Spencer Garrett [Interview]


Spencer Garrett is one of the hardest working people in the world of acting today. As versatile as he can be hilarious, he currently has re-occuring roles in no less than 4 of today’s hottest television shows including HBO’s Insecure and the Amazon Original Show, Bosch. More specifically catered to avid Trainwreck’d Society readers, you will love him in HBO’s stand up comedy vehicle Dice, as well as Room 104 from the beloved Duplass Brothers.

And for over 30 years, this has been Spencer Garrett’s life. He was born into the world of acting, and he has been making it his passion since he began. If you have only managed to turn on a TV or pop into a cinema over the last few decades, it is extremely possible that you have caught Mr. Garrett in action. And his career is showing no sign of slowing down, it’s quite the opposite, really. He has some pretty great irons in the fire right now that I am very excited to see come to live, including some work with the great Kevin Pollack, who we have fawned over numerous time over the years. And because of that and more, we are so fortunate that he was able to stop and share a few words with us here. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Spencer Garrett!

I understand you grew up around the world of entertainment, so it almost seems inevitable that you would join the ranks as well. But, when did YOU personally realize that you also wanted to play pretend for a living? When did you make the decision that this was what you wanted to do as a career?

I’m pretty sure I was a bit of a ham coming right out of the gate. Being an only child  – and the son and grandson of performers – I imagine the acting gene was ingrained in me at birth.That desire to be noticed, to stand out somehow. I grew up being taken to the theatre and musicals in New York City from a very early age.Seeing Sir Peter Hall’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Royal Shakespeare Company at around age 8 or so was a mind boggling and eye opening experience for a little kid and I remember being entranced by it. Heavy drama or the most frothy musical, it didn’t matter. I just loved being a part of that experience. I was always keen to do plays for as long as I can recall from elementary school all the way through high school in Maine, which had a very strong performing arts curriculum. And at holiday parties I was the kid who organized all the other kids to put on an impromptu ‘Christmas sketch’. At The Hyde School in tiny Bath, Maine, whether it was fighting for the solo number in a particular song or being the first one to raise my hand to audition for the lead in the play, performing and expressing myself onstage was where I found a kind of comfort zone. Whether I was any good or not remained to be seen. But I was always game. When I got to Duke University I auditioned for a role in Peter Shaffer’s Equus, amongst other shows. I was a horse. Small parts, larger roles, didn’t matter. I just wanted to know if I was any good. But I was hooked. From that point on I was off to the races. My ‘Aha!’ moment probably came when I was out of university and living in NYC in the early 80’s. Seeing, in the course of a few years, John Malkovich and Gary Sinise in Sam Shepard’s True West, ‘Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead by The Steppenwolf Company with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits blaring over the loudspeakers as I entered the theatre, and Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi doing Much Ado Handout Nothing one day then Cyrano de Bergerac the next, blew my mind. It was probably around that time, along with my deep and abiding love of the movies, that I said ‘alright’ let’s give this a shot. Here I am, some thirty years in, still grinding away.


I have learned that you will be appearing the upcoming film The Front Runner, in which you will be portraying the legendary journalist Bob Woodward. I am always curious as to what type of preparation goes into a portrayal of a real person who also happens to still be alive. So how has that process been for you? Did you meet with Bob to learn a thing or to?



I’ve had the experience of playing a few real life characters while they were still alive, so it’s tricky ground. You want to put your own stamp on it while honoring the director’s vision. A fine balance. Tom DeLay, In Casino Jack comes to mind. That was a straight up satire so I had a little wiggle room to make it mine, but DeLay was such an outsized character that I didn’t have to work for it too hard. That was just delicious to play. I remember going to see him on ‘Dancing with the Stars’,watching him flail around the dance floor in brown spandex. Sometimes the characters just do the work for you. With Bob Woodward in Jason Reitman’s The Frontrunner I wanted to get the accent right. It’s VERY specific. The world didn’t know Woodward, really, or what he sounded like when All the President’s Men came out but he’s been a huge media presence in the last decades so I wanted to try to capture his essence as best I could. I had the opportunity to meet him before I started filming but was working on another project and couldn’t get the timing right. Jason had actually preferred that I just ‘come in clean’ with no preconceptions about him, so it actually worked out. It’s not a Woodward impersonation. It’s me, trying to channel a bit of him from 1984 if that makes any sense. I’ll meet him after I wrap. And of course I hope he likes the film and my work, as his career has had a great impact on me.

You have also been appearing regularly on the brilliant new HBO series Insecure. Can you tell us a bit about your experience working on this project? What has been unique about this experience?


I wasn’t hip to Insecure when I was offered the role, to be honest. Theres just SO much television out there – GREAT television – it just hadn’t crossed my radar yet. I watched the entire first season in one day. Not just as research – but because it was so f*****g good. Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji are a great comic duo and the writing and editing is kind of amazing. I had a blast working on that show. It taps into the zeitgeist in a very unique way and, being a native Angeleno, films in places familiar to me but not necessarily to the audience outside LA. It captures another side of my city in ways other ‘urban’ shows based in L.A never have.  Probably the thing that made the biggest impression on me was how diverse the crew was. All of my directors were women of color and the crew, for the most part, are largely women and minorities. It was refreshing to see and a blast to walk onto that set each time they asked me to come back and play.


