Let me preface this by saying that I’m not really a podcast guy. I’m much more interested in listening to music. Podcasts are sort of like TV in that they are a form of entertainment or information that prevent the simultaneous enjoyment of music. And we are all about the enjoyment of music here at PPM. So podcasts are out there. Sometimes my favorite bands do them, and I might even subscribe to them, but never quite bother with listening to them. I have a long 26 mile commute to work, but quite frankly that is my prime music listening time, and I need that for this blog to function. So maybe one day I might catch up with them when the stars align.
That day, was apparently was the last three-day-weekend, where I was chained to my computer re-processing images for a job I thought was all finished weeks ago. The book proof came back from the printer and the organization didn’t like the lush, full tonal range I strove to put in to the photographs which are the point of the book. “Too dark,” they chorused. So I was trapped for many, many hours trying to process the raw images to be lighter on the page without blowing out the detail and lush tonal range locked in them.
What better time to finally catch up on the podcast that Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 had begun last December that I had managed to listen to only a handful of episodes thus far. I mean, anyone who reads PPM knows that I’m usually all over the latest exploits of both Heaven 17 and John Foxx; yet a podcast where the two talked in depth for up to 90 minutes has sat in my podcast app half finished for two months now? It looks bad. Real bad. So I took the opportunity to play serious catch up with the podcast this last weekend.
Ware had done the podcast as a reaction to two factors: the lockdown, and the writing of his autobiography. The latter is penciled in for a release some time in 2022, but the notion of re-connecting with friends and cohorts during this period of social distancing was appealing to the guy. I can say that I’ve had some friends with whom I’ve had no contact with in decades suddenly show up in my inbox, so I get the impulse.
So Mr. Ware [no, not that one…] began “Electronically Yours” six months ago as a weekly podcast but has now increased his frequency to release episodes every few days! As of the John Foxx episode [#16] there are now as few as two but no more than four days between episodes. And his policy of relying on old friends and people in his contact list has fallen by the wayside as he casts his discussion net ever more widely.
I jumped in with the Midge Ure episode [#10] and have now gone on a run through the next seven or eight episodes from there while jumping off at various points to take in old favorites and people who just seem as though it would make for interesting conversation. He’s Zooming with these people and we hear the details, sometimes hearing mothers like Róisín Murphy yelling at the kids to keep a lid on it, or Richard Strange answering the doorbell for a delivery. All of it adding to the unscripted, extemporized nature of the show.
While Mr. Ware works from a page of notes he sometimes refers to as an loose outline, the long conversations are free to wander wherever they want to given the dynamic between the host and guest. Considering that Ware has known some of the participants since he was a young man only adds to the loose feeling and intimacy of it all. And each participant gets at least a full hour [usually closer to 70-80 minutes] to have a conversation that sometimes was down to answering any specific questions Ware pitched at the guest but could quite often let the guest tell their own stories.
The Guests So Far…
- Richard Hawley
- Elly Jackson
- Glenn Gregory + Paul Bower
- Sandie Shaw
- Graham Fellowes
- Ana Matronic
- Glenn Matlock
- Kim Wilde
- Vince Clarke
- Midge Ure
- Gerald Casale
- Martin Fry
- Thomas Dolby
- Gary Numan
- Róisín Murphy
- John Foxx
- Richard Strange
- Stephen Mallinder
- Chris Watson
- Neil Arthur
- Morris Hayes
- Tony Visconti
- Rusty Egan
- Daniel Miller
- Arthur Baker
- Nile Rogers
- Sarah Jane Morris
- Peter Hook
- Jo Callis
- Sananda Maitreya [pt. 1]
- Sananda Maitreya [pt. 2]
- Boy George
- Will Gregory + Adrian Utley
- Professor Brian Cox
Then again, there are guests who are noted raconteurs who take the platform and run with it. I’ve not heard the Rusty Egan episode, but his verbal proclivities were the subject of more than one humorous aside in the talks with mutual friends who were familiar with his talkative nature. That said, my favorite episode thus far was the Richard Strange episode where the guest wove endlessly fascinating tales of his life and career as the founder of Protopunk Art Rockers Doctors Of Madness and beyond. I could have gone on for hours listening to Kid Strange elaborate on his varied career as he told of creating a D.I.Y. space to develop in the pre-Punk atmosphere of London: 1974. Memo to self: buy a copy of Strange’s 2005 autobio “Punks + Drunks, Flicks + Kicks!”
It was a game changer, hearing Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire who was one of Ware’s oldest friends, crack up reminiscing about the olde Sheffield days of yore from when they were youngsters. I’m used to hearing Mallinder crack down, not up. Experiencing him separate from the often dour art I associate with him was a rare treat.
