The FunkZone Podcast with Ted Mills







February 2015
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Lead singer of alt-surf band Dante Elephante

Dante Elephante's first e.p. German Aquatics has been out since 2012, and it was this and relentless gigging that got Ruben Zarate and his band the chance to record a full album with Jonathan Rado of Foxygen. That album's in the bag, but the bad is searching for the right outlet to release it. During this limbo time, I sat down with Zarate and talked to him about growing up in Santa Barbara and Goleta and what it's like to be a Santa Barbara in a time where there's still very few places to play.

We recorded this podcast in my living room as his practice room was occupied. It turned out to be a super relaxed talk, and I hope you enjoy it.

Topics discussed include:
Listening to the new album and what they listened to when recording
Growing up in Santa Barbara and Goleta
His first riff and his first band
The IV scene: Hairbrain Scheme, Springtime is Wartime, OSO
What playing football taught or did not teach him
"Everybody in Dante is into sports" and why that's rare-ish
The benefits of getting your band from Craigslist
Music influences
The problems of playing around Santa Barbara and IV
The origin of the band name
What he writes and about where (hint: carbon monoxide)
The recording of the first e.p.
Touring and songwriting for others
Lessons learned from booking your own tour
How social media is working for the band
Ruben's favorite albums
Geekin' out about Warbler Records

Dante Elephante will be opening for Gardens & Villa at SOhO on April 2.
(We hope to get them on the podcast soon!).

Go buy Dante Elephante's music here and join their Facebook here.
Also they have a Twitter.

Meanwhile, I will be moderating the artist talk at MichaelKate, Friday, March 6, called "Psyched Out" where I'll be chatting with Deborah Lee Baker, Joaquin Howard, and Elmira Lilic.

Direct download: 21_021_Ruben_Zarate.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 11:54pm PDT

bruce wagner
Novelist and screenwriter of David Cronenberg's new film Maps to the Stars
(Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha from the LA Times)

Howdy folks, our last interview from our time at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was with screenwriter Bruce Wagner, who was up in SB to talk after a screening of "Maps to the Stars," the new David Cronenberg film.

Icy and disturbing (but also with a hilarious audacity), the film stars John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattison in a story of troubled and famous families in Hollywood. And it all comes from a script Mr. Wagner wrote many years ago.

Bruce Wagner has written novels, directed films, and was responsible for the ABC series "Wild Palms," but as you'll hear, he calls this film the apotheosis of everything he's done. The film comes out February 27, so ya better go check it. Here's a trailer:

Topics discussed include:
Maps to the Stars festival path
Bruce's relationship with David Cronenberg
How the movie is not a satire on Hollywood
Fire and water as symbols in the film
"My books are all about extremes."
Looking for love in all the wrong places
Buddhism and the problem of fame
Amending Andy Warhol's "15 minutes" quote
ISIS, pride and terrorism
How Cronenberg is a "writer's dream"
What Cronenberg added to the script and the amazing casting
The history of the Paul Eluard poem used in the film
How writers can't escape certain ideas through their career

The film has an unofficial website. (I could not find an official one.)

Direct download: 20_20_Bruce_Wagner_1.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 8:51pm PDT

sara joe headshot
Documentary filmmaker and food truck aficianado

USC Grad Sara Joe Wolansky brought her food truck documentary "Wheels: An American Dream" to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and that's where I ran into her. As I'm a bit of a foodie, I checked out the film asap and then asked her to be on the podcast.

Here's the trailer to the film:

Wheels: An American Dream Trailer from Sara Joe Wolansky on Vimeo.