On credits alone, it appears as though you may be one of the hardest working people in Hollywood! You’ve appeared in just so many of the finest television programs out there right now, and that isn’t all you’ve done! So what keeps you motivated to work so much? Where does this drive to succeed stem from for you?



Something like 200 credits on IMDB. Bananas, right? Where has the time gone? I still LOVE what I do (flying to Kuala Lumpur with Viola Davis to work on a Michael Mann film, a Lynn Nottage play at The Geffen, a week with Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan in Chiangmai, Thailand – this can be a hell of a fun job, sometimes) and, more importantly, I feel like I’m just hitting my sweet spot as an actor. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. And I’m not kidding.


From an actor’s perspective, and someone who has been in the game for a quite a while, what are your thoughts on the modern world of film and television? With digital platforms making their way into the industry, as well as more and more cable options, is world becoming over saturated? Or is simply just more opportunities? Your thoughts?



I think we really are in a golden age of television. For the movies, not so much, alas. It’s tentpoles and action figures and occasionally something wonderful will break through.But I have hope that audiences will tire of the explosions and drivel and faint their way back to embracing more character driven stories. I’m finding the most interesting work as an actor  – and a viewer – on the small screen. Yes, there seem to be more and more opportunities for actors on multiple platforms, meaning more competition. But that doesn’t mean the glut of work has made it any easier to sustain oneself as an actor. You are always struggling to make a living, to stay ahead of the curve when the guy who’s #1 on the call sheet is getting all the dough and the supporting cast has to negotiate for the privilege of working for union scale. It’s always a battle.


What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?



The most exciting thing I’m working on these days is a podcast called “America 2.0″ by a wonderful young writer with an amazing voice named J.S Mayank. Several months ago I was asked to do a table read of his pilot script and just fell in love with the writing. Frustrated by Hollywood’s insistence that ‘political dramas are kind of radioactive right now” given our current, um, situation – J.S decided to split the pilot up into six segments as a narrative arc. We have put together a dream cast: Laurence Fishburne, Mary Louise Parker, Patrick Adams, Ming-Na, Jack Coleman, Katherine Castro, Steven Weber, Iqbal Theba, Shanola Hampton, and CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash. We started recording this dream cast about two weeks ago and are already blown away by the work. We are hoping to get it out there by January.


What was the last thing that made you smile?



The last thing that made me smile was watching my girlfriend receive a prestigious award from her George Washington U. Alumni association in D.C. last night for her outstanding achievements in political journalism. Nobody works harder than she does at sifting the spin and fiction from the cold facts. She does ‘real news’ like nobody’s business and is the best in the biz. I’m very proud of her and she inspires me every day to get off my ass and do something good.

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David Steven Simon [Interview]

 

Oh man, do we have a damn good interview for you fine folks today! We have showcased some pretty amazing people from the world of television over the years, and today is absolutely no exception and very well be one of the finest we have had the pleasure of showcasing to date. His name is David Steven Simon, and he is very likely a creative force behind one of your favorite television series.

For me personally, I did not realize that I was a huge fan of David’s work when I was watching two of my favorite sitcoms, The Wayans Brothers and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, yet there he was! I was also no stranger to one some of his other projects that we all know and love like My Two Dads and Mad About You. And those last two coincidently happen to feature a man who David is currently teaming up with again to create some new television magic, the great Paul Reiser. You all know that guy, I’m sure of it.

David’s latest project, There’s Johnny, is already proving to be one of the most stellar television series to come out in these most recent golden years of television. The show not only chronicles the days behind the legendary days when the Tonight Show ran supreme, but gives a very clear and somewhat disturbing view of America in the 1970’s. I dare say that this project is unlike anything Mr. Simon and Reiser have worked on in the past. It’s something new, and it’s something brilliant.

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant producer, writer, and more, Mr. David Steven Simon!

How did you find yourself in the world of television as a writer and producer? Was the world of television always something you aspired to get into?

I was in acting class at 4. I went to the “Fame” school, the High School of the Performing Arts. I had a four-year drama scholarship to college and then I became a publicist for United Artists (who were still based in NY) where I worked on three Oscar winners (Rocky, Network, Cuckoo’s Nest), the Bond films, Woody Allen films, Carrie and on and on. During those years is when I realized the effect that my writing could have. Moved to LA with no plan. Partnered up with another writer and right out the gate we had great luck. I wound up being under contract to the studios for years: Disney, Universal and Columbia. While I was at Universal that’s when I started meeting all the TV people there and little by little I started to gravitate towards their shows: Steve Martin’s The George Burns Comedy Week, Charles In Charge, and I wrote on shows like Knightrider (giving them comedy stuff) and I was everyone’s back up if they had a pilot. I wrote pilots too.

When was the first time you can remember seeing your name appear on screen in the credits? Do you remember where you were when first saw it, and did you feel a certain way about it?

