John Hughes: one Rhino, four Monkees and a Super-Soldier
Sumner welcomes John Hughes, Senior Vice President of Fan Engagement & Innovation at Rhino Entertainment, to this week’s Hard Agree – where they chat about John’s career at Rhino Records, his early years in the US Army, his friendship with the late, great Adam Schlesinger (That Thing You Do!), his long-time relationship with Sumner’s favorite band, The Monkees, producing The Monkees’ amazing comeback album Good Times! in 2016 and his trio of epic music & comics podcasts – before jumping into a deep dive with Sumner about their mutually-favorite superhero: Steve Rogers AKA Captain America.
Check out John’s amazing podcasts:
The Rhino Podcast – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWEtnEiVwUy7mwFeshyAWLA
Totally 80s – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9m5tup6Hl5PsZqFyNWuKQA
Bronze and Modern Gods –https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkHTY1eNYHr9JoTndx_m6kA
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John Hughes – Interview
Andrew Sumner: . [00:00:00] So let’s just ease in with some gentle conversation. Have you been mates can, okay.
John Hughes: Yeah. Now that things are getting back to normal quite a bit here, it’s, it’s very strange getting back out into the world, but I’m looking forward
Andrew Sumner: to it. Yeah, no, me too. Me too.
John Hughes: . I’m in my 12th year at rhino and I love it. I, I, you know, not very many people can say they’re doing what they dreamed of as a kid. I’m one of the lucky few very lucky.
Andrew Sumner: And am I right in thinking that right at this moment in time, your job title is senior vice president of fan engagement and insights.
Is that correct?
John Hughes: Almost a fan engagement and innovation, which is, ah, yeah. Just a fancy way, a fancy pants way of saying, I try to find new ways to make people bump into our catalog no matter where they live on the internet or other means.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I know. It’s, it’s, I it’s, it’s [00:01:00] a brilliant title that it does really reflect a lot of the things that, you know, you have spearheaded in the last couple of years, so welcome Todd agree.
I’m Andrew Sumner. I’m here with my friend, John Hughes, rhino entertainment, and John has had a fascinating career and like myself is, is a big comic book fan in addition to being a mover and shaker in the, in the, in the record industry
and has been heavily involved with one of my all time favorite bands over, over the last decade or so. Oh, which we’ll talk about in a bit. Yeah. Right. And, and if you, if you were seeing the video of this, you would see an array of beautiful records sat behind John and his office. Oh, because John was one of the, one of the main people that made the monkey’s last two records happen.
The, the award winning and much loved good times. And then the the monkeys Christmas album also,
John Hughes: that’s how it always is the [00:02:00] award-winning and highly lauded, good times and Christmas cards.
Andrew Sumner: But before we talk about any of that good stuff, John, how did you’ve got fascinating career history that kind of begins from my bio originally, right?
John Hughes: Yeah. A little town west of Cleveland or, sorry. Yeah. Western Cleveland called Elyria, Ohio.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. And but you started out in the military, right? Crazy.
John Hughes: Aleria was a really great place to grow up as a kid. It was not a great place to stay as an adult. So I wanted to get out anyway. I could. And three friends of mine were joining the army, the us army, and I kind of watched from a distance. And one day I said, you know what, I’m going to go with you guys to the recruiter and see what’s up.
And I’m going through the they had a big book of jobs. It was almost like a catalog, you know, flip through and pick your dream job and I’m looking through, [00:03:00] and one of them is broadcast journal. And I said to the guy, it was this like, you know, the movie, good morning, Vietnam, like literally being a journalist.
He says, oh, it’s even more than that. You, you are in the field shooting stories and you’re going back. You’re learning how to edit your ho you’re anchoring newscasts on TV and radio. You’re also the DJ for a four hour shift at the radio station. I’m like, whoa, okay. I want to do this. And the guy’s like, no, no, no, no, you should go into psychological operations.
That’s kind of the, I was like, no, I really want to want to do this. Yes. And he said, well, you ha it’s really tough. You have to audition. I we’ve never had anybody get accepted. But we’ll give it a shot. So he had to order an audition script from. The defense information school, it came, he called me that he had a sit in the room with me with a tape recorder and a microphone.
And watch me read the script. I couldn’t take it with me or, you know, it was, it was like a cold read. [00:04:00] And they send it off in three weeks later, he comes, he said, I am shocked. You got in. I’m like, wow. Okay. Yeah. So I, now I guess I have to do this. So I joined the army and probably the best thing ever did.
Yeah. Can’t believe I look back now. I’m 53. I cannot believe I did it. What the hell was I thinking? But I did it and I got to see the world. I spent most of my time in South Korea and I was also a four-door when it was open in Monterey, California. Yeah. And I did everything that they said on the tin. I did TV.
I did radio. I learned how to edit. I can direct a TV show. If you put me in front of a control room, I can do all that. So, well now probably I forgot a lot, but that’s a long winded way of saying that’s how it got me into media. Got out, got my communications degree, started working in radio Hayden. Went into advertising and became a creative [00:05:00] copywriter and did that for a few years, moved out to California, got recruited by a company here.
They moved me to California, which was probably the second best day of my life. Yeah. I’m here and just weird, a weird set of fate that I just kept getting recruited by different companies until one day I was at guests, the clothing manufacturer doing their e-commerce. I like to joke I was ugly.
Betty, if you are familiar with that show. Yeah. Yeah. I was surrounded by beautiful people and I was like the bald white guy, like, well, let’s do this. And I saw a job opening on Yahoo hot jobs. If anybody remembers that I’ll take you back. And it was at rhino and I saw it and I, I love telling this story and cut me off.
Going too long here. I want to hear, this is the best story I saw the job. I didn’t apply. I picked up the phone and I got the switchboard [00:06:00] and I said, I Googled who was running the department at that time. And I said, I I’m calling for, for, you know, Joe Smith. And the receptionist said, well, who is this?
And I said, this is John Hughes from guests. And they put me right through. Didn’t ask why, or they just heard guests. And they were like, oh crap. And I got the guy on the phone and I gave him just the story I gave you pretty much ran down my resume. And I said, give me 10 minutes with you and you can stop your job search.
I mean, I was cocky, really cocky because I kind of knew I had the technical stuff they were looking for in terms of e-commerce and I had the music knowledge and those two things don’t necessarily go together. And they brought me in for an hour interview that turned into eight hours. With no lunch, no [00:07:00] bathroom break, no offer of water.
I was like, is this a test? But I think what sealed the deal was during one of the, I guess they had me interviewing with several different departments and during one of the departments I was asked, you know, who’s your favorite rhino artists? Under the mourner catalog. And I said, well, you know, probably not my favorite, but one of the ones I really liked that I don’t think gets enough.
Respect is Joe Bryan. I threw out Joe Bryan and that’s what I think I got hired really
Andrew Sumner: a plate. That’s what tests. So now, just to flip back to roll back on something, you touched upon the, you in the middle of it in the middle of the anecdote you, you refer to yourself as bald white goats is of course it’s not doing any justice because if you know, John, here’s, what you know about to me is he’s an extremely fit muscular, very well-built him big.
Now my question is, did that, did that, did that come from your army days? Is that something you got into
John Hughes: that as the assumption, right? I did not do crap in the [00:08:00] army. I was 19 years old, 125 pounds soaking wet. I got up in the morning and did the physical training, the bare minimum. I skated by for four years.
