The Tapes Archive

By Osiris Media

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Description

A podcast that unearths never-before-heard conversations with world-class musicians and comedians.

Episode Date
#012 Frank Zappa 1991
00:31:11

When I asked Frank Zappa if he had any regrets about the first 25 years of his career, he was blunt, as he always was. 

"There are certain things I might have said in a different way," he said. "But basically, there it is."

And that's why Frank Zappa was and is still revered by his fans—because he said and did what he believed and never let commercial considerations deter him.

In this 1991 interview from The Tapes Archive, Zappa, then 50, talked about standing up to the Parents' Music Resource Center and its warning labels on record albums, how he stepped into Eastern Europe to help American businesses establish ties in formerly communist countries, and why he refused to apologize for songs such as “Jewish Princess,” which offended some organizations.

There’s also talk about his anti-bootlegging project, “Beat the Boots,” and he tells a classic story about one of his greatest songs, “Black Napkins.”

A couple of items that need context:

-At the beginning of the interview, when he mentions “swine,” he’s referring to a show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds where he remembered seeing the Swine Barn.

-Later, when I refer to “the book,” I’m talking about “The Real Frank Zappa Book,” which was published in 1989.

More about Frank Zappa is at https://www.zappa.com/.

Oct 30, 2019
#011 Dweezil Zappa 1994
00:27:26

In the story I wrote in 1994 based on this interview with Dweezil Zappa, the lead paragraph summed up the conversation pretty well: “His father treated life as if it were a wave of stupidity he could somehow contain. Dweezil Zappa prefers to smirk and ride the tide.”

"There's not much use in being negative 24 hours a day," he said. "I can spend a few minutes of my day being negative, but ultimately I like to enjoy things more than I like to promote my disdain for things.”

Dweezil was 24 at the time. He was touring with his band Z in support of the record Shampoohorn, and he also has been acting, with roles in a sitcom called “Normal Life” and a cartoon called “Duckman.” We talk about those things, as well as his love for terrible TV shows and movies, and the state of the music industry. Of course, there’s also some discussion about his father, Frank, who died in December 1993, a couple of months before this interview was recorded.

"You had to be on your toes to talk to him,” Dweezil said. “You didn't want to just talk to him about something unless it was goofy and guaranteed for a laugh. He wanted to learn something every time you talked to him. He was great for that."

More about Dweezil is at https://www.dweezilzappa.com/.

Oct 23, 2019
#010 Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon 1995
00:49:38

When I spoke to Shannon Hoon in September 1995, he and his band, Blind Melon, were on the verge of stardom. Their first album yielded the massive hit single “No Rain,” they had played Woodstock ’94, and they were excited about their new album, “Soup.”

We talked about the new album and how different it was from the band’s debut, about his growing up in Lafayette, Indiana, and about parenthood. His girlfriend Lisa Crouse had just given birth to their daughter, Nico Blue, two months earlier. 

About a month after this interview, Hoon was dead, victim of a cocaine overdose. He was 28.

It was hard to understand his death then, and it’s still difficult today—especially after listening to this conversation again. In 1995, Hoon had a great life to look forward to. He was upbeat, funny, and enjoying his family life.

Now it’s 2019, and he’s been dead almost as long as he was alive.

A few notes:

-We discuss Hoon’s friend and fellow musician Mike Kelsey, a great guitarist whose work has long deserved a much wider audience. Check him out at https://www.michaelkelsey.com/

-At one point, Hoon brings up a negative review of Soup that appeared in the Indianapolis Star. The reviewer wrote: “With a better singer, this band could have some staying power.”

-Hoon references the morning radio team Bob & Tom, which at the time were heard only in the Indianapolis area. Since then, the show has expanded nationally to more than 100 stations.

-Blind Melon continued on without Hoon until 1999, when the group disbanded. After an eight-year hiatus, it teamed up with singer Travis Warren for the album “For My Friends.” Over the next 10 years, the band performed occasionally, and in 2018 they decided to get back together permanently.  

More about Blind Melon is at blindmelon.com.

For more info please visit our [website.](https://www.thetapesarchive.com/)

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit [Osiris](https://www.osirispod.com).

Oct 15, 2019
#009 Bill Maher 1994
00:28:00

Bill Maher is a huge part of the comedy and talk-show landscape, thanks to his HBO show Real Time, which is now in its 17th season.

But in 1994, when this interview was recorded, Maher, then 38, really was just taking off. His Comedy Central show “Politically Incorrect” was about to start its third season, he was an occasional correspondent on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and he had just released a comic novel called “True Story.”

In this interview, we talked a lot about those subjects, as well as politics. In listening to the tape, what’s striking is how we’re still debating the same political issues we were in 1994—especially healthcare and gun control.

One thing I particularly like about this interview is Maher himself. It’s generally hard to make a comedian laugh. But if Maher thinks something is funny, he laughs. I was happy to make him laugh a couple of times.