First credit I think was for the movie In The Mood which Bob Kosberg and I got a story by credit (we wrote the first draft).I saw the film at screening in Westwood and I was floored. Wait. That’s me! First TV credit was actually Fernwood Tonight for Norman Lear. Everyone who owned a hand wrote on that so the credits went on forever: but there I was! First sitcom was Charles in Charge. My son had just been born so I put his name in the show.


I have to say, I absolutely adored The Wayans Brothers during its reign. I know that the Wayans family was already well-established in the world of film and television, so it could have been a factor, but besides that, what inspired you make that show happen?

We got a call from Warren Littlefield who was then the president of NBC. He said he wanted us to create a blue collar Fresh Prince with them. Marlon was off the charts hilarious. Sean was more smooth and relaxed. To me they were a black Martin and Lewis. But their casting especially of John Witherspoon did not go over well there. They felt John was too much of a cartoon. So from there: The WB! We had three shows in a row: Fresh Prince, Sister, Sister, The Wayans.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Karyn Parsons about her love for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but what was your experience like in creating this fine program? And in your opinion, what made Fresh Prince unique in its own right?

I didn’t create it. The Borowitz team did: Susan and Andy. I came on after being on what was about to be that season’s hottest new comedy: The Royal Family with Redd Foxx…until Redd suddenly died on the set! Overnight we were cooked. Over. The show went on but by then we were on Fresh Prince. The show was a delight because everyone was so full of gratitude and appreciation. Will was a young genius. I had never seen anything like it. He was barely 19 when we came on. A kid. His mind was on fire. Karen was a willing clown. SWEET. They all were. Other than the original mom: and she got wished into the Cornfield because life was too short and she was making eveyrone but mostly Will VERY unhappy.

You have recently joined back up with your old My Two Dads and Mad About You pal, Paul Reiser with There’s… Johnny. How has it been to get back into writing with Paul? Is it like old times for you?

I met Paul 32 years ago and we have been laughing ever since. I have worked with two people who were exactly the way you hoped they’d be like: Paul and John Ritter (I did Hearts Afire with him). Paul is a genius and working with him on this, some 19 years after Mad About You was a revelation. I always felt that Paul was underappreciated. Helen got all the awards and attention, but behind the scenes it all began with Paul. I mean they were equal in weight and “ran” the ship together….but the world needs to know how great Paul is and this show is going to blow people away. It is NOT what people expect. It’s not a comedy. It’s not That 70’s Show with whacky Tonight Show clips. It’s about the seventies which were very powerful and VERY dark times. Jane Levy’s performance is breathtaking and Ian Nelson, the star, is going to melt a lot of hearts. We use the Tonight Show clips as a kind of Greek Chorus which shows how American felt…and acted at the time. No one plays Johnny, Ed or Doc. Or anyone famous. The illusion, like Larry Sanders, that it’s happening right then and there. David Gordon Green, another genius in my opinion, KILLED on this. It looks like a movie—and we had a barely one million an ep budget!

When you look back on your very successful career in the world of television writing and producing, what would you say you are most proud of?

That my kids are proud of me. That means the most. I am writing more now than I have in my entire life. I shoot comedy shorts every year for film festivals. Looking back every show was a life lesson: great people. I have a new play that is getting a full production in 2018. I’ve roped in Tony Danza who blew my mind in our show. What a talent and what a sweetheart! I tend to look back at my career and think: Wow: I got a weekly paycheck in Hollywood for 21 years! That’s a miracle.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Like I said: next up: my play Grave Doubts: A new Comedy full of Plot Holes. Stay tuned for that. We have plans for casting that are really exciting. The TV director/wizard/theater director Assad Kelada is the guru behind the scenes.

HULU premiered our new show, There’s Johnny on November 14th. Seven episodes. It is going to shock people. It’s not a light, fluffy look back at the era. It comes packed with a genuine emotional wallop. Plus you get to see George Carlin, Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Albert Brooks and on and on and on.

I also write every day on Huffington Post. Search David S. Simon and you can read my scathing pieces on Trump.

What was the last thing to make you smile?

Groundhog Day, the musical. Landing back in New York after being in LA for 8 months. Watching the Yankees without having to pay for MLB. Seeing my peeps. Every dog that I pass on the street. Thought: why don’t women come with tails? Then we’d know what they really feel about everything.

Check out the teaser trailer for There’s Johnny, available now on Hulu:

Nick Hexum [Interview]


So, this is another very special interview. It has a lot of personal meaning for this former 90’s kid, but it really doesn’t have to be that specific. Nick Hexum is a founding member of a band that has truly stood the time, who came from a time when it was almost never expected of a band to truly make it that long to begin with. The 90’s was a tried and true time for the “one hit wonders” of the world. But, Mr. Hexum and his band 311 have tirelessly proven that they are as far removed from that sort of title as possible.

