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The Art of Longevity


The Guardian: “Eschewing the in-the-moment musical deconstruction of series like Song Exploder, this podcast explores the long game. Each episode speaks to a band whose career has spanned decades and whose success has ebbed and flowed as tastes have shifted around them”.

The Guardian: “Eschewing the in-the-moment musical deconstruction of series like Song Exploder, this podcast explores the long game. Each episode speaks to a band whose career has spanned decades and whose success has ebbed and flowed as tastes have shifted around them”.


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The Guardian: “Eschewing the in-the-moment musical deconstruction of series like Song Exploder, this podcast explores the long game. Each episode speaks to a band whose career has spanned decades and whose success has ebbed and flowed as tastes have shifted around them”.




The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 6: Portico Quartet

Discovering a band all to yourself is the best type of music discovery there is. One day in the mid 2000s as my wife and I wandered along London’s South Bank, we were stopped in our tracks by music the likes of which we’d never heard before - jazzy, rhythmic, with a haunting steel drum but also with an element of ‘indie’. There, were four very young men (then in their late teens) busking with a confident authority - more a private performance than a busk, and with quite an audience...


The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 5: Mew

If one of the secrets to longevity in the music industry is simply taking your time, then Danish alternative rock band Mew are grand masters. Formed in 1995, the band took eight years before a major label deal came along, and with it, international success (the superb breakthrough album Frengers). It did not lead to a rush. Some 26 years into the band’s career, Mew has released just seven studio albums - one every four years. That’s not something Spotify would advocate as an operating model...


The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 4: Los Lobos

When I sat down with Steve Berlin, the Los Lobos sax player and de facto spokesperson, I was a little more than intrigued. To most people around the world - outside of North America anyways - Los Lobos remain the La Bamba band. How wrong we are. There is a very common thread with the artists we’ve had on the show - and with longevity - every one of the artists (except so far, Laura Veirs and Maximo Park) had a very big song: James, Turin Brakes, Gary Numan, KT Tunstall… But Los Lobos is...


The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 3: Fink

On The Art of Longevity, Fin Greenhall explained the ideas behind Fink's new project IIUII: an acoustic retrospective of some of the band's (and fans) favourite, biggest songs. “I’m a better singer now than I was in 2005, so I feel I can do a better job of singing these songs. As a band we are much more loose, grounded and subtle than we used to be - comfortable with who we are”. As such, the idea behind the project is to do a better job of those songs by bringing experience to bear as the...


The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 2: Barenaked Ladies

Is it possible to make your best record 33 years into a career? That’s what may just have happened with Canadian legends Barenaked Ladies and their 2021 release Detour De Force. The album covers most of BNL’s styles (i.e. a long list of genres) and is a masterclass in songwriting. It starts out with three BNL bangers, before settling into something more reflective, but typically varied and never boring. When I spoke to Ed Robertson for episode 2 of season 2, he himself seemed pleased with...


The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 1: KT Tunstall

On the Art of Longevity Series II, Episode One, KT Tunstall tells me that albums can feel like a ‘flash in the pan’ despite all the work that goes into them. But albums like Wax (her latest, from 2018) will stick around in the ears for a long time to come. KT Tunstall was the classic ‘overnight success’ i.e. ten years in the making, having busked her way around the St Andrews and Fife scenes since the mid 90s. It all ‘began’ with that performance of ‘Black Horse & The Cherry Tree’ on Jools...


The Art of Longevity Episode 7: The Coral, with James Skelly

The Coral is a band revered on the music scene - a real artist’s band. They are very accomplished musicians who first got together at school in the small Wirral town of Hoylake. The band members bonded over their many music icons, from The Beatles and the Small Faces to Acker Bilk and Del Shannon. Listening to a record by the Coral is a dizzying fairground tour of Liverpool’s music hall pop heritage mixed with American West Coast psychedelia and a lot else besides. Sometimes all in one song....


