Welcome to Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions; this week on the show, we’re joined by arvis Taveniere of Woods. You know his long running Woods band with Jeremy Earl of course—and Woodsist, their record label and Woodsist Festival, which returns September 23-24 upstate with Kevin Morby, Avey Tare, Cochemea, Tapers Choice, Ana Saint Louis, Natural Information Society, Kurt Vile, Scientist, DJ Aquarium Drunkard—that’s our own Justin Gage—plus many more. The band also just released a glowing new album, Perennial, which finds the band in a gentle, rambling mode.
This week, we shift from the band’s chronological narrative to consider the many factors that bind this chaotic mass of people together in this creative yet uncommercial experience. We open with our focus on the role that music has played in the band members’ individual lives and how a shared love of music brought them all together. This morphs into a consideration of the band’s many artistic influences, with a close look at the impact of the Wu-Tang Clan on Sunburned. We hear about the complicated and often difficult backgrounds of many of the Sunburned musicians and how jamming with the band can often serve as a type of group therapy.
This week on the show, we’re joined by Sam Shepherd, AKA Floating Points. His discography is full of beautiful and strange electronic music—bubbling Buchalas, skittering beats, washes of synthesized sound, and even moody, spacious post-rock. But underneath it all, his love of jazz is clear. In 2021, he teamed with an actual jazz legend: the late Pharoah Sanders, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra for Promises, a single 46-minute composition broken into nine movements. Today, Floating Points joins us to discuss bringing Promises live to the Hollywood Bowl September 20th.
This week, we finish the band’s chronological story then pivot to take in Sunburned’s many artistic collaborators. We hear about the personal impact of the band’s non-stop touring and the eventual burnout that ground things to a halt. Moloney and Thomas then describe how this was followed by several “wilderness years” where the band was just there but they weren’t really doing anything with it.
Los Angeles, we are pleased to share word of Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions live at the storied Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz on Saturday, September 30th with Matt Marble, author of Buddhist Bubblegum: Esotericism in the Creative Process of Arthur Russell.
Welcome back, thanks for being here with us. Emil Amos of the Drifter’s Sympathy podcast is with us today on Transmissions. Perhaps you know his work with OM, Grails, Holy Sons, or the records he releases under his own name, like Zone Black, his latest record of library style sounds, synthy 80s soundtracks, hip-hop beats, and ambient music. It evokes a mythic ‘70s—an area we linger in this conversation.
At this point in our story, Sunburned Hand of the Man morphs into a many-headed hydra with varying manifestations in the loft and on each tour. To get through this vague period of 5-8 years, we focus on the band’s tour stories. We learn how a years-long period of heavy touring was kicked off with a family-band excursion to play a wedding in Alaska. After a conjunction of high-profile press coverage, Sunburned suddenly found themselves in high demand on the international festival circuit. So we focus on stories of their extended tour of Europe and the UK in 2003. Our story gets blurry after that first European tour, so we step back and focus first on stories of Sunburned’s many North American tours – including the 2004 cross-country trek out to Arthur Fest and back where they picked up the “no way out” rallying cry. Finally, we hear a conglomeration of stories from the band’s later European tours.
Welcome back to Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions, so glad to have you here once again. Our guest this week is Will Sheff, known for his solo work and years with the indie rock band Okkervil River. In this conversation, Sheff and host Jason P. Woodbury cover a wide stretch, examining how the indie rock landscape has changed and evolved over decades, exploring the spiritual core at the heart of his music, and hearing stories about his interactions with luminaries like Roky Erickson and Jason Molina.
In this week’s episode, we hear stories of Sunburned Hand of the Man’s earliest jamming and meet more members of the band. We learn that, after jamming namelessly for a year and a half, the band finally started using the Sunburned moniker. Then we tune in to learn about their earliest excursions playing outside the Charlestown loft, including their first show as Sunburned as part of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. We hear how the interplay between these new locations and contexts provoked new modes of performance and artistic connections.
Today’s guest is writer Laura Snapes. Her work has been published by the BBC, Pitchfork, and NME, and she’s the deputy music editor of The Guardian. We’ve been aiming to have her for Transmissions for some time now, and now we’re so glad we’ve got this episode to share with you listeners, covering the psycho-geology of songs, the climate, varied definitions of the term “Americana,” and her recent listening: Julie Byrne, Be Your Own Pet, Róisín Murphy, and Jesse Lanza. Plus, the occult roots of Aphex Twin and what it means to “name” a nascent music genre.
This week, we hear about the origins of Sunburned Hand of the Man. Here’s an amazing and extremely early glimpse of Sunburned playing live in late 1997. You can see many of the musicians described in this episode! You can check out Shit Spangled Banner’s Ass Run release here, and this is the Discogs entry for the “other” version. Click through the images to see the accompanying note from Byron Coley. Also, here’s Byron’s piece remembering Marc Orleans published in The Wire. And this is an album by Marc Orleans’s band Juneau. We were wondering if Lothlorien – the Tolkein-themed space in southern Indiana was real.
On this episode of Transmissions, Darren Jessee joins us for a freewheeling talk about influences, lyrics, creative process, and his time on the road with Ben Folds Five. We discuss a wide range of artists—Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Gordon Lightfoot, and spend a lot of time reflecting on Neil Young, who Ben Folds Five toured with in the 1990s. Along the way, we inspect the notion of how songs change and shape our views, the tenor of the culture wars back in the ‘90s, and the value of occasionally overdoing it.
Our pilot episode introduces the concept of the podcast and takes a close look at Sunburned’s iconic album, Headdress. We hear about the origins and goals of the podcast—grappling with the complexities of Sunburned’s chaotic narrative. Music journalist Allison Hussey joins us to provide an outsider’s perspective of the band. Byron Coley describes Sunburned’s impact on the wider music scene. Then we focus on one song in an attempt to discern a bit of what Sunburned does when they jam. Finally, we turn to Sunburned’s iconic 2002 release, Headdress, and that album’s recent 20th anniversary reissue.
Back in 2022, songwriter Lincoln Barr got in touch, writing a personal note in which he expressed an appreciation for what we do here at Aquarium Drunkard. “Listening to the topics that come up in your conversations, I can’t help but recognize a kindred spirit out there in the desert.” Since then, Barr and Transmissions host Jason P. Woodbury have gone back and forth via email, discussing spirituality, art, poetry, Ireland, Sinéad O’Connor, NRBQ, psychedelia, personal work, and much more. And now, they finally link up for a proper podcast discussion. Though their conversation was shaded by the passing of O’Connor, a shared favorite, they covered lots of ground additionally, waxing on mysticism, personal exploration, and Barr’s incredible album, Forfeit the Prize.
With this podcast, we embrace the full force of Sunburned Hand of the Man. The final result is assembled from conversations and recordings with 15 current and past members as well as outside commentary from friends, fans, and collaborators. Across eight episodes, we unravel the band’s complex history and examine the hows and whys of this bizarre creative endeavor. Coming August 14th from Aquarium Drunkard and Talkhouse Podcast Network.