The Iowa Idea: Jason Narducy
“Just Start Moving.”
In this episode, I’m joined by Jason Narducy, who Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune describes as “a first-rate songwriter and band leader.” KEXP says “you won’t see more indie rock cred than on the CV of Jason Narducy.” Hailing from Evanston, IL, Jason has recorded and toured with Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Verbow, and his current project Split Single have a new album, Amplificado, out June 25th on Inside Outside Records, which was recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Mike Mills (bass), Jon Wurster (drums). Jason is also known for having the sexiest elbows in rock.
Jason and I dig into his journey, starting his first band Verboten and playing shows when he was 11 years old. Verboten is credited with inspiring Dave Grohl, of Nirvana, Probot, and Foo Fighters to start a band. Jason shares the process of writing for the musical version of Verboten, which was released shortly before the pandemic; and how that process differs from the way he approaches Split Single songs. Jason walks me through what it’s like collaborating with Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar), Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices), Mike Mills (REM, The Baseball Project), Jon Wurster (Superchunk, The Mountain Goats) and others.
Jason discusses some of the ways he adapted to the pandemic including the unexpected joys of doing lawn shows. We nerd out about Cheap Trick and Bob Mould. I really appreciate Jason’s encyclopedic knowledge of Bob Mould solo shows in the ‘90s. Jason shares some great stories of performing Downed, one of the Trick’s greatest songs, around the world.
Jason will be on tour this summer with the Bob Mould Band, as well as supporting Split Single’s release of Amplificado, and will be touring in the fall opening for Bob Mould solo shows. I’m looking forward to seeing Jason in Iowa City in October.
It was an honor having Jason join me on the podcast – especially during Pride month, as his latest release “(Nothing You Can Do to) End This Love” is a message of love and support to the LGBTQ+ community. Check out the links in the show description for more information on Split Single and YouTube clips on Jason’s coming to grips with the pros and cons of having the sexiest elbows in rock. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Split Single, the collective project of Chicago-based musician Jason Narducy (Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Verbow), announces their new album, Amplificado, out June 25th on Inside Outside Records. Recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago by Narducy (guitar/vocals), REM’s Mike Mills (bass), Jon Wurster (drums), Amplificado is a tight collection of rock songs dealing with the anxiety of living through a chaotic and cruel Republican majority rule and under the limitations of a worldwide pandemic. The new album comes nearly five years after the release of Split Single’s 2016 album, Metal Frames, “a powerhouse pop record that prides itself on tenacious vocals and resolute rhythm guitar” (Stereogum) recorded with Wurster and Wilco’s John Sitrratt, and last year’s acclaimed, Jeff Award-nominated production of Verböten, a musical inspired by Narducy’s now-seminal childhood punk rock band of the same name.
Amplificado comprises some of the tightest, most direct and high-energy songwriting of Narducy’s established career. The opening cut, at first listen, is a marching band instrumental teetering off the rails. The title (“caPtAIN calamIty’S crUde pRocCessiON”) and sound effects are chock full of Easter eggs but the song disappears in less than a minute. The defiant “Blood Break Ground” establishes a story of breaking out from under oppression and finding a new home and purpose. Mills’ bass and backing vocals are on a constant trajectory to the end alongside Wurster’s propulsive power. Narducy’s voice shreds to pieces as he bellows “Condescension comes with a price, tear away all lingering ties.”
“Stone Heart World” and “95 Percent” are a one-two punch of political frustrations and inner turmoil. With its punk rock take on “Lust For Life”‘s beat, the former sounds upbeat and catchy, defying the scathing lyrical take on GOP ethos: “No answers, just a way to keep ten yachts floating on school kids lost hope”.
“95 Percent” closes with “whoa whoa whoa” gang vocals as if Superchunk went through a Springsteen phase. The sparse and vulnerable “Adrift” can barely pick up the pieces left behind from the bombast of the previous 3 tracks. It is a haunting poem of depression and isolation. The cellos and piano played by Alison Chesley mark the first time Jason and Alison have recorded together in 22 years (the last Verbow album was tracked in 1999).
“End This Love” is a message of love and support to the LGBTQ+ community. “She loves her and he loves him, there’s nothing you can do to end this love, A or B or AB or O, we are all one of these four”.
Split Single http://www.splitsinglemusic.com/
Jason on Twitter https://twitter.com/SplitSingleband
Jason on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jasonnarducy/
Sexiest Elbows Part 1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9l5Wzq2dEc
Sexiest Elbows Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PUdnT5UFzk
The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).