Likewise, we don’t usually hear Gary Numan laughing this much, though his closing tale of how he almost died in a case where his plane’s fuel line froze up was the biggest white knuckle ride of the podcast so far. Not for his tale of how he was in freefall to a likely death on the empty sea beneath his plane, but more for how he spent those tense seconds before the engines re-started thinking of how he’d have to kill his co-pilot if he wanted to be the one to commandeer the life raft in the tail of the aircraft. Remind me not to fly with this guy.
It was a treat hearing the boisterous Jo Callis holding court on the early days of The Rezillos and middle period Human League, where mutual manager Bob Last enlisted Callis to be one of Ware’s replacements in the Human League only to have Ware teach the guitarist how to use a synth. Most fascinating was Callis’ tale of how Bob Last came to be a band manager in the first place.
By the time the podcast was roping in guests that were not directly connected to Ware, like with Morris Hayes [music director for Prince’s New Power Generation band] we could some times be treated to hearing two musicians discussing CERN laboratories and the joys of astronomy research in the remote Chilean desert and getting caught up in the excitement as only two science geeks [Ware was a computer programmer when he started The Human League and Hayes also had a programming background] possibly can. At times like that, the show truly takes flight to become something its creator couldn’t have ever anticipated.
The format of the podcast has Ware closing out the show asking what the subject’s favorite examples of various artforms and artists are at the close of each episode. There are many threads of artistic continuity between the host and many of his guests, but so far, no one has ever picked the same “favorite synthesizer” when he asks them that question. Ware concludes each episode with a selection of emails and questions from his listeners as well as a brief synth doodle to finish out the program. “Electronically Yours” is out there as a podcast available at seemingly every distribution platform out there, so if you have an interest, it’s easily obtained. After a dozen episodes this weekend, I’m seemingly hooked and need to try to keep up with the pace that Ware is setting with two to three shows a week coming our way. Wish me luck.
It’s quite good. To go full circle, check out The Hustle recent podcast where he interviews Martyn. Best listened to after the Sonandra episode though as there are references to that episode. I do believe this is the first time Martyn fully discusses Ian’s departure and some other surprising revelations.
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newmusicmchineblog – I remember how Ian’s departure came as a big surprise with Martyn and Glenn acting pretty shellshocked and clueless when it happened. As if Marsh suddenly disappeared and had zero contact with his former band mates. Listeners have asked to have Marsh as a guest while Ware retorts that he doubted that could happen. I’ll have to check that out. I think I listened to “The Hustle” once before when a favorite appeared there.
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Wonderful podcast. The ones with Sanada were at first the worst, maddening even (don’t get me started on the whole “what is a West Indian really” bit) but in the end, I could see why people like Sandanda so much, he came across as a really smart, likable guy (when he wasn’t ponitifcating). Most other of the guests have been great, relaxed. And, yes, Martyn talks too much, but that is part of the fun. Boy George was hilarious.
dheichards – I have to admit… of all the people on the guest list, the one I have never heard of before, even in the most casual reference, was Sananda. And this person got a two-parter!
you know him :-) or know of him. Terrence Trent D’Arby. Martyn’s producing triumph.
Since you’re not a ‘podcast person’ I feel funny mentioning it, but the podcast ‘Rockonteurs’ with Gary Kemp (spandau ballet) and Guy Pratt mines surprisingly similar territory.
The format is basic, these two interview a guest. Guests have included midge Ure, boy George, Trevor horn, Gary numan, John Taylor, glen mattock, etc etc.
How many of these things could exist out there?
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bpdp3 – I’m aware of Rockonteurs and may have even subscribed [though not yet listened] since I’m a big fan of Guy Pratt and respect Kemp as well.
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hdrichards – D’oh! I had no idea he’d changed. Never really paid any attention to him, actually. Martyn’s production triumph for my money will always be “Music of Quality + Distinction!” Especially volumes One and Three.
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Agreed. I suppose I was being tongue in cheek- he certainly seemed pleased with his work on Introducing. The Hardline… ! lol.
I am not a huge fan of podcasts either-I rarely sit still long enough to hear them through.
I finally dipped into these last week-I played parts of Foxx,Clarke,Dolby and Mallinder.The one thing I notice is that Ware is woefully unprepared when discussing the artists’ work-especially shocking was his scant knowledge of Clarke’s output.Also,Clarke had very little to say and so Ware dominated the chat.
However,I did enjoy listening to them and will try a couple more,probably Strange and Fry as they are the only ones I am interested in on the list.
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Gavin – The Richard Strange is especially good because he just steamrolls through it; holding court. Barely heard Ware at all. I often am surprised at the knowledge that I carry about his guests that’s news to him, but in his defense, I wasn’t busy in the 80s plotting my own career as a recording artist. I can see how he might have missed a lot due to being consumed with his own work.
Also not a big podcast person, I’ve been downloading these and listening to them and have the same underwhelmed reaction.
Appreciate it thanks!
uofsc93 – Welcome to the comments. De nada.
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