I didn’t do anything. I didn’t really start working on. So I was like 25 and I was out of the army. And to be real Frank, the reason why I started working out is because I was gay and I wanted what I wanted to attract. What I liked.
Andrew Sumner: Yes. Makes complete sense. It makes complete
John Hughes: vanity. That’s
Andrew Sumner: the reason.
And you’re a thousand percent successful as well. Right, man. Yeah. I got married. And your, and your husband’s an extremely handsome dude, you know, so, you know.
John Hughes: Yeah. I like to think so. Yeah.
Andrew Sumner: Thank you. Yes. Yeah. So, so mate, so what, when was it, what year are we talking about when you came on board at Ryan?
John Hughes: 2009, September, 2009, September 29th, 2009.
[00:09:00] I just loved that day cause they act so happy here.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Yeah. And and I, I wanna, I wanna talk very specifically about, about the monkeys in a sec, but outside, outside your relationship with the monkeys and all the things that you’ve done with them, who are the artists that you you’ve enjoyed working with the most that you feel proudest of your association with in the time,
John Hughes: the only grateful dead just amazing a band that I knew about, you know, being a little punk rocker, new wave synth pop guy I was like, oh, the grateful dead.
That’s kinda, that’s the enemy. Not at all. Things really changed for me when I went to that 50th anniversary, July 4th show in Chicago with a bunch of people from work. And that’s, you know, when you see them. That’s when you get it. It’s kind of sad that, you know, the whole crew and Jerry and everybody are not with us anymore, but something clicked.
It was not chemically enhanced. It just clicked for me. [00:10:00] And the cars, of course, I had the real distinct pleasure of working very closely with Rico Cassick on doing the reissues that we did. Ha I like to think we helped get them into the rock and roll hall of fame finally, cause that happened right after we did those reissues and not taking credit for it, but I like to hope.
That was amazing that Zeplin, you know, I haven’t had a lot of face-to-face interaction with the band being as mysterious as they are. I come that I think they should always keep that mysteriousness about them, but, you know, you get a chance to work with one of the biggest bands in rock history.
Wow. I still wake up and pinch myself.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I mean that, it must, it must be truly amazing to be honest. I mean, you know, to, to work with Zeplin, I guess is like working with Sinatra, isn’t it? You know, it’s, it’s you, when you get there are icons and there are icons and another level. Yeah. And I, that level of mystery that you’ve touched upon, I think that’s an incredible, incredibly important [00:11:00] part of their appeal.
You don’t want those guys to be accessible and just seeing them everywhere, chatting. But, you
John Hughes: know, I think there’s levels of accessibility. I love Robert plant’s podcast. I think that’s great. I the Jimmy has come out and done other things and done like, you know, Q and a that’s fine. I liked the fact that they just, they, they, they keep us the label, honest, you know, it’s like, no, you’re not gonna flog this and do 5,000 greatest hits compilations.
And it keeps that, that band’s mystique alive. And it’s excellent. I wish I worked with them more. I don’t work with them that much. Like I used to because of my new position, but it’s just, I love having any association with them whatsoever.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I can, I can totally understand that. And how did your, your long and close unfruitful association with the monkeys come on?
John Hughes: It was span before I started rhino, I call myself a monkey’s [00:12:00] 1.5 generation. You have the 1.0, which saw it when it was aired in the sixties, then you have the 1.5
Andrew Sumner: that’s like myself. I have to say, you know, I’m old enough to be on the original sixties. Wow. Then
John Hughes: I was at 1.5, which is, it was in syndication here in the seventies, early seventies.
And that’s when I became a fan. The first record I was given by my aunt, Judy and shout out to aunt Judy was the monkeys first album. She gave me her well-worn copy from the sixties and I loved it. You know, I always skipped, I’m going to buy me a dog, Alice, even as a kid, I couldn’t give her that song.
Yeah, the restaurant is great. And so, when I got to rhino, Andrew Sandoval was, was at rhinos still when I first started. And, you know, I made a beeline for his office and just kind of. And told them how much I love what he did for the [00:13:00] band and how great it was. And then when Andrew left, no one was kind of there to, to pick it up.
And so I just started beating the drum and doing things and it was, it was a long road to get everybody back in the fold because, you know, Davey was Davey. Nez had really kind of disassociated himself at that point. I think the turning point for me and the monkeys was when we did the head super deluxe edition.
I just, I don’t know if you remember Google plus G plus Nez had an account on G plus. So I just sent him a random DM one day and I said, I have this, we did this. I’d love to send you a copy. And he replied it. It was like this long letter. Like no one talks to me. I’m so glad you reached out. I’d love a copy.
And I got him on the phone and did an interview with him for an early version of the rhino podcasts back then. And that door opened and [00:14:00] then just started some communication with Peter and then Mickey, who is the best guy. I love that man. And I, you know, not to be so busy, but we’re friends now. It’s not even work.
We’re actually friends and like dinner and drinks and stuff. And I I’m pinching the five-year-old John constantly like, you know, stop being a fan. Boy, just treat them. I be human. Treat them like a human, do it. So. And then the 50th anniversary came up and I, and I walked into our president, mark Pincus, his office, and I said, mark, it’s the monkey’s 50th anniversary.
We need to do a new monkeys record. And he said, okay, when are we starting? I was like, whoa. Okay. I didn’t expect that reaction. But and then I, I had this wild idea. I love fountains of Wayne one of my favorite bands of all time. And I heard this song, you know, the DJ called it must be summer. And I always thought [00:15:00] that’s a monkey song that it’s a monkey song.
I should have Adam Schlesinger produce a record for the monkeys. And so I just got a contact with him from one of my, a great co-worker Suzanne who knew him from their days at Atlantic. And. I called him and had him in for a meeting. He’s like, I’m in, when did we meet the band? And it was amazing. And I just want to take a second to remember Adam, cause we actually became best friends after that.
And he passed away last April 1st really
Andrew Sumner: early, early he passed away due to COVID right.
John Hughes: It was really, we didn’t know what was going on. This was when he got sick in March at the end of February, even he was texting me saying, Hey, I have this cough that won’t go away. I might have to go see someone and then just, it went downhill so fast and nobody knew what was happening.
And yeah, I kind of wish he was here today. If he had just held out in other month, you know, he may have gotten one of those [00:16:00] experimental treatments, but it was just really, yeah.
Andrew Sumner: It’s a heartbreaking tragedy and, and, you know, it’s such a talented guy. I mean, he was a very close friend of yours. I, I’m a huge admirer of his for, for, for everything that did fantasies of Wayne for what you guys did together for that thing you do, of course, which is just an amazingly indelible piece of music, you know?
And it’s just to have him taken away like that is a must have been very tough for all of you.
John Hughes: He would have been blown away by the reaction. He, he never doubted himself. He never doubted his talent. He was very firm about his value, which was awesome. And I learned from him about that, but he also was kind of, self-deprecating like, Hey, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a two thousands, one hit wonder, you know?
But he wasn’t, he was, he just was so talented and I, it was, if anything made that horrible experience better, it was seeing the [00:17:00] flood of reactions to his passing. It was really great.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I mean, I mean, yes, I guess that that is that’s the, that’s the upside of, if there is one, so many wonderful people go through the world and their passing is relatively on marked other than by their close friends.
