Monday, August 20, 2018

Radio Host Interview: Daniel J. Harris (The SoupyGato Show) by Dave Wolff

Interview with Daniel J. Harris of THE SOUPYGATO SHOW

What is The SoupyGato Show and how did it start?
The SGS is a music podcast that plays submitted music of any and all genres-styles-vibes-categories from every and all over the unknown Earth. Maybe even has played some from unknown too. Having it be artist or artist management saved us from the every and always changing legal aspects. But also the show has always been free to be on as well as heard. It is a one-hour mp3 audio file that can either be played on or downloaded. We try to keep each and every episode as eclectic as the music submitted allows but often there will be a little bit of a theme though neither mentioned nor listed just for my own personal enjoyment. Music seems to flow with the physics idea of 'like attracts like'. We'll get a bunch of Western-style one week and Funk the next for example with no rhythm or reason to why. We try to play music sent in on physical copies sooner and more of than digital out of respect for doing so. As a cat with a cd being re-released I totally understand the time and how costly getting your music to those that get it into the ear of the matrix can be. Though we will have to come up with ways to keep the show free for both the artist and listener we must generate something to continue. Listeners have been awesome when blatantly asked for donations for the website server or we might even be doing this piece on the show at all, but glad we are.
It started in a way because of Wiffle Ball if you know what that is. A good buddy of mine calls me one day and says "Hey, I joined a Wiffle Ball League". I paused because I was still letting that soak in when he says "Oh, by the way, you are on my team too so be ready tomorrow at 1 to play". Well, the conservation went something on those lines at least and The Brewers played 2 seasons at The Wiffle House that Alan Garcia owns and created a bit of a Field Of Dreams in his backyard. The 3 main field looked like a little league field and had two more for... maybe they are like cats... you have one so it isn't all that much more to have a couple more. Anyways, over time I got to know Al better and he was also into podcasting even before it was called that term used today. If you are under 18 please do not go to this site but if you are older and enjoy R-rated movie humor and naked ladies Goin Deep was where I became even aware of the idea of creating a show and having other hear it. They are still at it and though Al and I had a bit of a falling out right before I moved here I still love all the guys over there. I really really really upset one of the guys but that is also why the show is what it is instead of whatever it would have come to be if I would not have grabbed the ball and ran. Mr. Clean (the name is a paradox for sure) said, "Hey I know you are not really about the locker room humor stuff more than once, twice a month. What do you think of us starting something different? You are really into music? Maybe that?" I agreed, had a name (soupygato was right from start), then said..."I think it should just be a one host show". I look back at that as the right move but maybe I could have done nicer. Telling someone they are not that funny is sort of funny. So I was told not to worry about the text stuff and all that and didn't. Started getting music and went back over to the studio and recorded 3 truly bad episodes and was told that the files were too big and if I was going to continue I needed to elsewhere. I still get a little twinge of red when I think on that. "You gave me enough rope to hang myself" was what I said (or at least how I have in retellings). Fear is an amazing motivator and by the following week, I was doing episodes on my own with a Logitech headset that I mic to just have the mic and a ruler-pin-cushion that I duct taped it to use as a stand. Over time people wanted studio pix and such and had to skate those questions fast. No way in hell was anyone going to look at the jagged broken ruler end and thin 'Professional" so behind the curtain the whiz stayed for a year plus.

