Tim Fulton 00:08
Welcome to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. We are a weekly Columbus centric podcast focusing on the civics, lifestyle, entertainment, and people of our city. I’m your host, Tim Fulton. This week, there’s a balance to be struck between storytelling and getting to the heart of what matters in writing. That’s especially true when writing about the arts. Since 2015, Grant Walters has been writing about comedy and music for Columbus underground, and he has stories behind the stories. In a conversation with Columbus underground co founder Walker Evans, Walters explores the challenges and triumphs of restarting a writing career, the power of connecting with fans that aren’t his own, in the intricate process of writing about what truly matters. They also discussed the everyday challenges of music journalism, the importance of supporting the local music community, and understanding the cultural identity of Columbus. You can get more information about what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com. Enjoy the interview.
Walker Evans 01:22
Sitting down with Grant Walters, author, freelance writer for Columbus underground. man of many talents. Oh, thanks. Great. Grant. How you doing?
Grant Walters 01:30
I’m really good. Thanks, Walker. Yeah,
Walker Evans 01:32
I’m happy to be sitting down with you today to catch up on a variety of things. I always have really good time talking to you. Because you do so many things out there out there in the world. Thank you want to run through a wide variety of things. But just to sort of introduce the audience, if they don’t know who you are. For my context, you’ve been writing for Columbus underground since 2015. Yeah. Going on nine years. Yeah. Which is pretty wild. And one thing that so primarily writing about music, entertainment, bands, comedians, entertainers, a lot of interviews, you know, acts that come through town interviews, previews, reviews of shows, yes,
Grant Walters 02:15
yeah, I’d say I write concert or, you know, comedy preview more than anything else.
Walker Evans 02:19
Yeah. Occasional articles about like, the local school system and stuff, but primarily, the concert sort of stuff. For sure. Yeah. One thing for me is that every once a while, I’ll be like looking at the archives, or I’ll do a search for something and find something and be like, Oh, I forgot about that. From like, five years ago. The most recent example. Nate Barr GETSY who hosted SNL. Yeah, I totally forgot that you interviewed him like four or five years ago or something.
Grant Walters 02:44
And you see, I was I was just I was so pleased. I was like a proud parent watching. You know, this guy that I interviewed a few years ago. I mean, he was he was making his way for sure. But yeah, SNL was really like, it was a really nice guy to talk to you as well. I really enjoyed him.
Walker Evans 02:55
Was that? Was he a woodlands tavern? Maybe? Do you remember? No, he
Grant Walters 02:59
was actually playing the drive in. And so this was during the pandemic, dark days of the pandemic, where, you know, comedians had to be outside and standing on, you know, odd things in front of outdoor audience. People had to honk their car horns instead of exactly. So, yeah, I’m sure he and other folks would prefer never to do that again. Yeah. But that’s, that’s what it was. And so he was he was very nice. He was great to talk
Walker Evans 03:22
to you. Nice. Nice. Yeah. And that episode of SNL is really good. It was excellent. Yeah. Such a nice job. He did. Yeah. He’s also coming back to Columbus. I think in January, February. Yeah. And he’s playing that. Like, I think traunstein Maybe. Uh, yeah, he’s
Grant Walters 03:35
like, filling an arena now. Yeah,
Walker Evans 03:37
maybe nationwide. I think it was shot in stain. But yeah, he’s an arena comic now.
Grant Walters 03:40
So that means I probably won’t get to talk to him. He’s grown too big for my little column. But yeah, you never know.
Walker Evans 03:49
But I spent some time kind of like looking through the archives, because I’m like, There’s others I’m sure that I’d have forgotten about. There’s ones I always remember because they were like really fun reads. And I always remember the David Kepner story, like something didn’t record and you had to start over. And he was like, super generous with his time. Oh, that
Grant Walters 04:02
was Jay more actually. More. J more. OJ J more. Yeah, he, he. I had something that I tried a new app or something that was going to because it was an incoming call. And it just didn’t start with an outgoing call. And he it just didn’t record and so I was devastated. Yeah, panicking and so I contacted his publisher. He’s like, don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it. And he called he’s like, Grant it’s fine. I love talking. Not worry about it. No, yeah, very nicely sat down with me for another hour. Just to you know, recoup what we had talked about sauce. It was great. He was a good guy.
Walker Evans 04:36
I think maybe David Kepner like you met him afterwards or somebody I know you maybe talk to him twice over the years and
Grant Walters 04:42
yeah, on the kiss my bald head when he saw it. Yes, it was, you know, very nice. Yeah, it was. That was a moment for sure. But he’s a sweetheart of a man actually really loved talking to him. So yeah, hopefully one of these days we can do it again.
