Mac McCaughan (Superchunk) Talks with Amber Tamblyn on the Talkhouse Podcast

The pals talk pandemic, Yo La Tengo, and much more.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a couple of friends who both happen to have new but very different projects out this month: Amber Tamblyn and Mac McCaughan.

Tamblyn is an actor-writer-director-poet-activist with a wildly diverse resume. She may be best known for roles on Joan of Arcadia and Two and a Half Men, but that’s only the tip of a pretty incredible iceberg. She’s written well received books of poetry—including 2015’s Dark Sparkler. She directed the 2016 film Paint it Black, which features a score by today’s other guest. She’s one of the founders of the Time’s Up movement and the author of a book about feminism and activism called Era of Ignition. And now she’s starring the FX/Hulu adaptation of the comic book Y: The Last Man, in which every man on earth suddenly dies—except one. It’s pretty awesome so far, and she’s great in it.

Mac McCaughan also wears many hats, chiefly as singer-guitarist of the long-running band Superchunk and co-owner of the righteously vaunted independent record label Merge. During the pandemic—after suffering a sort-of writer’s block—McCaughan wrote and recorded a solo album, though he didn’t exactly do it alone. The Sound of Yourself features a bunch of guests that Mac wrangled over the internet—one of the only good uses for that damn thing—including Mackenzie Scott of Torres, Michael Lerner of Telekinesis, and many more. It’s a quietly contemplative record that mixes McCaughan’s perfect pop with some more ambient instrumental passages—something he and Tamblyn talk about in this podcast.

Elsewhere in this lively conversation, we get to hear about how Mac and Amber didn’t quite cross paths during the pandemic, when he graciously loaned his house to Amber, her husband David Cross, and their young daughter. They also chat about writer’s block, and whether that exists, what it was like for Tamblyn to play an ultra-conservative in Y The Last Man, and their other recent projects, which include the score for Amy Poehler’s movie Moxie (for Mac), and a bunch of new books (for Amber). They also connect about ambient music and the sheer power of Bob Mould. Enjoy.

This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Oona McCaughan; right, Zack Whedon; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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