Why did you decide to host your own net radio station instead of looking for a traditional radio station to broadcast from?
The idea not only never crossed my mind but at that time I don't even know how it could or would have worked. Nobody knew about podcasts back then. I would like to know if The SGS really is the first of its kind and as far as I can tell it is but I haven't done any major research to give up that wee little taste of 'the 1st' just to replace with being the 2nd or 7th. Plus it is always better for promotion via word of mouth if you are #1. Podcast Alley was the big deal back in the day and from 2007 to 2009 we were the monthly top music show 35 out of 36 and it had a huge part to do with being the top show. I am very competitive while on the court or field but once off, in general, it isn't something that concerns me much. Yet I do know that a young band will tell every single person they know or cross paths with that they are going to be on a #1 music show. So we really tried to blend a mix of brilliant jams and decent up and comes to both have a solid worth well music show as well as continuing to grow.
I was also very anti-morning talk show BS and all their bells and whistles. I am not a morning person and used to just glare at the radio while some yahoo talked and talked as I waited for music on the morning ride to work or what have you. Hearing the tagline from 'Joe-FM, We Play Everything" and then hearing the same shite day after day. I knew I didn't want to be a part of that world at that time. We'd have lost too much control and have had real issues since with larger stations wanting out show to be a part of their network. Before I had 'Banged Funny Bone Syndrome' and then the surgery we were syndicated on stations in LA, Chi, Clev, London, Essex and another two in the UK. I so dug that we were on in Essex in the UK, as I am from Essexville and lived for years in the haunted Essex House that founded that lil city next to where Madonna and I were born. Not only were we born in the same town and hospital but even the same room. I like just to see reactions when I tell that little bit of personal info. But where I am from most people can say the same (laughing).
The SoupyGato Show is an ‘All Styles from All Over the World’ music podcast started in 2005. I grew up with my Grandparents (Irish Grampa and French Canadian Gramma). Grampa couldn’t carry a note if it was stapled to him but did so daily and Gramma could really sing but did so rarely. So I heard a lot of classical and Rat Pack, then sort of stole Beatles, Rod Stewart, Burl Ives from my Uncles mostly. And yeah I know Burl is an odd addition; he was the singing Snow Man in the early Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer if the name doesn’t ring a bell. Then Kiss came alone and well… that for sure was life changing and I will always be grateful even if both I and they have changed over the years.
I found out I have an extra vertebra after moving here to Holland, and I think that very likely is a ‘Travelin’ Bone’. My Mum had always been into Country music and that was not an area I had any appreciation for until after living in Austin, Texas. I took a train from Flint, Michigan all the way there and it’s funny how life and art inter-link as Cat Stevens’ Peace Train just came on the player. And worth mentioning is that the name of the show comes from the mother of one of my best mates who I was moving down to stay with. I had a cat named Soup for years, and when the friend and I were living in East Lansing his mother and stepfather came for a visit. You know how some cats want to lay on that one person that just doesn’t want that nor even like them? “Dan I Love You But I Hate Soupy Gato!!!” she would say in her heavy Spanish accent. Her father was President of Paraguay, and no BS, was assassinated by poisoned soup. Straight up. Years later when I would call on her and say hello she would reply “I know no Dan”. “You remember, SoupyGato?’ “Oh Yeah I Love SoupyGato!” It just sort of stuck, and when thinking of a name for the show it was an easy choice due to Cat being a Jazz slang term for fellow musicians. Gato being Spanish for cat and there being a billion types of soup.
Some friends were doing a podcast even before it was coined a podcast called ‘Goin Deep’. They did an awesome show and I will always have a ton of respect and gratitude even if we sort of had a falling out over the years. It was trashy locker-room humor, and though I have no problem with that and enjoyed all the time I spent on it wasn’t truly my vibe. So when one of them asked me about a spin-off show focused on music I excitedly agreed. I sort of took the ball from him and ran. Maybe it wasn’t my nicest move but I still have the ball and am still running. It was supposed to be hosted through the tech whiz of the group, Al Gracia, but after three shows he said it was taking up too much space to continue. I can still recall how I felt; I am not a tech savvy dude and felt like he gave me just enough rope to hang myself with. But in a week I had learned how and why, and with Myspace’s help was in touch with hundreds of artists all over the world each day.

How long after you started The SoupyGato Show did you start contacting bands daily? What were your prerequisites for airing them on the show? What genre or genres of music most speak to you?
I started contacting bands before recording the first show and I pretty much recorded daily right from the get go. It was about late November 2005 that I started reaching out and requesting bands to submit music and on December 26 (I am pretty sure) that episode 1 was recorded. January 3rd or 4th 2006 was when it was published. For prerequisites there were but one: no hate. I have said at time ‘radio quality’ but I have been pretty lenient with that. If a band has two versions with one being in English and the other being their native tongue, we have always played the non-English version.
For me personally? It would be easier to discuss what I dislike as what it is speaking to me is ‘turn that shite off!’ But so I do not offend the folks that live next door (hah). I will be polite and keep my trap shut. Kidding aside, I might dislike a song or even a certain act but honestly I love Dean Martin, Stevie Wonder, Soul Coughing, King Crimson, Judas Priest, Dave Brubeck, Morphine, Dio, Charles Mingus, Towns Van Zandnt, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Steve Earle, Jaco Pastorius, Pharcyde, Sex Pistols, Los Lobos & the Latin Playboys, and the list could go on. I think I made at least the most basic of the point, and that is I humbly am an open minded lover of orchestrated audio chaos. There was no radio show or anything where I was from, so like they say ‘don’t complain, get off your ass and do something about it’. So for better or worse I put years of my life and blood, sweat and even a few tears into it over the years.