Walker Evans 04:54
Cool. And in the show notes in the footer of this episode, we’ll link to like the archives. If people go back and read some The stuff but I was kind of going through and looking. Ben Folds yeah chili of TLC, Kathy Griffin Patton Oswald the Goo Dolls, Tegan and Sara Pignataro. Jimmy Eat World Melissa Etheridge, Damon Wayans Jr, the Gin Blossoms Kevin Nealon the Barenaked Ladies, Matt rife, Jason Alexander 98 degrees Carson Kressley of Queer Eye, and Alice Cooper. Yeah, just to name a few, which is a really like wide variety if you’d like. I mean, 98 degrees and Alice Cooper. Hola. And that’s like boyband to like,
Grant Walters 05:29
I know rock. That’s odd, pretty stark, pretty stark gap in between those, those two genres of music. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s pretty. It’s pretty weird to think about all the people that I’ve talked to. And I mean, I’m just a guy, you know, from living in Columbus, from Winnipeg, you know? So it’s just strange to me. A lot of people ask me, they’re like, how do you get to talk to all these people? I’m like, That’s great question. I don’t remember. Yeah,
Walker Evans 05:51
the publicist reached out because they’re coming through town, and they’re trying to sell tickets often. And
Grant Walters 05:55
sometimes I’ll do I’ll reach out to, sometimes to no avail. But a lot of times if you’re enthusiastic, and you can demonstrate that you can have a conversation, they’re pretty open. So some people that I really wanted to talk to you, I did the reach out, which was very nice. But Ben Foles was actually the first sort of major music interview I did for
Walker Evans 06:13
Columbus underground. And I think you’re a big fan, too. Yeah, I love
Grant Walters 06:17
Ben Folds. And he was playing with a symphony here. And I was nervous. I was so nervous, because I know Ben so smart. He’s a really accomplished musician, but also a really, very intellectual person. And so I just I worked really hard on the questions to make sure that, you know, they were worthy. Of course, he couldn’t have been nicer and answered everything that that I threw his way with, you know, Grayson, so that was that was very nice. But yeah, it’s, it’s amazing to think about all the people that I’ve talked to and had conversations with, and, you know, for them, I’m sure, it’s, it’s nothing, it’s just they’re doing their VR stuff. But yeah, I mean, some of those conversations were really meaningful. And I you feel very connected to them, you know, for a period of time, and it’s very nice to to be in that position. And this is something I always wanted to do. And I think when I came to you a few years ago and said, I really wanted to write,
Walker Evans 07:07
yeah, what Where did that come from? What was that itch?
Grant Walters 07:09
I always said that I wanted to I did an album review. And when I was in ninth grade, and I love doing that kind of stuff. What
Walker Evans 07:17
was the album? Do you remember? I don’t And was it a good or bad?
Grant Walters 07:20
It was good. It was a good review. But I just remember I started doing a little bit of academic writing, or some professional writing for my job in higher education. And I just said to my friend, I’m like, this is fine. But you know, I’d really love to write about music and artists and said, Wouldn’t it be cool? And she’s like, why aren’t you like, can’t you find something to do? And I’m like, Yeah, but I’m old and trying to restart my career and become a writer is tough. And so yeah, you know, when I moved to Columbus, and 2013, I came and found I started reading Columbus underground, and I thought, wonder if they would ever you know. And so I remember you and I having a conversation. And you just said, you know, what do you want to write about? And I said, I don’t know, music comedy, and he’s like, great, dude. Let’s go. Let’s try it. So you gave me a shot, which was very, very kind of you. And it’s, it’s, it’s worked out very nicely for me. I hope it’s been okay for Columbus. Yeah,
Walker Evans 08:13
no, no, you know, a lot of the stuff has been well read. And even the stuff you know, I always say like, what’s important isn’t always popular. And what’s popular isn’t always important. Yeah. So even the ones where, you know, the total number of eyeballs on the article were lesser, like, it’s still connected with those fans. Yeah. You know, so I think there’s importance there. Yeah. should also add, you’re an award winning journalist, because we’ve submitted some of your work over the years, the Ohio Society of Professional journalism has recognized you. Yeah, like two or three years. Yeah. For your work. So
Grant Walters 08:42
that was a trip. Yeah. But so I mean, so nice to be, you know, of all the people that are writing and doing really good work in Ohio. It was it was really, really humbling to be recognized by, you know, journals of journalists and peers that work in the industry that, you know, and I just do this part time. And so yeah, the fact that I got that kind of recognition to me was was kind of mind blowing. I
Walker Evans 09:05
think we can talk a little bit about this, toward the end of the episode in my notes about sort of the future of journalism, but I think we’re all headed toward working part time in the field or journal. Sadly, not to be all doom and gloom. But before we go there, I do want to talk about your book. Yeah.
Grant Walters 09:22
Very specific topic. Very, very specific, very niche topic. Yes. Yeah. So
Walker Evans 09:27
I guess, tell us where did this come from? Oh, gosh,
Grant Walters 09:31
it’s such a long story. So the the books that I’m writing are called decades, and it’s a book about the BGS. And it’s exploring their catalogue, not necessarily biography but exploring their really massive catalogue, song by song album by album and telling the stories of how those records got made. So this has a fairly long tail. But I’ve been a big fan all my life since I was very, very little. But where things really got started when I was in college I and this was at a time in the early 90s, when the internet was very much a baby. And not really publicly accessible. But we were able to apply to get an email address. And that’s not something everybody had at that time. We worked in these big Unix computers where everything was sort of this command prompt. And that’s how you got email. And so I got an account. And as I was exploring, I noticed that other musicians had these mailing lists, you know, listservs, that were fans got to talk about music and sort of built these online communities. And I thought that was really cool. And I took a gamble and asked my system administrator, hey, could we set one up? I’d love to do one for the PGS. And they’re like, Yeah, let’s do that. And so we established it, I started to get some feelers and within a few weeks to a month or so we started having hundreds of people subscribing. Yeah, I can’t remember exactly how many people that ended up with, when I left college actually pass it along to another person who lived somewhere else in the world, definitely not in North America. But they took the listserv over the list or just got shut down earlier this year. So I had a life of over 30 years. Yeah, but of course, it’s gotten replaced, you know, by social media and, and other forums and things like that. But so all that to say, online while I was there, I met a lot of other Beegees fans, and my two co authors, Andrew Matthews and Mark Cronin. Were on that listserv. And so we started having these conversations. And you know, people firing emails back and forth and nerding out about the music. Yeah, for the past few decades. And so, during the pandemic, Andrew and Mark actually wrote a BGS biography about 20 years ago that did very, very well. And Andrew had pursued a publisher that had these. It’s a music publisher in the UK, and it’s called Sonic bond. And they specialize in music books strictly cool. So they published these series called decades. And what it does is it tackles an artist’s career by decade. And we just we signed on to write these books during the pandemic and started in early 2020, we put out the first volume, it’s decades, the Beegees, in the 1960s, came out in December of 2021. And the one that’s just come out in May, is on the 70s. So two books down, we think we have two more to go. We’ll focus on the 80s next summer currently writing, but then we’ll do a 90s and 2000s volume. That mean, they had a career that spanned 70 years, and so and ongoing. So there’s a lot to talk about. And so that that was sort of the history of how this all kind of came about. Yeah, but all of a sudden, I’m a published author, and that’s, man, that’s weird. Yeah.
Walker Evans 12:44
When I think a lot of people think about the Bee Gees, they think about the 70s specifically, right kind of the height of their career the disco the height of disco late 70s, early 80s. Do you think that’ll be like the the best selling book just buy that are these really for like the music you’re selling to that listserv you’re selling like the super hardcore fans, and actually the
Grant Walters 13:02
60s has done really, really well is really that’s off as you know, they’re a British band. But they also had eight years in Australia, where they actively recorded at the beginning of their careers. And so we actually had a huge response overseas for a while huge is a relative term, but I mean, within our confines of what our publisher can do, and you know, our subject matter area people are people really responded well to the first book too. So I think the 70s I think they’re pretty much neck and neck right now. Really understand.
Walker Evans 13:31
That’s awesome. Yeah. And you’ve you’ve been traveling a bit with us, yeah, did a
Grant Walters 13:35
sort of a mini book tour over in the UK in September. So we went to tame and Oxfordshire Live, which is where the residence of Robin Gibb was and robins actually buried there. And so we did a book talk there, which was really nice. And we had about 40 people show up and listen to us. And they traveled from all over England and came to see us, which was very nice. And then we did another one in Wales. So that was that was cool, just to sort of be able to come face to face with people who love the music as much as we do and talk about the books. And it was pretty, it was pretty, pretty detailed, pretty geeky, but but that’s the stuff we love. And so that’s the whole reason why we wrote these books was because, you know, people, people love talking about their music. And for the people that don’t know, their music as well, who maybe only know, Saturday Night Fever or, you know, their 70s output. Their catalogue is massive. And so we’re hoping that by publishing these books that somebody will read them and discover the depth of that and and they’ve been so influential. I mean, they started recording music in 1959. I mean, it’s it’s a pretty stellar career. And I think that you know, those those years were Saturday Night Fever and Spirits Having Flown there their follow up album, you know, from 75 to 79. I mean, it just only scratches the surface. Sure,
Walker Evans 14:54
yeah. Yeah. So my, my personal connection to the beat Jeez. And it’s funny because you mentioned like the late 90s listserv, sort of era. When file sharing mp3 Is everything started get passed around. I was a teenager so it was it was sort of like opening the door to discovering new music. There was a rapper like a hip hop artist who did covers of songs and he did a couple he did a stayin alive in trance.
Grant Walters 15:23
Are you familiar with trance? Yeah, yeah, this is a Canadian group, actually. Oh, really? Okay, nice. Yes, stayin alive was a number one hit in Canada. So nice. Yeah, they had to they were number one twice with staying alive. Yeah. And that was that like late 90s, sort of Euro dance era of music.
Walker Evans 15:38
So it’s really interesting to see like that sort of come back around. Because everything is very cyclical over 20 years, right? Like the way people have nostalgia for like the early 2000s. Now, like, That’s how far we are removed from the 90s. To the to the seven days. Just to make us feel right, feel old. Oh, so one of the things I wanted to ask you was, you know, did you set out to write a book from the beginning of this journey with them knowing that they had written a book before? Because I think a lot of people when they think about, oh, I want to write a book. It’s like a very daunting, how do you get from zero to published? You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s a multi year process. How do you break that down into sort of achievable goals?
