Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Interviews Steve Lehto, author of Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 11:27am
Martin talks to author Steve Lehto about Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow.
After World War II, the American automobile industry was reeling. Having spent years building tanks and airplanes for the army, the car companies would need years more to retool their production to meet the demands of the American public, for whom they had not made any cars since 1942.
And then in stepped Preston Tucker. This salesman extraordinaire from Ypsilanti, Michigan, had built race cars before the war, and had designed prototypes for the military during it. Now, gathering a group of brilliant automotive designers, engineers, and promoters, he announced the creation of a revolutionary new car: the Tucker '48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up. Tucker's car would include ingenious advances in design and engineering that other car companies could not match. With a rear engine, rear-wheel drive, a safety-glass windshield that would pop out in case of an accident, a padded dashboard, independent suspension, and automatic transmission, it would be more attractive and aerodynamic—and safer—than any other car on the road.
But as the public eagerly awaited Tucker's car of tomorrow, powerful forces in Washington were trying to bring him down. An SEC commissioner with close ties to Detroit's Big Three automakers deliberately leaked information about an investigation the agency was conducting, suggesting that Tucker was bilking investors with a massive fraud scheme. Headlines accused him a perpetrating a hoax and claimed that his cars weren't real and his factory was a sham.
In fact, the Tucker '48 sedan was genuine, and everyone who saw it was impressed by what this upstart carmaker had achieved. But the SEC's investigation had compounded the company's financial problems and management conflicts, and a superior product was not enough to keep Tucker's dream afloat.
In Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow, author Steve Lehto tackles the story of Tucker's incredible rise and tragic fall, relying on a huge trove of documents that has been used by no other writer to date. It is the first comprehensive, authoritative account of Tucker's magnificent car and his battles with the government.
The interview was recorded on July 6, 2016
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Interviews Frances Stroh, Author of Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 3:10pm
Martin talks to Frances Stroh about Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss. Stroh’s debut as an author is a memoir of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist’s struggle to find her way out of the ruins.
Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques, which she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, by 1984 the Stroh Brewing Company had become the largest private beer fortune in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself. While Stroh was coming of age, the Stroh family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million.
But behind the beautiful façade lay a crumbling foundation. Detroit’s economy collapsed with the retreat of the automotive industry to the suburbs and abroad and likewise the Stroh family found their wealth and legacy disappearing. As their fortune dissolved in little over a decade, the family was torn apart internally by divorce and one family member's drug bust; disagreements over the management of the business; and disputes over the remaining money they possessed. Even as they turned against one another, looking for a scapegoat on whom to blame the unraveling of their family, they could not anticipate that even far greater tragedy lay in store.
Featuring beautiful evocative photos throughout, Stroh’s memoir is elegantly spare in structure and mercilessly clear-eyed in its self-appraisal—at once a universally relatable family drama and a great American story.
The interview was recorded on May 23, 3016
Wed, 06/08/2016 - 11:41am
Martin talks to author Barney Hoskyns about his new book Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock.
Think "Woodstock" and the mind turns to the seminal 1969 festival that crowned a seismic decade of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. But the town of Woodstock, New York, the original planned venue of the concert, is located over 60 miles from the site to which the fabled half a million flocked. Long before the landmark music festival usurped the name, Woodstock—the tiny Catskills town where Bob Dylan holed up after his infamous 1966 motorcycle accident—was already a key location in the '60s rock landscape.
In Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns re-creates Woodstock's community of brilliant dysfunctional musicians, scheming dealers, and opportunistic hippie capitalists drawn to the area by Dylan and his sidekicks from the Band. Central to the book's narrative is the broodingly powerful presence of Albert Grossman, manager of Dylan, the Band, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield, and Todd Rundgren—and the Big Daddy of a personal fiefdom in Bearsville that encompassed studios, restaurants, and his own record label. Intertwined in the story are the Woodstock experiences and associations of artists as diverse as Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Hardin, Karen Dalton, and Bobby Charles (whose immortal song-portrait of Woodstock gives the book its title).
Drawing on numerous first-hand interviews with the remaining key players in the scene—and on the period when he lived there himself in the 1990s—Hoskyns has produced an East Coast companion to his bestselling L.A. canyon classic Hotel California. This book is a richly absorbing study of a vital music scene in a revolutionary time and place.
The interview was recorded on April 4, 2016.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Andy Partridge, co-author of Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC
Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:45pm
One of the defining rock groups of the post-punk / new wave era, XTC was led by the gifted British singer-songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. Active from the mid-70s through the early 2000s, the band is best known for the songs Dear God, Senses Working Overtime, Making Plans for Nigel, Life Begins at the Hop, and Mayor Simpleton. I still have fond memories of seeing the band perform with the Police at the Michigan Theater back on Jan. 22, 1980!
The book Complicated Game offers unique insights into the work of XTC founder Andy Partridge, one of Britain's most original and influential songwriters. It is also an unprecedentedly revealing and instructive guide to how songs and records are made.
Developed from a series of interviews conducted over many months, it explores in detail some thirty of Partridge's songs - including the controversial 'Dear God' - from throughout XTC's thirty-year career, as well as an extensive interview dedicated solely to the art and craft of songwriting. While the interviews cast new light on the writing of lyrics, the construction of melodies and arrangements, the process of recording, and the workings of the music industry, they are also filled with anecdotes about Partridge, his XTC bandmates, and their adventures around the world - all told with the songwriter's legendary humour.