To what extent was Myspace a help in finding bands to correspond with? Are you still on Myspace today or did you migrate to other social media sites since the switch to Myspace Beta?
Myspace was HUGE! It was just perfect timing, truly. It had been up and running long for maybe a year, so many bands were there and I literally would contact each and every single band almost to OCD diligence. It became clear that it was a total numbers thing. If I connected with 3000 that week; 300 would reply and CDs from 30. I do still have a page, but honestly I never could get the swing of it after it changed. I still like the first version better than Facebook. I just went to look on The WayBack Machine to see if I could find and post anything that might be entertaining, but I started to lose track of time [Harris' Myspace link is below. -DW].

Do you maintain a decent correspondence network since you switched from Myspace to Facebook? What is The WayBack Machine and what services does it offer?
For the most part, yes. We played so many acts on the program for the first time. And that means something special on both ends. It is crazy to look back at the amount of episodes and showcases we did before the switch, but my life had some bumps at that time too. In the archive of Facebook emails I have tons from 2010 from bands like Faster Pussycat and Tesla. Most I don’t even recall getting but it’s fun to look through them when I even remember they are there.
The WayBack Machine is a site that takes a picture of the entire surface web a few times a month. When we lost the first site I still thought the inter-web was like a pool; once you pee in it you have to drain the whole thing to get it out… This was not the case, and thank Gawd for Howard Baily who saved each and every show (500+ episodes) and gave me copies or I’d screwed the pooch. Valuable learning for certain. Honestly I am not an expert on WBM and have just used it to look for lost playlists and things like that. It can be fun to find your old Myspace at a fixed time in the past and recall what was going on in life at that time.

How open has mainstream audiences been toward underground metal (all genres) in the last ten or fifteen years? Or is it more often written off as noise for unintelligent people?
My guess is it would be the same as it always has been and always will be. Some of us are compelled by sound. It resonates or goes to crazy levels. Wanting to hear a song over and over and having to move the needle or rewind the cassette. Now it is easier with a finger. Some of us love to be that person who is always playing something different and loves both the sharing of something new, but also for the extra notch of respect and admiration it gives. Maybe if the underground became mainstream we would ease into utopia or absolute anarchy? My guess is the latter.

Does the show have an official site you broadcast from? Where on the web can people hear it?
The SoupyGato Show is located at and can be streamed or downloaded as an hour long mp3. It is funny to see a band change their mind when I say the show is downloadable but never as individual tracks. For a person to go through all the work to take a single song more they likely would have taken some other way. Of course, there are many other ways to snag a song. It is similar to the effort I made to record a song off the radio. So to any band that hesitates for this reason, please know there will be ten times more listeners that hear your music than the few that have one song from your entire catalog, and because they have it they don't buy it. If they are that worried about a single dollar compared to people who hear them that week and in the future, I don't care much to have dealings with them. As an artist I never hesitate when having a chance to have my music on a show. But I do take time for research before I just send it.

Do you have an official staff working with you, or do you run it independently?
Both in a way. At the peak of the show from 2007 to 2010, there was a staff of five: Assistant, Researcher, Promotions, Tech and me hosting. Two went off to do their own thing for a period of time. I admit I wasn't happy at first and less when one took all the contacts and a Myspace page made for the show. Anyone would have been upset to find that out. The fact that others were consulted about it and I was told after. Later I did become a big supporter for them though neither is still being made. Rich Hamilton who started out as tech has recently come back to the fold. But with all the moving I did there have been breaks in the action. In 2014 I stopped for an entire school year to homeschool my girlfriend's son Yal, who I have affectionately nicknamed Yalbert Einstein, and The Southern Many (that sounds more like the moniker of a WWF big-time wrestler).

How many of those 500-plus episodes are archived on the net, for fans to listen to? If not all of them are archived, how many have you uploaded and on what media platform?
We do not have enough space on site with our server. The techy stuff is not my strong point but I am always trying to pick up something that will make it faster, sound better, be easier to locate and such so I am open to ideas. I would guess there are maybe 120 or so up, give or take.

How much of a task was it to choose from so many bands for each episode of the program? Did you have episodes dedicated to one genre or was each and every one of them mixed?
At times it can be quite daunting. In 2010 and ’11 I was living in a large apartment building and getting 30 CDs a day. The postal service didn’t think it was as cool as I did. There is even a good sized backlog now but I have always made an effort to make sure that more CDs got on sooner. I was even more aware of it after releasing Water Is Conscience with Nico Jongenelen as NaMet in 2016. I swap out music on an iPod about every two months and keep it on random. I love it when a song makes me stop dead and look. Those songs make it on fast.
There are showcases of the music of Israel, Scotland, GLBT acts (I pissed off more than a couple with my “Are You Gay?” posting), Tibet (we timed that one for when I saw H.H. the Dali Lama give a lecture and lead a meditation. We teamed with Tibet Aide Dot Org and the listeners raised more for Tibetan kids’ education that month than the rest of the year combined. Still proud of that), and the most recent larger one was ‘Let The Artist Do The Talking’ in which the band or artist would introduce the song and a little about how it came to be (hearing the different accents was pretty cool). I had an operation on my elbow a couple years back and started to get a Healing Music Showcase, as it has always been a big interest for me as well as hoping to mend faster if possible. But due to a PC crash it never panned as well as one on Lichtenstein that one day will air.
But to answer your question all episodes are as diverse as can be. We seem to get similar vibes in groupings often and noticeably. I guess the science backs for ‘like gravities to like.’ To come up with a way to get the NagMet music out I asked some labels we have worked with for years if I did a mini show called SoupyGato’s Smoke Break. So I would take three songs from three different acts on the same label and they would do an e-blast for us. Those I would say are of the same vibe. I have used that to air interviews also. A smoke break being fifteen minutes though that isn’t PC anymore I guess. I even have a patch on and am kicking butt.

How well were your episodes on Israeli bands, Tibetan bands and Scottish bands been received when they aired?
They went over great. Maybe there is some social scientist that has created a term for this but for I can tell I am an odd man out in that I never listen to the show nor ever check the numbers. Right from day one, I didn't want to know because only two things can happen, you are insecure because no one is listening or you freak because so many are. I had a Dutch whiz kid that had either created the computer system for a hospital or bank. I forget but he did the first one I had here. Then he said he was going on a trip to France with a couple friends and I have yet to see him again, straight up. He is teaching English in China now. He is a real sweet kid but that crumbed my cookies a bit. While in the site I saw how many site visits right after posting my talk with Rocky Dawuni a couple years back. That is the only time I saw numbers. It was 41K and I was flat out floored. One thing I really found fun was that I could see individual listeners and there were Google Maps too. No idea if this is still the case, but I kid you not I found Buckingham Palace, the Kremlin in St. Petersburg and that freaked me out. After some updates it wasn't an option anymore. Sorry to go a little sideways with that but I have always really enjoyed the showcases. I had to cut it at 100 with Scotland, and when I was asking one of the bands how they heard of it when submitting because a bunch were coming in unasked, he replied 'you don't get it... yours is The Show, we have little parties and listen'. That moved me pretty hard ya know.

As far as metal bands from other continents, have you heard anything about the metal underground in South Africa? Or the punk underground from that area? If you have, what South African bands have you heard of recently?
I'd have to think a bit on who all we have had on and the truth is I have. I never refer to a band as being within a genre, maybe it’s another of my out of the norm things but that is what makes a question like so specific whereas what I do is so general. The Future Primitives came in from Voodoo Rhythm Records with a poster that is on the wall. They are a three-piece from South Africa. This is slightly unrelated but I befriended through my Dutch classes a dude from Nigeria who was really into reggae. Megladon I am pretty sure are from SA and they are hot. I am going to see what I can and maybe have more input on this before all is said and done.

