Author: Jeff Giles and Matt Wardlaw

Justin Roberts

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 29: Justin Roberts

Hola, amigos! We know it’s been a long time since we rapped at you, but your ever-brainstorming hosts have spent much of 2013 juggling various major life events while embarking on a new project with our pal Rob Smith, and over the last few weeks, scheduling has gotten the better of us. Add that to some unfortunate technical difficulties, and here we are. Happily, “here” also includes a new episode of the Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour — one that finds us sitting down with kindie superstar and all-around musical genius Justin Roberts, whose new album Recess gave us just the opportunity we needed to discuss the ins and outs of writing for an all-ages audience, touring like a lunatic, and respecting the sanctity of a well-written pop bridge. Ladies and gents, here’s Justin: The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 29: Justin Roberts And as an added bonus, here’s Justin’s new video for “Recess”! Justin Roberts image used with permission.

Heidi Swedberg

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 28: Heidi Swedberg

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a big dummy. No second acts in American lives? Pshaw — just look at our latest guest, Heidi Swedberg. As George Costanza’s erstwhile fiancee Susan on Seinfeld, Heidi suffered the only “death by envelope” in sitcom history, only to reinvent herself as a recording artist. And not just any recording artist: not only is Ms. Swedberg the proud owner of a growing discography that includes the just-released My Cup of Tea, she’s also the preeminent ukulelevangelist on the family music scene, hosting a traveling roadshow of fun clinics that’s seen her teaching the instrument to attendees all over the world. Our manifesto here is “everyone has a story,” and we knew Heidi’s was more interesting than most. She didn’t disappoint, holding court with your hosts for a friendly and thoughtful episode of the Radio Hour that will leave you wanting to rush out and take music lessons with your kids (and wanting to cover your ears while Jeff “plays” ukulele during a “duet” with Heidi late in the show). Without further …

Tess Henley

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 26: Tess Henley

Tess Henley is a 25-year-old kid from Seattle — not that you’d know it from listening to her new album High Heels & Sneakers, which blends Henley’s confident brand of old-school soul with colorfully empathetic (and blessedly live instrument-based) production courtesy of Roots crew associate Dice Raw. The latest in a series of well-received independent releases, High Heels & Sneakers is one of the more intriguing records of 2013, and it left us wanting to speak with Tess — to find out more about her artistic development, hear about how she manages her career while honing her craft, and learn how she managed to soak up so much soul way out in the Pacific Northwest. We think you’ll be as pleased to make Ms. Henley’s acquaintance as we were, and you can get the party started right here with Episode 26 of the Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour: The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 26: Tess Henley


The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 23: Joy Ike

“Loves people, hates shoes, makes music.” How’s that for a manifesto? On the other hand, those six words don’t really sum up Joy Ike‘s music — but then, you’d need more than a few pages to properly delve into her signature blend of pop, folk, and soul, which Ike charmingly classifies as “soulfolk.” She’s been compared to a long list of piano-playing songstresses whose work is as impressive as it is musically divergent — how many RIYLs include Fiona Apple and Norah Jones? — while remaining resolutely her own artist, and her latest album, the recently released All or Nothing, represents what she calls “the most realized, most complete piece of work I have ever been a part of.” We talk to a lot of independent artists here at the Radio Hour, and the responsibilities and struggles of the modern indie artist are a common theme on the show. It’s a subject near and dear to Joy Ike’s heart, as she is not only free of label backing — All or Nothing was funded via …

Emily Hurd

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 20: Emily Hurd

Emily Hurd is one of my favorite “discoveries” in the past few years. I have to give credit to longtime music publicist Anne Leighton for putting Hurd’s music on my radar. It was sometime in 2011 when a copy of Long Lost Ghosts showed up at my P.O. Box. I pulled the CD out of the package and saw the title and thought “that’s a cool name for an album.” Listening to the songs on Long Lost Ghosts, particularly “Brand New,” drew me in even further and I made a mental note that I should do something with Emily — an interview to talk about these songs, or at the very least, a review of the CD. Life got busy and that didn’t happen, but a funny thing did. Hurd kept making music. As a music fan, perhaps you know what I’m getting at. Sometimes you get a great album from somebody and then you never hear from them again. That certainly isn’t the case with Emily Hurd, who has made a total of ten …

Kenny Aronoff

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 19: Kenny Aronoff

Kenny Aronoff. For liner notes geeks like you and me, the name alone conjures up at the very least, the thought of that one really awesome drum breakdown, one which arguably put Aronoff on the radar of many for the first time. When you get the chance to interview someone like Aronoff, it’s a bit intimidating. Your mind starts to spin as you think about all of the records that this guy has been a part of…..and all of the people that he’s played with and still plays with. But as I discovered the first time that I got the chance to speak with Kenny, he’s an awesome dude. Mellow, humble and down to earth. Which is why when we started sketching out our wishlist of folks that we wanted to talk to here on the Radio Hour, I put Kenny on my short list. It didn’t take much more than sending an email his way to nail something down. From there, it was just a matter of finding a day that would work with …

Danny Seraphine

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 17: Danny Seraphine

In the rock milieu, drummers are hardly ever famous in their own right; unless you happen to sing while you’re swinging the sticks, like Phil Collins or Don Henley (or, around Popdose, Andy Sturmer), it’s exceedingly unlikely that the garden-variety fan will ever have any idea who you are (or notice when you’re fired). Just ask Danny Seraphine, who co-founded the pioneering “rock band with horns” Chicago in 1967 and held down its rhythm section until 1990 — then had to watch from the outside while the band’s ever-dwindling core of original members hit the sheds every summer with a growing cast of replacements. For Seraphine — who told his side of the Chicago story in his memoir, Street Player — his painful divorce from the band he helped start was enough to send him into a musical hibernation that, for awhile, seemed to be permanent. But the drums never stopped calling him, and in 2006, he surprised longtime fans with California Transit Authority (CTA for short), a cheekily named collective dedicated to fulfilling the …

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 16: Roger Clyne

While we love our share of music that is deep and introspective, sometimes you just want to have some good sarcastic fun. Roger Clyne &  the Peacemakers definitely make music that treads across a wide range of emotions, but at the core of it all, Clyne and his rebellious gang of music-making diablos aren’t taking things too seriously. Clyne’s name might not resonate with you at first mention, but you’ve definitely heard his songs. As the leader of the Refreshments in the ‘90s, he unleashed two albums with the band including the tongue twisting Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy. During the course of our conversation, we found out from Clyne that the album title of Fizzy was a deliberate verbal atom bomb meant to break up the pretentious tone at alternative and rock radio at that time. It worked. If you were working in rock radio at the time that Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy came out, it definitely left an impression with its title alone. Adding to their blitz of activities, the lead single …

Ugly Kid Joe

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 15: Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe

As we reach Episode 15 of The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, today’s guest might seem a little bit unusual at first glance. But if you’ve been following along as we’ve unveiled each installment of the Radio Hour, you’ll realize that in fact, taking advantage of the opportunity to talk music and business with Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe falls right in line with what this podcast has always been about. What is common about each of our conversations that we’ve had along the way during the first 14 episodes is that we’re always seeking to get insight into not only the latest project, but also the method behind their overall creation process. Beyond that, from a business standpoint, how did they get it done? What sort of challenges were encountered along the way and if there was a period of rebuilding, how did they face that? These are some of the topics that we touch on during our conversation with Whitfield, who joined us on the phone to talk about Stairway to Hell, …

Jim Peterik

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 9: Jim Peterik

When you get an offer to speak with a guy like Jim Peterik, it’s an opportunity that you really sink your teeth into. As Jeff points out during our conversation, Peterik, whether he realized it at the time or not, was writing songs that were (and would become) the soundtrack to the youth of many. While Peterik is perhaps best known for his work as the keyboardist and songwriter for Survivor, his songwriting success extended well beyond that project as he wrote songs for artists ranging from .38 Special and Sammy Hagar to REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Beach Boys in more recent years. Jeff and I really enjoyed having the chance to pick his brain on songwriting (something which he says is still “50% inspiration and 50% perspiration), the business side of things and more than anything, we just enjoyed the chance to hear Jim tell us a few of the stories behind the songs and at times, simply how he was able to get it all done. And how does he continue …

Marti Frederiksen

The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 6: Marti Frederiksen Interview

Over the past two decades, songwriter/producer Marti Frederiksen, today’s guest on The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, has been the magic man helping to glue together big rock sounds for artists like Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Buckcherry, Daughtry and Motley Crue. He also worked on several of our favorite projects, whether it was providing the vocal voice for the fictional rock band Stillwater in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, or producing the sorely underrated 1998 Wishpool album by Alabama-born rockers Brother Cane. Frederiksen was also at the helm for Can’t Slow Down, the most recent Foreigner studio release that (despite all of the odds stacked against it) was one of those “I can’t believe this is so good, but it totally is” albums, a complete return to form for the veteran classic rockers. Working across multiple genres, Frederiksen is probably best known in recent years for his work as the musical conscience for Aerosmith. He first came together with the “Bad Boys from Boston” in the mid-’90s, coming on board during the sessions for the 1997 …