Bandpicked: Adam Betts picks his nine favourite podcasts
The supremely awesome drummer Adam Betts (of Three Trapped Tigers) has a debut solo album, Colossal Squid, out this week, and in this edition of Bandpicked, we asked Adam about his very favourite podcasts. You thought we were going to say “favourite drummers” right?
Pfft, it’s like you don’t know us at all.
Adam Betts has been busy this year perfecting his solo album Colossal Squid – in fact Betts recently re-recorded the whole thing again in one day-long session, triggering every electronic sound on the record himself while still thrashing the crap out of a drum kit. The finished work strikes an extraordinary balance between avant-garde experimentalism and down-right catchiness, and it’s one of our favourite instrumental records of the year.
LOOK AT HIM GO…
So naturally we thought, “hey drummers need some down-time right? They need to give their ear-drums a rest from all the pounding. I wonder if Adam Betts likes to listen to podcasts as much as we do?”
The answer is yes.
In fact Adam Betts has a far more wide-reaching and varied taste in podcasts than we do, being as we haven’t stopped listening to the same Adam and Joe podcasts repeatedly for the last five years.
Here are Adam Betts’ favourite podcasts, all of which are guaranteed a fascinating listen.
Hardcore History – Dan Carlin
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History has been called the Citizen Kane of podcasts, and I reckon that’s fair. There’s certainly a good case for it, as the depth and colour he brings to the historical stories he is telling is completely wonderful.
His series Blueprint for Armageddon about World War One is truly harrowing, and at about 25 hours in total it has the ability to give great detail from the very start with Franz Ferdinand, through to the aftermath of the war, with the USA’s change of policy regarding international involvement, the creation of the Middle East as we know it, and the repercussions these issues have today.
All Songs Considered – Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen
NPR’s All Songs Considered is a really fantastic music podcast, with Hilton and Boilen running through a massive range of new music.
Their amiable presenting style is understated and free from almost any hyperbole, as they enthusiastically and honestly explain why they like (or occasionally dislike) each other’s selections. I also really enjoy about 80% of the stuff they play, which is a great hit rate for any music show!
Shall We Play a Game? – Chris Suellentrop and J J Sutherland
J J Sutherland and Chris Suellentrop host this charmingly low-key computer games podcast. They rarely discuss the big releases in gaming, instead focusing on a fairly random but often interesting selection of games, chosen by the two hosts.
While I rarely (never) get the time to play computer games, hearing these two great journalists discuss these games over Skype with gentle wit and affection for each other is real winner. It’s as far from the traditional manic energy of most computer games and gaming journalism as it’s possible to get, I think.
The Church of What’s Happening Now – Joey Diaz and Lee Syatt
The second the music starts in The Church of What’s Happening Now (usually some kind of classic 70’s rock or soul) and Joey Diaz shouts “Oh shit!” before hyping in a gloriously gaudy way (quote: “It’s a beautiful day to be alive. You’re showing up with a big dick and a warm heart. Who’s better than you?!”) in his amazing, cartoon character voice, I’m smiling from ear to ear.
Joey Diaz is a Cuban/American comedian living in LA, and this podcast is predominantly just him chatting with his producer Lee Syatt (“The Flying Jew”). Diaz is an awesome story teller, with a totally infectious energy and reassuring vibe, and his friendship with the younger, less confident Syatt is a great jumping off point for what is just two friends getting stoned and shooting the shit for almost two hours.
Slate’s The Gist – Mike Pesca
Mike Pesca is seriously prolific, with The Gist coming out up to four times a week. He’s also really engaging across a really wide range of subjects and a great interviewer. The show has two sections – an interview of about 20 minutes, and a monologue at the end (The Spiel).
Pesca has a couple of fairly regular contributors that do some great segments – Chris Molanphy joins him to discuss the songs that were at number one in any given year, with fantastic social context to the music, and Maria Konnikova does a segment “Is That Bullshit?” where they look at research for one of a (very) broad range of subjects from “Recycling” to “He Smells My Dog On You”, to see if it’s complete or partial bullshit. (FYI Recycling isn’t, with some buts, and ‘he smells my dog on you’ probably is.)
The unifying thread of this show is a love of thought and language, delivered with the intense, almost hyperactive, energy of a smart, charismatic and opinionated New Yorker.
The Secret History of Hollywood
Epic in a way akin to Hardcore Histories, this is a recent discovery to me, but The Secret History of Hollywood captures the excitement and glamour of the amazing early period of Hollywood.
The Universal Monsters episode is stunning, with the life stories of the stars being full of as much sadness and tragedy as the monsters they played. These stories feel quite sexed up, but the podcast is gripping. Sadly since listening I can’t find the name of the presenter beyond “Adam”, which is a ridiculous name.
Malcolm Gladwell – Revisionist History
Lots of podcasts are based around reporting, but Revisionist History is one of the first podcast essay pieces I’ve listened to. Gladwell has a thesis and works through arguments and counter arguments, before arriving at a conclusion. The subjects are varied, but the shows about satire, protest and music were all really eye-opening. He’s a charismatic broadcaster too, and makes no apologies for being opinionated and intellectual.
Angelos And Barry Podcast
Amazing rambling comedy from two unbelievably well realised characters. Barry from Watford has the mannerisms and banal turn of phrase of a dull man in his 70s down so well that he destroys me relentlessly.
Combined with Angelos Epithemiou’s more absurd improvs, and the completely loose production values (they’re drinking throughout, with some pretty colossal burps erupting at times), I love hearing them riff together, sometimes trying to back each other into a corner with competing stories. Sadly right now they’re writing for a tour so they’re off the air, but hopefully it’ll be back soon.
Wireless Nights – Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker’s Wireless Nights is a curious and occasionally tenuous collection of stories and interviews based around the theme of night. Cocker is a brilliant broadcaster, and this was one of the first podcasts I listened to where the editing and incidental music were as important as any of the words. Really compelling listening, with great attention to atmosphere.
Adam Betts’ debut album Colossal Squid is out 25th November, you can pre-order it here, and Adam is playing the Servant’s Jazz Quarters, London on 29th November.