Triple Take 28: John Hammontree

If you’ve met John Hammontree, you probably know at least these three facts:

He loves Kanye West.

He’s a huge Disney fan.

He’s really into politics.

Then it won’t be a surprise when you hear what Hammontree selected as the album, film and book that most shaped him.

Hammontree, who is in charge of opinions and commentary for AL.com, is a cohost of Triple Take. On each episode, we talk about the art that’s shaped us, and this week it’s his turn. Kanye West’s “The College Dropout,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” and “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren offer insight into why Hammontree is the man he’s become.

John showed up with pages of notes for his conversation about Kanye.

On Kanye West’s “The College Dropout”:

“I think he was giving us an invitation, way back in 2004, to come on this ride with him where he was going to be able to look at and comment on and reject materialism while also wanting to spend all his money at Jacob’s.”

On “Beauty and the Beast”:

“There was a thing that drove Walt Disney. He had a lot of darkness in his life, and he always tried to produce something good and light in order to combat that. That’s what I’ve always liked about Disney–it’s this nice ideal you can return to.”

On “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren:

“You can’t be a Southerner without being obsessed with the past. It’s impossible. It’s in our DNA, whether you’re somebody who’s obsessed with a lost cause or somebody who is obsessed with the civil rights movement or just obsessed with the 1966 Alabama football team. It’s a very nostalgic part of the country. I think part of that is because we are constantly reminded of our past in a way that other parts of the country, maybe outside of New England, aren’t. We are more reminded constantly with all of our past, and in a way that can be both romantic but also harshly critical. I think I do a lot of examining my own history but also looking at that through the prism of Southern history. You have to start breaking things down and trying to find the nuances there.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 27: 2016 in review

The end of a year prompts personal reflection and cultural best-of lists, and Triple Take is no exception.

On each episode of the podcast, my cohosts John Hammontree, Matt Scalici and I explore how movies, music and literature affect our lives. Naturally, we had to wrap 2016 by reflecting on the new media that affected us this year.

These are the official Triple Take picks for our 2016 favorites. You’ll have to hit play for our explanations.

Movies:
Carla Jean: “Southside with You”
John: “OJ: Made in America”
Matt: “Arrival”

Albums:
John: Drive-By Truckers’ “American Band”
Carla Jean: Beyonce’s “Lemonade”
Matt: Childish Gambino’s “Awaken My Love”

Books:
Carla Jean: “Lily and the Octopus” by Steven Rowley
John: “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
Matt: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J.K. Rowling

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 26: Matthew Mayfield

It’s easy to make the case that Matthew Mayfield is a darling of the Birmingham music scene. He’s certainly paid his dues, with The Stewart Mayfield Project, Moses Mayfield, on his own and with his side project, Blue Cut Robbery.

The decade-plus he’s spent as part of and a champion of the local music scene has seen Mayfield release a lot of music–more than 150 tracks, he says–and cover a lot of musical territory. But Mayfield has always pointed to Guns N’ Roses as an influence–and he shares why on the latest episode of Triple Take.

On each episode, we talk about the books, albums and films that shape us. Mayfield traced rock ‘n’ roll through each of his picks: “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in North Dakota” by Chuck Klosterman, GNR’s “Appetite for Destruction” and the modern-day western “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Listen to Mayfield’s explanation for each pick, then see if you can pick up on the influences on his latest album, “Recoil.”

On “Fargo Rock City” by Chuck Klosterman:

“Klosterman has a really interesting perspective. He can admit how much of a nerd he is, and that really helped me be like, dude, all of us who are rock and roll fans, especially when you’re a diehard, you’re a nerd, man. There’s nothing cool about being a fan boy or a fan girl. There’s nothing cool about that. But everybody’s got something like that. Even the coolest people in the world would geek out around certain people.”

Read the article we mention by a woman geeking out about Klosterman at Minnesota Daily.

On Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction”:

“They also had a danger to them that no other band had, and the danger was what sucked all of us in. You could see straight through Poison and you could see straight through some of even the older Motley Crue stuff. You didn’t see a band that was living the songs.”