Grant Walters 16:18
Sure. Well, I mean, they asked me to come on board. And so, you know, we developed a friendship but but as I started journalism, work and things like that, they had seen that and I’d written some beaches, related articles for another outlet that I was writing for at the time called albinism. And that was focusing on the album art form. And so I did some, some BGS retrospectives and things like that as well and Andy Gibb as well. So you speak to one of the one of the kids yeah, Spencer Spencer, give is actually a friend of mine. Samantha, was that also and Samantha? Yes. Is Morris, his daughter and Spencer’s Robinson. And so yeah, I’ve had a chance to connect with them. Spencer, and I still talk pretty frequently. He’s pretty busy right now. But we, he actually wrote the two forwards for our books. So that was very nice to have members of the good family, you know, talk to us and share some of their insight, but also really support the projects, which was, you know, incredible. That was, that was great. But they brought me on board, as they knew that I was doing some journalism works, and had wanted me to, you know, contribute. They knew I had, you know, a lot of knowledge and remarquer huge collectors and historians, Andrew actually worked for the Beegees for a period of time, doing some different projects for video and television and things like that. And Mark actually had the largest BGS collection in Australia, and donated all to the Queensland library. So it’s sitting in their archives now. So the two of them very serious collectors and serious historians. So the fact that they asked me to come along was very nice. But in Andrew’s words, I’m the fancy writer. And so they want to, I think they’d benefit for me being able to wordsmith us and but it’s been it’s been really cool. So they asked me to come on. And, you know, we sort of just started working from there and assembling bits and pieces of information. And so really, it was developing the timeline, it was developing a series of events, it was laying out all the albums and tracks, and then from there building out a narrative around that as well. So that was that was sort of our process. Sounds cool. Yeah.
Walker Evans 18:20
Not to get too far ahead. But are there any other bands or artists that you would consider a similar type of like working on a retrospective?
Grant Walters 18:28
Oh, yeah, I’d love to, I’d love to do Simon and Garfunkel. I would love to write a book about Chris Isaac, who’s another favorite artist of mine. So yeah, I’d be I’d be up for that. We have to finish these first before Sure. Sure.
Walker Evans 18:40
Yeah. Before what’s next?
Grant Walters 18:42
What’s next? Yeah. But yeah, no, I mean, definitely. I think that that’s, that’s a possibility that I’d love to explore. In doing that. And Spencer and I actually talked about writing a book. And I’m hoping this doesn’t hold us to hold into this project. But writing a book about sort of the late 60s music business in London on Carnaby Street and sort of focusing on you know, Brian Epstein and Robert Stigwood. And all those music moguls that set up shops and London and helped to create the British invasion. So that might be something we would be interested in tackling. So that’s so that might be a fun project for the future. Nice. Yeah.
Walker Evans 19:18
Well, we had an event slated last week to talk about sort of music journalism and Columbia so I wanted to touch upon a few of those topics with you as well. You know, it’s something that we’ve always you know, I wouldn’t say struggled but you know, gone to great lengths to try and really get our arms around and with Columbus underground. Music journalism is important but local bands touring acts, you’ve done a great job kind of covering more of the touring acts and you have talked to some local bands kick camp, and I’m gonna forget some of the others off the top my head but it’s not always as well read as you want it to be those kind of like concert and Matt Dallas goes to a lot of shows and with photos Yeah,
Grant Walters 20:02
he’s such a great photographer, and he captures everything so so well, yeah, he’s,
Walker Evans 20:06
he’s, he’s excellent at that. But, you know, it’s a valuable part of the ecosystem that create the creative scene here in the community. So we want to be supportive and nurturing of that. So some of it’s just like, you know, you gotta you got to just get people right and get get people excited, you know, one on one, just keep pushing that boulder up the hill, that do you feel the same sort of way, when it comes to some of these kinds of things?
