Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom) Talks with Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers) on the Talkhouse Podcast

“My first album was made for $60, which was the cost of mastering a cassette tape.”

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got two incredible singer-songwriters who sprung from the same fertile late ’80s/early ’90s scene, and who are still doing it right all these years later: Joe Pernice and Bill Janovitz.

Joe Pernice first found notice in the country-ish pop band Scud Mountain Boys, whose home-recorded songs landed them a deal with Sub Pop in the mid-1990s. The Scuds weren’t around super long, but their end was the beginning of the Pernice Brothers, Joe’s long-running band that continues to put out excellent, often melancholy songs. The latest Pernice Brothers album—and by the way, he’s really the only constant member at this point—is called Who Will You Believe, and it stands up there with his incredibly durable catalog. In addition to writing and playing songs, Pernice wrote a great novel a while back called It Feels So Good When I Stop, and he even had a short stint writing for TV. But for now, he’s concentrating on music. Check out “December in Her Eyes” from Who Will You Believe.

The other half of today’s conversation, Bill Janovitz, has been the singer and guitar player for the band Buffalo Tom since their inception back in 1986, and while there have been quieter periods in there, they’ve consistently released records, including the new Jump Rope, which comes out on May 31. Buffalo Tom came out of the same incredible Boston/Amherst music scene that birthed Pernice Brothers, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and many more, and these guys dive right into reminiscing about those fertile days. In addition to making music, Janovitz is also something of a rock historian, having written the comprehensive Leon Russell book in recent years, as well as a volume on The Rolling Stones. His next book is about The Cars, which these guys talk about during this chat as well. Check out “Helmet” from the upcoming album Jump Rope right here.

Like I said, these guys dive back into the Boston days, talking about mutual friends and collaborators like J Mascis and David Berman of Silver Jews. They also try to remember their first encounters, one of which involves Pernice being a little ornery, and they talk about selecting songs for records—and how they never know which ones people are going to react to. Enjoy.

0:00 – Intro
2:46 – Start of the chat
7:37 – Joe’s legendary cousin
12:15 – Joe walks out of college and has “a mild nervous breakdown”
18:20 – “When did you meet [David] Berman?”
23:58 – “My first album was made for $60.”
31:01 – Berman wants to hear Joe say the word “cocksucker.”
42:12 – Craft versus hack, and writing for TV and film

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Joe Pernice and Bill Janovitz for chatting. If you like what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and make sure to check out all the goodness at This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Kelly Davidson; right, Colleen Nicholson; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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