Dave Hill isn’t what you’d consider a political comedian, per se, but when he tweets something like “Fuck you, festering shitbag” to Donald Trump it’s not exactly off brand. But that’s only because he follows it up with a week-long onslaught of deconstructed Mom jokes as responses to those Trump supporters who pilloried Hill for such an “anti-American” sentiment. Hill’s takes on classic Mom insults ranged from “Your Mom sucks. I am suggesting your mother, the woman who brought you into this world, blows me with frequency” to “Trump is trying to divide us. And I am just trying to divide your mom.”
And in response to a Trump loyalist scolding Hill for using “nasty” language, the Ohio native had this to say: “Speaking of nasty, you’re never gonna guess what your mother and I are doing right now. Okay, I’ll tell you. We are having sexual intercourse! Your dad is filming the whole thing. Merry Christmas!”
In his defense, I should mention Hill’s tweet to Donald Trump wasn’t apropos of nothing. It was in response to our “president” claiming that Dems were “trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida”— you know, because they wanted to make sure midterm votes were counted properly.
I should also mention this article, the one I’m writing now, is supposed to be about the relaunch of Dave’s outstanding podcast Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident afer a five-year hiatus and not about me rehashing dozens of Dave Hill-authored mom jokes— though, personally, I’d feel just as creatively fulfilled doing the latter. But I suppose I should move it along.
Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident is one of the few comedy podcasts I genuinely enjoy. I’m definitively tired of listening to the prototypical comedy podcast— nine comedians jerking each other off, talking over one another and calling it a day. Dave doesn’t do that. But that’s because Dave isn’t a prototypical comedian. His laid back demeanor and gentle speaking voice betrays the frenetic pace at which the renaissance man produces new (and varied) work. His robust love of all art forms comes through seamlessly when he sits down with his guests each week.
An accomplished musician — he fronts rock outfit Valley Lodge and satyrical black metal band Witch Taint, among other on-and-off guitar-based endeavors — Hill has also written two books (Tasteful Nudes and Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) and is currently writing his third. And every Monday night, he hosts music-and-chat program The Goddamn Dave Hill Show on Jersey City’s WFMU.
In each episode of Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident, Dave engages with all manner of artists in his New York City living room; recent guests include author and storyteller Kambri Crews, cartoonist/writer Emily Flake and musician/activist Shonali Bhowmik. Bonus: Often, his
dog hellhound Lucy makes her presence known by barking and otherwise playfully distracting Dave and guests. I called Dave recently to check in on the return of the podcast and some other hot topics.
Why was it time to bring back Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident?
At least seven people demanded it, so… No, you know, I stopped it, sort of, when I started doing the WFMU show, my plan was to keep doing it, and then I just sort of, very quickly, realized that, I don’t think I could swing doing both. And then people were always, like, saying they missed it, and stuff.
And I missed it, too. In the radio show, as you’ve witnessed, it’s like a lot of people calling in and doing bong hits over the phone and things like that. Which has its place, you know? And I love doing that show, but I also love just talking one-on-one with someone at my house. And then people that listened to the radio show were asking for it, too. So, it’s like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that it was like two different things to people.’
And really, it’s because of my friend Chris Gersbeck. We were talking and he offered to partner up with me in relaunching, which was like a big thing. Because having someone else to help and motivate me to get it done, and come over, and record it, that was a massive thing.
Being precious about things doesn’t really get you anywhere. Just have fun and do the best you can. But fuck it if something turns out to be a big pile of shit. It doesn’t matter. -Dave Hill
Yeah. That’s huge. I did more than 100 episodes of The LaughSpin Podcast for a few years. That would not have existed if I didn’t have somebody editing that stuff.
Yeah. It just makes such a huge difference, you know? Some people are like, ‘Oh, what are you doing adding another thing to do during the week?’ And it’s really not a tremendous amount of time for me, thanks to Chris. You know, I have to get ready and do it, as opposed to the radio show. The radio show is like, I prep for it, and then I do it, and then I get home and finally unwind from doing it, and then I’m weirdly exhausted the next day in ways I can’t explain.
When you’re talking for three hours [from 9 pm to midnight] it’s so weirdly exhausting— like truly the most tiring thing I’ve ever done. From a physical standpoint, I’d rather run 10 miles than do that. And I have no understanding of why it’s that way, but it truly is just a physically exhausting thing.
So, comparatively speaking, just having someone in the house and have coffee and chat, is very relaxing. So, they’re two totally different things, you know, except for it’s me rambling in both cases, which is not for everybody, but, hopefully enough people. There seems to be enough people interested in hearing me ramble. Chris and I are kind of developing some other ideas. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do another podcast together.
