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The Department of Tangents Podcast

Years ago, playing a sort of improv game with friends in which we all picked super powers based on our personalities, I dubbed myself “Tangent Lad.” I was not a very strong superhero, and I could not defeat a super villain on my own, but I could distract them with Monty Python quotes and football trivia. I have many times since apologized to an interview subject in my capacity as a journalist by saying, “I am either very good or very bad at tangents, depending on how you feel about tangents.”

I had a rough time coming up with the concept and naming this blog/podcast. I knew I wanted to create a place where I could address things I’m passionate about – comedy, music, and horror. Finding a name that communicated all three of those things proved a bit impossible. I bugged my friends, and they all tried to help. To no avail. Then I thought, maybe I’m approaching this from the wrong angle. Maybe my lack of focus should be the focus.

As a journalist, I have written for The Boston Globe since 2000, starting out writing CD reviews and then writing a regular column on comedy for seven and a half years. I still contribute there, and to Kirkus Reviews, and other publications. I’m also a musician, and released my debut full-length album, Blue Skies and Broken Arrows, in March of 2015. And I’ve been publishing short horror fiction for a couple of years.

I like to climb into things I love and see how they operate. That’s what the Department of Tangents is for. I’ll be writing regular features, essays, and news bits about the big three – comedy, music, and horror – and offering clips from people I’ve taped interviews with over the past nearly twenty years of writing. Some of the best parts of the interviews I’ve done have been completely off-point and inappropriate for print. I’ll get to explore more of that here. I’m also hoping to convince some friends to tell me about the things they love that I might not even know about, and pass that along to you.

The DoT podcast might be short or long, depending on where the conversation leads. You cant purposefully create an interesting tangent in conversation – it has to happen naturally. But I can confidently forecast that there will be moments in the individual podcasts where things veer off wonderfully.

The main thing here is love. To write about the things that make I’ve loved forever, and some new things that might stand the test and be around, at least for me, for decades to come. I’ve had to be critical in my writing at times, and it might not all be nonstop roses here, but in the end, what I really want to talk about is the good stuff. That’s why I will regularly write about things I think are “Perfect,” even if someone can demonstrate empirically that they are flawed. Still perfect to me.

Also, fish.

I hope you, dear anonymous surfer person, will come to expect only the highest-quality, free-range, grass-fed tangents. And I hope some of you love the same things I do and find it useful. Or at least a welcome distraction until the others get here.

Jan 18, 2018

I first heard The Len Price 3 years ago on a Christmas compilation Little Steven put together for his Underground Garage show. When I spoke with Steven about the album, it was clear he was a big fan of the band, which is more than enough of an endorsement for anyone who loves rock and roll. I was thrilled when I got the advance of their new album, Kentish Longtails, which came out in September of 2017.

The first thing that hits you about the album is the loud, brash mashup of classic British bands like the Kinks, the Who, and the Beatles, all delivered with a punk attitude. Keep listening, though, and you’ll hear a more gentle side of the band. The Len Price 3 can be biting or beautiful. They can make you want to throw yourself into a frenzy or smile and tap your toe. Here's "Childish Words" from Kentish Longtails:

Page has been thinking recently about how many of the songs he writes are the result of negative feelings in his day-to-day life, which is a contrast to his more easygoing countenance. “I have to put all the bad vibes somewhere,” he says. “So they go into a box called ‘songwriting.’”

A lot of musicians and comedians I've interviewed are on a much more even keel in person than onstage, and that jibes with what Page has seen from his musician friends. But their stage personas precede them, which led to Page and the band being called "perverts" at one gig for rejecting the alcohol backstage and requesting a cup of tea.

I am very happy to present to you this episode of the Department of Tangents Podcast featuring an interview with Glenn Page, the singer/guitarist/songwriter at the center of The Len Price 3. We had a long and often delightful conversation covering everything from that punkish sensibility to songwriting influences to the ins and outs of being a working band. If you're an independent musician, a lot of the "making of" part of this conversation might resonate. Before we spoke, I listened to the album a dozen times or so. I had never spoken with Page before, and listening to the vitriol in some of the tunes, I wondered if I would be facing that same kind of snarl. I needn’t have worried. Page is nothing if not a gentleman, and I look forward to catching up with him again on this podcast the next time the band releases a new album, which Page hints might be something a little different.

As always, the podcast ends with a featured track, either music or comedy, from a new or recent release. This episode, it’s “New Age Parents” from comedian Tommy Ryman’s new album, “Having the Time Of My Life,” out January 19 on Stand Up! Records. It’s a little insight into Ryman’s run on Last Comic Standing and the people who raised him.