PODCAST: Papa Jack Couch on a lifetime in songs and asking the questions that cannot be answered

BEARING WITNESS: Papa Jack Couch. Photo by Chad Radford.

Papa Jack Couch arrived on Atlanta’s music scene like a ghost — a man from another era, out of time and out of place, with a body of songs that demanded to be heard.

In 2018, he released his debut album, Meriwether via his own MIle One Records. A year later, he released his second album, Witness Tree, backed by a cast of Atlanta’s finest musicians.

At 70 years old, Papa Jack had suddenly reached a disarming high point as a songwriter, channeling a lifetime of spirituality, wisdom, joy, and tragedy into songs with titles such as “Twilight Memories,” “HighLine Woman,” and the title track from his second album.

With a gentle voice drifting softly over steel strings, Papa Jack summons a deeply felt blend of Southern folk, soul, and cosmic Americana into every note and every nuance of the songs he sings. And every number tells a story — stories of discovering music, crossing paths with his musical heroes such as Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash, leaving music, and ultimately returning after the death of his wife.

Press play to hear a podcast about Papa Jack Couch and the stories behind his songs, featuring interviews with Damon Moon of Standard Electric Recording Co. and Brian Revels.

Rad/ATL’s Hidden Hand podcast: An interview with Randall Frazier of Orbit Service

Orbit Service photo by Matt Condon

Welcome to another episode of Rad/ATL’s Hidden Hand podcast.

The music you’re listening to is “The Coldest Nights,” taken from Orbit Service’s sixth and most recent album titled The Door to the Sky.

Currently based in Bailey, Colorado — a small town in the mountains near Denver — Orbit Service is the name under which Randall Frazier has created music since the early aughts.

Over the years, Frazier has crafted a spacious and drifting sound that’s bound by a singular and textured quietude. His voice blends with atmospheric drones, improvisation, elegant post-rock songwriting, and musique concrete to a psychedelic effect.

I spoke with Frazier on October 16, 2019, shortly before Orbit Service shared the stage with the Legendary Pink Dots at the Masquerade in Atlanta — his fourth tour with the group. For this conversation we talked about creating space with music, life in Colorado, and our shared affinity for the Legendary Pink Dots.

To learn more about Randall Frazier and Orbit Service look online at orbitservice.bandcamp.com.

Thank you for listening.

Rad/ATL’s Hidden Hand podcast: An interview with Thom Fuhrmann of Savage Republic

Savage Republic was born amid the Los Angeles punk scene of the early 1980s, when former UCLA students guitarist Bruce Licher and drummer Mark Erskine formed the band Afrika Corps. Before releasing their 1982 debut LP Tragic Figures, the group’s name changed and a menacing post-industrial clatter took shape around Middle Eastern imagery and surf rock ambiance. Savage Republic’s sound was contemptuous, noisy and politically-charged, settling in with song titles such as “Kill the Fascists!,” “Mobilization,” and “Attempted Coup: Madagascar.” They shared the stage with groups such as Sonic Youth, Public Image Ltd., Swans, Fugazi, and more.

Amid lineup changes, songwriter and guitarist Thom Fuhrmann joined Savage Republic in 1983, and first appeared playing keyboards on the song “Trek” from the group’s 1985 EP, titled Trudge (Play It Again Sam Records).

Over the decades, Fuhrmann has assumed a leadership role in Savage Republic. In 2019, he fronts the group, standing alongside drummer Alan Waddington, bass player Kerry Dowling, and long-standing guitarist and percussionist Ethan Port.

In 2014, the group released a full-length LP, titled Aegean, with songs such as “Arab Spring,” “Victory,” “27 Days,” and “Peloponesia” placing Savage Republic’s original aesthetic into a modern context. A 2018 7-inch single featuring the songs “God & Guns” and “Tranquilo” further sharpen the group’s stance against right-wing influences gaining a stranglehold on modern America.

After wrapping up a late summer Midwestern tour en route to record new material with Steve Albini at Chicago’s Electrical Audio, Fuhrmann made his way to Atlanta where we caught up over breakfast.

For this second part of my breakfast conversation with Savage Republic’s guitarist and frontman Thom Fuhrmann, we talk about the origins, evolutions, and tragic circumstances surrounding the work he’s recorded under the name Autumnfair, and more about what the future holds in store for Savage Republic.

To learn more about Savage Republic and Autumnfair look online at www.mobilization.com.