Mikey Cahill, host of 180 Grams, reflects on his experience making the debut season.
So, when I was approached by Mushroom Group to host their first ever podcast series, titled 180
Grams, I pogoed at the chance.
Why the title?
180 Grams refers to the weight of high-quality vinyl, heavy black wax the needle glides over with a rich, warm sound. It’s a fitting title as this podcast is all about “deep dives” on classic albums.
I insisted we run with “180 Grams – Stories of(f) the record.”
The Teskey Brothers’ Grammy nominated 2019 album Run Home Slow was chosen by my producer,
Courtney “Big Dork Energy” Carthy, and I with consultation from various labels.
I knew Courtney from a clandestine comedy judging panel we were on and his previous gig at ABC Radio when I’d come in to appear on Lindy Burns’ Evening show and play five new bangers.
Carthy and I trekked out to the band’s hometown Warrandyte for a discovery session with The Teskey Brothers (Josh Teskey, Sam Teskey, Liam Gough and Brendon Love) and their indefatigable manager, Jeremy Furze.
It was our task to find 10-15 fresh, interesting stories that could push the narrative along and give fans and new listeners an access all areas experience that demystified the creation of this piece of art.
Prior to this meeting I saw the band as four nice guys, if a little beige, who play rock’n’soul.
But like Bob Dylan sang recently, they “contain multitudes.”
I’ve learnt to write in the passive as opposed to the active, which goes against every journalistic instinct I’ve honed over two decades.
It’s a technique that leads the listener to the subject of the quote then lets ‘em rip with their story.
For example, this is how we introduce an industry figure who would go on to become their manager:
“Someone is struck by their sound. Someone who doesn’t quite believe what they’re hearing. A venue owner, industry quiet achiever, blues music aficionado …Jeremy Furze.”
Then Furze chimes in: “I thought what a voice, what a band, what a groove… I bet they can’t do it live.”
What a quote!
We spoke to 32 interview subjects who gave us loads of similar bon mots.
We had access to the whole band for multiple face-to-face interviews (pre-COVID), the Teskey parents, Mushroom Boss Michael Gudinski, Glassnote Records founder Daniel Glass, Ivy League A&R Manager (and first industry person to discover the band on Triple J Unearthed) Marihuzka Cornelius and stacks more.
Cornelius’ first impression:
“Either they were going to be a bad Mumford and Sons rip-off …or something worth investigating.”
We quickly learnt that during the recording of Run Home Slow everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
All four members were having major issues in their home lives and coming off a long, arduous tour.
Add to that, their Zen-master British producer Paul Butler was “going through a divorce. And I had a seven-month-old baby. It was a lot.”
Loads of things worked against the band while they recorded their difficult second album.
“We had a singer who couldn’t sing,” says Butler of Josh Teskey.
He was “just getting over a nasty cold” and had to use a notepad (!) to communicate.
“His voice was already pretty sexy …adding phlegm to it didn’t make it any sexier, it was already peaking.”
Add to this they recorded Run Home Slow on analogue equipment, a very tedious process, and their tape machine broke down on day one, “a huge puff of smoke filled the studio with an acrid smell,” says drummer Liam Gough.
I took a while to find my voice.
I’ve re-recorded my narrator parts on each episode half a dozen times. Too Elliot Goblet serious.
Too flippant. Too nasally.
Why are there so many plosives aka the popping, spittle-flecked “p” sound?
Why do I sound like I’m down a well? We got there in the end. Turns out I just needed to be myself.
What else did I learn?
You need to cover 24 track master tapes in foil before it goes through customs so it doesn’t wipe all your hard work.