But, but I mean, he, he genuinely left a legacy in a way that it must be a great blessing to one’s family and one’s friends to be it’s to be around that when it happens, you know, and his life definitely had purpose and meaning.
John Hughes: He changed my life entirely. And though the great thing about that is I am one of maybe a hundred people that can say that it’s not just me.
He touched so many people and changed so many people and we miss them.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Well, well separately, well, well, CertainTeed when it comes to the album that you guys work together on could you talk a bit about why you just recruited an amazing lineup of, of writing talent on this album? [00:18:00] And I think one of the reasons that I mean, I’m, I’m a big monkeys fan, as you know, but I would say that both, both of them fandom and outside of it, it’s kind of wide, widely considered to be one of the monkey’s best albums.
You know, it’s quite an amazing achievement, really, you know, given the fact that it, you put it together so long after the hay day and you know, so long after, because what always surprises me about people who only casual monkeys fans is how unaware many people are of how big. The, the wealth of recorded material actually is.
And, you know, what’s actually out there and, and how, how much value there is to, to the monkey’s albums. You know, I mean, I mean, the stuff I’m interested in real is to, from headquarters onwards, you know, and and, and all that, you know, like a lot of fans, but I’m, I I’m, I am hopeful, but I also get a lot of pleasure out of playing say all the NERRS country tracks for my friends who have musos, who don’t even know that stuff [00:19:00] exists.
And they’re like, oh, wow, what is this? This is amazing. It’s the monkeys mate, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, and it might be Mike Nesmith in a recording studio waiting at his contract, but it’s, it’s the monkeys nonetheless. Right. But when it, so to flip to what, what I wanted to ask you about, which is how you put it all together with those incredible, those incredible songwriters, what was the process there?
John Hughes: I wish I could say there was a big master plan and I sat back and I, I was, you know, Makaveli in, and I was very specific about who I reached out to. Not at all. The sad truth is I had a few people in mind. Adam had a few people in mind and we just kind of, we started, I think we underestimated ourselves at the beginning.
We started small. We were asking really well loved, but, but still indie bands, like rogue wave, for example to contribute songs and [00:20:00] they did, and they were great. The Zack from roadway contributed terrified, which is a brilliant song, which should have been on the record. I got overruled on that one.
But it ended up as a B side, at least it’s out there in the world, but that song should have been on the record, but we went, went so good. And then we went from there to, you know, a wider net and we just kind of tested it. And Adam knew Weezer’s manager and rivers and ask rivers Cuomo. And he’s like, sure, send us seven songs, you know, the guidance machine.
And that really, you kind of emboldened us. Okay, we’re going to, we’re going to start aiming higher. And I was like, I know, you know, and Andy Partridge through my friend Jason Day here at rhino, let’s ask Andy Partridge. And I believe Andrew Sanibel knew who as well and, and made the ask and the partners lost his mind.
He lays such a huge monkey span. He drew a picture of Nikki for a monkey’s fanzine when he was a [00:21:00] kid and he sent me the scan of it. He contributed at least eight songs, I think at one point. We had it, narrowed it down to one and then again, suit. Now we’ve got a bunch of names behind us and we can start dropping them to other people.
So Adam knew no Gallagher for some random reason. Shot him a note saying, Hey, these guys have contributed. Do you have anything in? No, I think w I saw the email. He was super tickled. By the aspect of the monkeys, asking him for a song. It was almost like a joke. But he loved it and he’s like, well, you know, I happen to have this sort of three quarters finished tune.
I was working on with my friend Paul Weller. Yes, please. And he sent that, and that was birth of an accidental hipster, which is our big psychedelic head moment on the record. It was perfect. And we just kept going. The Nez had a great [00:22:00] song called I know what I know that was very different, very different in demo form.
Adam really stripped it down and did this arrangement. That was very striking. I really, Peter had a bunch of stuff, but the one that we gravitated to was little girl, which he actually broke loose.
Andrew Sumner: When did he, when did he write that? When did you grow up?
John Hughes: And it was, it was written for, he thought, oh, I want to be free.
He’s kind of a David Davey song. And that’s, that was that my. My big regret is I wish Mickey wrote more. He doesn’t fancy himself as a writer, which I find a shame because he writes stuff that I think the fact that he doesn’t think he’s a writer, emboldens him to be so different. No one else is gonna write a song like shorty Blackwell.
Andrew Sumner: Yep. No, absolutely not. No, I agree. I remember, I remember reading Peter talk [00:23:00] a couple of times talking about, you know, his, his kind of dismayed for want of a better word that, that, that Mickey didn’t write more and, you know, Dolan songs are so unusual, you know, and that, that they’ve got, as you say, shorty black was a great example.
You know, I, mommy and daddy, for example, it, he got to write that
John Hughes: out. You can take wow. Randy
Andrew Sumner: Scouts. Oh man. I mean, you know, I’m from as a side, not love that song, you know, it’s, I mean, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love that song. It’s an amazing piece of work. It’s Dan
John Hughes: small and he’s scanning what is happening here.
And so I kind of locked him in a room with Adam at one point, actually, they, they went to I believe they went up to Mulholland and just kind of sat together and tried to write a song, looking over the Hollywood Hills. And that’s where I was there. And I’m told I had a good time came from, so, which was, you know, Nikki’s [00:24:00] catchphrase and he uses it in every interview.
And he knows that, yes. I mean, wanted to have fun with that.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I think I think as a listener, I think what you guys got exactly right with that album is that it’s, it’s, I think it’s an hour long sort of exercising joy. That’s the way I would describe it. And, but it doesn’t feel like, say, say pool it, or like just us, which, you know, feels essentially like a very pale lack of the monkeys you’ve got right to the heart of what the band is.
And I think you will tune it, understand it
John Hughes: it’s in the title at the time. That was the mission statement. And it was, we don’t want it to sound like the sixties. We don’t want it to sound like the eighties. We don’t want it to sound like 2016. We want it to be timeless. So timeless was the key word and good times was the mission statement.
And, you know, people are like, I wish there were more ballads and that was [00:25:00] not the goal. Sorry. And we very Andrew, we stumbled into it. I mean, we had four weeks to do the album. We had, we had committed ourselves. I don’t know if you remember the timeline. The album was on Amazon and it was the number one album on Amazon.
Before we had recorded a single note. We did this so ass backwards. We announced it. We were too excited. We got pre-orders in. And then we got this big in the U S it’s a big deal in the CBS Sunday morning. And if the piece was Memorial day weekend, so we had to have the album out May 27th come hell or high water to make that interview.
And I think there were good, mostly good things about that deadline pressure and a couple of bad things. A couple of bad things is you’ve got someone like Michael Nesmith who. Caring, perfectionist, and once things done the, the famous quote from [00:26:00] him that I’ll never forget is John. Deadlines aren’t physics.
Ooh. Okay. At first I was like, what? Huh? I get what he’s saying. It was like, why are we rushing when this is art? And he had, he was right. But you know, commerce sometimes overtakes us. That kind of made me Johnny Kirshner at one point.
And I, you know, I don’t relish that, but I like my job. So,
Andrew Sumner: If I get a fish through the wool moment, that’s the thing.
