Sam Jones is a photographer and director who spent his formative years listening to punk, playing music, skateboarding, studying publications like Rolling Stone Magazine, and taking photos. In his podcast, “Off Camera with Sam Jones,” Sam combines his passions and knack for long-form conversations while documenting his work and compiling content for his magazine, Off Camera.
In his years of interviews and experiences within the industry, his favorite interactions often happen when the cameras go away, hence the podcast’s title. Sam is inspired by actors, directors, musicians, artists, writers, and skateboarders, and he is eager to speak with an eclectic array of guests on his show.
“Off Camera with Sam Jones” is one of Alesha’s picks this week on Podsauce. As an actress, Alesha enjoyed the Aaron Paul episode. Initially, Aaron was not casting’s first choice for the role of meth cook and dealer Jesse Pinkman. Author and Breaking Bad creator, Vince Gilligan, watched his audition and rallied for Aaron while other actors were prioritized because production wanted to go with a bigger star. Aaron was cast as Jesse, and this was his big break. Alesha appreciated Vince’s advocation on Aaron’s behalf and discussed how important it is to support others.
The podcast’s previous guests have included Dax Shepard, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Sudeikis, Kathryn Hahn, Will Ferrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mindy Kaling, Robert Downey Jr., Michael B. Jordan, and more.
Musician Dave Grohl spoke with Sam about life, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters’ longevity, his side music projects, and his documentary, Sound City. Dave was inspired to create this film after purchasing equipment, like the Neve 8028 recording console, from Sound City Studios in Los Angeles when it closed in 2011. The documentary chronicled the recording studio’s history and the facilities’ contributions to rock music, such as reasons why the studio produced such a distinguished sound, and its history for grungy-sounding drums.
In 1991, Nirvana recorded Nevermind at Sound City. One of the reasons why Fleetwood Mac exists is because of this studio. The bandmates connected via Sound City when Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham were recording in the studio and their future bandmate, Mick Fleetwood, heard them and wanted to collaborate. Dave previously heard this story and thought it was a legend, which turned out to be true.
In this documentary, Dave interviewed Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Rick Rubin, Lars Ulrich, and more to share their Sound City experiences. Dave even speaks with Neve 8028’s creator, Rupert Neve.
He learned so many stories he never heard before and went into the studio with his idols. He was surprised by these legendary people, who are just as vulnerable in the studio as everyone else.
When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were working on Damn the Torpedoes at Sound City, they recorded as a live band. Sound City’s recordings were famous for imperfections because this was the raw sound bands were going and they embraced inconsistencies. Dave loves this sound and spoke about cutting records live with his supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. Dave said John Paul Jones is the most brilliant musician he has worked with. And how when they were listening back to the tracks, John Paul Jones appreciated this too, while modern day producers might want to try fixing such imperfections.
The last Foo Fighters record was “made to tape” because Dave didn’t want anyone “manipulating the way the band sounds.”
In Dave’s interview with Sam, he explained how he writes songs, approaches playing guitar like a drum set, and played live snippets of songs. Dave said Kurt’s songwriting process in Nirvana was one of simplification and melody, while Dave was drumming. Dave told Sam he started writing his own songs while still in Nirvana, but did not feel like he needed his songs on a Nirvana record because of how great of a songwriter Kurt was.
In Nirvana, Dave said his role as the drummer was to lay foundations to propel songs forward, taking inspiration from disco and funk where the simple rhythms were the songs’ heartbeats. Later in the interview, Dave said he was the fifth drummer of Nirvana and the youngest member who was “waiting to get fired the whole time.” As a three piece band, if anyone was replaced in the lineup, the sound as we know it today could have been different.
On this episode, Dave also discussed how Kurt’s death has impacted his life forever: what he learned from his invaluable time in Nirvana, like handling growing pains, how to manage touring, why’s never doing heroin, and more. Dave wants everyone to know the shared sense of humor he and his bandmates held, and how their aesthetic was considered more Joy Division than Monty Python.
To hear more from Dave and additional episodes, tune into “Off Camera with Sam Jones” wherever you listen to podcasts.