Tony Giles & Scott Johannsson | THE DAMN FINE PODCAST

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Tony Giles and Scott Johannsson started The Damn Fine Podcast back in April of this year, and in the intervening months, the show's gone from being two rather-knowledgeable friends chatting about film scores and vinyl to being that and so much more. Recent episodes have seen interviews with the likes of composers such as Craig Safan and Ben Salisbury, as well as a very excellent half-episode that focused on the Dies Irae and how it pops up repeatedly. We spoke with the hosts about the podcast for STARBURST’s OST column in issue 415.

STARBURST: How did you come to be enmeshed in the world of soundtracks?

Scott Johannsson: I'm a life-long soundtrack listener and fan, have been since I was an awkward teen. The first time my ears pricked up was the theme tune for Street Hawk, and especially Miami Vice - I recorded them both from the TV speaker. That led to me discovering who Tangerine Dream were, and the doors opened wide after that.

Tony Giles: I started through watching musicals with my grandmother - I've mentioned before on the podcast that it was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers where I first noticed the use of music in film. It was after seeing Tim Burton's Batman that I became a dedicated soundtrack fan.

Why did you start the Damn Fine Podcast?

TG: I guess it was because I was intrigued at the idea of having a radio show, and I hadn't yet heard a soundtrack-centric podcast like the one I had in mind. It was a case of following through with the idea and finding someone who could help realise it. That's where Scott came in.

SJ: Yeah, Tony approached me after we became friendly through the Spin the Blackest Circles forum, which had quickly became a bit of an obsession with me. We seemed to have a lot of the same scores and composers in common.

One would think that there'd be way more soundtrack podcasts, but aside from El Diabolik and the Films on Wax cast, you seem to be it. What do you think the reason is?

TG: I still think that, as big as the soundtrack market is, it's a niche within a niche. I feel like we've been very lucky to have gained the following we have in such a short amount of time.

SJ: Which, I think, speaks to the fact that the community is quite a tight-knit one, and is constantly looking for a place to share its passions and interests. 

Your focus on new releases and re-releases allows for a good mix of music new and old. Was that the intention from the start?

TG: 100%

SJ: I think we both agreed that what we'd like as a consumer is someone who does a bit of the filtering for you, since the market is pretty crowded. Even keeping up with new releases is daunting. 

I'm aware that Shipping Records is involved somehow in the Damn Fine Podcast, but what are the particulars?

TG: Well, I own Shipping Records! So in as much as I'm the host of the podcast, it was a no-brainer for SR to be the sponsor as I carry many of the releases that we discuss. 

While the show's only just begun its third month, it's seen some changes already. What made you decided to do these half episodes?

SJ: When Tony lined up our first in-studio guest, a fellow soundtrack freak, we realised that we also wanted to continue that by having a mix of full episodes with labels and music guests, but also mini episodes where we could simply chat with like-minded guys.

TG: That also led to us thinking of the half episodes as a space for delving into specific topics in more depth. The first of these, on Dies Irae in film music, seemed to go over really well and has definitely encouraged us to do more.

Given that you've already had a guest, and added special episodes, do you see branching out in other ways? 

SJ: For sure, there's no stopping TG! I strongly suspect he has things up his sleeve that even I don't know about. 

TG: The show has definitely exceeded my expectations already, and I'd really like to continue evolving the format in a way that would interest me as a soundtrack fan.

Will the focus of the Damn Fine Podcast always be vinyl related, or do you foresee more digital releases, as those become more and more prevalent?

TG: The focus of the show will always be primarily vinyl, but that's not to say we won't spotlight digital or tape releases which really excite us. For instance, Pentagram Home Video is a fantastic project that's currently a series of tape releases, but we know that Death Waltz has plans to release material by them at some point.

SJ: I'm personally very keen for us to stay vinyl focused, because this isn't a passing fad for me - I've collected and listened to records since I was a teen, nearly 30 years now, and it's firmly my medium of choice. But I agree with Tony, it's cool that we can use the podcast to also tell listeners about upcoming music which isn't yet on vinyl.

The Damn Fine Podcast can be found via iTunes and on Soundcloud – Follow the podcast on Twitter.

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