John Hughes: No, no, not at all, nothing like that. And I don’t think he would ever do that. I, I care a lot for him. And I like to think we’re friends too. And it was, I get what he was saying. I understand that his, it, my name’s got on it, but it’s not in bold type with my picture on the cover, his name’s on it, and it’s going to live with him [00:27:00] forever.
So if he’s not happy with something, he’s not going to be happy with it, period. Yeah. The good part of that deadline pressure is forced us to move. We couldn’t dilly dally. We couldn’t navel gaze. It had to be done. Are there mixes, I think could be better. Sure. But I will tell you as the guy who was literally sitting in an office chair like this over Adam Slessinger shoulder in his New York city lofts watching him mix it because into the night at two 30 in the morning, because we had to make a mastering deadline in three days, it had to be done.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Yeah, no, I, and, and it fascinates me that so often, great art comes out of these deadline pressure moments, whether that’s movies, whether it’s records. I mean, sometimes the exact opposite is true, of course, but you definitely collectively you and Adam ha and the band had this lightning in a bottle moment where he’d just put something [00:28:00] extraordinary together and and to see the reviews you’ve got, not just from lifelong fans, like myself can show we’re an important audience, but you know, to, to see, you know, as you know, I used to be a music journalist to see professional often monkeys resistant music journalists, really embracing the album that must’ve felt amazing.
We got a
John Hughes: feature review in rolling stone famously just completely trashed the whole concept for decades. We’ve got mojo. We got uncut. We got all these really stellar reviews. And it was it was a shock. It was a shock almost as shocking as debuting at number 14 on the billboard top 200. I was, I was praying for top 50.
I’m like, yeah, top 50. They’ll have their first top 50 album in, in, you know, whatever it was 30 years or whatever. No, top 20 it’s so close to top 10. If, if they had not recently changed the charts to [00:29:00] reflect streaming, we would have been probably number five or six.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, right, right. On such such a beautifully justified result.
And as you might recall, John, I used to be the publisher of uncut magazine. And the thing about uncourteous not necessarily one of the great secrets, but something people might not know unless they were talking to somebody who worked on the magazine for a long time, like myself is uncut is full of monkeys fans.
Everyone’s a monkey’s fan on, on kit. So, so I can imagine I was, I was no longer on the magazine when they worked, when they, and I was working with you on some other things, in fact. But, but when when they must have, I can just imagine how that went down and the offices. Cause I can imagine when it went down, when I first, when you started, I, I think I heard the first tracks from it to be honest mate, in your office.
And and, and that kind of arcs into what I think is the, I think the album’s triumphant on many levels and I think you. And Adam and the [00:30:00] guys, you know, quite rightly I’ve I’ve, I’ve received all the, all the plaudits for that. And it’s just such an amazing achievement, but I think as great as the album is, and as great a moment in time as, as, as, as the album was, I think the other thing that you guys really achieved is.
Producing one of the top five monkey songs of all time in 2016, which is men, the lane, which I just think was an incredibly spectral moments of all beauty. And I first heard it in your office and I was, I was just blown away and I’m still blown away by it. Now that
John Hughes: was interesting. A friend of mine at work Brian hay knew Ben Gifford’s manager, and I thought, Ooh, that could be interesting.
So we shot him an email and Ben Gilbert, again, the monkey spans, he looked up, it was like lifting up a rock and watching the ball come out straight out. He was a huge monkeys band and he sent us the [00:31:00] demo. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the demo. He released it himself a couple of years ago, but it’s very synthesizer.
It’s got a feeds it’s it’s mid-tempo it’s great. And I heard this and I was like, this could be interesting. But, and I sat with that. Yeah. And I played it for me and I was like, I don’t get it. And I said, make it a country Western song for now. And he’s like, Ooh. And so I was like, NAS needs a country showcase.
And the funny thing is Nez, his musical tastes. Now he, I don’t want to assume, but I’m going to anyway. He probably would’ve preferred the synthesized approach. And that’s what I, that’s what I don’t want to do. John. I want to do stuff like that. I don’t, my dad is really bad. But we did this countrified thing and you know, they’ve mentioned it in interviews.
There was a battle between Mickey and Nez for that song. Like, I want to sing it. I want to see, you know, it was, to me, it wasn’t to each other. So I thought, why don’t you? Yeah. [00:32:00] So we made it a do it more of a mic showcase. He has a solo part, but then Adam said, I don’t know. I have this country version. I see it as a bird saw.
So there’s me and Magdalena version two, we went ahead and cut that. And then Adam and I went into the ring, had 10 rounds. One of us stood victorious. I will let you decide who that was based on which version ended up
Andrew Sumner: on the album. Well, which I think honestly was the only choice. I mean, I liked the version two and I liked the demo as well, which I’ve also heard, but I think the version on the album is head and shoulders diverse and that should be out there.
And is it gives them such a great account of that. So
John Hughes: yeah, if we had to put the birds version on the album, it would have just blended in because there are a lot of mid-tempo songs on that record. A lot of guitar Gigli songs on that record. We needed some texture. We needed to slow things down a bit.
We needed to pause right before we went into that. Psychobilly freak [00:33:00] out. That is. Birth of a accidental histor. I agree.
Andrew Sumner: I also agree with your choice and your choice of course has traveled the world because cause that, that song went sort of on a, on a. On a great journey. The distanced, the original album seems to me, from my point of view,
John Hughes: it was now the third, most streamed monkey song right behind.
I’m a believer in
Andrew Sumner: degree believer. Right. Do you know what? I, I, I’m very gratified to hear that. And I th I totally believe it without knowing that it, Hey, I like it because it’s serving to underline my point. I’m B that doesn’t surprise me at all, John. I mean, I think it’s truly a special piece of music, which is how you have to feel as well.
And that alone, you know, I, it seems to me that one of the, the beauty of talking about your career at rhino is it’s made up of these moments that if you took them one by one, you’d be like, wow, man. Even if I just had that, that would be great. But you [00:34:00] kind of monkeys arc is like an embarrassment of wonderful riches.
Isn’t it? You know, you have the fact that we’re having this conversation about good times, but we’re also having this conversation about men Magdalena. That’s got to feel pretty special. Yeah.
John Hughes: It’s five years old at this point. Can you believe that?
Andrew Sumner: That’s incredible. I find that amazing.
John Hughes: And it still sells IB.
Cause you know, I, I, I had an ego I’ll I’ll I’ll claim it. I look at the sales figures every few weeks. I’m like, it’s still moving. Okay. And you know, I I’m, I kind of, in some ways, feel like the high school football quarterback, you know, 10 years at the reunion, wistfully looking back saying that was the high point of my life.
Now it’s all over. But no, I th you said lightning in a bottle, which is how Mickey always describes the monkeys casting. That album was the same thing, and it’s never going to be replicated. I mean, we’ve lost Peter. We’ve [00:35:00] lost Adam. It’s just, you know, trying to replicate it in some aspect with Christmas party was an attempt.
I I’m not embarrassed by it. I’m not asking proud of it as I am good times the difference. And I’ll be real honest with you and your listeners. The difference between good times and Christmas party was a lot of money. Meddling, good times we were left alone and it was like, we trust you, go do this, make it happen.
Christmas party. It was okay. You did this last time. What are we going to do this time? And how are we going to do it? All right. I need to hear this. Nope. We have to have a song that’s relevant for the UK. Okay. Which is how wizard. I wish it was Christmas every day ended up on the record. You know, and I get it.