In fact, 311 has arguably developed one of the most devoted fanbases of the modern ages. They have been the same band (literally, the same people!) for 25 years, and have been creating some of the same magic that everyone has come to know and love over the years. Nick and the gang have found a formula for success that has worked, and continue to amaze audiences across the land (and sea!) to this very day. He is a truly impressive artist, and a damn fine human being at that. And we are so happy that he was able to take a few moments out of his busy touring schedule to share a few words with us here today. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy so absolutely lovely words from the great Nick Hexum!

When did you first discover your passion for music? Was there an “Aha!” moment when you realized you wanted to be a performer for a living? Or did it evolve naturally? 

My parents tell me I was already set on a career in rock’n roll by the time I was in first grade. My first musical love was 50’s rock’n roll. Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. I used to put on little performances for the family and jumped at any chance I got to be on a stage.

With an abundance of brilliant tracks in the 311 arsenal, I am curious to know what are your favorite tracks to perform live? What songs really get the crowd moving?

There’s a certain magic about playing an oldie for a crowd. We have all lived with every note for so long, it really gets the crowd moving. I find an extra thrill in getting the crowd moving to the same extent but when it’s a new song.

You have one of the most admirably loyal fan followings I have ever heard of, and that is being modest. So, to allow you to toot your own horn a bit…why do you think that is? What do you believe 311 does differently that keeps your fans so very loyal?

I guess we just struck a chord with our music and message.  It was something that was missing in our culture. It’s an honor to be a part of. People now see 311 as a way of looking at the world and the community that has developed is truly special.

I have heard some wonderful tales from the 311 Cruise, which seems like a very unique and exciting experience. Where did this idea stem from? What made you decide to take 311 to the open seas? And how has the experience been thus far?

Well after 311 Day involved into an event that people travelled from all over to be a part of, having a travel experience like the cruise was an obvious fit.  We work really hard with the cruise company to make it the ultimate vacation for 311 fans.  It’s a total blast.

After all of these years in the game, and 311 being the 4th longest running group with all original members, what is it that keeps your drive going? What compels you to continue to perform for audiences around the globe?

We still feel a hunger to explore music and spread our message further.  Music is a never ending journey.  There’s always new styles to be influenced by and new people to reach.  We still have lots of energy.

When you are out on your massive and consistently occurring tours, what does a tour diet consist of? Is it simply an endless cycling of late night diners and truck stop buffets?

We used to eat junk food in the early days.  Now we know where all the good sushi is.  Mercury be damned!

What does the future hold for you and 311? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I think we’ve discovered some new styles on Mosaic and we plan to get back into the studio soon and take those styles further.  Stay tuned for 311 Uplifter CBD vape products coming soon!

What  was the last thing that made you smile?

Soulcycle class today on our day off in Chicago was a lot of fun.  Nothing like a good sweat with loud pounding music.

Luz Mendoza [Interview]


Today’s interviewee is a person who I have long admired, and have been wanting to have featured on the site since the inception of Trainwreck’d Society. Luz Mendoza is an absolute genius in the world of indie folk that I have held to such a high accord for so long, and have been covering since my early days as a lowly music blogger, all the way up until now during my days as a lowly music and film blogger. She has a perfectly apt and brilliant ability to sincerely write the fuck out of a song. That is without a doubt her strongest trait. Throw on top of that a brilliant set of vocals and a being a powerhouse musician, she is the real deal people.

As I said before, I have been watching this amazing musician grow so much over the years, and have been lucky enough to indulge in every amazing Y La Bamba project she has given to the world. Each and every completed work that Luz has consistently been the best work of that given year. The singular track “Fasting In San Francisco”, now several years old at this point, is still registered as a classic in my personal listening songbook. I seriously cannot say enough great things about this amazing artist.

So, I will simply just shut up, and let you enjoy some amazing words from the great Luz Mendoza! Enjoy!

When did you decide you wanted to join the world of artistic expression? And has music always been your focus when it comes to creating your art?

My expression has never felt like a desicion I made, but rather a decision to embrace the fact that I have been in the world of artistic expression, aka sharing vulnerability. Music has been a large focus on how I create and move energy, as well as other things that extend from that such as my visual and performance art projects and social activism.

And when did Y La Bamba come into play? If you are so kind, can you give us a little background on this amazing band/project that you have been curating for all of these years?

The band started as myself in 2006. I brought a band together and since then its been a on going colaboration with friends and other talented musicians that I have had the honor of playing with as I keep growing in my expression.

As a mastermind behind the craft of beautiful songwriting, I am curious to know some things about your process. Mainly: how do you know when you a song is complete? Is there an exact moment or feeling you are looking to experience to know that a song is complete?

Songs are conversations that change and evolve as we go that or nor complete or limited. I like to encourage creative freedom with others.
I expierence that feeling of freedom when I let go of the pre conceived pressure around finishing a song.

Speaking of beautiful songs, you wrote a song that has remained at the top of my hypothetical “single’s list” since I first heard it, entitled “Fasting In San Francisco”. I still have it in rotation to this day. Would you be able to give us a little insight into this track? Where did the idea for this lovely track come from?