Topics discussed include:
Have we reached peak Food Truck?
Are Food Trucks a "white people" thing?
Mariscos Jalisco
Wolanksy's resume, including USC and Harvard
Finding subjects through Kickstarter
Farmer's Belly
Her crew and how few you need to shoot
Favors are the currency at USC
Finding Lawrence Fama from Tapa Boy Truck
Why to never start a foodtruck in the fall
A critique of Chef and foodtruck reality vs. Hollywood
Stalking Roy Choi of Kogi Truck
Are food trucks a L.A. tradition?
Are there British food trucks?
What would Sara Joe's food truck be like?
The food truck porn shoot

Films and trucks mentioned in passing:
Montage of Heck
The Queen of Versailles
Real Girl's Kitchen
Vchos Truck
Cousins Maine Lobster
Steel City Sandwich
Flying Pig Cafe

Direct download: 19_019_Sara_Joe_Wolansky.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 7:47pm PDT

Documentary director and former Young Turk Andrew Napier

If you check out Andrew Napier's IMDB page you'll see that this director has done a lot of everything since following his filmmaking dreams from Wisconsin to Los Angeles. He's written, acted, operated cameras, worked as a director of photography, and just pitched in where he could. He produced the Oscar-winning short film "Curfew," directed by Shaun Christensen, and now delivers this insightful documentary, Mad as Hell, which observes the rise and rise of political junkie and talk show host Cenk Uygur as he goes from a right-wing college student to a left-wing MSNBC host.

The movie is released in theaters today, Feb. 6, and will be coming soon to DVD. Here's the trailer.

You can also buy it on iTunes!

Topics discussed include:
A quick history of Cenk Uygur, the birth of online video and the YouTube revolution
Andrew Napier's life in Mauston, Wisconsin
His first movie at 8 years old: "Sledge"
How documentary filmmaking is like solving a puzzle
Leaving UW Madison and coming to L.A.
Meeting Tarantino and P.A.'ing on Inglorious Basterds, and a few anecdotes about DiCaprio
Getting on the Young Turks and creating his own job position
How people not believing in you can sometimes be helpful
What he learned from working at MSNBC and corporate news
What happens when you criticize the system
The amount of footage Napier got to work with in the editing room
The infamous "shut up" footage
Cenk Uygur's "three acts"
"Liberals can be douchebags too"
Sports and the history of the ball--Napier's upcoming doc "Bounce"
How football mirrors Manifest Destiny
Want to become an expert? Make a documentary
What to expect in the Mad As Hell DVD release
Napier's full plate, but how working on other films helps objectivity
Cenk Ugyer's feedback on the film, and what he criticized

Andrew Napier is on Twitter and on Vimeo

Direct download: 18_018_Andrew_Napier.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 4:56pm PDT

CaseyMcGarry-2 copy

Documentary director of "Grasshopper for Grandpa"

When Casey McGarry ran into Three Pickles owner Bob Lovejoy he knew little of Jimmy's Oriental Gardens and the history of Santa Barbara's Chinatown. But after learning the story of this famed watering hole, its closing in 2006 and it's beautiful resurrection, he paused the one doc he was editing and got this short doc together in time to submit it to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.


Photo by Lori Rielly

For those who loved Jimmy's and who love its new incarnation as the Pickle Room (essentially Jimmy's but with a legal reason not to use the name), this is the doc for you. And for those who don't, it will intrigue you and remind you maybe of your own favorite neighborhood bars. As we all disappear up our own social networking backsides, places like Jimmy's are precious.
"Grasshopper for Grandpa" plays Feb. 5 an 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido as part of SBIFF's Short Santa Barbara Docs sidebar.

Topics discussed include:
How Casey got involved with the story of Jimmy's
The disappearance of neighborhood bars and possible reasons
Meeting the main players, Bob Lovejoy of Three Pickles, the Chung family, and Willie the bartender
shaping the documentary in editing and landing jazz man Nate Birkey
Remodeling the bar
Scenes that are missing from the documentary
Jimmy's at the Historical Trust
Casey's film and music background
His first film, a skate film
His "embarrassing" second film
His current documentary on his father's jam band and putting aside dreams
His favorite films including In a Dream

Direct download: 17_Episode_017_Casey_McGarrey.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 12:14am PDT