We it’s a commercial enterprise and we’ve got things to do, but boy, the difference between the two is, is somewhat striking, but I’m going to defend Christmas party a little bit. Thanks to the aforementioned Michael Nesmith, who was [00:36:00] given the freedom, which is the key word again here. Just go off and do two tracks completely on his own with his sons.
And snowfall is one of the best tracks on that record. And he’s like, I want to cover a snowfall. And I’m like, and I made him laugh. Cause I said the Manhattan transfer song. It was like, you know, John, this song is a little older than that.
That was my only point of reference was the Manhattan transfer version. But, you know, again, because he had the freedom to go do what he wanted. It came out better.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. And and it, it’s, it’s a very, very beautiful rendition. And so for me personally, I think I actually really love how some broken gingerbread.
I love that song, but
John Hughes: again, Adam wrote it. That was the first track we worked on with Mickey and we were left alone. There were people who hated that song, why I [00:37:00] don’t get it? Why is it’s not a Christmas song? Where are the sleigh bells? You know? And I, and I was at that point able to fend them off a bit.
And we got that as a result. Not saying I have all the answers and no one else can give good input. It was just like, it was, I’m going to be honest. It was overwhelming at points where it was like I was getting hit by all sides.
Andrew Sumner: And well-played chief of getting through it and getting to the other side of it.
And at least it, you know, from a, from a kind of marketing releasing perspective, the beats of a Christmas album, right. Is that it can be a Hardy perennial. So, you know, it’s not all just into one season. Yeah.
John Hughes: Yeah. It’s done well. And you know, like you said, how’s it broken gingerbread. I listened to that song in August and it’s just a great song, you know, and, and again, it’s, it’s bittersweet because you think, wow, Adam.
These things in him. And again, another great Adam story just to how he knows everyone in the universe. He’s like, you know, John Michael Shabaab, the guy who wrote what’s that comic
Andrew Sumner: book related, [00:38:00] the amazing adventures of Calvio covenant clay.
John Hughes: Escapist. Yes. And he’s like, he’s a monkey span. He’s also about, about, and Wayne fan. I’m going to just see if he wants to write lyrics to the song. So Adam shoots off a random email to Chavon and we get up with lyrics. From Michael Shabani, you know, this is award-winning writer on Christmas, quite a fancy.
So it was really cool.
Andrew Sumner: I, I, I guess my, my two sort of closing questions, what class slash topics for discussion really are that one’s come relate in a ones fabric of the monkeys related. So I’ll ask that one first. It would, again, as a fan, my feeling is that is that you do have kind of a beautiful epitaph for Peter on this album as well, which took on some kind of special resonance.
I think once Peter passed listening to that version of angels, we have heard on high, it’s actually quite beautiful, you know, which didn’t strike me that way when I first heard it. But, you know, once, once [00:39:00] events took the, took the shape, they did. That’s how I feel about it.
John Hughes: That is the reaction of everyone to hear.
And they’re like, what is this why I don’t understand this share vocal. And when they find out how it was imported, it, isn’t under the circumstances. They’re like, whoa, you know, it’s actually kind of a theory. And that’s, that’s what we were going for. Peter was very, very ill at the time to the point where we were like, you know, we might have to do this without him.
And he did not want to, we, we left it up to him. Here’s some stuff. If you feel it, you great. If you’re not up for it, we understand he dragged himself to the recording studio one day between you know, treatments and did that vocal. And he was exhausted. It just took a lot out of him. And you know, it wasn’t soon after that, when the album came out and, you know, I think it was two months after that we lost him.
So I’m so glad he had the intestinal fortitude to [00:40:00] do that. And it’s, it’s something that, you know, at the time people were confused by it. It was a, it was a very, very well kept secret about his illness and how serious it was. But then I think afterwards, you listened to it and you’re like, wow, it’s really magic.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, no, I, I think that’s right. And, and then the, the, the other thing that you touched upon with Michael Siobhan’s involvement is the, the comic book connections that Christmas party has. Cause it’s, it’s, it’s the cover, right?
John Hughes: It started with good times. Remember the video where she makes me laugh. My, my personal Dell comic book collection of monkeys.
And I, I they’re, they’re, you know, they’re brags, you know, I didn’t take my mint copies plates, those are slapped. And I took them and I took them to our scanner and I scanned a bunch of a man with a really talented creative director. We have your name Jocelyn lane, and we [00:41:00] made this lyric video for, I think it was $500 and now it’s over a million views.
And so I’ve always had that common connection in what I do. I, I talent borrows genius steals. So I’m constantly stealing ideas from my collecting world to bring into the music job right now I’m working on NFTs. NFCS, I’m using my knowledge of collecting and comics and variants and okay. You got to have this different cover.
I do very covers on all my releases. I don’t know if you noticed that. Yeah. So the. Christmas party comes around and I, I just keep seeing his art with monkeys references on, like, I got to get two people to do this album cover either Alex Ross or Michael, all red and Alex Ross, you know, he did some lift, the graphs [00:42:00] and stuff, which were beautiful.
Didn’t quite get the excitement from him. Michael, all red just lost his frigging mind and sent me, I hadn’t even worked on a contract or payment or anything with him. And he sent me a fully rendered pencil drawing. I, I would say it’s a rough, it was nowhere near rough of the album concept. And I was like, this don’t change a thing.
I mean, all the Easter eggs were in there already. He is his monkeys knowledge is unsurpassed except maybe understandable. And I was like, wow, Mike, good job. So we use that art also for the lyric video. I cannot remember the name of the song, but it’s the same song. The rivers Cuomo song about Sandra what would Santa do?
That’s it? Yeah. And so it was, it was really cool. And the common book thing is really important to me because I [00:43:00] always took inspiration from my face. Superheroes, you know, captain America, my all time favorite when I joined the army, I, this is going to sound so modeling and dumb. I thought I was doing what Steve Rogers would do.
That was, I literally thought about captain America when I was raising my hand, taking the oath, enlisting that yeah. I felt like it was 1941 and I was the scrawny kid volunteering because of Pearl Harbor, you know, it of peace sign, but still the thought was there. So yeah. It’s really influenced pretty much a lot of my life.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I mean, it, it, it, that is a, that is a connection that you and I have that we’ve, we’ve touched upon before given the fact that I’m probably about 10 years older than you. And I’m an Englishman from mosey side. My favorite comic book, character beyond the shadow of that is also. Captain America really?
Yo yeah, but by, by, and it’s got a lot to do with the fact that this is a story I’ve told a lot, so I’ll do the super brief version, [00:44:00] but my grandfather pops my fought with an American unit and world war II. And he came back from world war two with a massive love of America, Americans and American popular culture.
And it’s mainly because he was used it with an American regiment and he was living off American rations, which were much better than the British rations. He would win his rations, which would be like Chuck steak and all that kind of stuff. You know, whereas essentially the British rations at that point, having had the supply lines cut by the Nazis so long were essentially cardboard.
Yeah, he was eating really nice food, but he’s also getting two cigarettes a day, a Hershey bar and a comic book. So he came back from world war two with a bunch of captain American comics with a cup, with a bunch of human torch comics. So when I was a kid and six. I had chronic customer for years when I was in hospital.
