Nick Lowe Talks with Matthew Houck (Phosphorescent) on the Talkhouse Podcast

Houck needs no convincing to love Lowe's album The Convincer.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got a little more focused conversation than usual, as Matthew Houck—the driving force behind the band Phosphorescent—chats with legendary songwriter Nick Lowe, largely about Lowe’s recently reissued 2001 album The Convincer.

Even if Nick Lowe’s name isn’t super familiar to you, some of his songs almost certainly are. He’s had an incredible career that stretches back to the late 1960s, with his biggest mainstream moment coming via his dear friend Elvis Costello, who covered Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” and made it a hit. Lowe also produced Costello’s first five albums, as well as a bunch of other classic British records, in addition to his solo work and his time with the band Rockpile.

Today’s conversation is focused largely on Lowe’s 2001 album The Convincer, which was something of an artistic rebirth for him. He wanted to age gracefully and continue to challenge himself, which he did with a trilogy of albums that ended with this one. It’s a beautifully written and performed set of songs that didn’t set the commercial world on fire, but which has quietly found its way into many people’s hearts over the past two decades.

The song “I’m A Mess” is the reason for this conversation. Matthew Houck, who has been making incredible music of his own under the name Phosphorescent since the early aughts, is an obsessive fan of The Convincer, so much so that he’s been working on a cover of “I’m A Mess.” A mutual friend of Houck and Lowe’s sent Lowe a copy of the song, which isn’t available yet, and they chat about it here. The most recent Phosphorescent release is the BBC Sessions EP, and it strips a set of Houck’s songs down to their barest essentials—much of his studio material is far more gussied up, and this is a great chance to hear them naked.

As you’ll hear in this conversation, Houck is a huge fan of Lowe’s, and specifically of The Convincer. They get into specifics about a bunch of the songs—and you’ll find out if Lowe agrees that this was indeed his finest hour. You’ll also hear about how The Bodyguard soundtrack changed Lowe’s fortunes forever, how his onetime girlfriend Margot Kidder made her way into a song, and how Wilco helped him win fans in Indianapolis. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Nick Lowe and Matthew Houck for chatting. If you like what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting services and social media outlets. This week’s episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by The Range. See you next time!

(Feature photos courtesy of the artists, edited by Keenan Kush.)

Talkhouse curates musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields to speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events. The Talkhouse Podcast offers listeners a unique insight into the creative work of creators across all genres and generations. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes.