CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Conor Knighton

Conor Knighton, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and author of the NY Times bestseller of "Leave Only Footprints" joins Rhett to talk about the pre-pandemic journey that led to his book, what happened when he had to reset his life, and how he overcomes procrastination.

Jun 09, 2020
038: Actress & Musician Tawny Newsome

In this episode, Rhett talks to actress, comedian and musician Tawny Newsome. Tawny is starring alongside Steve Carell in the Netflix comedy ‘Space Force’, which will be released on May 29. She tells Rhett about the projects she’s working on while under lockdown, writing songs remotely with other musicians, and the difference between acting and improv. The two also talk about managing anxiety and tension while working, and what work might really be like as things start to re-open.

May 26, 2020
037: Guitarist Billy Strings

Billy Strings has been called one of the most important Bluegrass musicians of our time and in this episode, Rhett talks to the 27-year old virtuoso about his humble beginnings and incredible career (so far). Bill tells Rhett about growing up in rural Michigan, the move to Traverse City that changed his life, and kick starting his music career while working a day job (and studying Doc Watson videos on YouTube while on work breaks). They talk about what Billy did in order to graduate high school, how he thinks about his place in the music industry, and what he’s doing while sheltering-in-place during the COVID-19 quarantine

May 12, 2020
036: Comedian and Musician Dave Hill

In this episode, Rhett chats with comedian and musician Dave Hill about all of his artistic endeavors - music, comedy, writing, and his passion for drawing. Dave tells Rhett about getting his start in music and comedy, growing up in Ohio, and that time his parents suggested that he get a life coach.

Dave Hill is an American comedian, radio host, writer, musician and actor originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He is the host of The Goddamn Dave Hill Show on WFMU radio in Jersey City, New Jersey and also the host of Dave Hill's Podcasting Incident, a podcast recorded in Hill's living room.
Dave’s new record “The Pride of Cleveland” was released on April 24 and is available now.

Apr 29, 2020
035 - Rhett Miller as guest on his own show

Producer Nick Ruffini turns the tables on Rhett, and interviews him. Rhett tells Nick what he misses about IRL while sheltering-in-place at his home in upstate New York, and what creative projects he’s working on.

Apr 14, 2020
034 - Actor and Comedian Steve Agee

In this episode, Rhett visits Steve Agee in his trailer on the set of Suicide Squad during filming in Georgia. Steve tells Rhett about developing a love for stand up at an early age, explains how his photography skills are the result of being socially awkward, and why Sarah Silverman is a guardian angel. They discuss the band Oasis, mental health, and why meditation is a game changer.

Mar 31, 2020
033 - Wheels Off with Dungeon Master Christopher Perkins

In this episode, Rhett sits down with preeminent Dungeon Master, game designer and adventure storyteller Christopher Perkins. Christopher tells Rhett about his determination to work in the world of D&D from a young age, and how he turned rejection from publishers into a game in order to break through. They talk about his approach to writing stories that inspire players to create their own adventures, and why he keeps his own bibliography.

Mar 17, 2020
032 - Author and Illustrator Dan Santat

Rhett sits down with the illustrator of his children’s book “No More Poems”, Dan Santat. Dan and Rhett talk about embracing mistakes, the importance of optimism, and why being bored can be a pathway to creativity.

Dan Santat is a #1 New York Times Best Selling Author author/illustrator of over one hundred titles which include “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” which won the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2015. Other titles include, Are We There Yet? and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and various pets.

Mar 03, 2020
031 - Comedian and Actress Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director originally from Mississippi. In this episode, Tig tells Rhett about getting her start in comedy after she dropped out of high school, what she learned from Sarah Silverman, her fierce independence as an artist, and why acting can make her feel like an imposter.

Feb 18, 2020
030 - DIY Punk Rock Magician Michael Casey

In this episode, Rhett sits down with magician Michael Casey after a performance at the Tower theater in Oklahoma City. Michael tells Rhett the 'real' story behind why he became a magician, and how reading books about magic helped him cope with stress. They talk about "close up" performances, like that time when Michael performed at Sheryl Crow's birthday party for 7 people; the secret world of magicians and magic shops, and how Michael successfully lives (and enjoys) a double life.

Feb 04, 2020
029 - Kate Micucci

Rhett visits actress Kate Miccucci and the two reminisce about the magic of the old Largo in Hollywood, talk about the importance of in utero listening, and discuss the importance of putting yourself and your work out to the world.