It’s this is a classic comic book fan story, right. Pops brought his comics into a hospital and the first comic book he ever bought me was Batman 1 [00:45:00] 8, 4. And that’s when I was three years old. And, you know, such as born the obsession of a lifetime mate, but because of the transformation, the particularly acute transformation of scrawny to captain America.
And when I first really got into reading captain America is in the first like tales to astonish full bloom here of the Lynn Kirby, you know, readings of that character, you know? Yeah, right on very early world war two exploits now where they were after we introduced them, they went back in time and had a bunch of buckets, sales and whatnot.
Yeah, that really sets a massive I’ve. I’ve loved captain America ever since. And I loved the whole world war two connection because. It’s a three-line with my grandfather.
John Hughes: It’s funny you say that the Kirby brought you in because Kirby brought me in. I started really, the first comic I ever found was a tattered copy of captain America, 154 on the playground and he’s hiding himself and why are there two of them?
And I don’t get it. It’s like the conclusion of [00:46:00] like this long Steve angle, hard story, but a five-year-old me is like, I can follow along, but I really got into it when Kirby came back
Andrew Sumner: in. So th the Matt Baum era. Yeah.
John Hughes: Not wearing it today. If I was to, where am I? Mad bomb shirt. My favorite cover of all time more than I remember 1 92 was like a in issue by Frank Robbins and the end.
I don’t know if you know the end of that issue. There’s a big third panel at the bottom saying next issue king Kirby is back and I’m like, what’s a king curves and why my supposed to be excited. Boy did I find out?
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, no, it’s, it’s, I, I really loved that run out and it was at the time, I mean, I read that I’d bought those issues in real time and and cause I’d, I’d really picked up.
My it’s funny, my, my, my captain America buying habits kind of went in waves and obviously I was a fan of the stuff where I really built up. My month-to-month reading habits was with the angle heart cell December stuff. Right. Yeah. [00:47:00] And but I absolutely loved the bulls out craziness of that of that Kirby arc, like so much of what he was doing around that time.
It was because in the latter columns, which you could tell you now look at them are partially set up by the bullpen and Stanley, you know, it’s all designed, it’s all full of fucking complaints. Right. Do you know what I mean? But I taught it. I thought it was glorious and it’s insanity. You know, that’s what I love to do.
John Hughes: As a kid, I think I was probably seven or eight at that point. The, the consensus on the playground was along with the letter column, he’s drawing, we call him square boy because he draws square fingertips and wiggly lines on his knees. People didn’t get it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. But something drew me to it.
It was like almost primal. You know, and then I, as much as I complained about his art, [00:48:00] I bought Eternals. I bought like Panther. I bought everything that he did at Morrow that Marvel seventies era, that Marvin curvy seventies era it’s so looked down upon. Sometimes that is my Primo stuff, man, machine, man.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, man. It, it is, it is a great era. And talking about curbing, talking about that era, it makes me wonder if given your military background, did you did you ever, were you into the. The immediate era prior to that, the end of Kirby’s DC era. Were you a fan of that stuff?
John Hughes: No, I didn’t get new gods.
I try to read it over and over and over, and I don’t understand the dialogue and it’s so it’s, you know, the, the typical Kirby criticism is stilted. I wouldn’t say it’s stilted. I would say they talk like gods and we’re, we are not used to hearing God’s speed. That’s the adult me like KV is like, I don’t know.
I don’t mind. What’s a Steppenwolf [00:49:00] and command. He was like a kids book and I’m using air quotes here and I’m, you know, I may be a kid, but I’m not a kid. I’m not reading that. Demon was scary. I don’t get this at all. So the only DC book that Kirby did that for some strange reason, I was drawn to. I asked a kid was the justice Inc.
The Avenger. Oh
Andrew Sumner: yeah. Right. Actually make, that is a, that is a, such a great book that is such a great book. And of course most of the issues Kirby, it’s not even on the covers, it’s Joe cubit covers. Right. But yeah, I, I, I loved that too. In fact it’s a very, very, it’s a very able adaptation of the Avenger series.
It’s really well done. You know what I mean? It’s really telescoped down. And Dunwell
John Hughes: you look back at that late era where he was just marking time at DC where, you know, he just kind of gave up on doing his own stuff and he’s doing [00:50:00] stuff like justice, Inc. He did an issue of Richard dragon come food and you’re like, wow, he’s gotta, he’s gotta be miserable.
Just being a robot, a pencil
Andrew Sumner: robot. But it’s so good, but I do, you know what? I, I couldn’t agree more. And the reason I was asking I was, I was just touching upon your military background is a series that I love is his 12 issues on our fighting forces. When he takes over the losers. That’s one of the greatest Cobra books of all time.
John Hughes: I didn’t know about it when I was getting no clue. I didn’t, I don’t read more books, you know, whatever, pass them on the rack. As an adult, a young adult in my twenties, I discovered he did our fighting forces and I’m like, I got to get over it. My favorite artist of all time, and I don’t have this, I got to get a run of our fighting forces and it’s a tough run to get in grade.
Andrew Sumner: Very, very difficult to get. Yeah.
John Hughes: But I got it. And just these personal stories that obviously some stuff is drawn by [00:51:00] experience from his experience and some stuff is just Kirby wackiness, like the comic book Brocket story Panama, fatty You know, I love it. I just wish it would been more Mike Royer, less deep Bruce Barrett.
Andrew Sumner: I may I’m so with you I’m so with you, I think debriefs, Berry isn’t okay. Go. Certainly not the worst Caribbean CA but I mean, Mike Rose the man in terms of just bringing that propulsive beauty of Kirby to the page, you just have to like, feel like you’re getting at source Kirby. But I wasn’t
John Hughes: afraid of a brush.
He wasn’t afraid of heavy line. Oh, you don’t love to heavy line. Yeah. Yeah. Barry is more like, I’m going to trace this
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly. I think you’ve really touched on what works about the losers because it’s, while it is mad cap, Xtreme Kirby, it is also very much Jack’s experience of being in the army, you know?
And the thing is I read a lot of the war books primarily because. My, my biggest pops, the next service Munich bought [00:52:00] me a lot of my comics. He would buy every single woman that, that west. So I’ve got very long runs of Sergeant rock and our fighting forces and geo combat with the horn to tackle those books.
And at the time I remember it’s the same thing happened with the losers, the standard loses funds, who were used to script by Canada and beautiful artwork by John severing, which was amazing by the way, gonna replace
John Hughes: John .
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Yeah. That’s insane to go from, you know, Severin to boom, without any warning, suddenly Kirby’s writing and joined the whole thing.
All the classic war fans. Yeah. They’re all up in arms, you know, this is it’s terrible. Right. But,
John Hughes: There was a subplot about, I think captain storm’s missing girlfriend. Yes. And that’s all anybody seemed to focus on.
Andrew Sumner: Sorry, just garbage, just ignored all the continuity. And it was essentially on pause until those guys came back. But the interesting thing about Canada that for years, I didn’t realize [00:53:00] this for a long time. I assumed, oh, you know, this guy was, was like in the army. In fact, he’s the only on the war books, he was never served, you know, just came up with this funny kind of formula for creating the books.
