Podcast of the Week: HARD TIMES AND WEIRDNESS
The life of the average touring band is hard. You’re never home, you spend most of your time in a van, you have your equipment stolen, and you meet people—strange people, beautiful people, awful people, famous people, and everyone in between. This lifestyle has been depicted in pop culture time and time again; our endless fascination with where the rock ‘n roll lifestyle meets that of a career touring band is one that stretches from ALMOST FAMOUS to Mötley Crüe’s memoir THE DIRT, and it makes sense that in the era of podcasting we would get an auditory peek behind the curtain.
If you know the Reverend Peyton from anything, it’s probably from the badass video that went viral in 2016 of him playing a working shotgun guitar. But the Rev, alongside his wife Breezy and a variety of different drummers, has been touring as The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band since the early 2000s, playing grimy blues rock to the masses and racking up stories along the way. The life of the band, both onstage and off it, is the subject of HARD TIMES AND WEIRDNESS, a podcast chronicling both their past as well as the day-to-day of being on the road and recording music.
From tales centered around their love of fishing, to detailing the types of food you eat when you’re poor on the road, the Rev has a story for every occasion. HARD TIMES AND WEIRDNESS serves as a quintessential peek behind the curtain of the daily operations of a band, and Rev and Breezy (as well as occasional host and current drummer Max) do a phenomenal job keeping the zany habituals fresh and exciting on the mic. From recounting the recording, releasing, and reacting to the in-the-moment craziness of the shotgun guitar video’s viral nature (episodes nine and 10), to detailing the filming of their “We Deserve A Happy Ending” music video (episodes 13 and 14), to providing weekly dispatches from an entire European tour as it was happening, including some particularly fantastic dispatches from Finland (episodes 24 and 26), the podcast serves as a perfect platform for the band’s stories and anecdotes.
For the times that Rev doesn’t have a story at the ready, he has a slew of fascinating guests to pick up the slack. The groups touring manager, known as Tommy Showbiz, regularly drops by to playfully wreck havoc on the show, as do a variety of guitar techs, roadies, touring support, and friends from the road. Nothing indicates the variety of eclectic guests like a recent episode recorded in Flagstaff, AZ where the band was joined by psych blues and folk songwriter Matt Hopper (of the excellent outfit Matt Hopper & The Roman Candles) as well as Grand Canyon park ranger “Canyon” Dan Regan. While “Friend of the Pod” is a phrase that’s been taken over by the guys over at Crooked Media and POD SAVE AMERICA, it perhaps is more aptly and colloquially applies to HARD TIMES AND WEIRDNESS.
With amazing retrospectives about broken vans, recording records, and playing festivals featuring Ted Nugent, episode by episode the Reverend Peyton has created a fascinating archive of the band’s history, and one that’s accessible for those that aren’t knowledgeable of the band. While I urge you to check out the group’s music (the 2015 album SO DELICIOUS is a fantastic place to start), HARD TIMES AND WEIRDNESS is nonetheless the living and breathing rock and roll document you’ve been waiting for.