Alt-Nation: 300 Episodes of Agreeing to Disagree: The Chuck and Brad Podcast and Other Shows

I’ve always admired people who organized enough to keep track of how many times they do something. Personally, I can’t. I couldn’t tell you if the amount of columns I’ve written is closer to 100 or 500. Chuck Staton (from the punk band Senior Discount) and Brad Rohrer (Providence Improv Guild player) who do the popular podcast Agreeing to Disagree are much better at that stuff. They are about to celebrate doing 300 podcasts, and that is a lot! Certainly more podcasts than I have listened to or will probably ever listen to. Agreeing to Disagree has featured loads of musicians, comedians and other artists for some hysterical moments. In recent years Chuck and Brad have started doing their podcasts in front of a live audience where one never knows what zaniness awaits. In advance of their 300th podcast, which will be held at Fete on May 7, I poised a few to Mr. Staton and Mr. Rohrer.

Marc Clarkin: What do you remember about the first podcast?

Brad Rohrer: I remember getting set up and hoping Chuck and I could keep a conversation going for at least 45 minutes. Anything less than that feels like it wouldn’t have been worth putting up online. We were discussing our favorite things of 2008 — books, movies, games, TV, etc. We talked for two and a half hours.

Chuck Staton: I remember that I was actually nervous! I was like, “Okay, how can we be entertaining? How can we make sure we’re funny or insightful?” and I felt like I really wanted to concentrate on being entertaining as opposed to letting my personality shine through.

MC: How did it start? Did you and Brad just have crazy conversations and felt you needed to share them?

BR: Chuck wanted weekly content for the band’s website, something to keep people interested between shows and albums. I had been working on a blog for a while, and wanted that to reach a different audience. Chuck and I are both talkers; our conversations rarely lag. Doing a podcast together made sense.

CS: Yeah, I was building the new Senior Discount website at the time. I also think that comedy and stage banter is such a huge part of Senior Discount, that story-telling was already built in to what we did. Senior Discount made a documentary in 2007, and AbsolutePunk reviewed it. They said like, I looked like I’d be just as comfortable onstage doing stand-up comedy. So I think we thought our specific delivery and viewpoints were funny and fun. Plus I felt like I was always meeting new people in the music world in New England, and getting band stories from playing out all the time, that those things could be collected and presented.

MC: What was your favorite moment?

BR: Come on, there’s no way I’m going to narrow it down to one moment. We’ve done interviews with amazing artists, we’ve had incredibly fun times with friends, and we’ve gotten really open and vulnerable about things going on in our lives.  All good moments.

CS: I think our most recent Christmas episode had the most camaraderie of any episode. That night was one of my favorite nights of my life. That might be my favorite. Lots of little jokes on the podcast have made us laugh to the point of crying, though, and those are amazing to have captured.

MC: What was the worst moment?

BR: I think there was a long stretch when we were going through some things that we kind of put the podcast on the back burner. Once we re-committed to doing weekly episodes, I think I realized how much I enjoy recording and that means the time we spent not putting up new episodes was the worst moment.

CS: Hmm. That’s a good answer. One of our most difficult is when we were hired to host a midnight release of a Batman video game. They also hired a DJ to perform at the SAME TIME so nothing we said could be heard, but we still did 45 minutes to people staring blankly, trying to make out what we were saying.  It was my most awkward “being in front of a crowd” moment.  By the way — we were paid in Batman video games.  Sweet payment!

MC: You have done a few a few live podcasts. How does that change the dynamic?

BR: Our live podcasts are more like comedy variety shows than anything. A normal episode finds us in Chuck’s kitchen just talking about things, and we hope the conversation is entertaining and inviting enough to keep people coming back. The live podcasts are just fun.  Raucous, crazy fun.

