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Marc Maron on Breakup Songs and His New Addiction

Marc Maron / Photo by Brian Kelly

“I’m buying vinyl like it’s crack right now,” says veteran stand-up comedian and podcast pro Marc Maron, speaking on the phone from his Los Angeles home. “So this is definitely a good time to have this conversation.” It’s also just about the only time available. Maron has been busy the last few years with his twice-weekly WTF podcast, which features intensely personal, oft-hilarious conversations with stars from the worlds of comedy and music. 2013 is shaping to be no less hectic, as the 49-year-old will debut his original comedy series Maron on IFC as well as unleash his as-yet-untitled memoir, to be published by Spiegel & Grau. More immediately, the former Air America host is taking the podcast and his standup on the road for Out Of The Garage Tour, which kicks off January 10 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Before that, though, Maron chatted about the music that has shaped his life.

What was the first record you bought with your own money?
I believe it was the Beatles second album [With The Beatles] and a Mountain greatest hits. I just became obsessed with “Roll Over Beethoven” when I was little. It took me a bit to get to the [original] Chuck Berry version.

What was the first concert you went to?
My parents took me to see Sonny & Cher. Oh, they also took me to see Peter Frampton on the Frampton Comes Alive Tour. Those were probably the first ones.

How about the last concert you went to?
I don’t go out a lot but I saw Fountains of Wayne recently because my girlfriend wanted to see them. [FoW’s] Adam [Schlesinger) was recently on the podcast. Unless I get good seating it gets to be a drag to be smashed in and uncomfortable. I’ve always been like that. A concert from the nosebleed seats is just stupid. I need to see what’s happening.

If you could curate a festival and put anyone on the bill, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Judging by my musical tastes I’d have to put AC/DC with Bon Scott, that would be awesome to see. Hmm, that’s sort of a tough question. I’d go with Peter Green and the original Fleetwood Mac lineup and Janis Joplin would be great. It would also be amazing to see the 1970 Stooges, too. That’d be an amazing night of music. You’d be fucking exhausted by the end!

Whose music has helped you over a breakup?
When my second marriage fell apart there was definitely some music that helped me out. There’s something about listening to music that’s moving and sad that enables you to focus the sort of hopeless feelings that you have and carries you through them. I found myself listening to that Maria McKee song, “If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags)” That song is killer. Also David Bowie’s “Heroes” and some Tom Petty. I think Petty is a good go-to guy if you need to cheer up a bit but don’t want to overdo it.

What was the last thing you listened to before going to bed and the first thing you listened to when you woke up?
I gave a run to Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World last night and then later this morning because I just got it on vinyl so I’ve been checking that shit out. I also just got The Who’s Live at Leeds recently and that was the very first thing I put on today.

Have you always been a vinyl guy?
I’ve always had a record player around with a Yamaha receiver and some little speakers and I thought they were pretty good. Turns out they were shit. I went to Nashville to interview Jack White at Third Man Studios and he’s got this one room with this wall of tube amps. I was like, “Fuck man I’m not Jack White but I could certainly afford one of those things.” Turns out they’re about $12,000. If I bought even one I could never enjoy it, I’d just sit around and ask myself if it sounded like $12,000. So I ended up buying some other things that were a bit less expensive.

What are some records you loved when you were younger that you’re hearing again now?
Oh man, a lot of shit. I went on a mad goose chase for ZZ Top’s Rio Grande Mud. I had that one as a kid and I needed to fill out my pre-beard ZZ Top records from when I was young and they sound spectacular now!

For your new vinyl, are you shopping online or going into stores?
A little of both. I mostly go to record stores. I’m that guy again. Like when I was 14 and hanging around record stores nonstop talking to whatever idiot was working there. There are two stores that have recently opened up real close to my house and I’ll go to one of them every day that I’m home.

Every single day?
Yeah man. It’s like a crack house.