You’re going to make a podcast out of this podcast?
They’ll be a podcast within a podcast. No, no, I think we might think of other things to do, and evolve this one, you know, as we go. Like, maybe incorporate futuristic technology. I don’t know. Just kind of see where it goes. I’m excited. Seems like people are glad to have it back, which is nice. It’s not like the most popular podcast in the world. You’re either really into it or you’re just not.
Yeah. I mean, you don’t need hundreds of thousands of listeners as long as you have a dedicated listenership.
Yeah, yeah. And that’s sort of what I’ve been realizing with life in general. I’m like, ‘When is the big ‘ta-da’ moment?’ And then, you realize like, ‘Oh, well I’ve had all these kind of loyal listeners and people that come out to shows, and read my books and all that.’ And then, you kind of go like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to have fun and do my thing because there’s all these people around having fun with me doing it.’
I’m not going to sit and worry about whether I’m going to get my NBC sitcom, which between you and me, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. But, yeah. You’re absolutely right, as long as there’s a dedicated core of people it’s good. I sort of realized that with my band, Valley Lodge. We just did some shows in Ohio. We toured Japan and did Bonnaroo as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s house band but besides that we never really played outside of New York. We went and did two shows in Ohio and people drove 12 hours from Georgia, six hours from Chicago. And they weren’t massive shows. But the people there were super into it, and I realized, ‘Oh, it’s not the quantity. It’s the quality.’ I’m always learning and growing.
How the hell did you swing a Japanese tour. Play a handful of shows in NYC then Tour Japan isn’t really the typical trajectory of a local rock band.
We did that in 2009. A Japanese label just emailed us, like, ‘Oh, we want to release your record over here and have you come tour.’ So, it was sort of like a rock and roll fantasy come true.
You guys had no Japanese connections?
No. It was just a lucky thing. It was weirdly something I had thought about as a cool thing if it ever happened. I should think about things more often.
Most comedy-centric podcasts feature comedians talking to other comedians constantly. Yours is different.
Well, you know, we’ll have comedians still. We’ve had a couple already. But really, it’s more that I want to just have interesting people from all walks of life and careers and things. It kind of goes back to my favorite interviewer, or he’s more of a conversationalist, Dick Cavett. If you watch episodes of his shows, you’ll see he rarely talked about like, ‘Oh, tell me about your new movie.’ It wasn’t about that. It was just kind of like, you had these people that were doing all these things and talking about those things on probably other talk shows, but on his shows they would talk about life and just what they thought about things, and you would learn about the person.
My favorite episode of that show was when he had Raquel Welch and Janis Joplin on. It was actually a few weeks before Janis Joplin died. And Raquel Welch was like at the peak of her powers, in terms of just being like a smoking hot starlet, you know? And you think, ‘Well, oh, I’m going to be in love with Raquel Welch watching this episode,’ and then you watch it and very quickly you go, like, ‘Oh, man. I’ll take Janis Joplin any day.’ She wasn’t talking about music or anything. She’s just talking about, you know, stuff, and you’re like, ‘This is a fascinating, intelligent person that I want to hang out with.’
Right! That makes sense.
By the end, I was like, ‘Oh, Raquel Welch, she’s gorgeous, but I’m way more into Janis Joplin,’ which I wouldn’t have thought. Growing up, I would always read Rolling Stone or whatever magazine. I realized I didn’t care about when bands would talk about their tours or what it was like making their latest record. They would talk about that stuff, but when the writer would be like, ‘Oh, I went and I got pizza with him, and he stopped off in this store and bought this stuff,’ you know, whatever random weird thing, and he ordered these pizza toppings. That stuff, who they were as people, just the average day-to-day stuff about them was always infinitely more interesting to me. [ed. note. As I was chatting with Dave he was prepping to take Lucy to the vet. I’m telling you this because this is the type of shit Dave likes about interviews and I want him to like this piece. And I want him to be my friend because I don’t care about journalistic boundaries anymore.]
When I talk to people, whether it’s the podcast or even on my radio show, it’s getting that sort of stuff out of people that I enjoy. I had Malcolm Gladwell on my radio show a few years back, and he started talking about doing cocaine. I was like, I have to be the only person that’s had this conversation with him on record. And I had Damien Echols from the West Memphis 3, and his wife, Lorri Davis, on. You’re familiar with Damien’s story, right?
Sure I am.
