❉ This week: A regular podcast presented by Unbound’s John Mitchinson and author Andy Miller, bringing old books back to the surface.
We’re big fans of podcasts here at We Are Cult, so if you’re looking for ear candy, we’re here to help. Each week we profile must-hear podcasts by giving podcast creators a platform to tell us about their shows in their own words.
This week: Backlisted, a regular podcast presented by Unbound’s John Mitchinson and Andy Miller (author, The Year Of Reading Dangerously) a/k/a Leavis and Butthead. Bringing old books back to the surface.
Matt Hall is the producer of Backlisted; author Andy Miller is co-host.
What’s your podcast about?
Matt: Books that have slipped off the radar and the people who wrote them.
If you had to describe your show in 10 words or less, what would you say?
Matt: We love the books you don’t know. You will too.
Andy: We read dead people.
Which episode would you recommend for a first-time listener?
Matt: Difficult – I might go for The Information by Martin Amis. The guest is John Niven, who is very funny. Or the recent episode on Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance Venetia, which is a totally different thing, clearly, but such a great discussion with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Una McCormack. We approach each book on its own merits and let each episode follow its own path.
Andy: I’d begin at the beginning, like a reader. Our first episode about J.L. Carr’s short A Month in the Country, with guest Lissa Evans, the novelist, sets out our stall. It’s funny and informative and I guarantee it will make you want to read the book (which is wonderful.)
Do you have a favourite episode?
Andy: the episode about David Seabrook’s All the Devils Are Here, because it’s one of my favourite books and the discussion with guest Rachel Cooke really crackles and because as we were recording I was thinking: wow, so many people are going to read it after hearing this who might never even have heard of the book. Which indeed they have done! Makes me really proud to have helped spread the word.
Matt: I really like the one on Alan Garner’s Red Shift, because it sheds new light on an author I first read when I was a child.
What inspired you to create this podcast?
Andy: My co-host John Mitchinson and I have known one another for twenty-five years. We both felt there was a gap for a discussion of old (and new) books that was informal and passionate and fun. We wanted it to have the feel of a Waterstone’s staffroom circa 1995, which is where we first met, all those clever, funny people sitting around arguing about books and complaining about the customers [laughs].
Which guests have you had on your podcast so far?
Matt: We have a guest on each episode, sometimes more than one. Grown-up Ladybird authors Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley were great, as was poet Selena Godden. Jonathan Coe was lovely as well. Samantha Ellis, Linda Grant, Kit de Waal…
Andy: Actually everyone has been lovely, they really get it. Also writers are often more comfortable talking about books they like rather than their own work, but they rarely have the opportunity to do so. Writers are readers before they are writers – Backlisted gives them the chance to be fans again.
Who would be your dream guest?
Andy: Douglas Adams. Jean Rhys. Anita Brookner. All my favourite dead authors, basically. Of the living ones, Nicholson Baker or Miriam Toews. And Pete Townshend. Pete Townshend would be amazing – reads a lot, smashed guitars in the Who, worked at Faber and Faber for several years. He’s perfect!
Which equipment do you use for your podcast set-up?
Matt: Very simple – four Beyer mics into separate channels on a Behringer Eurorack 8 track mixing desk and from there into a Zone H-5 digital recorder. We record the show on a Friday afternoon around the kitchen table in the Unbound offices, so it’s about as far as you can get from a sterile studio atmosphere – it’s very warm, you can hear people working in the office, answering phones. I edit using Audacity on a MacBook Air.
What would you say is the best length of time for a podcast episode?
Matt: Depends what you’re aiming to do with the podcast. We publish fortnightly, and aim for just under an hour for a regular show. Anything more would be outstaying our welcome. But if we were doing a twice-weekly show, we’d be looking to do something much shorter. Having said that, the ’In Pod We Trust’ show about the repercussions of the US elections often goes over an hour, and that’s OK as they’ve got so much to talk about.
Andy: I always feel we should go on for as long as there’s stuff to say and the conversation is real. Some episodes could have been six hours long (and arguably should have been.)
Which podcasts (other than yours) would you recommend we listen to?
Matt: The obvious ones; Helen Zaltzman’s ‘The Allusionist’, ‘in Pod We Trust’ on US politics, Athletico Mince for stupid stuff and the occasional bit of football, and Hip Hop Saved My Life, as I’m a complete hip hop head.
Andy: I really like Bigmouth for cultural review stuff and both Literary Friction and Little Atoms for books. Also Sodajerker is fantastic and their songwriter archive has become an invaluable resource.
Where is your podcast available to listen to?
What is the future of podcasting as a creative medium?
Matt: It’s very bright. As with every medium it goes through different waves, and the current obsession with crime stories told in a Serial style over plinky plonky music beds is really quite boring. But that will change, and you will get more people who are really passionate about a certain topic coming out with interesting new ways to make you engage with their own obsessions.
Andy: I have seen podcasting future and its name is Bruce Forsyth.
❉ Backlisted Podcast can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/backlistedpod
❉ Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Backlisted Podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/backlisted-podcast/id1063252175?mt=2
❉ Have you got a podcast? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like it to be featured.