Jan 21, 2020
028 - Rainn Wilson

On the first 2020 episode of Wheels Off, Rhett speaks with his friend Rainn Wilson. The two discuss making art for art’s sake, overcoming ego and narcissism, and how Rainn has channeled his responsibility as a public figure into responsibility and keyboard activism. 

Jan 07, 2020
027 - Rosanne Cash

In the final episode of 2019, Rhett talks about his journey with Wheels Off, what he’s learned though the conversations he’s had, no matter how well he knows the guests, the surprises we can expect in the 2020 season, and a replay of the first episode with guest Rosanne Cash.

Dec 31, 2019
026 - Ben Acker: Writer

On this episode, Rhett visits one of his favorite people and best friends, Ben Acker. From Ben's apartment in Los Feliz, the two discuss the joy in what connects us, how work can be play, and the importance of working on yourself. Special appearance by Stephen, Ben's dog whose name is not spelled with a "v."

Dec 10, 2019
025 - Gordon Keith: Writer and Broadcaster

From an Airstream in Northern Texas, Rhett and Gordon Keith talk about writing short stories, how to keep content fresh, and they discuss Gordon's writing instrument fetish (he has 300 to 400 typewriters in storage).

Nov 26, 2019
024 - Harlan Coben: Award winning crime novelist

On this episode, Rhett goes to New Jersey to speak with award winning crime novelist Harlan Coben. The two discuss how every good writer thinks they are a bad writer, the distractions of modernity, and the magic power of Ubers.

Nov 12, 2019
023 - Carl Newman: New Pornographers

Rhett visits New Pornographers frontman Carl Newman's at his home in Woodstock, New York. Carl tells Rhett how he ended up becoming a lead singer, the importance of not letting personal happiness be contingent upon success, and more.

Oct 29, 2019
022 - Ted Leo: Singer, Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist

In this episode of Wheels Off, Ted Leo joins Rhett in the studio the day after the final show of an 8-city tour. The two talk about what they think about while on stage (not what you’d think), Ted's early beginnings playing hardcore, and his podcast "Th

Oct 29, 2019
021 - Rachel Yamagata: Singer-Songwriter

In this episode, Rhett joins Rachael on the front porch of her home in Woodstock, NY. Against the sonic backdrop of crickets, Rachael tells Rhett about planning her upcoming tour while also writing a new record, balancing life as an artist and more.

Oct 01, 2019
020 - Norbert Leo Butz Singer and Actor

Rhett finds actor, singer and two-time Tony Award winner, Norbert Leo Butz, in the midst of a home renovation following a nonstop year that included an Emmy-nominated television series, Broadway show, series of independent films, and a record release.

Sep 17, 2019
019 - Ryan Miller: Musician (Guster)

Rhett talks to the multitalented musician Ryan Miller, frontman of alternative band, Guster, and host of "Makin' Friends with Ryan Miller, a PBS series in which he travels around the state making friends with "high functioning weirdos”.

Sep 02, 2019
018 - Allison Moorer: Musician and Writer

In this episode, Rhett sits down with Allison Moorer in her home library to discuss her new memoir and companion EP, authentic storytelling and making sense (and art) of one’s ‘mess.’

Aug 20, 2019
017 - Christopher Harris: Fantasy Football expert and novelist

Rhett sits down with Fantasy Football expert and novelist Chris Harris to talk about his latest project, a novel about quitting the internet. Chris discusses balancing his writing life with his football podcast life, and why the connection with the commun

Aug 06, 2019
016 - John Darnielle: Musician (Mountain Goats) and Novelist

John Darnielle is a musician and novelist best known as the primary member of the band the Mountain Goats. In this episode, Rhett sits down with John in Raleigh, NC. to talk about writing, the role-playing games that informed the new Mountain Goats album

Jul 23, 2019
015 - Greg Behrendt: Comedian, Musician and Writer

In this episode of Wheels Off, Rhett sits down with comedian Greg Behrendt in Durham, NC. to talk about the difficulty of monetizing art, what he does at 4:30 every morning to spark creativity, and the fallacy of authenticity.

Jul 08, 2019
014 - Jen Kirkman: Stand-up Comedian, Writer, and Author

Jen Kirkman is a stand-up comedian, writer, and author. In this episode, Rhett and Jen talk about playing Dungeons and Dragons as an adult, why it's important to keep track of what you wore on stage, and why you shouldn't brand yourself.

Jun 24, 2019
013 - Paul F. Tompkins: Writer and Comedian

Rhett sits down with comedian Paul F. Tompkins while in L.A. to talk about writing, what he learned when he did improv with Jane Fonda, and why it’s important to try everything, even if it scares you.

