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The Art of Longevity
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The Art of Longevity

Author: The Song Sommelier

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Uniquely honest conversations with famous and renowned musicians. We talk about how these artists have navigated the mangle of the music industry to keep on making great music and winning new fans after decades of highs and lows. We dive into past, present and future and discuss business, fandom, creation and collaboration. What defines success in today's music business? From the artist's point of view. 

The Guardian: “Making a hit record is tough, but maintaining success is another skill entirely. Music industry executive Keith Jopling explores how bands have kept the creative flame alive in this incisive series”.

65 Episodes
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In Mark Oliver Everett’s autobiography “Things The Grandchildren Should Know”, the author, otherwise known as E, the frontman and band leader of Eels, wrote of Bob Dylan’s self-proclaimed destiny as a musician:“I wish I had something like that, but I didn’t. At all. All I had was an aching sense of desperation. I didn’t have any idea what the hell I was doing and was only doing it out of not knowing what else to do”.Despite this, or perhaps because of it, E simply continued to keep on keeping...
Marika Hackman's Big Sigh is everything a 4th album should be. Really good songs, good scheduling, sophisticated arrangements (brass and strings accompany many tracks). The album has variety - from the mysterious instrumental interludes of The Ground and The Lonely House (opening sides A and B of my/your bottle green vinyl copy) to stand out singles (Slime, No Caffeine) to epic album tracks (Hanging, The Yellow Mile). It has an impressive musicality and most of all, it has real depth. A truly...
Fran Healy and his band Travis have this longevity thing down. Firstly, you must have a love and addiction to music, as something magical. Secondly, that magic is for you to create - making music to nobody’s expectations but your own. But thirdly, you get lucky. As Fran says in episode 3, Season 9:“The chances of a shit kicker from Glasgow going on to win the best band in the world is a billion to one. How can you be proud to be lucky?”Well okay, but as all bands that ever got a break know, y...
After 25 years in the music business, both as a major label priority artist and as a jobbing musician, Ed Harcourt still has big ambitions. “My greatest achievement would be to write a song I would never get bored of singing”.Cards on the table, Ed Harcourt’s two instrumental albums made between 2018 and 2020 (Beyond the End and Monochrome to Colour) got me through the pandemic. Well, they certainly helped. But Ed didn’t sing on either, so it comes as something of a relief to have Ed Har...
Try playing a Crowded House record (any of them) then let Spotify play on…you will get just the best selection of really great songs. Go on, try it and you’ll see for yourself. This discovery may well make drivetime radio programming a heck of a lot easier, or possibly redundant altogether. You may of course be a Crowded House fan and like, know this already. You may be a casual admirer, or even a sceptic. In which case, take the time to enjoy this shared revelation. But let me tell you that ...
When Real Estate's fifth album The Main Thing was released to fairly mixed results, was it time for a reset? In a sense, yes. For band leader Martin Courtney, it was time to get back to songs. After all, without songs, bands are just jamming, right? He set the bar high too, inspired mostly by the 1992 R.E.M. classic Automatic For The People.Besides, you cannot call in a producer like Daniel Tashian without being able to play him songs of exceptionally high standard. For a start, Tashian produ...
Like many women creators in the (still) white, male dominated music industry, the Staveley-Taylor sisters aka The Staves, bring a sense of humbleness to everything they have achieved, how they are positioned today and indeed, what the future holds. Is it possible that The Staves are better than they think they are? It seems so. Originally signed to a major label of some reverence (Atlantic, just before the hypergrowth of Spotify, social media and TikTok), it is likely that their major label A...
After the fiasco of having to cancel Beirut’s 2019 tour, Zach Condon knew he needed to take the time out to fully recover. Multiple infections, colds and in the end complicated throat ailments had led him to a total burnout, until finally:“My manager and my tour manager saved me from myself. They told me I can’t keep touring. I threw in the towel and dissolved the touring group. I later saw the fiasco over refunds and all that, and I felt horrible about it”.This adversity though, perhaps inev...
Metric has become one of those bands that have paved the way for independence, along with Aimee Mann, Chance The Rapper and the other self-releasing copyright owning pioneers. Their fifth album Synthetica (2012) as it turns out, is a favourite of the band’s front woman and main co-writer Emily Haines. Even though it didn’t reach the commercial heights predecessor Fantasies did, it was a mature and ambitious record, setting the tone for Metric’s accomplished and reliably strong catalogue. ...