What a flash back! that song was written when I was so sick  10 years ago in my room learning how to record myself for the first time as I was listening to Laura Gibson, and Coco Rosie and Violeta Parra.

I was in a place of surrender, and that song is the documentation of my growth. That reflection is so important to me. It was about love and war the innocence behind my healing.

You have been working with our old friends at Tender Loving Empire for quite some time as well, releasing 5 wonderful records, including your latest entitled Ojos del Sol. So how did you manage to team up with Jared & Co. to create such amazing art together? And what keeps you working with TLE after all of these years?

Tender Loving Empire have been my Rock through out the years.
I love them dearly and support them.

Y La Bamba live @ Picakthon 2012, photographed terribly by yours truly, this is Luz and my OG blogging inspiration Ben Meyercord, a.k.a. half of Y La Bamba in 2012.

It has been 5 years since I last saw Y La Bamba, live at Pickathon in Happy Valley, Oregon. I understand you were just there again this last summer? So how did it go? And what is it about Pickathon that keeps you coming back?

I have always loved Picathon they are good to there people and the environment. I love going back and sharing those moments with friends. We played a couple of shows. There were definitely some moments where i felt ex seen and heard in my cultural identity as a latina female in this day in age then before it was however still a reminder of how out numbered women of color are in the music industry over all and often mis interpreted or un heard. It was nice to have productive conversations about things that have made me feel marginalized for years.

Pickathon tends to be a large scale event.  But, you have also done some more low key and intimate shows. Do you enjoy the large scale with packed audiences, or the intimate showings? 

I am sensitive to any crowd.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

My future as an artist is using my medium to connect and grow and heal because we really really really need eahother right now and not get into the petty overly self righteous culture that isolates us from compassion and understading.

I will hopefully record a new something something soon.

I am on a journey this year to also tour with Hijos De La Montaña in Europe.

I anticipate a lot more un expected but predictable social changes and I am trying to stay strong for myself and my community. I recorded an EP on cassettes called Red Earth in which all proceeds go to Adelante Mujeres a non profit that provides holistic education and empowerment oppurtunities to low income latina women. Below are some links and would love to encourage everyone in donating to this organization! Its so key to reach out to your community and arriving with support because help is needed.

http://adelantemujeres.org

https://tenderlovingempire.com/pages/generous

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Awe I smiled at this amazing white fluffy dog this morning! that looked like  it came from another planet. As it was crossing the street it seemed like it was floating right by. Like that moment in that movie where everything slows down when the most beautiful angelic thing you have ever seen is passing right by you.

It reminded me of life.

Tony Stevens [Interview]


When I think about what has now been deemed as “classic rock”, a lot of different feelings and images are conjured up. But the number one imagine is always going to be that of a few burn out dudes riding around in a cool car in Richard Linklater’s legendary film Dazed and Confused. For myself, and I’m sure a lot of other kids growning up in the 90’s, this was how we learned about what “classic rock” music real was. I know I’m not the only guy who would watch this film with their father and ask a zillion questions about the music we were hearing. This film alone introduced me to so much of the amazing work that came around in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This is also when I learned that some of the best music in America at that time, was actually coming from across the pond from a country that I had no idea as a nine year old kid that I would eventually call home. I am of course talking about the nation of Great Britain. England. You know.

And when you think about “classic rock”, or Dazed and Confused, or the “British invasion”….one brilliant band really fits into all of these sectors, and I don’t know how you couldn’t have already figured out who I am talking about. I am talking about Foghat. This is a band that holds not only a special place in my heart, but a special place in Dazed & Confused, with their single “Slow Ride” being a stand out feature of the film. No matter what happens in life, I know that Foghat is always going to be one of those pure, original, and absolutely amazing bands that will continue to stand the test of time. And ladies and gentlemen, we are fortunate enough to have one of their founding members with us here today at Trainwreck’d Society.

Tony Stevens was there from the very beginning of Foghat. He spent years in their earliest renditions of the band, would eventually leave only to return a couple of decades later, and leave again to form a different and far more complex version of the band under a new name. But, we will obviously discuss all of that in the conversation below. Just let it be known that Tony Stevens very much IS rock and roll. He has been on the road for over 50 years, delighting audiences across the globe. When it comes to the world of rock and roll, there is very little this man hasn’t already conquered and lived to tell about.

So with that, how about I stop rambling, and share these amazing words from the brilliant musician, Mr. Tony Stevens!

What were those early days of Savoy Brown and Foghat blowing up to be the legend that it has become today? I am always fascinated about the times prior to gaining such success. So how was that?

Long and arduous. Travelling up and down the motorways with Savoy playing small clubs and blues bars. We did festivals in Germany with the Moody Blues and  The Nice, then over to the States for our first American tour playing small clubs and blues bars De ja vu.
It culminated with three of us leaving Savoy at the end of 1970 and formed Foghat. For a year and a half the three of us funded the band with our new guitarist, Rod Price, being paid a wage. When we got our record deal with Bearsville Records it was manner from heaven.

