Well, they’re at it again. And we have a special interview to get you ready for their “Halloween” show featuring guest authors and stand-up comedy.
Every Monday night, Brandon Wetherbee (founder of YMTE) and co-host Esmeralda Leon celebrate and explore Chicago culture by featuring local bands and thoughtful chats about new books, movies and films. And each week fans are invited to be a part of the live podcast recording.
I had fun chilling on the couch in the front row during the White Mystery show, and I was curious to know how the YMTE got started and what inspires them each week.
So I asked Wetherbee a few questions and he told me all about his talk show idols, who he would pick for his dream house band, how he’s planning to expand the YMTE podcast in the near future and why he’s willing to sell out and accept any illegal job offers should they come his way.
Live Fix: You mentioned before that you’ve been influenced by classic Chicago radio hosts like Studs Terkel and others. What inspired you to start the YMTE podcast and starting doing the live Monday night shows at the Hungry Brain?
BW: I started the podcast because I didn’t find a show that featured people I enjoy. There are some great shows but most do one thing. The live show allows me to bring on an author, standup and a band. Other podcasts don’t do that. Also, I like wearing suits on stage.
You’ve featured live music and local bands such as White Mystery during the Monday night shows. How have those performances influenced the interviews during the show? For example, have you ever had a moment where a performance inspired a question on the fly because you saw something that didn’t think of before?
Most, if not all, of the questions are off the cuff. If the guest is an author, I’ll try to read all of their works, some previous interviews they’ve done and have a general idea on where I’d like the interview to go. When the show first began I used outlines for questions. At this point I do not. If something interesting or funny happens I’m not going to just let it go to get on with the questions. No one cares that much about ‘serious’ anything. It’s a talk show. It should be relatively fun.
How has YMTE been inspired by the talk show live performances and interviews you‘ve watched on TV, listen to on the radio or enjoyed on other podcasts? Any classic moments stand out as all-time favorites?
My two talk show idols are Terry Gross from NPR’s “Fresh Air” and Craig Ferguson from “The Late Late Show”. Gross is able to be at ease with a variety of guests in a consistent format. She makes really difficult things digestible and really dumb things interesting. She’s teaching the Sophomore level college class that made you want to get a liberal arts degree. Ferguson is himself, for better or worse. Some shows don’t go well and he’ll say, “This show isn’t going well.” He’s a smart host that knows who he is, or at least what he’s doing. Both do something that’s extremely hard and make it look easy.
Every classic talk show has a great house band that helps sets the tone, mood and backbone of rhythm and flow for the show. With no disrespect to Jeremy Tromburg who does fine job with the live music on piano, if you could pick a dream house band, what band would you pick for YMTE and why?
I’m not pandering to Jeremy, but I really like what he does. If money and space wasn’t an issue, I’d still probably have him as the house band. I don’t want to be blasted with awful covers of mediocre songs between segments. Jeremy plays piano in a non-hack way and that’s super hard to find. I want the night to end with a band because it allows the crowd to relax, drink more, possibly dance and hopefully give YMTE all the money they have left so all of us can buy better thrift store suits.
When it comes to an ideal band residency, top 5 all time would be 1. Bo Diddley, 2. Nirvana, 3. Kanye West, 4. Johnny Cash, 5. David Bowie. I don’t want to see an up and coming band play a week residency. They’re much more powerful as one night acts. We had Lazers and Fast and Shit close out a show and it was amazing. My body felt their set for days. I couldn’t handle seeing them every night. Also, no one on my list needs money so they probably wouldn’t abuse our kindness when it comes to buying them drinks.
What have been some of your most memorable live concert experiences in Chicago?
I was lucky enough to see a few hundred shows a year for about five years because of my jobs in record stores, college radio stations and other places where you’re very cool and poor. One specific show doesn’t stand out but every time I saw Hewhocorrupts I felt happy to be alive.
As a fan, what “Little Things” have you noticed during some of your favorite concerts?
Focus on a band members, usually guitarists, legs. If they’re crossed, they’re really drunk.
What advice would you give to others who want to start a podcast? What’s the hardest part and the most rewarding aspects of hosting YMTE?
The only advice I’d give anyone thinking about doing a podcast is to be consistent. If you’re a monthly show, stick to that.
The hardest part of YMTE is finding the time to do it and make rent. The most rewarding part hasn’t come yet. It’s still hard to pay rent.
What is something unique about the live shows at the Hungry Brain that fans might not realize or be aware of?
The live show is an amalgamation of everything I want to see. I’m trying to set something up that you don’t want to leave. I don’t want to shock the senses. I want to lull people into being comfortable, open to great guests in a relaxing environment. What I’m trying to say is that I want to be a cult leader. When you come to a show you’re supporting my insane cultish brain.
In what ways do you plan to evolve the YMTE? What does the future look like for you guys?
YMTE Live is going to expand to Washington DC by the end of 2010 and we’re working on New York and Baltimore for 2011. YMTE Live is going to stay in Chicago on the last Monday of the month. This will continue until I inevitably die in an airport after starting a war I’ll lose with an army of young females in JUICY velor pants.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for reading this. I’m more than willing to sell out any semblance of authenticity I have for a small salary. Visit youmethemeverybody.com to send any highly illegal job offers.
Thanks Brandon for taking the time to chat, and I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for any illegal job offers, too [smiles].
Tonight’s Show Details (see video below)
- Who: author Anne Elizabeth Moore, the founding editor of the Best American Comics series, and the former editor of now-defunct Punk Planet. Chicago Reader’s 2010 best stand up comic, Sean Flannery who just recently finished a run of his successful one man show, “Never Been to Paris”.
- What: Halloween comes early with Old Man Benton Presents: A Ghost Story. A multimedia ghost story, which is being deemed ‘spooky folk’ will include original music, sound effects and the natural cadence and timbre of the human voice to re-create a truly chilling tale based on real events.
- When: Monday, October 25, Doors 8PM, Show 9PM
- Where: Hungry Brain 2319 W. Belmont
- 21 and over show, no cover.