He was on death row for 18 years, and you know, basically wrongfully accused of murder and all that. He kind of got framed because he and his friends were into Danzig and Stephen King novels and things like that. And so he mentioned that, and you know, I was like, ‘Wow, I could see if you were into Danzig 5 that you’d be a person of interest.’ And he stops me and goes, ‘What are you talking about? That’s my favorite Danzig record.’ Then we get into this big discussion about Danzig. I was like, ‘What? You got to be fucking kidding me.’ And so all of a sudden I’m talking about this guy who, you know, was on death row for 18 years, and we’re just arguing about Danzig. And you know, not to brag, but they later said it was their favorite interview they had ever done. I was thrilled to hear that. It was because we were talking as human beings instead of doing the same interview he’s done a million times, you know?
You probably wouldn’t make it in mainstream media because of your punk rock interviewing ethos. But let’s say you did get a show on MSNBC, for example. What would you call it?
Dave Hill’s Power Hour. No, I don’t know. Something with a globe spinning in the background. Something cool, I don’t know. Dave Hill’s Hour of Bullshit.
I like that. Let’s say you scored a show on Fox News. What would you call it?
Dave Hill Burns The House Down From The Inside. Or something. I don’t know. Something catchier than that, but basically destroying Fox News from the inside. I don’t think they would have me on, just based on the last half hour of Twitter alone. I think I’m screwed.
You never know, Dave. The world is a fucked-up, backwards place right now.
Ultimately it’s going to come around to advertising dollars, so you know, who knows? Maybe in five years, Fox News will become a bastion of liberal perspective. If the money is right, I’m sure they’ll do it.
You come off as the most calm, chill person ever. Are you like that privately, or are you hiding a ball of anxiety somewhere?
Definitely the latter. I have moments of the first part. I have a bit of both, you know? But I think maybe with other people I’m pretty calm, but inside it’s just a house of horrors. But what are you going to do? It seems like there’s this endless quest for emotional peace and stability, but I don’t know, I think everyone’s some level of crazy, for better or for worse. But there’s a certain comfort in that, isn’t there?
I know I’m always relieved when I hear someone else is completely anxious and panic-riddled. It’s nice not to be alone with that sort of thing. Some day the goal will to be as calm as I speak. I think my calm moments just come from a lack of sleep— exhaustion that people interpret as tranquility.
Is that what it is? I was going to ask if you’d be willing to be my Zen Master. Now, I’m not so sure.
I’m always good at helping other people reach a state of Zen. But I fail to use any of my own advice. But Lucy’s helping.
You know a lot of musicians on different levels. Is there one musician that you’ve met or formed a relationship with that has either inspired you the most or has made a huge impact on your life?
Chris Reifert from Autopsy. He was the original drummer for Death. He and I met a couple years ago. Autopsy was playing at Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Film Festival. I was down there and I saw Autopsy and then it turned out that Chris and his wife are big comedy fans. They had seen me on @Midnight and things like that. We ended up chatting and we kept in touch. We ended up forming this band, Painted Doll, and we had a record come out in February on Tee Pee records.
I really was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have time to do it.’ But every time I’d go to LA for shows or just shoot something or whatever, he would drive down from the Bay area to jam. We would text each other iPhone messages of song ideas. We didn’t have any money to make a record, but he was like, ‘Come on. Let’s just do it. I’ll fly out there.’ We practiced four times and recorded a record in five days. We were just having fun— just the two of us. We were like, ‘This might be horrible.’ I had no idea. But fuck it. We were just doing this thing and who cares? It was kind of the first time I really approached anything like that where I was just, ‘I’m having fun and, beyond that, who gives a fuck?’
That’s a great sense of freedom right there.
Yeah. Then the record came out and Rolling Stone gave it a great review. Fenriz from Darkthrone called it his favorite album of the year. We were thrilled how well it was received. I just had fun and I didn’t give a fuck. Now I’m really trying to take that approach with everything.
I’m writing a new book and I’m trying to think the same way. It might be an absolute piece of shit, but I don’t think so. So far the editors like it so that’s cool. You always try to do the best you can, but being precious about things doesn’t really get you anywhere. Just have fun and do the best you can, but fuck it if something turns out to be a big pile of shit. It doesn’t matter.
What’s the new book about?
It’s about Canada. My grandfather’s from there, so it’s about tracing my Canadian roots. I spent the last year just going to Canada. I’ve been everywhere in Canada. I have a few more places to go. I just go there and I hang out and observe and drink a little too much and take notes on it. It’ll be out in the fall of 2019.
Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident is available here and where all podcasts are found. You can help Dave keep up his podcasting endeavors by signing up to become a supporter on Patreon! To follow Dave’s many projects, check out his official site.