I had invited Half Moon Run onto the podcast after first hearing Salt - imploring their BMG PR to arrange it as a matter of priority. Speaking with Dylan Phillips was an insight behind the creative process of the (decades long) making of one of my favourite records in ages. Also, I had never spoken to a drummer who is simultaneously a keyboard player, but that is part of the modus operandi of Half Moon Run - a continual swapping out switching up of instruments between the band’s three me...
In the 70s, the teenage years of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, one would have heard new music by word of mouth, from the music papers, and DJs like John Peel, and it is one of these channels that would have led the young Andy McCluskey in September 1975 to see Kraftwerk play at the Liverpool Empire. It's lazy to suggest that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were entirely influenced by Kraftwerk – both founder members were keen music lovers and had performed together in a band calle...
So many bands have a complex relationship with their biggest songs (probably because they essentially set a one dimensional benchmark - that of popularity) but dealing with that and playing those songs like it’s the last time you ever will, is part of doing the work. The Doll’s most biggest song and most recent tour are no exception:“Robby convinced me, play Iris last. But that’s what bands do when they only have one big song! So everyone has to stick around and hear all the other songs befor...
What better guest for this 50th episode of The Art of Longevity than metal’s renaissance man Corey Taylor? A modern legend of the heavy metal genre, Corey has no less than three successful music projects. He is probably best known as Slipknot’s #9 (lead vocals) but before he joined Slipknot, Taylor already had another established hard rock band, Stone Sour. I met Corey as he was about to release his second solo record CMF2. This multiple persona artist is a sort-of blueprint for music creator...
Following the highly accomplished 2012 album Heaven, cult American indie band The Walkmen went on hiatus. But now they have reformed. In a recent interview with the band’s frontman Hamilton Leithauser, Vulture magazine referred to the now infamously long career break as “a particularly noticeable void”. I would go a lot further than that. I (and a million other fans) grieved the loss of The Walkmen, because in the indie landscape they offered something unique. The ramshackle but classic ...
After he “couldn’t get arrested” in the 80s, post-grunge opened a window through which a then 30-year old Ron Sexsmith could climb. With his sincere, low-key ballads and simple songs straight from the heart, as was his 1995 self-titled debut. Produced by legend Mitchell Froom, it was a stripped back affair but also with the signature sounds of Froom and his engineer collaborator Tchad Blake (favourites of the crew here at The Art of Longevity). Those songs came as an antidote to the loudness ...
For Ben Folds, coming back on the scene with a new studio album feels like a breeze, literally:“I Feel like the expectations are lowered but I have the wind on my back”.In June 2023 Ben releases What Matters Most, his fifth studio album and his first in over six years, almost an ice age in today’s breathless music biz. But part of the reason and the joy it has taken him so damn long to make, is a focus on the craft that is part of Folds’ raison d'être as a musician some three decades into a p...
Asking John Grant to describe the essence of the record he is working on now, elicits a response that fascinates from the get go. “I’m trying to marry the vibe of Blade Runner with - wait a minute - let me go and get this movie [shows me Tetsu The Iron Man]. I want to blend Sonic Youth with Blade Runner, Evil Dead and Halloween 3”. John was struggling to articulate a few things on the day we met, including the one word essence of this new album project, but I’m going to guess the wo...
What’s more important in securing a band’s longevity - hit songs or a classic album? I put this question to Meegan and Allison Closner (the twin sisters that make up two-thirds of Joseph along with their sister Natalie Closner Schepman). Their answer seemed clear enough. For Joseph, it’s all about the album. So, is the band’s new album The Sun a classic? Only time will tell. Personally, I resisted any notion of hearing the record before its release. My orange ‘sun’ vinyl is in the post a...
In this episode of the Art of Longevity, we have the pleasure of chatting with Stuart Braithwaite, a member of the internationally renowned post-rock band Mogwai. Known for their masterful use of crescendos, Mogwai have been making music since 1995, with 11 studio albums that have gained increasing popularity over time, with their latest 'As The Love Continues' reaching the lofty milestone of #1 in the UK album chart.Stuart's recently published autobiography, 'Spaceships Over Glasgow,' offers...
Being a longevous, ‘real deal’ music artist requires many things, but being pure in heart is certainly one. And there are few people on this earth as pure in heart as Rickie Lee Jones. With the completion of Last Chance Texaco in 2019 (her brilliantly evocative and critically revered addition to the vast ‘rock memoir’ library) Rickie Lee permitted herself to look back to those early days and draw new inspiration from them. “Before I finished that book, I was burdened, but when it wa...
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