I’ve heard through biographies and stories about the explosion and love for American blues that occurred in England during the 1960’s, and the ways you were able to collect certain sounds in those pre-internet times. But, I’v never had the chance to ask about it directly to someone. So how about it? How did you become interested in not only listening to American blues music, but wanting to perform it as well?

Well I was playing the Blues, albeit on lead guitar, when I was 13. I had a band called the Down and Outs and the singer/ harmonica player had an amazing record collection We were playing stuff by Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters,Joe Turner and Josh white to name but a minimal few of our repertoire.

I think I can say that the Americans boycott of great Black artists drove their sound to England, on the radio, to the likes of John Mayall, Alexis Corner,The Stones and Beatles and Long John Baldry and many, many more of Blues Rock bands..ala..Savoy Brown. We took the American sound and turned it round, gave it power and sent it back to you through the Stones and Beatles. All of a sudden, America was listening and wanted to know the roots of those groups music. It still was a hard task for the black artists to be accepted but England seemed to pave a way. Chuck berry being the most copied of his music by us Brits.

I understand you also worked on the legendary project from The Who known as Tommy. This production still remains as a classic in my heart, as well as with the millions who watched and heard it. I am wondering if you wouldn’t mind telling us a bit about this project? What were some specific details you put into it, and what makes you most proud to have been a part of it?

Tommy. Just to clarify, it was the film Tommy soundtrack that I played on, not the original opus by Pete. It was great fun. Three days in the Who’s studio, Ramport, with an open bar with the likes of Ronny Wood, Kenny Jones, the Who’s new drummer, Chris Stainton, Eric Clapton, and Ken Russell, the films director. The soundtrack was produced by a friend of mine, Ronny Nevison Of Course, all the Who were there plus different guitarists and bass players. It was great
Also, I was involved with Andrew Lloyd Weber on the original album( Cast and Stage show )of Evita. Julie Covington and David Essex to name but a few of the star studded cast. Great Fun and Lord Weber, as he is known now, was a true gentleman.

After all the time that has past, what compelled you to return to the Foghat world by forming your latest band, Slow Ride? And what has it been like to get back into this world?

You might have heard many stories of what happened between me going from Foghat in 1975 and then rejoining the band in 1993 and leaving again in 2005 to form Slow Ride. Phone me Ron and I will give you the undiluted facts. In basic: Trust and Ego were the biggest problems.

In your obviously professional opinion after decades in this business, what would you say is the most pivotal moment in a live performance? Is there a single element that is absolutely necessary to exist when you are performing? Or a collection of several different smaller elements perhaps? Basically, what makes for a perfect live show for you?

Really Ron, I think it is not the size of the gig or stadium ( we played to 250,000 fans in Evansville Indiana in the early 70s ) For me, after 50 years of touring this year, has to be the fun you have with you fellow musicians on stage. Slow Ride is my pinnacle of musicianship mixed with high jinks. It really was not their for the latter part of my stint in 1974/5. It was there, always, with Dave Peverett. He was a gem but, after he died in 2000, the band lost it’s sparkle and Egos took over. One of many reasons to form Slow Ride.

Recently you performed in my hometown of Longview, Washington at their highly anticipated annual event known as Squirrel Fest. Was there anything exceptional about this event, or was it simply another gig?

Ron, The weekend that we spent in Longview was great, great great. From the time we got off the plane and Don, our man of the moment, took us to Saltys’ for dinner. Then to the Montecello hotel. A great 30s/40s hotel that is being revamped back to its former glory. Then, with no more that a 100 yards to walk to the stage for a sound check Then, off to a pot farm and shop…the rest is censored. Lunch, and back for the old men to take a nap before treating the 7,000 fans to some ” Gut ole Rock n Blues. Next day, breakfast then a fantastic trip to Mount St. Helens. What a trip. Back to the airport and waving bye bye to Washington State.

Again, I must thank Don and Peter for their time and unending kindliness. I loved the Squirrel Bridges.

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming up that you would like to plug to our readers?

Always with Slow Ride it is a ” Watch this Space “situation. Unfortunately, our agent was diagnosed with Lukemia and had to undergo Chemo. Our heart is with him.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Okay. Last year I had a major operation on my Prostate. I was told that after the Op my libido would wane and erections would be few and far between. Two weeks ago I woke up from a naughty dream and found that I had a boner. I laughed all day. In the words of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange: ” I was cured my Droogies “

Maisha Closson [Interview]


We are back to the writer’s block folks! We wanted to jump right back into interviewing some pretty amazing writers in the world of television quickly after our frightening month of October. And I will be damned if we weren’t able to land one of the finest in the business!

Today’s interview is with the legendary Maisha Closson who is yet another amazing woman working in a male dominated space, but breaking down barriers with every project she works on. Just like some of the fine female writers we have spoken with before, she is a talented individual not because of her gender, but because she was simply born with the ability to write in the world of comedy, drama, and more. Unfortunately, the fight for equality seems to be never-ending, and we aren’t quite in a space where we can’t mention that she is a woman who can not only hang with the male dominated force, but surpass them in each and every way.