Jun 11, 2019
012 - Michael Chabon: Pulitzer-prize winning author

Rhett sits down with Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon at Chabon's home office in Berkeley, CA. to talk about writing, why imitation is key to finding your own voice, and the importance of working without the distraction of technology.

May 27, 2019
011 - Trapper Schoepp: Singer-Songwriter

Rhett sat down with singer-songwriter Trapper Schoepp at Schoepp’s home in Milwaukee to talk about “Primetime Illusion”, his latest album. Schoepp explains the story behind “On Wisconsin”, the song he co-wrote with Bob Dylan.

May 14, 2019
010 - Kyle Kinane: Comedian and Actor

Kyle Kinane, comedian and actor, joins Rhett in Pioneertown, CA to discuss his career as a stand up comic, dealing with writer’s block, staying humble, and zigzagging your way to success.

Apr 30, 2019
009 - Lydia Loveless: Singer | Songwriter

Lydia Loveless ia a singer-songwriter from Ohio known for her “blast it to the back of the room” voice. She sat with Rhett while in Boston to talk about her early life as a musician, grappling with writer’s block and self-imposed obstacles, and that time she tried stand up comedy. She’s been writing and playing music since she was 14, and at the tender age of 28, is learning how to slow down and get comfortable with herself.

Lydia has toured with artists such as the Old 97s, Supersuckers, Jason Isbell, Iron & Wine, and Drive-By-Truckers. Her music has been praised by Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, SPIN, Stereogum, Chicago Tribune, and more. She was the subject of the 2016 documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?, directed by Gorman Bechard.

Apr 16, 2019
008 - John McCrea: Founder, Lead Singer, and Songwriter for the band Cake

John McCrea is the founder, lead singer, and songwriter for the band Cake. He’s also an activist and the Vice President of the Content Creators Coalition, an artist-run advocacy organization for musicians dedicated to working with songwriters, performers, and musicians for equity in the digital world. John sits down with Rhett to talk about the mathematics of mixing, new music from Cake, and how he keeps his creativity going after years of being an active musician. Rhett asks what advice he’d give his 21-year old self and John determines that he believes you’re supposed to have problems. The two talk about how that applies to parenting, and why it’s important to just figure things out for yourself.

Apr 02, 2019
007 - Brian Anderson: Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, NBA, NCAA and PGA Golf Sportscaster

Brian Anderson is a sportscaster, recognized for his work calling Milwaukee Brewers games as well as postseason MLB games, NBA and NCAA tournament games, and PGA Golf. In the middle of NCAA season, he sat down with Rhett to talk about calling sporting events for a living.

Mar 19, 2019
006 - Eric Howk - Grammy Winning Guitarist: Portugal. The Man

Rhett met up in Eric’s adopted hometown of Seattle to record this episode, and the two discuss writing accidental hits, how to combat insecurity, and the “secret sleeper towns” they find while on tour.

Mar 05, 2019
005 - Aaron Draplin: Graphic Designer, Author, and Founder of Draplin Design Co.

Famed designer Aaron Drapler sits down with Rhett to discuss his hustle, intense work ethic, humility, and why hardship is great for us.

Feb 19, 2019
004 - Will Forte: Emmy-Nominated Actor, Comedian, Writer and Producer

Comedian, actor, writer, and producer Will Forte joins Rhett in Los Angeles to talk about his life as a comedian, and the insanity that living a creative life can bring.

Feb 05, 2019
003 - Rob Thomas: (Matchbox 20) Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer and Multi-Instrumentalist,

Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas on that one time he didn’t get to meet Prince, being recognized in the supermarket, and what it means to release a record in the digital age.

Jan 23, 2019
002 - Fred Armisen: Actor, Comedian, Writer, Producer and Musician

Comedian Fred Armisen on being funny in Spanish, lucky breaks, and why failing when you’re young can serve you well.

Jan 23, 2019
001 - Rosanne Cash: Singer-Songwriter and Author

Grammy winning artist Rosanne Cash on writing, wrestling with imposter syndrome, the importance of persistence, and the freedom to let yourself fall apart.

Jan 23, 2019
Introduction to Wheels Off with Rhett Miller

Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller interviews musicians, actors, comics, writers and artists from all disciplines about the messy reality behind the creative life.

Jan 19, 2019
Introduction to Wheels Off with Rhett Miller

Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller interviews musicians, actors, comics, writers and artists from all disciplines about the messy reality behind the creative life.

Jan 19, 2019