The Art of Longevity Episode 6: Maximo Park, with Paul Smith

Music critics have tried to classify the music made by North East England’s Maximo Park for the past two decades, eventually converging on the term ‘art pop’. Yet Paul Smith, the band’s singer and main co-songwriter (with guitarist Duncan Lloyd) describes their music thus as: “Odd but still pop music. Weird but anthemic. Music with a literary influence but also immediate - in some ways primitive - music that tries to slap you in the face a little bit, but twangs its way back to being pop....


The Art of Longevity Episode 5: James, with Tim Booth

When you’ve been getting away with it as a seven piece band for nearly four decades, with 22 albums behind you - something’s got to give when it comes to longevity. Especially when, in the case of James and Tim Booth, you’re on yet another roll. The band has made another vital album (All The Colours of You) despite the backdrop of a global pandemic and, in Booth’s case, an unsettling period on the run from the increasingly virulent wildfires encroaching on his family home in the Topanga...


The Art of Longevity Episode 4: Gary Numan

Success came relatively quickly to Gary Numan, when his single ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ rose to the top of the UK charts in May 1979. Without a chorus and clocking in at nearly five and a half minutes, it was an unlikely a hit record as you could imagine. Its parent album, ‘Replicas’, released the month before, went to number one in the album charts, as did its successor, ‘The Pleasure Principle’, released only a few months later. This album featured what is perhaps Numan’s best known...


The Art of Longevity Episode 3: Laura Veirs

There’s no such thing as a critical review for any of Laura Veirs' 11 albums. But how does Laura measure her own success? The answer is, she doesn’t stop to think about it, much. Instead, as one project gets done, she’s into the next. A prolific songwriter and increasingly accomplished musician, Laura is constantly moving forward with all the restless energy of a fast flowing river. Perhaps it’s because her albums really are like statements of parts of her life. Not many artists are brave...


The Art of Longevity Episode 2: Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers has seen and done it all. He has collaborated with the world’s top music stars including Madonna, David Bowie and Duran Duran and Daft Punk. The Chic Organisation created by Nile and music partner Bernard Edwards created a string of monster pop hits between 1977 and 1983, when they wrote and produced eight Chic albums, two for Sister Sledge, along with one each for Diana Ross, Debbie Harry, Johnny Matthis, and Sheila B and Devotion. Everybody knows at least a dozen Nile Rodgers...


The Art of Longevity Episode 1: Turin Brakes

In the Art of Longevity, a new podcast from The Song Sommelier, we take a whistle stop tour of a classic band or artist’s career, but we break a few of usual ‘media interview’ rules (well, we break all of them). Ultimately we reflect on learnings, wisdom, battle scars and wounds and ask “what really defines success”. It’s a question many fans and fellow musicians and all aspiring musicians want to know answers to. Brett Andersen from Suede once said that all successful artists have followed...


The Fantasy Setlist: New Romantics

Dylan Jones, long time editor of GQ, writer and father, picks out his favourite New Romantic tracks as part of his “Sweet Dreams Festival” fantasy setlist. Dylan Jones has been Editor of the UK fashion and lifestyle magazine GQ since 1999. Alongside that he has become an established author and journalist of culture and politics. Since Jones joined GQ, the magazine has won numerous awards. Dylan himself has received the Mark Boxer Award for lifetime achievement, honouring him not only for...


The Fantasy Setlist: U2

What more can be said about U2 as a live entity? Well, maybe look at it from a personal perspective - in this case, U2’s performances’ impact on the life & times of Paul Smernicki, music manager (Hyyts, Swim School, Magnum House) and long-time label executive. And at one fleeting moment, a potential addition to U2’s management team. Starting with Zoo Station from Achtung Baby, the opening trio of Paul’s very own U2 Fantasy Setlist is full of bangers including the monster songs ‘Streets’ and...


The Fantasy Setlist: Bob Dylan

In our first podcast - yep that’s right - we’ve done a podcast (well everyone else has, so why not us!) lifelong Dylan fan, and long term TSS collaborator, David Freer, guides us through some of Dylan’s mystery, while adding something of his own. Support the show (