Interviews

Published on September 11th, 2022 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Jonah Bayer On The “How Did We Get Weird?” Podcast, Future Projects, Punk Rock & More

Jonah Bayer is a writer, musician and podcaster with two decades of experience in the music industry. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Travel + Leisure, Guitar World, SPIN and Stereogum, and he has produced, written and/or hosted podcasts for clients such as HBO Max, iHeartMedia and Sonos. As if those credits are not enough, Bayer is also a graduate student in Antioch University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, where he concentrated on trauma-informed counseling.

Bayer is currently the co-host of the weekly iHeartMedia and Big Money Players podcast How Did We Get Weird? alongside his sister Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live, I Love That For You, Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar). Joined by exciting guests who also started out this way, they reminisce about everything from toys to trends on How Did We Get Weird? Past guests on the podcast have included Bowen Yang, Amy Schumer, Bobby Moynihan, Patton Oswalt & Meredith Salenger, John Early and Kate Berlant.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jonah Bayer via Zoom. Below are transcribed highlights from that conversation, while more on the Ohio-bred, Massachusetts-based creator can be found online by clicking here, here and here. Select Weird? episodes are also embedded below.

On his podcasting prior to How Did We Get Weird? and how it led to How Did We Get Weird?:

Jonah Bayer: We did 300-something episodes [of Going Off Track], and it’s still going on without me for about six years or so. Those interviews were all done in-person… For this project, the initial idea happened a few years prior. It just took a while with just the logistics and Vanessa’s schedule and my schedule and getting everything kind of lined up. So it took a while and the idea kind of changed a little bit, but once we kind of got it… I think it was able to move pretty quickly, actually. But it was a lot of planning a lot of a lot of logistical stuff…

That first episode is kind of interesting, because we don’t have a guest, right? It’s us talking about the movie Shallow Hal… We’ve done some of those movie talk-throughs, but that was a little different… The first episode, it takes a while because we didn’t want it to just be, “Here’s our friends and we’re just talking,” because there’s just so many podcasts like that. So we wanted to have a little bit more of a conceptual part to it so it didn’t just kind of sound like us just talking to our friends.

On the overlap being comedy and punk rock these days:

Jonah Bayer: Sure, yeah… There’s a really good podcast by Damian [Abraham] from the band Fucked Up, and he has a lot of people connected to punk, a lot of actors, comedians, musicians… He always sort of says on the podcast, a lot of this really interesting cultural stuff that comes out of pop culture and entertainment does have some kind of like tangential connection to punk. I feel like that is totally true. Jonah Ray, I did his podcast a long time ago. We’re into a lot of the same music. Chris Gethard… There’s so many [comedians with punk rock ties].

I think it also ties into that era. I feel like we talk about the 90s and that period. Punk was so different during that time, there were, like, four weird kids in your school that were into this thing. At least that’s how it was [for me] in high school. But I feel like that’s a very common thing of that era and it was sort of pre-Internet. So I felt like you just got really into this kind of non-conformist type culture… You’re playing in bands, you’re identifying your own voice, your own artistic vision, and I think a lot of those people who were into that music at that time, kind of continued on that path. Whether it might not be in a punk band, though, it might be like Chris doing comedy, or Jonah… It’s just like an instant connection, you meet someone and you say, “Are you into this?” You see them wearing a t-shirt, and then all of the sudden, you have this whole language and vocabulary you can share with them…

When I meet people who are younger than me, and we’re talking about a band, like Hot Water Music or something, the record you got into is the record when you were 15, or 16, or the first record you heard back then. That’s based on how old you are, when you got into a band.

On how his music and podcasting tie in with his mental health studies:

Jonah Bayer: I just got a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, so I’ve studied a lot about the connection with music and sort of our neurology. A lot of it is during those formative eras, as a teenager. We’re forming these synapses, we’re making these connections and know that’s why that era kind of sticks out in our mind. We kind of will never love music maybe in the same way as we did were teenagers and that kind of ties into the podcast as well.

On whether he and his sister Vanessa listened to metal before they got into punk rock:

Jonah Bayer: Me and Vanessa watched a lot of MTV growing up. So it was a lot of, kind of, pop music. Then Headbangers Ball and that kind of stuff really got me into metal. My mom took me to see Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row in ’91 on the Use Your Illusion tour. I was a huge GNR and Metallica fan and then from there I think I got into more punk. Then I kind of moved into more hardcore… I definitely started with metal and hair-metal, for sure. I mean, I was a little too young to really be a part of that scene…

A band like Soul Asylum or something, I didn’t know about Twin/Tone or The Replacements or anything, but “Somebody To Shove” and that kind of stuff… I mean, it’s like you learn the Goo Goo Dolls’ first record was kind of punk and you’re like, “Really?” So it’s really interesting to kind of trace that back. All the bands like that were on SST and whatnot, like Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth, it’s really fascinating.

On how he likes to be described, given the different career paths he has taken on:

Jonah Bayer: That’s actually something I really need to work on. Because I feel like I feel like I’m like, “Well, I do this and then I do this”… “What do you do?” I’d say I’m a journalist, I also host a podcast and I also work in the field of mental health. My goal is to work with artists and musicians once I’m licensed as a therapist, I’m working towards that now. But yeah, I guess I’ve always done a bunch of stuff.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."


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