By Dave McGurgan
Music is an integral part of Four Dog Creative. It gives us infinite inspiration. We are on a mission to listen to as much music as possible. We’re fanatics. Here are some of the radio shows and DJs we listen to while working, to expose ourselves to new sounds, discover songs and artists we missed the first time around and fuel our soundtrack for creative inspiration.
Henry is a huge inspiration for us at Four Dog Creative, mainly due to his relentless work ethic and D.I.Y. spirit. Ever since becoming Black Flag’s singer in the early ‘80s, Rollins has continually pushed himself forward as an artist including acting, touring doing spoken word, and hosting his own TV show. Rollins’ weekly radio show on KCRW is a mix of Henry’s favorite “classic” bands (Thin Lizzy, The Damned) with more contemporary artists (Thee Oh Sees, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete). Rollins doesn’t shy away from musical diversity, and you can often hear everything from dub to noise and world music to jazz on his radio show. It’s always an exciting two hours of radio when Rollins excitedly shares the thing he loves most in life: music. Rollins’ weekly column for L.A. Weekly is also wonderful.
It’s awesome to hear entertainers and musicians share the music that inspired them. On his radio show, Confidential, Iggy Pop recounts the legacy of blues musicians and early rebellious rock artists that fueled the unbridled mania of Iggy’s band The Stooges. When he’s not sharing anecdotes from his own history, Iggy often speculates on the stories behind the songs he plays, demonstrating his broad artistic thought process. Iggy devotes a fair amount of time to newer music, and he champions bands such as Savages and Prefuse 73. We all owe a lot to Iggy Pop, an artist who has always given it his all.
For those who didn’t make the leap and follow Howard Stern to satellite radio, a lot has changed for Stern, who has evolved tremendously as an entertainer. Interviewing is one of Stern’s greatest skills; his conversations and explorations with celebrities are fascinating in which his guests let their guard down almost completely. (This New York Times piece verifies Stern’s interviewing savvy.) For the old-school Stern fan, there is still plenty of raunch and filthiness associated with the Stern show, but years of psychotherapy and personal development have seen Stern and his show mature on many levels.
NTS is an online station that has some of the most adventurous and diverse programs we’ve heard. It’s an underground station that champions bands and sounds that will probably never be heard or recognized by the mainstream. NTS has some of the top music tastemakers such as Andrew Weatherall and Adrian Sherwood as residents of its station along with guests from around the globe such as Four Tet and Laraaji. This eclectic radio station offers seriously adventurous listening, which is why we listen as often as we can.
Joe Strummer is best known as the frontman of “the only band that matters,” The Clash. Strummer was a huge fan of music, and as he traveled the world, he collected the sounds and music that inspired him as a musician. In the late ‘90s, he shared some of his eclectic music collection on his BBC radio show, London Calling. The shows featured an incredibly diverse mix of styles, sounds, and culture. Strummer’s talkups are a great demonstration of his unique communication skills. The London Calling radio shows are now compiled into eight one-hour programs, which are hosted by Mekons founder, Jon Langford. Stream away!
Seattle’s KEXP is among the top radio stations in the U.S. because of its fanatical championing of music discovery. It’s also well-known for meticulously recorded live performances, many of which were filmed and archived on YouTube. The programming is top-notch, so diving in at any time and listening to the live stream rarely disappoints. KEXP also supports on-demand streaming and real-time playlist updates, so you can quickly identify songs/artists to add to your preferred streaming audio service.
It’s hard to think irreverent, eclectic and wholly original radio station than WFMU. It’s the kind of radio station that is ideal if you want to explore the outer edges of weirdness in music. The WFMU DJs are fanatical about curating some of the most obscure, strange, compelling and challenging music you’re likely ever to hear. It’s one of the most fiercely independent radio stations, and their programming is entirely freeform. Spending at least a few hours listening to WFMU should be on the bucket list of every music lover.
In Davis, California there’s a modestly sized grassroots radio station, KDRT, that incorporates all of the elements that we love about local radio. It’s a classic blend of music and public affairs programming and is powered by people in the community it serves. The music is an eclectic mix of Americana, bluegrass, jazz and indie. Other shows feature a thoughtful discussion on progressive news, the environment and women in the arts.
The legendary BBC DJ, John Peel, was known for an insatiable appetite for music. Peel was a master of curating a diverse range of genres and styles of music in a strangely cohesive manner. His legacy lives on in many forms. Countless bands recorded in session at the BBC for Peel’s show. These recordings are known as “Peel Sessions.” Many of them are now available commercially. The John Peel Archive has painstakingly preserved Peel’s record collection. A dedicated core of Peel fans has taken it upon themselves to document Peel’s legacy over in Yahoo! Groups. And there’s The John Peel Lecture series which has yielded talks with music icons such as Iggy Pop and Brian Eno.
Although he is the son of the most influential DJ of our time, John Peel, Tom Ravenscroft doesn’t attempt to fill his father’s shoes, nor does he need to. Ravenscroft between-song patter does echo that of his father’s, but he’s also developed a pleasant style of smooth delivery that is his own. Ravenscroft does a great job of mixing new and upcoming artists (an excellent way to find out what bands are going to get popular) as well as mixing things up with some tried-and-true indie classics and a dose of vintage soul and R&B. We can’t get enough of Ravenscroft’s show on BBC6 and we listen to his weekly show and whenever he’s filling in for other excellent DJs such as Gideon Coe and Steve Lamacq.