On it states you played French horn and bass guitar, but not much more. What exactly did you do and how did it help your show? Are you still playing?
My Grandmother and I would watch symphonies play on PBS, both with and without TV remotes, depending on if I was home or not. I have always loved classical music and still do, especially in Euro-Metal like Yngwie Malmsteen and Mercyful Fate. As much as I love classical I despise marching bands just as adamantly! Plus I went to school at 8 a.m. in Michigan into the fall and well into the winter. You don't use a French horn to march, you use a Mellophone that is almost as big and directly in front of you. You can't see a damn thing, so when the dude in front of you stops without warming you crash into him and have bloody lips and cracked teeth. The music doesn’t gel with me either, though we did play stuff by Herbie Handcock, Stevie Wonder, Chicago; a group with more than twelve members. My mouth hurts just thinking about it. The band director caught me at a game while I was supposed to be too sick with the flu to play. I went with no fuss and even came back to him occasionally to go over different things. J. Thomas, R.I.P. One of my favorite teachers and later a real friend.
My first bass was a yellow Hondo II I took out of a rickety old chair and shouldered it snapping its neck. I was seventeen at the time and living for the summer in my grandma's house. (before my parent's house - mom and stepdad Tom - burned down during one of the worst storms in Essexville’s history). I brought the bass to show my Mom and asked for help to replace the neck (not understanding a replacement neck was twice as much as the bass) and left it on the kitchen counter out of the way. When the insurance inspector asked me what type it was, seeing it melted to the counter, I blurted "Fender! Fender Performer!" I have no idea why but it did happen. I saw a buyers’ version of Guitar Player Magazine at 7-11 a few days before. After asking for $5 I jumped into my red Omega and zipped on down to grab before gone.
Last night after dinner Natasja and I were making some noise. We were mucking about on the acoustic guitar and noticed I was playing a riff from Jesus Christ Superstar. I must have been about 24 when I ran into a friend who was directing said musical but there was no bass player. The stage was extended so that the first three rows of seats were covered and high enough back at the curtains that the six piece rock-band-orchestra was spider webbed with wires under the stage. Closed circuit TV was used to monitor the action above. The cast were all in their 20's and on the hippie trail. It was written in a psychedelic time, and on the last performance I made sure it was kept true to its origin. The guitarist 'Pete The Kid' was going to my alma mater and I would pick him up daily for rehearsals. He talked me into Into the Woods that I still haven't seen, then Bye Bye Birdy, Hello Dolly and The Sound of Music at The Players Club. I had the flu so bad I kept a bucket next to me and the drummer had to whisper the notes because of my blurry vision. It was a wonderful experience.
Sneak Preview was an R&B/pop cover band I did for six months. They had a Casio keyboard with 120 songs programmed. They would hit a button and it went, but no one knew what song it would be. I was faking R. Kelly before I knew of him; that is another story to say the least.
I happened across my cheat sheet full playlist the other day with some other paperwork. Mostly Prince, Baby Face and Commodores. Each gig they would say "ok tonight we go with black and purple'. More than once I borrowed a jacket from Desi Phillips (Prince produced once of his CDs) and I didn't need to push the sleeves up to play. One night as he and Rico ran out to do their routine on the dance floor the cord got caught and took his feet up to chin level. BANG! Knocked the fuck out! But that was almost normal.
We were doing our first out-of-area gig and playing as the house band at The White Horse Thursday to Saturday, then Monday to Wednesday at The Watering Trough. It was nice to have a break as I was doing construction work by day.
I spent time in Muddy Gumby, and learned that my replacement used tapes with me playing as when they recorded later. He told me I needed to teach him the Arabic scales I was using; I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't know what he was talking about. I was in an Irish band called Hoolie (slang for Hooligan). Shinola was a Dan & Dan combo playing dinner music at a Tommy V's restaurant and were given a respectable amount of beer to do so. The name came from the movie The Jerk staring Steve Martin, "Boy you don't know the difference between shite and shinola". A couple years doing crazy-standup-poet shows with four other gifted singer song-writers. The S.N.A.P. Revue Savvy Northern Acoustic Players Revue was the name I came up with as words were supposed to be my area of talent. I have a poem (now song created by Luis Drayton) called My Dildo's Death that has almost gotten my kicked out for reading. I used it when no one would listen but boy by the end you heard crickets, haha. I will see if I can dig it up for you just to have your opinion maybe at the end of this.
NagMet was me on lyrics and vocals and Nico Jongenelen engineering. We have a conceptual album titled Water is Conscience. It got awesome reviews every single time. One day we got rated A on a rap site and we had a block of five songs played on a prog-rock show. Those are not two genres that cross over. After the third completed piece, we were asked to be on London radio. Thirty minutes before the talk we changed from Magnet to NagMet; ten minutes later we lost connection and freaked out, hehe. The label that released it has been bought out, and because of their huge catalog, we may not be available through them again. So we have opened talks with Jongleur Books and Music, who recently published my first book, Thy Looney Bin Journal.