Grant Walters 20:26
I think so. Yeah. You know, I, it’s hard to know what’s going to stick and when people are gonna sort of key into and things like that. But, you know, I have an additive that I had not, not from Columbus underground. But for album ism that I wrote for. I had written an article on David Koch, who was an American Idol winner, and he came to Columbus, or he was touring, but also came up with an album, and I said, I’d like to talk to him. So I did. And my editor was like, nobody’s gonna read that, like, that’s not really our core audience. And yeah, and then ended up becoming one of the top five articles read on the website for the year. And I was like, great. So sometimes you don’t know like, yeah, there’s, there’s some times you know, people will, depending on the fan community, depending on how, if they share stuff out for us, which is always very nice. Sometimes artists and their publicists don’t, you know, put our articles out into the into the ether for folks to consume so. So when that happens, sometimes when we get a nice little bump, then that’s great. But yeah, it’s hard to predict. Sometimes I think, what’s what’s going to ignite and what’s not going to so sometimes I write things and I’m like, Well, this, hopefully this is great. Like, this is a popular artist, and then you know, you have 35 reads in your life now. All right, well, that wasn’t what I thought. But yeah,
Walker Evans 21:40
it’s sometimes there’s not a lot of longevity as well, if it’s around an event. Yeah. If it’s a concert preview, and you’re talking just about that show, or a review of those photos, like once that week is over. Yeah, he’s gonna go back and look at it unless it’s, you know, an up and coming band. And it’s like, oh, look at these photos. We took five years later, yes, of this band that like 20 people with their show, and now they’re playing stadiums like that. That’s kind of cool to have that sort of little snapshot in time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we experienced the same thing when Jesse Bothy, another freelance of ours, came to us to the idea of he wanted to do sort of like an archeological take on the North Market graveyard. And we’re like, people probably aren’t really gonna read that. But you’re super into it. So we’re into it’s a knock yourself out. Yeah. He’s like, on the night, it’s been the most well read series of the year. It’s crazy. Like every single stick, he’ll do another installment and like another 20,000 people read it, love as another installment, other 20,000. So it’s been great. With music, you know, part of it is, you know, do people want to read interviews with local bands? Do they want, you know, list of upcoming concerts? They want concert reviews and coverage? Do they want album reviews? Are people still even releasing albums these days? Yeah. You know, and how to make sure you know. I mean, what what does Columbus sound like? You know, is it the indie rock scene? Is that the hip hop scene? Is that the sort of like, country bluegrass scene, or is it a collection of everything?
Grant Walters 23:04
Yeah, I it’s really hard to say, I don’t know the formula. I wish I did. Yeah. But you know, so I think it’s, I try to interview a variety of artists that I think are appealing to folks. And you know, sometimes I think, Oh, if you know, this person is playing an arena, then you know, 20,000 people are going to show up, somebody’s got to read this. Right? Yeah. And then sometimes, you’re like, Oh, I guess nobody, that’s fine. But they’ve got a ticket to go to the show. So it’s just hard to figure out, you know, what I’ll take off and to find the correct balance. And I guess the answer your question, it’s like, I don’t know what the mix of Columbus music is, I think it’s a lot of everything. And so, you know, country and Americana does really well here, but so does heavy metal and so does rap. And so yes, you know, I mean,
Walker Evans 23:48
electronic music, we’ve got a big vibrant DJ scene, you know, and that has its own, you know, sub genres within so it’s, yeah, it’s a lot. So you have to really try and be everything to everyone, which is tough.
Grant Walters 23:58
It’s really hard to do. And I’m also limited, I mean, I’m only part time Sure. Sure. Sure. So it’s it’s hard to, if I could dedicate I if I had a career to be able to spend like figuring out metrics and you know, and go out to shows every night and also do that and that’s part of it too. And the industry is really interesting because they really want you to come out and watch the show and react to it because they really want you to capture the feel of the live show and tell other people about it so that they buy tickets to go to the next thing. Check them out. And so I realized sometimes that’s the I don’t think that’s always where our readers are because yeah, you know, reviewing a show after you’re done with it. I don’t know how much that appeals to people. It’s like you missed it. Yeah, here’s the thing that you didn’t go so great. Yeah, bad you didn’t go right. Yeah,
Walker Evans 24:44
well like when Richard Sanford does the theatrical reviews he tries to get in on opening weekends so that he can have the review done and then the show runs for two more weeks right till go see Yeah. Which makes perfect sense. Yeah. Or like movie reviews with hope and George they watch it opening night and then the theaters for a while but
Grant Walters 24:59
I I’ve always tried to poke around with the artists just because I feel like it’s, it’s interesting. Maybe it’s interesting just to me. But and I hope it creates more for the artists too, because I just I like to get to know the people that I that create my art and you know, that I appreciate. And so I guess maybe there’s a little bit of selfishness there that I love doing that. And I’m hoping other people like it too, but, but I was finally doing reviews because a lot of people want album reviews, and they want and it’s like, I’m not a really great music critic. I know that about myself. I really don’t like writing about stuff. If I discover I don’t like it, I don’t really enjoy pursuing it. And so, you know, when I get pitches for certain things, I know, I’m like, I know, I’m not going to want to write about that. And so I don’t, and maybe that’s my limitation I probably need maybe I need to push myself a little bit more. But I also don’t want to I also don’t want to turn it into like, Am I really disliked this album? And I want to be honest, like, is that great for our readership? Is that great for our reputation? Is that good for? You know, I don’t know. Yeah. Other people do that really? Well, I don’t think I do. Yeah.
