Earlier today we told you all about Low Times, the new long-form music interview series from longtime The Best Show On WFMU DJ and comedy godhead Tom Scharpling, journalist Maggie Serota and producer/editor Daniel Ralston. Scharpling is an incredibly busy dude — in addition to the radio and podcast shows he’s developing a project for Comedy Central and working with the sportwriting website The Classical — but he took some time to talk with Nonstop Soundabout the inspiration for the new music chat fest.
“The idea to start Low Times grew out of the great time I had doing a music fanzine back in the ’90s. I loved how much fun it was to talk to people who make music, but an especially enjoyable aspect of it was that you could talk to the subject for as long as you wanted without an editor cutting the story down to a fraction of what it should be,” he says. “So I always wanted to go back to that in some form or another. But the idea of starting up another fanzine wasn't appealing anymore since I have developed an aversion to mailing things in bulk and dealing with a ton of five dollar transactions.
“And at this point I'm pretty comfortable running my mouth into a microphone so we -- and by we I mean me and Daniel Ralston and Maggie Serota, my partners in this endeavor -- figured that executing the concept of long-form music interviews as a podcast was the way to go.”
There’s no shortage of either music-based podcasts or more long-form interview podcasts to be found online, from Greg Kot and Jim Derogatis’ Sound Opinions to Marc Maron’s essential comedy shop talk series WTF. But what should help Low Times stand out, Scharpling thinks, is the series emphasis on storytelling over recommendations.
“The big thing that I believe separates Low Times from other podcasts for me would be that we're not necessarily making value judgments on the artists we interview. This podcast isn't all about trying to shape your musical tastes” he says. “Sometimes we might be interviewing our favorite musician ever, other times we might be talking to someone who has amazing stories to tell even if their band isn't any or all of our cups of tea.
“I want this podcast to be about the people who make music and the stories and opinions they've accumulated along the way. Just because someone makes good music doesn't mean they're going to be interesting to talk to. And I'd rather talk to someone whose music I might not love but who is insanely fascinating or funny over someone whose records I love doesn't have anything to say outside of their songs.”