Also, she wrote final season of Becker, and given our past interview subjects, you know that this show is gold in our opinion, and we are so happy to have another contributor to this amazing program!

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some words from the amazing Maisha Closson!

When did you discover you had a passion to live and work in the creative world? Was it an early aspiration?

Middle school was when I really got into writing short stories and poetry. I wrote a poem when I was in 7th grade called “Beneath the Pile.” It was for a contest sponsored by a local temple and the subject had to be the Holocaust. My poem was about a woman who survived in one of the camps by hiding under a pile of corpses. I won and a local anchorperson read my poem to a room full of mostly Jewish people, some of them Holocaust survivors. It was intimidating sitting there while everyone listened but when they applauded and some people were crying I felt that I’d done okay. I’m pretty sure everyone was surprised to see a black girl go up and accept the award.

You have working in the world of television since just before what I like to call the ‘Soprano Renaissance”, when the world of television became the benchmark for brilliant writing and storytelling. But, does it ever feel like there are becoming just too many options? Are the advancements in streaming media and having dozens of networks out there acting as a hindrance? Or is it simply just furthering opportunities for new talent? What are your thoughts on the matter?

The choices are overwhelming speaking as a consumer/viewer. I still haven’t finished season 2 of The Americans and I’m way behind on The Walking Dead! But for writers, more content equals more jobs so it’s good. It’s also encouraging to see shows with smaller stories to tell like Master of None and Better Things.

Now, I know it was quite a while ago, and not an extensive gig…but, you are credited for writing a couple of episodes for one of my favorite, and what I believe to be a highly underrated, television shows of all time. It was Becker. I’ve tried to track down just about everyone behind this magical program, and now here you are! So simple question: How did you find yourself working on Becker? And how was your experience?

Ha! Yes, I worked on the last season of Becker. That came to be because CBS wasn’t sure whether or not it was going to pick the show up. Dave Hackel, the EP, didn’t think it was fair to keep his staff waiting and unable to accept other work so he released all the writers. Then CBS decided to pick the show up and Dave had to hire a new staff. So basically, I got hired because Dave was desperate. I went in thinking the experience was going to suck because I was the youngest person in the room, the only woman and the only person of color. But it was actually fantastic. I’m still in touch with Dave and some of the other writers.


I am intrigued by, yet uniformed about your latest project, Claws, that airs on the TNT network. It appears to have a brilliant cast (Niecy Nash being one of the greatest comedic actresses of our generation!) and wonderful premise for a program. So how did this project come about? And what should new viewers such as myself be looking forward to?

Claws is so much fun! I enjoyed writing every word of my script and had a good time shooting it. Eliot Laurence, the creator, gave us this noir, crazy, messy world with characters who burst off the page. HBO had bought it a while back, then it went into turnaround and TNT snatched it up. I think when HBO bought it, it was a half hour. TNT wanted it re-envisioned as an hour dramedy so Eliot retooled it. The five women who work at the nail salon are the heart of the show and are perfectly cast. Viewers can look forward to seeing more southern fried mayhem and learning more about the ladies of Nail Artisans of Manatee County while crying, screaming in shock and laughing their asses off.

You have written and produced in some very diverse settings. Many of your projects don’t appear to be much like the other, which is extremely impressive. A Rodney Carrington vehicle is quite different from MTV’s Skins, and shows like Claws and Training Day have all been a world of their own as well. Is this something intentional you try to do? How do you choose what projects you want to bring to the viewer’s world?

Well, I started in comedy so my early credits involve a lot of multi camera network half hours. And in those days, I went wherever the offer was. After several seasons of comedy, I wanted to try writing drama. I asked my reps to start shopping me as a drama writer and the first offer I got was on Skins for MTV. After that, I wanted to stay in the one hour world. My writing samples are varied–I have a sample we use for procedurals, a sample for cable fare, a character driven network sample, etc. That’s why I tend to meet and get offers on different kinds of shows. After I worked on Chicago PD for two seasons and Training Day for a season, I thought I’d stay in the procedural world. Then I got an offer on Claws which has brought me back to my comedy roots! At this point in my career, I have a little more choice so I try to pick shows with darkness and light. And I love strong, complex characters who get to say funny shit.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I’d love to sell my own show so I’m working on that right now. But if that doesn’t happen, I’m happy to continue working on shows I enjoy. For your readers- I guess I’d share that I’m on IG as @maisha_closson where I try to highlight/introduce/pump up lots of different tv writers so that people appreciate the folks behind the words. Writers get so little love!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Lena Waithe’s speech at the Emmys.

Dylan Clark Tuomy-Wilhoit [Interview]

Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we have always attempted to reach out to folks from all across the spectrums of the expansive artistic community. It is a known fact that it takes a whole lot of folks to make a great project truly work. We have spoken with not only writers and directors, but art directors, editors, cinematographers, choreographers, location scouts, and on and on. But, one profession we haven’t really gotten into enough, would be in the art of sound. Which is obviously something that needs to be recognized and respected.

