Chris Beck is the creator and host of the Doom Tomb Podcast, which has over 140 episodes to its credit. He asked if he could write a piece for us about guesting on a podcast and we were happy to oblige. The end result is chock full of good info you can put to immediate, practical use.
Music has always been a part of me. For the better part of three years, I have been the host of The Doom Tomb Podcast. The podcast model is simple: We talk with our guests about the scene, bands, and other aspects. Sure, we talk about food, mythical creatures, and horror stories of the road, but the music is the driving force. To quote Andrew Wood, “Words and music, my only tools. Communication.” It’s a conversation.
For the first two years, the majority of interviews were done on location. In the back of arenas, in dive bars, in arcades and alleyways. We sat on sidewalks, picnic tables, and bar booths to have a chat. Usually, it was late. Sometimes, I’d wait until the show was over and the band would change their mind. Those are the breaks. More than enough times, we’d get interrupted by security that they were closing, or an overly intoxicated individual asking a question. The last time I did that was in February 2020. Since the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of interviews I do are over the phone. Life has changed.
“Why should I do this?”
To connect with your audience and access a broader audience. Listeners get to know the band and your process for creating the music. It’s like a radio show; they get to know the characters, and become invested in what happens next. That, in turn, garners attention for your project. Several bands have expressed how adding podcast appearances to their marketing campaign increased listenership and sales. It’s also a timestamp of this moment in your career.
“How do I get on a podcast?”
The answer is straightforward: Ask. I often reach out to bands and various people in the scene, especially when new material is about to be released, but if I haven’t reached out to you, by all means, hit me up and we will bang out an episode.
On my end, I will research the band and listen to music. Based on the research, questions will be created. Usually, they are the same questions you would ask a friend or meeting someone for the first time. For some listeners, it is a first-time introduction, like a business card or a band bio. Discussing the release and everything else will be worth about an hour of a conversation. Random items will also be asked. I used to obsess over the minutiae of creating a perfect Q&A. Now, I let it flow.
On the band’s side, decide if there is a primary spokesperson. If one person wrote the entire album, they should be present. It can work without them, but several questions will get lost. It’s fantastic when the whole band is available. Sometimes it lessens the nerves, and as a group, there’s always gold in there somewhere.
Much like the music, the sound of a podcast is important, and a few key steps will improve the quality of the podcast significantly:
- If you are calling in from a computer, use a microphone, preferably through an interface
- Check to ensure your microphone is working and turned up to a suitable level
- Know how to adjust your levels, in case you need to when you call in
- Wear headphones to cancel out any chance of echo during the call
- If the discussion is over the phone, make sure the space you are in has a strong signal
The fewer distractions there are, the better the interview will be. In the past, interference would come from from bands tuning up, people under the influence, people shouting right next to us, and even pinball games. Now, it’s kids and dogs. And dogs. And dogs. If you have a vocal dog, keep them out of earshot. People love dogs, but they would rather hear you.
Put your phone on silent or DND, as well.
Okay, so the mics are set, and the extraneous sound is at a minimum. Now what? It’s time for the interview. The glorious time when sophisticates spin a splendiferous yarn recalling triumphs, trials, and tribulations. Oh yeah, and music too.
What about topics? First, you already have a laydown topic, the music. For some people, it’s their first time hearing you. They are just learning about your band. How did you get started? How did your band get its name? You know the questions. You’ve answered them several times. After that, we can go wherever you want. Band news? Stories? A current passion? Listeners want to hear it. Gear, the writing process, where you were when the riff or the lyric came to you, and so many other things can be discussed. What you might think is ancillary, a listener like me would love to hear. Take the listener inside the circle. Above all, have fun with it.
Talking about a project can be a daunting task for some people. For a while, I thought, “What’s the big deal? You play in front of people all the time.” Then it happened. I was promoting a show and got onstage, a stage I have seen hundreds of bands perform on. Entirely in my element, yet outside. In that flash of an instant, I stumbled. The experience was humbling. You want it all to go well. Well, it doesn’t always happen. That is entirely okay. It is the same thing doing an interview. It has to be difficult meeting an interviewer and then a few minutes later have a conversation as though you are best friends. It can be even more uncomfortable when it is done over the phone. You cannot always see the person. You make a joke that falls flat. You stammer and stumble over your words. No one is perfect. Nerves come with expectations and new situations. Sure, you get those great moments. A hearty laugh, a reflective discussion on music, or even the question burdening the podcast since the beginning, should pineapple be on pizza? We should strive for progress, not perfection.
The interview is now done. It’s edited and out to the public. Now, we have to promote it. Like any other project, you must boost it. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and a few posts on social media can do wonders.
When we can go back to live events, this is still a great way to reach the masses. It’s a less sweaty / trapped in a van for weeks on end / baby wipe shower / free drink ticket way, but great nonetheless.
The podcast is a medium of information. Use it and see the results!