If I Ruled The Worldis a Long Island-based podcast surrounding the motto, “No one is just one thing”. In each bi-weekly episode, hosts George Reynolds (Mind Over Matter / Day In The Life) and SamHoyos (Playing Dead / Carlos Danger) share an insightful conversation with one artist—be it a musician, actor, author or comedian—exploring the philosophy behind how and why they do what they do.
Since releasing their first episode featuring Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw, Head Automatica, Color Film) in 2017, the podcast has gone on to host major names such as H.R. (Bad Brains), Jessica Pimentel (Orange is the New Black, Alekhine’s Gun), Vinnie Caruana (The Movielife, I Am the Avalanche), Adam Lazzara, John Nolan and Mark O’Connell (Taking Back Sunday), and Shawna Potter (War On Women), to name just a few. You can check out their most recent episode featuring Lars Frederiksen (Rancid / The Old Firm Casuals) here: https://apple.co/2SPwCO2
Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
George Reynolds (GR): Fantastic. After a short summer break, we’re back with some great guests and gearing up to blow out the rest of the year.
So how did both of you guys come together for this podcast?
GR: Sam and I are old friends through our bands. Sam had been doing a podcast called Red River Podcast and I wanted to start my own. I went through a few different people as co-hosts before I even started IIRTW, but wasn’t getting it off the ground. The funny thing is I would usually complain to Sam mostly throughout all of my failed attempts to start a podcast and since I loved what he was doing I would ask his advice a lot. And then one day the most obvious thing dawned on me and I asked him to do it with me.
What made you want to go behind the scenes when it comes to artists and was the transition somewhat smooth?
GR: Sam and I have always compared what we do to how we used to sit in the parking lot of a show with friends and/or band members and have really different types of conversations . Those conversations are the reasons why your practice never starts on time or you waste time in the studio, by the way. But we knew the conversations were different, special and are often deeper than conversations with other acquaintances like a co-worker for example. So, that was never an issue as far as transition. But, what we decided that has to happen is that it has to be a conversation someone wants to hear, whether they knew where we were coming from or not. No one wants to hear an hour of private jokes and a few dudes talking over each other. It’s actually pretty easy to slip into that mode. So, we have to be constantly conscious of a listener and draw out the gems in the guest and make it worthwhile to listen to and be a part of.
In a time where podcasts are at its peak, has it been easy for you to navigate these waters?
GR: To be honest, it feels easier than other artistic endeavors like being in a band or making and promoting an album. But, although it does feel like there are a billion podcasts and we might be at a peak, it also still feels like a relatively new medium and it’s still the Wild West in many ways. There aren’t a lot of rules and even the people who have been doing it the longest and have the biggest podcasts like Joe Rogan or Adam Carolla have to constantly stay on top of things and evolve. I prefer the space of “we have no idea what we are doing, so let’s just do it” more than waiting around to see where things settle.
How do you go on selecting your guests – do you tend to look for any type of person in particular?
GR: Well, I think we have a core of what we do which often includes the music we’ve been around our whole lives, punk and hardcore. I like when we can tell the story of the bands from our area of LI/NY, that haven’t been told before. But, we also think of it along the lines of those conversations in the parking lot I spoke about in your other question. That isn’t ALL we talked about. So we get other types of guests as long as we think we have an angle on it. Being open from day one, has lead us talk to guests like Jessica Pimentel (Orange Is The New Black) and DarylMcDaniels(Run-DMC) for example. It would be hard to imagine that we would stay interested in this if we kept it too narrow.
Instead of going for the technical, you guys often explore the psychological aspects of your guests – how did this approach come about? Was that always the plan or it did it evolve throughout the development process?
GR: It’s deliberate and I’ll explain why. I noticed that “armchair psychology” is a very common thing to do about people when they aren’t around. Do you know what I mean? We all do it. A function of the human mind is to make patterns and connects dots that may or may not be actually true about people. Whether it’s a close friend or your favorite singer, we all try and put together why we think this individual did what they did and we just psycho-analyze endlessly. But, when and if we ever get to speak to that person face to face, it’s not as likely that we bring up questions or conclusions. It’s probably just a social norm that people don’t talk to each other in that way all day. But I figured it had to be a part of this podcast as a way to truly “connect the dots” about a person and have THEM answer for it and explain it. Honestly, it’s not as easy as you would think to seamlessly bring up those ideas to a guest. It can feel like you’re about to derail an interview or turn the guest off just before you start getting into it. But, I think because we are asking things in good faith and out of genuine curiosity, it’s been coming across that way and we’ve had better conversations because of it.
Which episodes have been the most challenging so far and why?
GR: Doing the interview with Michael Alig was a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t because of the way he acted during the interview or anything. In fact, he was very open, honest and accommodating. But, I knew at some point we’d have to discuss the fact that he killed someone and I wasn’t sure how to get into it. I asked him “either you can tell the story or I can tell it” and he said that I should. So, I read off a little fact-sheet of what had happened the night him and his friend killed their friend Angel Melendez. It was a little nerve-racking to walk down memory lane with someone who had been imprisoned for such a heinous crime. There’s no set way to handle a conversation like that. I’m going back and forth in my head “Do I go over this dispassionately like a news-reporter or do I give this story the empathy and compassion it deserves?” I want the right tone to come across to the listener, but to Michael Alig as well. In the end, It worked out fine, but there’s just no way of telling how that could turn out if we started to phrase things poorly or unskillfully.
Also, the interview with HR(Bad Brains)was a different kind of challenge for a few reasons. We were given 20 minutes to interview him, but he was missing for a while and then when we went to do it, it was supposed to be in an extremely noisy part of the club. So, we set up in my car and somehow convinced his tour manager to let us do it there. It was also fairly well documented that HR had been going through a lot of health issues. His interviews hadn’t been going well from what we heard, so we weren’t sure who we were getting exactly. Even preparing for the questions took a lot of consideration as to his health and how to pace it if we got HR on a bad day while at the same time trying not to disappoint people who would be listening to an interview with one of the greatest singers/frontman of our time. So, in typical HR fashion, he appeared out of nowhere and after a long walk to my car, we jumped in, started the interview and it turned out fantastic. He was really on-point that day and I think the time constraint actually helped us get right into it and get to some great points.
Do you open your doors to up-and-comers or do you work solely with established artists? If you do accept unsigned acts, where can they reach out to you guys?
GR: We’re always open to a pitch. If there’s an up-and-comer that wants to reach out to us, we welcome it. We just gotta feel like we have an angle on what to talk about or we can do an episode on a compelling guest. Also, we only do 2 or 3 a month so, there’s an automatic weeding out simply because we don’t have enough time to do an interview with everyone. But, we’re always open to hear an idea. You can get us on our social media, website or [email protected]
What else is happening in If I Ruled The Word’s world?
GR: We just started working with Big Picture Media, to help spread the word of what we’ve been doing in our little corner of the Earth. We also have a sponsor, Nautilus Coffee that keeps us fueled during the interviews. And beyond that, just lining up the rest of the year with some of the most compelling guests we can find and hoping to shed this thick Long Island accent I have which each passing episode.
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