A Three-Way With Chad Davenport, Simon McDonald and Gavin Mulloy of The Local Yokel Show: "We're Not Curing Cancer Here."
Smile Smile on the Local Yokel Show
Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we get to know the people behind the scenes in Dallas/Fort Worth music.
The Local Yokel Show podcast was meant to be a fun gathering of friends who play local music, but it ended up providing a perk to those artists: in-studio video. It's a great social media tool for a local band, and the sound quality tends to be miles better than a live, plugged-in stage recording.
At its root, the Local Yokel Show is drinking buddies Gavin Mulloy (marketing gunslinger at the Granada Theater), Chad Davenport (a builder and tech for ESPN Radio) and Simon McDonald (helps keep the Libertine Bar humming). There are others not included in this interview, such as ESPN camera guy Jason Raney and Tomcast Studios owner Tom Bridwell, but you can't interview less than three of the Yokels if you're going to capture the essence of the show.
Is there imbibing during the podcast? Gavin Mulloy: Drinking at Tom's studio has never been the problem. Drinking before the show is. We prepare terribly, someone runs late, and I start pointing out the lack of preparation in jokes during the show. Chad asks the band their favorite local taco stand and they play some tunes. We usually laugh a lot and then head to One Nostalgia Place and see if the band will come. Usually a good sign of how the show went. We're not curing cancer here. Chad Davenport: Someone always brings beer for the us and the band. Ninety-nine percent of the time its Simon. There's been some McCormick's Orange and Sunkist sitting on the table on numerous occasions. Sounds gross but try it. The drinking has calmed way down since the early day. Just give a few of the early shows a listen. Simon McDonald: It's our poker night with the buddies and a live band. I have two small kids and a wife, so any excuse to be as far away from that is awesome. That's a joke. I love my wife, just hate our kids.
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If not booze, what is the poison of choice for the podcast? CD: Oh, it's booze. GM: One Sunday morning show with RTB2 we had Bloody Marys.That's not booze, right?
Is there quarreling? Often there is between friends, cocktails and music discussions. CD: We all fight so often because some days we take it serious and then sometimes we just like to let loose and get ripped with the band. That's one thing we have started to let them dictate. Some bands like to hang out and drink and others are more "wham bam thank you ma'am." Also, with the success of Tomcast studio lately, we don't have more than 45 minutes to an hour to record due to the studio being booked up. SM: We fought for hours after the "Dinner With Friends" show and Chad ended up drawing a Venn diagram that was so drunkenly confusing and insane, it was obvious we had drank too much. We've all quit the show 40 times. I've quit 400. Gavin is hard to work with. GM: I came in after like five or so shows because it was fun, even with the constant arguing, which is mostly me and Chad or Simon telling his wife he'll be home.
What shows -- podcast, radio, whatever -- act as inspiration to the Local Yokel Show? SM: I really love everything from You Look Nice Today to This American Life. Nardwuar is crazy insane and awesome. CD: Honestly, if there was a show out there playing local music we loved it, but there were only a few. We just thought it would be cool to do a show dedicated to DFW and Denton music. Hell, we knew most of the bands and wanted to do something different and funny. Inspirations to the show have to be the venues and musicians. A lot of the bands I was seeing live, whether it be at Lee Harvey's or the AAC, never received enough airplay, if any. So we simply wanted to start promoting the bands we thought were cool. Didn't hurt that we were getting a private performance in my apartment.
Was Tomcast Studios always your gathering spot? I'm wondering if Tom's hospitality was a crucial part of the show from the very beginning. CD: Back when the show first started, Somebody's Darling played in my apartment living room. Full band! Stand-up bass and all for about four hours, between music and questions and a whole lot of beer. At one point, I remember me and Simon looking over at each other and kinda having this unspoken understanding that we should proceed with caution because something pretty special was happening. That was the first big turning point of the show. I remember shows two and three Simon cooked steaks on this little grill on my apartment patio.They were some of the best damn steaks I had ever had. GM: Moving to Tomcast was like getting called up to Junior Varsity from freshman ball, even though you were a junior. Tom is a pro and takes all the editing on his back. Jason makes killer videos and we can't even look at the bands' Wiki. SM: What Chad said. Those early shows were epic and angry. We drank a lot. Chad's apartment was gross, but the only time I've ever seen Tom flip out at his place was during the last RTB2 show. He was looking at us through the glass in the production room and mouthing "WHAT THE FUCK" and "WOW" while they played "When Hammer Hits Stone."
