GGG#016: Geek Rock! Mad Scientists! Dave’s Alien Ancestry! (Guest: Jonathan Coulton)

Jonathan Coulton, geek singer/songwriter, joins us to talk about music, video games, and becoming an internet rock star. Dave and John discuss music for geeks. 



0:00 Introduction by

0:38 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Jonathan Coulton

01:34 Interview begins

01:50 Jonathan’s geeky interests growing up

03:15 On computer programming, and the indisputable fact that the client is always wrong

04:10 Fake it ’til you make it: Pretending to be a full-time musician and how it paid off

05:26 how you can get JoCo to play a show in your town

06:54 Mad Scientists vs. Zombies

07:39 Regarding Dr. Horrible and making art without a net

08:29 Jonathan’s zombie contingency plan: a speedy death

09:28 Working with Valve on Portal

10:35 Jonathan’s songs are available in Rock Band! Also Jonathan proves his corporate geek past by using the term “core competency” in relation to rock music

13:02 Jonathan’s move from core to casual gaming (there are kids and family involved, who’d have guessed?) and a few recommendations

14:55 Other musicians in the geeky field: MC Frontalot; They Might Be Giants; Weird Al Yankovic

16:00 On being in the zone

16:59 Re: being mentioned by people he admires on the internet

19:03 Blogs Jonathan enjoys these days: Daring Fireball;; microblogging site

20:52 Performing at the Penny Arcade Expo

21:47 Playing at cons vs. music venues

23:20 What’s coming up from Jonathan: the Rock Band Network and the BEST. CONCERT. EVER. DVD

24:41 End of interview

Dave and John talk about metal, nerdcore, and speculative fiction with musical themes

24:47 How Dave was traumatized by Aerosmith, and also is possibly an alien here to study our culture

29:13 John establishes metal’s geek cred and defends the continued existence of MySpace

33:25 The difficulty in being a fan on the fringe

34:27 John expands on fantasy themes in metal

37:03 Dave explores the idea of changing themes in popular music, and John recommends Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

42:56 Stephen King’s “The Raft,” writers in bands, and the science fiction/rock-and-roll cross-over

44:54 More fiction with rock-and-roll themes: The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin; Lucius Shepard’s “Stars Seen Through Stone”; Michael Moorcock’s “A Dead Singer”

48:24 How the fictional band is incredibly useful for writers, and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

50:15 The advantages that music has over prose fiction

54:05 Young authors, and how defining youth differs in fiction from pretty much anything else

56:25 Dave and John explore the different ways we respond to fiction and music

58:39 About Pandora and LastFM (Software engineers: please create the Pandora engine for short fiction!)

01:01:34 Other geek icons in the geek music scene, MC Chris and MC Frontalot; for your viewing pleasure, documentaries Nerdcore Rising and Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey; combining metal with animation (very geeky!) is Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse

01:03:21 Show wrap-up

Next week: Bestseller Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series!

Thanks for listening!

John Joseph Adams ( is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, The Living Dead 2, The Mad Scientistís Guide to World Domination, and The Way of the Wizard. He worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and is currently the fiction editor of  Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010.

David Barr Kirtley ( is a writer living in New York who has been called “one of the newest and freshest voices in sf.” His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and in anthologies such as The Living Dead, New Voices in Science Fiction, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.

Show notes compiled by podtern Christie Yant. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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