CS: It is definitely more nerve-wracking. Even though we RARELY edit — we know we can and that provides a safety net. Whereas with a live show, we HAVE to be on-point the whole time. We have more planned segments at our live show, but everything we say is still off the cuff. If we have to introduce a video, my notes might say “Introduce the Macksoud prank idea.”  So I still have to be funny, engaging, clear and concise in the moment about whatever we’re getting across. Definitely more nerve-wracking.

MC: You love music, can you talk about how that factors in?

BR: I am the improviser in the group, so I’m always trying to make jokes that go with the flow of the episode. Despite my improv training and experience, Chuck is still way funnier and quicker than me.

CS: No way. I think the dynamic of “Chuck and Brad” works so well because we’re both funny in different ways. I would never say I’m funnier or quicker than Brad. I think we’re about equal — although Brad often beats me to the punch with a throwaway comment that is an A+ joke. That’s not really the question you asked, but I’m responding to Brad. In terms of music — I think that, while we have done a lot of interviews, we have interviewed mostly musicians — and I think our interviews are really, really great as a whole. I see times where we need to improve, and constantly look to better our interviews — but I am really happy with them, and I think that’s because I truly come from the standpoint of an artist and not a voyeur. I love all kinds of media, but podcasts can really dive into the heart and soul of someone. So if that person is a musician, I think our conversations are way more authentic if I can really discuss things from the viewpoint of someone who has lugged my amp across state lines tons of times, performed to huge crowds and small crowds, and put in the blood, sweat and tears to write music I believe in. I think that my experience lends a huge amount of authenticity to those bonds.

MC: As podcasts have grown, how do you see it as the new media?

BR: Chuck and I actually talked about this last week, about how in traditional journalism the reporter isn’t part of the story. With a podcast, though, the people reporting are the lens the story is filtered through and oftentimes also the story itself. There’s so much creative freedom through podcasting, and the barriers to entry are relatively minimal.

CS: I think people ache for closeness with artists they look up to. You take something like Motley Crue’s The Dirt (which is their autobiography) and people love it because it’s the heart of the artist. The art is one thing, and the artist is another. The idea of sitting down with an artist (or just a human) and hearing a 90-minute discussion with them is something really new. The idea of getting that from a weekly show (like WTF with Marc Maron, etc) is still brand new to the world — and that’s just INTERVIEW episodes! Podcasting is really about finding a personality you relate to (Kevin Smith, the guys from Tell ‘Em Steve Dave, etc) and getting ideas, information, news — sometimes even just simple discussion — and being able to hear that personality every week in an unfiltered way. Podcasting is the new punk rock. People putting a couple mics in front of themselves, being themselves and talking about what they believe in with no filter? That’s punk rock.

Episode 300 of Agree To Disagree: The Chuck and Brad Podcast with Ryan Lopes, Kristine Blinn, and Jon Tilson will go down at Fete on May 7Doors are at 7:30 with the show beginning at 8:30pm.

Bad Rabbits

Bad Rabbits are an R&B based full band that works in elements of funk, hip-hop and soul. Hailing from Boston, Bad Rabbits set the mood for the party with smooth grooves built to make you move. Live Bad Rabbits remind me of a modernized version of Morris Day and The Time. I recommend checking out their 2013 album, American Love, to both get a feel for the band and for the great jams. Bad Rabbits have a new single coming out for Cinco de Mayo called “Mysterious.”  They’ll celebrate with a digital single download release show (if that is really a thing) at The Met Café. Hopefully the release of this single is an omen that a new album from Bad Rabbits might be coming down the pipeline soon.

Bad Rabbits, Communion, and Jetty will have the Met Café hopping on May 5.

LANY

LANY are poised for a huge breakout with over 100 million streams on Spotify and their debut self-titled album doesn’t drop till the end of June. LANY are for fans of bands like Phoenix, Fun, Glass Animals and 1975. They specialize in churning out electro-pop nuggets with ’80s hot wax shine. With the buzz building, don’t miss your chance to catch LANY in a small venue before they blow up.

LANY and Goody Grace rock Fete  on May 12.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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