Also, it’s great to see how consistent he’s been over the years. In the interview, I asked him if it’s accurate to describe him as a disillusioned Democrat who liked Ross Perot’s ideas but knew he could never carry them out, who thinks government is too intrusive and that people are much too dependent on government, who thinks people have gotten fat, lazy and unwilling to accept responsibility.

He liked that description.

I’d say it’s still entirely apt today.

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Oct 09, 2019
#008 Jeff Tweedy of Wilco 1997
00:29:22

Jeff Tweedy is often described as a reticent interview subject, but I found him to be relaxed and easygoing when we spoke in 1997.

At the time, Tweedy and his band Wilco were touring behind their second record, “Being There,” and he was learning to balance the responsibilities of career and fatherhood. 

Our talk is largely about music and musical influences, and about Wilco getting away from the “alt-country” label. The funniest part of the conversation is near the end, where Tweedy tells stories about weird interactions with fans.

As fans know, Tweedy wrote a memoir, “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back),” that came out in 2018, and Wilco’s 11th album, “Ode to Joy,” is scheduled for release on October 4.

More about Wilco is at wilcoworld.net.

For more info please visit our [website.](https://www.thetapesarchive.com/)

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit [Osiris](https://www.osirispod.com).

Oct 02, 2019
#007 Neil Peart of Rush 1990
00:42:28

I interviewed Neil Peart several times over the years and thoroughly enjoyed every conversation. In addition to being a great drummer, he’s a smart, thoughtful, articulate gentleman whose worldview extends well beyond rock ‘n’ roll.

This interview, recorded in 1990, was the first of our talks. Nearly 30 years later, I’m still amazed by his interest in visiting art museums and bicycling around the United States, his desire to become a prose writer, and his simple explanation for why Rush had been able to stay together for so long. (“We’ve retained not only respect but also affection for each other over the years.”) When we talked, Rush was touring behind Presto, its 13th studio album, so there’s also a lot of conversation about songs on that album.

A bit of context:

-Early on, we talk about—but don’t name—Rush’s first drummer. He was John Howard Rutsey, who left the group in 1974. He died in 2008.

-We also discuss the Meech Lake Accord, which would have recognized Quebec as a ''distinct society'' in the body of the Canadian constitution. The accord ultimately failed.

For more about Rush, visit rush.com/band/, where the group’s credentials are laid out nicely: “More than 40 million records sold worldwide. Countless sold-out tours. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Officers of the Order of Canada. And that's all very nice. But for these three guys, it's all about the music, their friendship, and the fans.”

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Sep 25, 2019
#006 Rick James 1997
00:32:11

When I spoke to Rick James in 1997, he had already been a megastar, a prisoner, and a recipient of royalties for the use of his “Super Freak” bassline in MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”

At the time, he was about to start a tour to promote his first album in nine years, “Urban Rhapsody,” and was in the midst of writing his autobiography, “The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak,” which eventually came out in 2007—three years after his death.

In this interview, James, then 49, talked freely about his drug use, how prison turned out to be a good thing for him, what he thought of rap (not much), and his friendships with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. You’ve gotta like someone who says, “A lot of things I had done over the years, I can't remember if I did 'em or not. But they sort of sound great."

I think you’ll enjoy this interview.

As for the concert, it was OK. My review started like this:

"This is not a concert tonight; this is a reunion," Rick James announced early in his set Friday night at the Indiana Convention Center. Actually, it was both a concert and a reunion, as well as a throwback to an era when performers favored sexual innuendo (rather than outright vulgarity) and identified people by their Zodiac signs. James led his Stone City Band through an imbalanced, sporadically invigorating set in his return to action after two years in prison on a drug and assault conviction, plus years of inactivity due to drug addiction.

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Sep 18, 2019
#005 Joan Rivers 1990
00:30:50

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Sep 11, 2019
#004 Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull 1993
00:42:09

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Sep 04, 2019
#003 - Trey Anastasio 1993
00:43:24

Trey's response to Marc Allan's review

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Aug 28, 2019
#002 — Billy Joel 1994
00:30:53

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Aug 20, 2019
#001 — George Carlin 1989
00:30:12

For more info please visit our website.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Intro music by the Budos Band

Aug 19, 2019
#000 — Introduction to The Tapes Archive 2019
00:01:44

An introduction to the podcast, and a little bit of background on how and why this podcast was created.

The podcast is a collaboration between documentary filmmaker Alan Berry (“Dead Man’s Line”) and his longtime friend, journalist Marc Allan, who conducted and recorded the interviews decades ago. Allan recorded these interviews via phone, and the podcast provides a unique, intimate look into music, culture and these artists’ careers at specific moments in time. Most interviews were conducted between 1985-1995.

Berry and Allan curated a 12-episode season that will include interviews with Neil Peart of Rush, Frank Zappa, Ray Charles, Joan Rivers and more.

The Tapes Archive is part of the Osiris network. For more podcasts and experiences, please visit Osiris.

Aug 19, 2019