Martin’s interview with Andy Partridge was originally recorded on March 8, 2016.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:42pm
Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond has written a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of several families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Martin Bandyke’s interview with Matthew Desmond was originally recorded on March 9, 2016.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Peter Guralnick, author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll
Wed, 02/17/2016 - 1:28pm
Peter Guralnick, author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography Last Train to Memphis, brings us the life of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who singlehandedly steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records.
The music that Sam Phillips shaped in his tiny Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, introduced a sound that had never been heard before. He brought forth a singular mix of black and white voices passionately proclaiming the vitality of the American vernacular tradition while at the same time declaring, once and for all, a new, integrated musical day. With extensive interviews and firsthand personal observations extending over a 25-year period with Phillips, along with wide-ranging interviews with nearly all the legendary Sun Records artists, Guralnick gives us an ardent, unrestrained portrait of an American original as compelling in his own right as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Edison.
The interview with Peter Guralnick was originally recorded on December 10, 2015.
Tue, 01/05/2016 - 9:25am
Los Lobos leaped into the national spotlight in 1987, when their cover of “La Bamba” became a No. 1 hit. But what looked like an overnight sensation to the band’s new fans was actually a way station in a long musical journey that began in East Los Angeles in 1973 and is still going strong. Across four decades, Los Lobos (Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, and Steve Berlin) has explored virtually the entire breadth of American vernacular music, from rockabilly to primal punk rock, R&B to country and folk, Mexican son jarocho to Tex-Mex conjunto and Latin American cumbia. Their sui generis sound has sold millions of albums and won acclaim from fans and critics alike, including three Grammy Awards.
Los Lobos, the first book on this unique band, traces the entire arc of the band’s career. Music journalist Chris Morris draws on new interviews with Los Lobos members and their principal collaborators, as well as his own reporting since the early 1980s, to recount the evolution of Los Lobos’s music.
The interview with Chris Morris was originally recorded on November 18, 2015.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Stephanie Steinberg, editor of In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at The Michigan Daily.
Fri, 12/18/2015 - 9:15am
At a time when daily print newspapers across the country are failing, The Michigan Daily continues to thrive. Completely operated by students of the University of Michigan, the paper was founded in 1890 and covers national and international news topics ranging from politics to sports to entertainment. The Daily has been a vital part of the college experience for countless UM students, none more so than those who staffed the paper as editors, writers, and photographers over the years. Many of these Daily alumni are now award-winning journalists who work for the premier news outlets in the world, including Sara Krulwich, Michael Rosenberg, Laura Berman, and Rebecca “Becky” Blumenstein.
In the Name of Editorial Freedom, edited by Stephanie Steinberg, compiles original essays by some of the best-known Daily alumni about their time on staff. Stephanie Steinberg was a Michigan Daily reporter and news editor from 2008 to 2010 and editor-in-chief in 2011. She is currently an editor at U.S. News & World Report.
The interview with Stephanie Steinberg was originally recorded on November 3, 2015.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Tony Barrell, author of Born to Drum: The Truth About the World’s Greatest Drummers
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:33am
From John Bonham and Keith Moon to Sheila E. and Dave Grohl, the pulse of rock’n’roll—the drummer—finally gets its due in this unique, all-encompassing inside look at the history, artists, instruments, and culture of drumming. Playing a drum kit is hard, sweaty, demanding work. Yet instead of being showered with respect, drummers are often viewed with derision—stereotyped as crazy, borderline psychotic, or just plain dumb. But as every musician knows, to have a great band you need a great drummer: Ginger Baker. John Bonham. Chad Smith. Stewart Copeland. Mitch Mitchell, Bill Bruford. British journalist Tony Barrell shines a long overdue spotlight on these musicians, offering an exciting look into their world, their art, and their personalities. In Born to Drum, Barrell explores the extraordinary history of the world’s most primitive instrument and the musicians who have made it legend. He interviews some of the most famous and revered and well-known drummers of our time—including Chad Smith, Ginger Baker, Clem Burke, Sheila E, Phil Collins, Nick Mason, Butch Vig, and Omar Hakim—who share astonishing truths about their work and lives. He investigates the stories of late, great drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham, analyzes many of the greatest drum tracks ever recorded, and introduces us to the world’s fastest drummer, the world’s loudest drummer, and the first musician to pilot a “flying drum kit” on stage.
The interview with Tony Barrell was originally recorded on August 11, 2015.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews David Stubbs, author of Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music
Tue, 10/27/2015 - 1:08pm
West Germany after World War II was a country in shock: estranged from its recent history, and adrift from the rest of Europe. But this orphaned landscape proved fertile ground for a generation of musicians who, from the 1960s onwards, would develop the strange and beautiful sounds that became known as Krautrock.
Eschewing the easy pleasures of rock and roll and the more substantive seductions of blues and jazz, they took their inspiration from elsewhere: the mysticism of the East; the fractured classicism of Stockhausen; the grinding repetition of industry; the dense forests of the Rhineland; the endless winding of Autobahns.
Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, Can—the influence of these groups’ music on Western popular music is incalculable. They were key to the development of movements ranging from post-punk to electronica and hip-hop and have directly inspired artists as diverse as David Bowie, Talking Heads, and LCD Soundsystem.
Future Days is the brilliantly reported, deeply researched story of the groups that created Krautrock, and a social and cultural history of the Germany that challenged, inspired, and repelled them.
David Stubbs is an author and music journalist whose work has appeared in the The Times (London), The Sunday Times, Spin, The Guardian and GQ, and his books include Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen.
The interview with David Stubbs was originally recorded on October 8, 2015.