So, why not go to one of the best to discover what it makes to create the art of sound within the world of film and television and even video games! Today’s interview subject is none other than the Emmy Award winning foley artist and sound designer Dylan Clark Tuomoy-Wilhoit. This young man is an incredible talent who has worked on some amazing shows and films of the highest caliber. He has won a couple of Emmy’s for his work on such esteemed projects like Black Sails and Game of Thrones, and has provided outstanding work to film projects like Furious 7, and a film that we have been raving about for months entitled The Glass Castle. He is a genius in his field, and we were so excited that he was willing and able to share a few words with us.

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the great Dylan Clark Tuomoy-Wilhoit!

How did you find yourself in your line of work? When did you discover you had a passion for the world of sound design?

At first, I got into audio through my love for music. Growing up I was always singing and dancing, in choir, and going to music festivals and shows as much as possible when I first graduated High School. I wanted to make music, both acoustic and dance music- the two types of music that have influenced me the most. I had a few options for college- I could have majored in Music/Opera singing at UCLA, gone to CSUN for Computer Science, or join the Officer’s Academy to become an Air Force pilot… I took the year off and made my way into a Trade School called SAE Institute in Los Angeles. At SAE I learned the skills required to become anything I wanted to be in the audio world, only to find myself fascinated in Video Game Sound Design. Soon afterwards, my father Jeffrey Wilhoit began mentoring me in his studio as a Foley Artist.
And what keeps your passion going? You’ve obviously had some great success in this world, but what is it besides monetary triumphs that makes you want to continue working in your field?
 
In MEDIA I have the luxury of creating a sound and music atmosphere that engulfs viewers into other worlds and stories. Music and Sound Effects are such a vital part of creating these other worlds and experiences for people, and I am proud and excited to be a part of that. When people come up to me excited, saying “oh my god that episode was amazing! How did you make that scene sound so real?! I almost puked when that guy’s head exploded!”  Making people FEEL through sound… those are the rewarding moments of my job 😛
 

For those of us who may be ignorant to the oh-so-important behind the scenes work that goes into creating wonderful cinema and television….can you tell us what a Foley Artist really is? As a very experienced professional in the field, please let our readers know why a Foley Artist is absolutely crucial to a project.

 

When a movie has finished recording there is little to no sound in the movie because the microphones on set were there to pick up the actor/actress’s voices… So the actor’s footsteps, the sound of people drinking from cups, and even the sound of drawing and sheathing their sword are all lost. Even when some sound does stay after filming, actors and actresses often use props so their sword may actually be plastic, and we add the steel sounds to create realism. Additionally, many movies are filmed on sets- So everyone’s footsteps in a big cave may sound like they are walking on hollow wood instead of hard gritty stone, or dirt.

Now imagine a room full of microphones and random stuff like bicycles, bowling balls, swords, weapons, and ski boots. The Foley Artist Performs all needed sound effects to the picture almost like playing that game Dance Dance Revolution, where you have to stomp on the correct arrow as it passes the screen, but with Foley, your ‘arrows’ are human actions… And instead of stomping on a pad, you are wielding a sword, breaking glass, or stepping to rhythm of Jon Snow walking up stairs. The human quality ensures that there is a natural ebb and flow to every action and motion you can hear on screen.

Without a good Foley Artist, the project’s sound is unnatural… pulling people out of the world or story.
 
 

And how does your work in sound design differ between projects? Beyond the most obvious differences, what is the difference between foley work on a series like Game of Thrones to, say, a film you worked on featuring our old friend Dominic Bogart entitled, The Glass Castle? How does setting and scenery effect your work?

 

Every project is different- although some ‘tricks’ can be used to recreate similar sounds, there is an inherent energy in every story. Game of Thrones is a very gritty and violent world with lots of energy, therefore dirty texture is very important. Texture brings worlds to life, like the sound of a leather saddle while riding a horse, or adding wet dirt to a blade when it is picked up off the floor to make it sound connected to that gritty world.

In projects like The Glass Castle there are scenes that take place in very different places. There are very clean, high fashion type of scenes where everything must be very clean and almost “shiny” sounding. When people are at a nice dinner party, we use finer cloth when making the sound of dresses, harder shoes to make the sound of business shoes or heels, and we clean off all of our surfaces so that there is a very ‘clean’ element to every sound. During other parts of the movie, we are in poorer areas, where there is more dust, rough clothing, and softer shoes.
 

We always ask our statue holding friends this one question: Where do you keep your Emmy’s? And does their physical location hold any sort of real significance to you?

 

Both of my Emmy’s are on display at home where they are easily seen. I’m proud of my work, and they are fantastic decorations 😉
 

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming in the near future you can tell our readers about?

 

Through the end of this year and next year our team already has some really cool projects lined up, most of them I can’t mention or talk about. But for my personal future, I am beginning to move away from Film/Television and move into more Video Games/Virtual Reality work.  I may always do Foley, but I am looking towards a Sound Supervising and Design career in Video Games.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

This question made me smile, to be honest. What a great thing to think about right?!  I smile a lot, but I think the biggest smile i had today was when my cat woke me up by coming under the blankets and snuggling with me this morning. The simple things 🙂