Do you do anything else creative besides music?
I love to write. There are two CDs ready and waiting to be released. The first is Tim Jones & Rob Kirtely's versions of a bunch of my words. They asked for one story for Cassette Day UK and it sold and that so sparked that lite in me again and I think Tim too many times, hah. Also Busting Onions Out Of Jail is myself and Erik & Danny in Sweden. We have a Reverbnation as well as a 5 song EP in the wings. I mention these because I have enjoyed thinking of or even making the covers. Justin Jackey has been making a bunch of Prog covers and Stoner vibe ones also. I met him through Tim and he did NagMets amazing cover, still just look and marvel at it as well as my book cover too. F'ing great dude too. Art teacher in Austin. Music has always been there no matter what good or bad was in my life. It was a rock steady friend and always will be. I think too often if you ask a person 'what is rock and roll?' or 'what is good music to you?' they will answer what was on the airwaves when they were seventeen or eighteen years old. Most of us lacked judgment so why continue to hold that notion true? I also understand if you are going out you want to hear the songs you know. All of a sudden there is a break but can help to create a really good time. But for me, writing is what I have loved more over the years moved more and more. I also really do enjoy crayons and they are a bitch to find here in Holland. I call my stuff Ameba Jazz Art From The Inside Of Closet Doors.

Tell the readers about the recent release of Thy Looney Bin Journal and how well it has been received.
Thy Looney Bin Journey is literally a word for word account of my time in the nut-house just down the road from the Detroit Zoo. On June 16th, 2002 I tried to end my own life and I explain why as well as the sometimes very humorous climb out of the hole I had dug myself into. Without being too 'punny' It was a very crazy time for me. I could have published more than a few things before this and maybe I should have, but I still feel this is important and not for me but for others. Some can see themselves and the possibly shameful path they lead and others can form a better understanding of friends and family members. Though sales are low the publisher informed me that talks of a movie had already begun and that flipped my wig for certain. And the reviews or just emails I have gotten have been amazing and I think readers of this blog would really get where I am coming from much more so than your average book reader.

Do you have any plans to further expand the show’s format? And how would you like The Soupy Gato show to be remembered in the future?
I went a few years without speaking to a fellow Yankee (go Tigers) and I’ll tell you that really gets to you. And then along came Andros from L.A. Love at fight site, haha. I totally love the dude, he has super powers as well as some screaming video talents. So yes but not certain as to what. For The SoupyGato Show to be remembered? That we were the first. If you dispute me show me an ‘all styles from all over the world’ that came before. I have been asked for music from at least two shows that used our line. I really don't know; just to be remembered is coolness for this cat. Just to be thought of and not even if it is all good. I made mucho mistakes along the way and still do. I didn't do radio like those with bells and whistles coming out of their wazoo, and play the same shite they are programmed to play. Being the Grandfather, the Ol' Skool, who had music truly give me the moralistic and romantic vibes since the Beatles and Rod Stewart and Kiss that impacted the show.
Have you ever thought dj'ing a music show would be cool and want to learn how? I was recently asked to do a demonstration and if there is enough interest I will do so. Also looking for a couple of young people that want to learn about running a show and what all goes into it on a regular basis.
Because I have had a few health issues the amount of music we have is huge so we are going to take a break from accepting submissions for the rest of the season, October 1 is my birthday and what I consider the first day of fall too, So not long.
Please indicate the nature of you contacting in the subject and can send any thoughts or questions to and can find info on the book and music as well as the show.
Thanks For Reading!

-Dave Wolff

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