Walker Evans 26:01
You know, that the, the financial model of this sort of stuff has changed a lot over the years as well. And that’s one of the things that we’ve been, we’ve been come talking internally about, because we do want to bring on some more freelancers to help cover the scene. But you know, bands don’t have a budget to advertise, no small venues don’t have much of a budget to advertise, the larger venues are growing more and more consolidated. And so their budgets become these massive things that are untouchable to small publications like us, they’d rather dump their money into the duopoly of you know, meta, and alphabet, Facebook and Google exact to sell concert tickets. And you know, they don’t really throw us a bone. So how do you? How do you rebuild that sort of ecosystem of local spending, in addition to you know, so that we can pay writers to cover the music and have the music, promote their shows to our readers, and that keep that wheel turning, I guess,
Grant Walters 26:49
is the Yeah. And I wish I had a good solution to that. And I also find, too, that a lot of a lot of artists and their publicist still really want to go for big publications. And so I think if you’re a smaller publication, like us, or a smaller outlet that, you know, people would rather go to the Columbus Dispatch, because that’s the name. That’s, you know, it’s mean, it’s big journalism, and, you know, and no shade to the writers there. But I, I would be nice to have an opportunity sometimes to get some of the people that they do, because I would I would love to spend time with them and, and whatnot, but sometimes you don’t always get that opportunity. Sure. Yeah. And they’re very candid about they’re like, Yeah, we’re not probably not gonna, yeah,
Walker Evans 27:30
well, you know, especially if it’s a band or musician or comic, you know, they’re in town to do a show. They don’t want to spend six hours of their morning, right, talking to every media outlet in town, they’ll pick one or two racks, so they can still kind of like chill out before their show or whatever.
Grant Walters 27:46
Does that tell us? I mean, yeah, you know, CAP has been very nice about throwing us. Yeah, you know, really, really good folks and saying, you know, we know you did a good job. So we’d like to use Yeah,
Walker Evans 27:56
yeah, you had correct Fergerson recently, which was really cool. And then, Greg, so great. I know, Sam Morell, who is a comedian of my love him. It sounds like he doesn’t really like talking to the media that much. He’s been sharing all those clips of like, sort of trolling TV news,
Grant Walters 28:11
how he purposely goes in and tries to emulate people and yeah, and tries to catch them off guard. Yeah, he was fine with me. Yeah, obviously, in reading
Walker Evans 28:21
your piece, it kind of sound like he started off a little surly. And then you kind of like cracked that nut a little bit and started talking about like sports and like other things other than just like, how’s the tour going?
Grant Walters 28:29
I really work hard.
Walker Evans 28:30
Have you ever been to Columbus before? Like,
Grant Walters 28:33
what can you expect from your show? Yeah, you can expect from the show? Yeah. Comedy Show. Right. Yeah, I think I think personally interviewing folks, I think they’re often surprised that I have a lot of questions prepared. And I’ve done they’re like, Oh, you did research? Yeah, that’s important to me. Right. I don’t want to walk into a conversation and be unaware of what you do. And yeah, and things like that. And so it’s just yeah, so I do spend a lot of time purposely trying to prepare for that, so that I ask them different things. And they get, you know, in in other places,
Walker Evans 29:06
I think people like those kinds of interviews, though. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s the it’s the hot ones, the Shawn Evans style, where like, he’s sitting down with the interviewer and asking like, a question from the past. And they’re like, What? Yeah, yeah. Or I guess to go more Canadian, it’s the hardware approach is an art. Yeah, sure. It is. Yeah, music journalism right there. It’s like, here’s, here’s an album that I know that you liked when you were 13. And they’re like, how did you know that? Exactly? Yeah. I mean, I can It’s a gift. And it’s for you. Yeah.
Grant Walters 29:32
Yeah. I love asking some of those questions that not catch them off guard, but I think make them think where they positive go. That’s a good question. Yeah. Yeah,
Walker Evans 29:40
they’ll remember that encounter. Yeah.
Grant Walters 29:43
And they really appreciate that. And that’s, that’s been something that I’ve really tried to focus on is doing anything and because I’m a music geek, I mean, I’d love every part of you know, the music making process and comedy as well. I love hearing about the creative process. And so, and often I find if I’m on a level with them that they get a sense that I’m really into what they’re doing and that I really thought about it. And I understand the craft a little bit, they’re often much more responsive. And so sometimes the devil to turn around as you say, some of those, you know, more sort of bristly interviews into something that’s a little bit more palatable, where by the end, they’re like, Okay, this was all right. Thank you. Yeah. All right. Well, good. I’m glad. I’m glad we got to that good place. Yeah. There have been very few interviews that I’ve had that have not gone well. There’s only been a couple where I’ve been like, I’ve got a hobble something out of this thing. I’m not sure what it’s gonna look like but, but it’s always been a I learned later on that they don’t like doing interviews and I’m like, Yeah, your publicist shouldn’t.
Walker Evans 30:41
Yeah, what do you think they could have just gotten off the phone on a bad interview? And then just been like, well, here, here goes another one, you know, so you never know when you’re catching them. So
Grant Walters 30:48
I I’ve had to really learn not to take it personally. I interviewed Patton Oswald for the first time. And I mean, just really short answers. I mean, the whole interview took about nine minutes, and I got off the phone. And I was devastated. Because I love him as a Yeah. And I read later on, he doesn’t like talking on the phone. He’d rather be in person or email. And I’m like, well, I could have done that. Yeah, you know, maybe not in person. But we could have done an email interview. And so you just kind of stand back and you just your heart breaks a little bit, because I’m like, God, I admire him so much. And now I’ve got to put this article out and make it look like it was this fantastic interview when it really stunk. I felt awful about it. And so I, those have been few and far between. Thankfully, it’s good. Yeah, it’s good.
