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What makes for a “cult band”? Not just a small audience, because Grateful Dead fans are an archetypical cult. Not just a devoted, emotionally invested audience; no volume of Swifties make Taylor Swift qualify as a cult act. Does the music have to be somehow inaccessible, or the fans snobby?
Your host Mark Linsenmayer and three other musicians try to figure it out:
- Tim Quirk, frontman of Too Much Joy, writer and music executive
- Aaron David Gleason, musician and actor
- Chris Sunami writes The Pop Culture Philosopher blog, among other things
A few of the names that come up for consideration are Tom Waits, The Cure, XTC, Big Star, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Guided by Voices, David Bowie, R.E.M., The Residents, Os Mutantes, Tony Owens, Phil Judd, Mike “Sport” Murphy, and many more.
We talk about how the Internet has affected fandom and the music business, the power of musicians lauding each other, and how music fandom relates to other fandom.
Listen to Tim on Nakedly Examined Music and The Partially Examined Life. Read his blog 5-star-songs. Read his article “Hopelessly Devote: Cult Bands.” Follow him @tbquirk.
Listen to Aaron talking about his songs on Nakedly Examined Music, on Pretty Much Pop last year (talking about Borat), and as part of a Partially Examined Life audioplay (also featuring PMP favorite Erica Spyres and cult actress Lucy Lawless). Listen to the song he mentions that resulted from a Tik-Tok collaboration with cult artist Emma Freeman. Follow him on Facebook.
Read Chris’ post-mortem on cult artist Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.
A couple of articles that fed into this included:
- “The 8 Most Annoying Band Cult Followings in America” by Clayton Guse
- “The 12 Strangest Albums With Rabid Cult Followings” by Sean Kelly
- “List ‘Em Carefully: The Top 15 Cult Acts” by Ted Maider (from back in 2011)
Just to explain one of Mark’s comments, there really was a playset for “the hatch” for the TV show Lost.
This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop, or now you can sign up directly via Apple Podcasts for a subscription for ad-free and bonus material for three of Mark’s podcasts together on the Mark Lintertainment Podcasts Channel.
This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com.
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Conner Fields says
The Residents. Look em up. Try to get Homer Flynn on the program.
Conner Fields says
…Now, I don’t know if this will be a hot topic or not. Negativity Bias in Popular Media. At one point in the 1970s the Men’s Movement was selling itself as a compliment to the Women’s Movement. Whether you bought it or not was a different matter entirely. That has been lost in the New Millennium. This might be another thing that bleeds into PEL. I guess we can talk about Men’s Media…but we need not be negative about it. We can also talk about Women’s media. I guess I am trying to sell a point. Spike TV is the starting point for me, for men’s channels on TV…Oxygen is the starting point for women’s TV for me. In the 80s cable started offering more channels (I was born in 1990…it was not a new thing when I was born). Can we do a thing on Media Marketed to Men, and Media Marketed to Women? I know for a fact you folks lean secular left (not religious left, not secular right, or secular right-libertarian), so you lean pro-feminist…you might be like…”Who cares about ‘Men’s Identity’ or ‘Men’s Identity sounds DaaAaangerOooouuus’, I think it is important to question 1-dimensional men’s identity, and I’m…not really a feminist (I’ve had too many personal negative experiences with young liberal-feminists).
Is there a massively popular, current inciting show (or film) to support this? There’s Ted Lasso that is interesting from this perspective, but I’m gathering not what you have in mind.
Conner Fields says
I really earnestly meant my third comment down. Also my bandwidth happened to slow when I made it, can we fix that?