On “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”:

“I definitely related to Jesse’s character in the movie because he’s the frontman of his operation. He sort of has to be in charge of the James boys. He has to be in charge of his new little clan, with Robert being part of that. Being a leader of a band, there is a similarity, and having been a leader of a band and everything I’ve done, at times you do have to be harsh, and there’s scenes when he’s super harsh. At times you have to be gentle. At times you have to navigate your family and your friends. You have to figure out all these pieces to the puzzle. I think all of that is essentially what drove him insane.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 25: Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor photo courtesy of Liz Bretz
Maria Taylor photo courtesy of Liz Bretz

You might recognize her from Little Red Rocket. Or Azure Ray. Or Now It’s Overhead. Or Bright Eyes.

Birmingham-raised Maria Taylor has already lived many musical lives. With Friday’s release of “In the Next Life,” she has seven solo albums to her credit, in addition to the many bands and collaborations she’s been part of over the years.

Taylor’s newest effort includes the work of several past collaborators, including producer Nik Freitas, mixing by Andy LeMaster and vocals by her brother, Macey Taylor. It arrives three years after her last album, “Something About Knowing.” Since then, she’s given birth to a second son and relocated from Birmingham to Los Angeles.

“I think that’s why this record is so precious to me. It took a long time,” Taylor says. “I found these little nuggets of time and I really used my time wisely. I had to find more discipline, too.”

Taylor is the latest guest on Triple Take, the podcast where we discuss how books, albums and films shape us. She had trouble picking just one item in each category. Her movie picks are “Parenthood” and “Shortcuts”; her books are “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer and “Wherever You Go, My Love Will Find You” by Nancy Tillman; and her album, Carole King’s “Tapestry.”

On the films “Parenthood” and “Shortcuts”:

“I have so many friends in different parts of the world and I’ve lived in so many different places, and they all connect in some way, and I love that. So maybe I find some kind of similarity in those kinds of music and my life.”

On “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer: 

“When you’re dealing with death, you always find comfort when you’re reading or listening to music or when you find art. Or just hearing other people, other stories of how they’ve dealt with death.”

On Carole King’s “Tapestry”:

“She wasn’t trying to be anything but herself. You listen to it and you automatically know who Carole King was. It was so warm, so warm and honest. So I felt like I knew right then, that’s the kind of artist I wanted to be.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 24: These are a few of our favorite (Christmas) things

triple-take-christmasLights are up. Mall traffic is sure to increase. You’ll spot Salvation Army volunteers on many corners, and hear jingle bells everywhere.

It’s Christmastime, and that means a special Christmas episode of Triple Take.

Normally we interview someone about the book, album and film that shaped them. But this week, my cohosts Matt Scalici, John Hammontree and I discussed our favorite Christmas things. This is a wide-ranging conversation, with more recommendations than usual. Among them: Alabama’s “Christmas,” Amy Grant’s “A Christmas Album,” Jackson Five’s “Christmas Album,” Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” … the list keeps going. You’ll also have to listen for our debate over the merits Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).”

On our favorite Christmas albums

“One of the things I appreciate about Christmas, and I know I’ll appreciate especially this year: You do get to be happy. That doesn’t mean that you’re happy overall about life, about what’s going on. But there’s some sort of celebration every year. There are lights up. You can celebrate that. I think you don’t really value that unless you know what sadness is.” –Guest host Robyn Hammontree

On Christmas films, especially “A Christmas Story”

“I think that’s a movie certainly show their kids and take their kids to see, but I don’t think that movie’s really for kids. I don’t think a kid could really appreciate that movie. It’s all about nostalgia and how warped and strange everything becomes in your mind over time, how surreal your childhood seems to you after you’re looking back at it as an adult. There is some cynical stuff in that movie, too. But I think it’s also about how weird and scary your childhood can seem sometimes. In that contrast, I think that’s why things like Christmas are so great when you’re a kid, because it’s unbelievably positive in this otherwise very confusing life you have as a kid.” –Matt Scalici

On our favorite Christmas books
“Even when things are terrible, you see the best in people. That spirt of even if you have nothing, trying to give everything is what makes Christmas special.” –John Hammontree

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.