Walker Evans 31:31
Just to circle back to music, real quick, the music, Columbus, formerly the Columbus music commission, they rebranded a music, Columbus, they’re doing a survey right now, I don’t know if you saw, we haven’t shared some information. This is brand new, just within this week. They’re running a survey throughout the month of November, mostly talking to musicians and people related in the industry. So promoters, venue owners, you know, anyone that works with bands, music, musicians, entertainers, in any kind of capacity. I think they’re trying to just get like, a grasp on where the community is right now, or to find out like, what we’re doing well, and what we’re not doing well, like within that realm. As someone who has been reporting on this for a while, are there things that you think we could be doing better as a city to support the music scene, either in terms of attendance, awareness, lack of venues, lack of just live music and random places? Yeah, I thought
Grant Walters 32:24
about this before, truly, because, you know, when I talk to venues or talk to publicist and things like that, you know, I’ve gotten quite a bit of information I have a good friend who works, does does publicity for Atlanta records in New York. And so she’s always been very kind to sort of share some insight with me. And, you know, it’s really hard, because they’re just out there trying to get as much information out as possible. And they strike out a lot, too. And so even a big publicity machine, you know, in the New York, and the New York, you know, in the New York base, that you know, that that’s promoting stuff internationally, you can still sort of struggle with that. And and I don’t know, I mean, I would love better communication, I think between press and venues would be awesome. Because I feel like I get a lot of information from big public publicity firms that are in LA and New York, Nashville. And I hear very little from local. Yeah, from from local firms or local venues and things like that, as well. And so I’m on some listservs. And I know when acts are coming, but I also don’t know who to contact sometimes, like, finding somebody where I can get an ad and be like, can you get me an interview? Can I get this information? Yeah, that’s, that’s 80% of the battle in writing about music is figuring out the right person to get to so that you can access the artist at some point. So sometimes that’s really hard. Also, the timing is really tough to like, I’ll get a notice that bands coming in, in two days. Yeah. Be like, we’d love to see the show, come and write a piece. Do you want to do an interview? And I’m like, Yeah, this would have been great, like two weeks ago. Yeah. And again, I’m only being part time and occasional, like, it’s, it’s hard to map those things out. And sometimes you don’t get any communication at all. And so sometimes we even do outreach, or I’ll reach out to somebody at a venue or at a PR firm or something like that. And I’ll just get zero response. And it’s just like, oh, okay, well, then. I don’t know what to do with that then. And so, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard sometimes. So I, I think that that communicative piece is really important, where, you know, the local press, and, you know, certainly for the big outlets to but also for us, like if you want us to get the venues and talk to people like we need to know what’s going on. Yeah, you know, where people are, right, we need to notice probably because our writing staffs are not huge, and they’re, you know, mostly not full time and, you know, how do you you know, if you want us to support you, how can we how can we make that better? So I think that’s certainly part of it. I think having a lay of the land of where, where venues are in the city and what they do and the kind of clientele they’re trying to attract. And you know, what artists are looking to bring in, you know, that’s helpful as well. And so it’s, it’s hard. Sometimes it’s, it’s not understanding the criteria of how, you know, band show up in Columbus or music actual up in Columbus and for local folks, I often don’t get a lot of pitches from local, from local musicians either. And so I get tons more from and I understand that because our PR machines that work for them,
Walker Evans 35:27
right. And so your average local band doesn’t have a PR budget. Yeah. So
Grant Walters 35:31
is there a way where we can be more explicit on our behalf? Yeah, Columbus underground are from another outlet of like, we want to support local artists. So here’s, here’s an avenue in which you can send us music or you can send us a pitch or, you know, things like that may not be always be able to say yes, based on scheduling and things like that. But I mean, it would be nice to be able to figure that out. And sometimes that happens, but it’s not very often. That’s That’s
Walker Evans 35:57
some great insight. And somebody will definitely keep that in mind as we’re trying to bring on some more freelancers just help connect connecting those dots. I think so not everything is so siloed
Grant Walters 36:03
Yeah, absolutely. And also, I think, you know, there are some local acts that are trying to break out into the larger sort of, sort of audience and things like that. And so sometimes they’re not always focused on things like camps. A great example. You know, I had an interview with camp, but I mean, they’re now you know, nationally known and are doing very, very well. And they’re touring extensively and things like that. So trying to 2021 pilots is another one, like, you know, I heard nothing. The last time I wanted to interview them. They were just like, yeah, they’re not talking to anybody in the local press. And I was like, Oh, that’s weird. I mean, yeah. Why wouldn’t they? But I guess they don’t have to, because, yeah, you know, they’re now globally known and very successful. So I think there’s just some of that stuff where sometimes it’s easy to miss. From from either side. So yeah.