You know, Cuba was a soldier, all the other guys were, he wasn’t. But so therefore, even though it’s Caribbean, it’s very extreme. There’s an absolute level of emotional reality in it, you know? And,
John Hughes: and just practical reality. He used to do those little one or two page equipment reviews in the back and that were so historically accurate.
You don’t put historically accurate in Jack Kirby in the same sentence very often, but this was, this
Andrew Sumner: was, yeah. I, I agree. I agree, mate. And with, let’s flip back to captain America for a second, what were your other favorite creative runs on captain America?
John Hughes: The, the, no one will stand above Martin Grunewald.
People give him a lot of crap, but he took over [00:54:00] that book. I think we’ve issued 308 and wrote it to almost the bitter end before Mark Wade came on and ignore cat Wolf. Okay. Ignore the superior strategy of where he gets changed into a woman. Take the goofy this out or keep it in. What was Kirby goofy?
This was goofy stuff. This is the guy who gave us USAA agent John Walker, flag smasher crossbones. As a captain America fan, which was Kirby action intrigue, Indiana Jones type cliffhangers and adventures Martin room wall delivered that month after month after month after month. You know, and I, he does not get enough respect as probably the preeminent captain America author behind him, angle heart.
You know, that ankle heart road is classic. It’s G with the exception of Gurrumul, you can’t touch it. [00:55:00] It’s not a mistake that the two greatest stories are kept being replaced by Grunewald and kept quitting by Inglehart because you’ve got a look into why Steve Rogers is captain America, no matter what they do.
I love Sam Wilson, his cap. I love you know, all the different changes. Steve Rogers is captain America. You can’t separate the two. I can give you. I can give you the load outs.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I have a lot to say about the subject and it’s what you’re already saying as it’s fascinating to me for a bunch of reasons.
So please continue. I I’m, I’m dying to hear that,
John Hughes: Post Kirby, Stan Lee and Jean Colin’s run Yon her man brutes. All right. You know, name one memorable story from that run. I challenge you. Maybe
Andrew Sumner: the only interesting thing about runners is the creation of, of the Falcon. You know, that’s [00:56:00] that’s that that’s maybe what I can’t remember was Lee off it by them?
Was it Roy Thomas lead colon?
John Hughes: I’ll give him the Falcon. You know, at that end, it’s interesting that you bring that up because people always, the, the argument about Lee is named one lasting character he created without Jack Kirby, or Steve did go, you just named one or maybe it was Jean Cohen knows. Yeah,
Andrew Sumner: it was almost certainly Jenny Kelgrin.
John Hughes: I’m trying to get stamps after trial. Yeah. There, there is a. And this is you’ve got nerds listening to this podcast, right? Yeah. Okay. There was a point in captain America from like issue 2 39, 2 or whenever. Right before burn came on with Rogers 2 47, those two forties, the 2 30, 2 46. It was filling after filling after I was [00:57:00] a kid and it was my favorite book.
And even I was like, what is happening to this book? It was a low point for sure. You had that classic Punisher cover on 2 41, but the story inside you open it up and it’s Frank switch. It’s just awful awful stories with one little gem in there. And if you guys don’t have this story, you should probably seek it out and find it.
It’s cheap. Two parter. I want to say it was David Anthony Craft, who just left us this week. Unfortunately, a character called Adonis. Yeah, a very cool story. Check that out. If you have it,
Andrew Sumner: you, you have you’ve done. What for me is the almost unthinkable you’ve mentioned the story that I haven’t actually read.
So I’m definitely going to seek that out. That’s a brilliant,
John Hughes: you might remember. It’s got captain America fighting a guy. Who’s got a big piece of machinery. I looked it up eighties, melting guys, like
Andrew Sumner: melting to cover out there. You know, I’ve definitely never read that book.
John Hughes: Really cool. Frank Miller covered.
But you [00:58:00] know, there was a lot of lost opportunities on captain America. Steve Gerber. Who’s probably one of my favorite writers came on and then almost immediately left after growing up his origin.
Andrew Sumner: Oh man. That was awful. Yeah, that was terrible. I couldn’t
John Hughes: What Steve, I love you, but you need help. Yeah, so I, I can go on and on about the captain,
Andrew Sumner: Johnny. I tell you what, so that’s what I love about everything you’ve just said is that you happen to have named the one run on captain America is your absolute favorite that I have always placed in the category of that’s my least favorite iteration of captain America, mark Grunwald.
And you’ve made me, I mean, I know how much of the DNA that was used in Falcon when soldier comes from Greenville, but you’ve made me want to go back in and read it out, which is something nobody’s [00:59:00] ever achieved before
John Hughes: 3 30, 2 to 3 53
Andrew Sumner: sets. Okay. I’ll
John Hughes: that? That’s the captain America, U S agent Argh. And after that, there’s there’s good stuff.
There’s, there’s hidden gems in their streets and poison is a good story. There’s a lot of one-offs. It makes me miss diamond back. Yeah. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her. She was, she was calf’s girlfriend for almost a decade, and now she’s like, you know, God pretty
Andrew Sumner: much. Yeah. Basically inhabiting oblivion.
I I honestly to hear your enthusiasm for this is kind of infectious. So because for me, I I’m it’s, I, you don’t get, you don’t get a bigger fan of captain America than me. You’ll get as big a fan yourself, but certainly, yeah, you won’t find anybody who’s English gloves, captain America, as much as I do, I have discovered over the years, but, but for me in addition to, you know, kind of Simon and Kirby, you [01:00:00] know, link the things that, that the runs that I really love.
One of which you’ve named previously. I love that short seven or eight is your sternum burn. I love that. Hi,
John Hughes: who is going to let them leave the book?
Andrew Sumner: It’s just insane that they billing just ridiculous. So rude. It’s so needless, I remember being absolutely gutted when the news came out that they were leaving.
It’s like, what the hell was going on? I thought we were, I thought we were going to get fantastic four, but on captain America. And actually I did a lot enjoyed the, the stern and Zack books. I thought Zach was great. I liked those. And then my I was a big fan. I was a big fan of Wade and Garney the first incarnation.
Okay. As much
John Hughes: as I love Grunewald and I praise. Wait and Garney was a breath of fresh
Andrew Sumner: air. It was unbelievable.
John Hughes: We are coming from that, you know, mark went out so badly with that cap armor [01:01:00] storyline fighting chance. Oh yeah.
Andrew Sumner: Well, I, I think basically for me, what happened is I think there’s as there is that there’s two iterations of Wade.
Garney, there’s Wade Garney before that dreadful, ridiculous interlude the heroes reborn in instantly to whatever, and that, that comic books. And you read that. I think that hadn’t gone. We’ve just gone from one of the all-time great captain. America runs unexpected, and now we’ve got this what for a year.
And then when the, when they brought Wade and Garney back, I was like, yeah, okay. This is, this is a last, an act of great sense, but I think the mojo is gone when they came back. The second time, it just was never, never in the same league as a, as the original story. They were
John Hughes: sprinting. They were ahead of everyone, the rate, they were going to go through that, a winners tape and someone, someone tripped him and, you know, they had to recover and it wasn’t, it was a shame.
