With over five million podcasts to choose from, the domain of podcasting is almost as oversaturated as the music industry in 2023. The insightfully observational podcaster, Michael Anthony, has proven to be a cut above the rest in recent years. Not only due to the guests he has been bringing onto The Michael Anthony Show since November 2018. Also from the candidly unfiltered conversations he facilitates.
After eking introspective gold out of the likes of Jaap Stam, Jake Bugg, Alan McGee, and Steve Van Zandt, for episode number 155, he sat down with multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Michael Shuman. Shuman is best known for his role in Queens of the Stone Age and contributions to the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack in 2013, in addition to his successful side project, Mini Mansions.
During the wide-ranging conversation, they touched upon the inorganic nature of fame in the 21st century. Exploring the entitlement of music ‘fans’, who think they have the right to own and criticise artists after watching their every move. The conversation then veers into an exposition on how the necessary evils of social media take their toll as TikTok rewards viral fame and glosses over the phenomenal artists committed to creating great music. Those who reek of desperation while trying to top the charts cast a musky shadow over the limelight of the artists who see the allure of protecting their privacy.
When asked how QOTSA would fare if they rose from the underground in this era, Shuman alluded to the unlikeliness of the prospect due to the band’s proclivity towards longevity instead of immediate viral success. If that wasn’t enough depression fuel, Shuman also revealed that his side project, Mini Mansions, founded in 2009, much to the delight of Elliott Smith and The Beatles fans, wouldn’t be heading back into the studio. After apologising to his fans, the tone lightens as Shuman gives his witty take on the history of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. How the latter two proponents attempt to keep the unparalleled on-stage high going.
Michael Anthony also gives a fascinating take on how rock n roll stars point out inner conflict and human hypocrisy while participating in loveless physical friction after putting their pain on paper and refusing to let anyone in. Before giving an interesting take on how creative expression gives control over emotion. Following that, the hilarity of over-indulged self-importance is ridiculed. Conversations around death are mused. And Shuman shared his ethos on lifestyle moderation and his take on the hypocrisy of vegans doing cocaine.
Potentially my favourite part of the conversation, and something that every creative should note, was the conversation around Shuman’s single, MY DEMONS, which was put out under the moniker GLU. It is a massive departure from his work in Mini Mansions and QOTSA, with the rap-style versing and the increasingly more vulnerable lyricality. Moving away from the abstract meta lyrical stylings of Mini Mansions, Shuman came into his authentic own in the flow of the new wave genre-obliterating earworm. Describing the track as the most honest thing he’s ever done. He threw away any creative façade and shame around his anxiety and psychologically entrenched trauma to exhilaratingly liberating effect.
Michael Anthony then comments on the beauty of music fans’ tendencies to attribute artists’ creativity to their own experiences and how everyone sells something, no matter what trade they’re in. For musicians, that is connectivity, universality, and the ability to expose beauty in the most tragic facets of life. The relationship between obsessive thoughts/OCD and production guilt for artists was also tracked, which is sure to be music to the ears of everyone with a shred of ambition about them.
Michael Anthony’s compulsion to push past the banal and into the bigger questions is fascinating beyond comparison. While dull minds like Joe Rogan allow the genius of his guests to steal the show, Anthony knows exactly which existential buttons to push to reach illuminating insight.
It is remarkably rare for me to find a voice that fascinates me to such a degree that I am lost in thought, and I can feel the boundaries of my perceptions shift. Yet, this conversation resonated as a slice of philosophical vindication for every dim view I hold for the industry. While simultaneously shedding light on arenas I never knew were darkened. I’m officially hooked. As everyone who wants to understand the artistic mindset to the nth degree should be.
Review by Amelia Vandergast