Walker Evans 36:54
So a tradition with the confluence cast to is to always ask the guest set of questions, a pair of questions at the very end. Okay, great. What do you think Columbus is doing? Well, and what do you think Columbus is not doing? Well, doesn’t have to be with in regards to music, journalism, journalism, book publishing, any anything that we talked about, it could be anything on your mind? What are we doing well, as a city? Or you could start with not doing well?
Grant Walters 37:20
Oh, well, I mean, I think in terms of doing I mean, I think all of this is hard. Surprise. Yeah, things were doing well. I think they’re I liking what I’m seeing in terms of investing. I’ll talk about the artsy and I think that there is an increasing investment in our art scene. And I’ve seen things growing. And you know, I used to be connected to the improv community, we now have two full time theatres, open comedy venues. I mean, I know that we’ve talked a lot to the folks that work at the attic, and the comedians that work there and don’t tell comedy and things like that. So there, there are those things that I’ve seen are really very cool. We’re getting bigger festivals, we’re getting bigger names coming through. So whatever is happening there. I mean, I think we’re, I think we’re getting to a better place where I think there’s more concrete places for people to explore the arts in Columbus. So that’s been, that’s been very nice. And that’s different than when I, you know, moved here, you know, 10 years ago. And that’s improved. I don’t think we’re doing can I say inclusion? Not not sure. Well, and lots of different ways. And so I think that we have a really culturally rich city, and I don’t know how much the city is doing to really do take advantage of that, to explore it to connect people to it. Yeah. So I feel like our city feels very siloed in lots of different ways. So and as it continues to grow, I don’t know how that’s going to change or anything like that.
Walker Evans 38:52
I feel like the one the one thing and I’m not trying to answer your question. Yeah, I feel like the one thing people are willing to like venture outside their comfort zone with is food. Yeah. Like they will go find that Somali restaurant on Morse road or that like, you know, authentic taco truck out on the west side. Yes. But how do you get them to do that for cultural events? Right music events, theatrical events, everything else? Yeah.
Grant Walters 39:15
And and I think that’s a really that’s a really, that’s a really important consideration that I think if we want to be a city that’s quote unquote, cosmopolitan and you know, closer to things like Chicago, or you know, if that’s where people I think a lot of people crave to have us be a more exciting city in lots of different ways. And so that’s, that’s part of getting there, right is is appreciating and supporting those, those diverse cultures and, and different venues for cultural enrichment and things like that. So I think that that’s important. We’re not super great about preserving history here. And so visiting the UK was a really good reminder of that about you know, I went and touched a Roman wall. Oh, and I of course, are things are never going to be that old. But I think if you walk around Columbus, there are very few cues in terms of our heritage and sort of where the city or if they’re there, they’ve been buried, burned, you know, things like that. So on top of and built over top, like that, you know, so I, I really think, I really think people need to learn about Columbus and where, where it originated, how it was created both the difficult things and and the productive things that built the city to learn more about, you know, what does that mean for the future? How do we preserve you know that, so that’s something I’ve always felt when I’ve come here and versus visiting other places that I think very much dig into that, and Columbus doesn’t really talk a lot about its, I also think it needs to be comfortable with what it is. And I think a lot of people really rip their times, and I get frustrated living in Columbus. But you know, I think I am, I wish more people would appreciate it for what it is and also for what it isn’t, you know, you know, we’re not New York City for a reason we’re not Chicago for a reason. We’re not Nashville, we’re not, you know, we’re not Seattle for a reason. And so what, what are the reasons that we have to really appreciate what what Columbus is, and, and how do we highlight that, I think, is a cultural project, you know, through the media, I don’t know how we better I mean, of course, you know, Brent, and Jesse and folks do a really nice job with that for Columbus underground, and other folks too. But a lot of times, I don’t think we talk a lot about those aspects of our city’s existence. And and I don’t know how to change that, necessarily. But, yeah, those are some things that I think about as a resident of Columbus, and sort of, you know, and I live in German village. And so, you know, I see the history there every day. And it’s very, it’s very tangible. Yeah, but not so much for other parts of the city. And I know it’s there. And so, you know, German village is not the only historic neighborhood in Columbus. And it’s one that everybody seems to like to visit because, you know, we see people there every day, and that’s great. But, you know, where are other places where you can seek out some of those really interesting pieces of history and culture. And I think all of those are things that I I kind of think about.
Walker Evans 42:21
Nice, great answer, Grant. Thanks again for taking the time today. Yeah. Thanks
Grant Walters 42:25
for having me. I appreciate it.
Tim Fulton 42:40
Thanks for listening to Confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. Again, you get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com. Please rate subscribe, share this episode of The confluence cast with your friends, family, contacts, enemies, your favorite critic. If you’re interested in sponsoring the confluence cast, get in touch with us. We can be reached by email at info at the confluence cast.com Our theme music was composed by Benji Robinson. Our producer is Phil Cogley. I’m your host, Tim Fulton. Have a great week.