I think that second run that you’re [01:02:00] mentioning. I keep, I always forget about this. And it’s not fair to him. Dan Jurgens did a really cool run on vault volume, two, where he wrote and drew it. And it was, he brought, I think he brought back Donna Maria from the Caribbean time. And it was, it was modernized, but still slam bam.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I think Jurgens is one of those guys who doesn’t really get his Jew. Cause he’s, he’s an amazing journeymen. Sounds like it he’s being fobbed off at fate price, but he’s supremely reliable. I don’t think he’s ever anything covered the nuts and bolts entertaining. And if you, if you go back and you read some like booster gold, that’s a book that shouldn’t work.
I don’t think, but actually. It’s it’s tremendously entertaining. You know, it’s just good comics month after month, very proficient. The other thing I absolutely love and the thing that really pulled me back to captain America pretty much after Wade and Garney returned for [01:03:00] volume two of the time on the book I was then despite my love for the character.
Cat pre-med fall into the ranks of, okay, cap’s my favorite character, but it just can’t get him. Right. And these books are so weak. I don’t want to read them. And I’ve had that experience with many of the other superheroes. I’m sure that you have also, but what pulled me back in and what pulled me back into Marvel actually was the was the Brewbaker acting room, which the guys at gosh comics, this is years before I ever worked for forbidden planet worked with, for Vermont and whatnot.
The guys that got Leah native to gosh, I walked in one day, go look, I’m looking for a new mainstream book to read. I’ve just finished X and I’ve just finished. Y I want to get, you know, one DC or Marvel book on the roster that, what do you think is the best one out there? Yeah, you have to read what pre-bake is doing on captain America.
It’s like 24 and the Marvel universe, which I thought was which was, you know, was that, I know that’s a description that came from Brubeck himself, but he was dead. Right. The minute I started picking up, it was like, holy [01:04:00] fuck. This is captain America. This is the way I want to be. I read it. He killed
John Hughes: Jack Monroe, nomadic, and I wasn’t mad.
Andrew Sumner: He brought
John Hughes: back to life. The biggest taboo. Yeah. And I loved it. Yeah. So yeah, that Brewbaker run is probably the last time I really enjoyed cap. I hung on, you know, I think Nick Spencer finally broke me with the whole hydro thing. I was like, oh,
Andrew Sumner: well we’re on the same page. My eye, the heart, that thing, the whole, that’s a book that should just never have happened.
It’s totally. Pointless
John Hughes: again, it was part of a bigger arc and there was going to be a resolution, but you captured, never be a Nazi. Never, never, never, never, never, never. Never.
Andrew Sumner: Because even if it’s an overarching narrative, you don’t want those books out there to be taken by that lunatic fringe. And it’s because those panels exist and can be used Sean of context to first have that narrative.
I think that’s the problem with doing [01:05:00] that. And that’s why I think it was a very reckless thing to do, particularly when it’s fucking captain America, who, you know, it created by two of the most famous, like Jewish comic creators of all time. What, it’s a fight Nazis. Why the fuck would you do that?
John Hughes: Was there an editor involved?
I mean, I don’t understand. And it’s, we’ve seen cap break this. Programming before we saw it. Tales of suspense. When the red Skol tried to hypnotize him this year does not teach it or attrition of American general. We saw it with the grand director, you know, that storyline, he, he, it doesn’t work on Steve Rogers.
Sorry, don’t do this. I have to look back. I know Tanisha supposedly had a really great run. I have them. I can’t bring myself to go back. I, I, I so old. Andrew. I’m such a funny, I open up these books and I’m like, X-Men have an island of their own. And it’s [01:06:00] just, I can’t do it. I mean, I, I yearn for the old
Andrew Sumner: days.
Yeah. It’s so true though. I mean, what are you in for is and this is why I tend not to read the adventures of the big heroes from the big two companies, as much as I love them. I’m a huge Batman fan. As much as I might use captain America, huge Spiderman. But I like reading definable runs of things with a beginning, a middle and an end without too much universe bleed as well.
That’s the other thing I, when I was a kid, I used to love the fact that Spider-Man is having a fight on a rooftop in Manhattan and Thor’s fine pass. I used to love that, but in the world, in which we live now, the main reason I don’t read X-Men comics anymore is that overarching, massively a soap opera narrative that they have.
It’s just too much for me and crossovers kill my enjoyment. You know, you can’t
John Hughes: jump in and you know, it’s so unfriendly. And another thing that just tells you how far off these iconic characters have [01:07:00] strayed from their original paths, there is a really popular YouTube comic book person who I won’t name, who had a video this week, where he’s talking about, you know, there’s a classic Spider-Man story.
You know, this one where he’s got the, the symbiote costume on, he goes to Reed, Richards finds out it’s a lot. Right. So they get it off of them and you know, he’s in his underwear. So they give them a fantastic four outfit and a paper bag over it. Yeah. And this YouTuber is commenting on it. Like this is the most out of character Spider-Man story ever.
It makes him look stupid, but no, this is the, this is Peter Parker. This is exact.
Andrew Sumner: Oh. And also it’s kind of like half of that is kind of a metaphor Bushman reference. Anyway, you know, it’s like, come on, it’s ticking the boxes. That’s exactly what beats bug. It’s exactly the kind of stuff that happens too. And
John Hughes: it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be funny. Spider-Man ne I don’t know if you guys [01:08:00] are younger audience don’t know this Spiderman is supposed to be a humorous book.
It’s deadly serious. He used a wise crack when he was fighting doc Hawk. He was not married to a supermodel. It’s just, it’s so sad to see how far off the track we are.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And we’ve, we’ve Ark nicely into what I’d like to round out on John, which is in addition, in addition to your incredibly successful record label career you’re actually very active within the YouTube broadcasting and podcasting space.
Like I have my cell phone. Could you just talk us through the different, the different podcasts and YouTube shows that you. Sure.
John Hughes: Music-wise I produce with rich Mehan the, the rhino podcast, every other Wednesday in interviews with different artists, it just runs the gamut. One week. We’ll have Graham Nash the next week we’ll have Debbie Gibson.
So there’s something for everyone on the rhino podcast. I also, co-host a totally [01:09:00] eighties with Lindsey Parker from Yahoo entertainment. Totally eighties. Just what it says on the 10, where you talk eighties, we go deep. We just did a two-parter. I mean, prince proteges, where I defended the Apollonia six album as being actually better than the vanity six album.
So if that, if that floats your boat, that’s a podcast. And then I have bronze and modern gods, which is the accomplished podcast, like goes with Richard my best friend from 30 years. And we rant about comic books, just like you. And I just did for the last 30 minutes and that’s every Monday and Friday.
Andrew Sumner: Fantastic. And all of those shows if you haven’t found more ready, you can find links to them in the show notes for this episode. And that feels to me, John, like, it’s a good point for us to close out this particular conversation. Thanks so much for a talking me through your extremely interesting career at rhino and, and on the music side.
And also thanks for indulging me and talking about captain [01:10:00] America for half an hour, which I could do for three hours. And
I could see that was the case, mine teammate, but I was, I was very interested. Some of the stories about your, your music career. I hadn’t heard before, and I was fascinated to how your, you transitioned from a broadcaster for the army into doing what you do now, which is such an interesting journey. Yeah,
John Hughes: I pretty much unicorn, I
Andrew Sumner: think.
Yeah, absolutely. Well said. And on that note, you take care of yourself. Johnny is it’s great to see you take care and thanks for coming on the show. It’s been great chatting with you. Thank you very much.