So, the whole thing started at your apartment, Chad? CD: It started at The Libertine as a DJ gig. My living room, aka "The Dump," was the launch site of the first real Local Yokel Show. No bands. It was beer, liquor, local bands' CDs, fake commercials and Jason Raney recording and mixing everything. Jason Raney is also a full-time camera man for ESPN, so as he started going on the road more often, we asked Tom if he would like to be a part of this project because, at that time, we were trying to do one every other week. Tom said yes and gave us structure. We were trying to head in a direction that had a solid time-line rather than just a lot of rambling and retakes. It was a lot easier to do that with Tom's help. Back at my apartment, it was hours of talking and drinking. We now have it down to around an hour, depending on the amount of booze being drank.
Do you also stream the shows live as they happen? CD: You know we've talked about it, but haven't perused it yet. SM: I wish we could. I guess we could. No one would listen though. We all have crazy schedules, and Tomcast is solidly booked, so when there's an opening, we jump on it. Seeing The Boys Named Sue at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning after a Lee Harvey's show the night before was fun. They looked awful. So did Gavin.
How many subscribers are listening to the podcasts? Is there a goal number? CD: Not sure about that one. SM: I think we all listen, so there's five. Maybe 10? There is always a hope people do. The last time I checked the Google demographics, someone in Australia listened, but my sister lives there, so it was probably her. GM: I just want the podcast to have more listeners than the podcast of the person I'm talking to at the time. It's always been about power with me: 1) Crush the will of the band to live with poorly-worded questions 2) Illegally distribute mp3s of their work 3) See if we can snag a cable of theirs during load out.
How important is promoting and marketing the show to you? Or is it just more of a fun thing for the love of the music? SM: Initially, it was all-encompassing, but Chad and Jason both have their ESPN gigs, Gavin and I are hard at working trying to help run The Libertine and The Granada, and Tom ALWAYS has work. The great thing is the fact that a few of the bands we've had on went on to record their next records at Tomcast. It's just a beautiful place. It's amazing. But Chad has big plans. He'll probably steal the whole concept and screw it all up as he usually does. CD: I think it will always be for the love of the music but I recently moved to Austin and right now we have an Austin LYS in the fledgling stage and I think when that gets up and running we can start to look at sponsors and advertisers. I have a friend in L.A. that we've been talking about getting one started up there as well. The sky is the limit as far as I'm concerned. GM: If we're marketing this, I should get fired from Granada. Like, immediately. Right now it's just for fun: exposing local music, getting the band a video and possibly exposing ourselves, through lack of musical knowledge. See the Dave Little/Bob Dylan debacle for more on that.
How about the most moving performance on the show? CD: For me, Somebody's Darling. They are badass and they were playing live in my living room. SM: Most moving for me was Paul Slavens. Just a local legend, and so stripped down and pure. Watch the "Lucy" video. Wow. The O's covering a Sorta song was great. We were all friends with Carter Albrecht, and that hit home. GM: RTB2's Sunday morning show with Dave and Renee Rell cooking breakfast and shooting photos. Man, I got chills during "Sarahs in Cars."
Any attempts to take the show on the road? Seems like you guys would have the time of your life at an event like Homegrown, or traipsing down to Austin. CD: We had one show we dubbed "Dinner With Friends," and we did it remotely from a friend's house and our guest that day was Pete Freedman. We have done a few remotes. SM: Chad's trying to set one up in Austin, but my wife's an attorney and I will sue him for his '96 Jeep and all of the hundreds of dollars he has if he does that. GM: We did a live show at Dada and it was not great. I decided to have Tuaca for dinner. It was in the middle of the Super Bowl freeze. No one at a concert wants to hear guys talking. We did a show from Pine Mills, an annual music festival we all go to, but the amount of booze out there makes it prohibitive. Lotta great local acts play there every Memorial Day weekend, like The O's, Speed Trucker, Boys Named Sue, many more. It's really a great day. Last year at Pine Mills, some guy named "Rusty" passed out and awoke to a goat licking his face.
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