cover art for Episode 159: Mike Dillon & Punkadelick's Inflorescence

Across the Margin: The Podcast

Episode 159: Mike Dillon & Punkadelick's Inflorescence

This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with prolific percussionist, vibraphonist, bandleader, and vocalist Mike Dillon. How many artists have been praised as a “punk rock provocateur,” “jazz  vibraphone visionary,” and “percussion virtuoso”? There’s only one: Mike Dillon. Whether through his affiliation with artists like Les Claypool of Primus, Rickie Lee Jones, Dean Ween Group, and Ani Difranco, and collaborations such as Nolatet, Garage a Trois, The Dead Kenny G's, Critters Buggin, or bands he has led, including Mike Dillon Band, Mike Dillon's New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium, Billy Goat, and Hairy Apes BMX, the Texas-native has set his own standard for three decades now. Over the past decade, Mike Dillon has released a number of acclaimed albums, intertwining a range of influences from Zappa-esque eccentricity to Fishbone punk funk, D.C. Go-Go to Milt Jackson-influenced vibraphone majesty. His latest project, a trio that goes by the name Punkadelick, features Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) on Fender Rhodes, piano, bass Moog and melodica, and Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Nth Power) on drums, cymbals, and vocals. Punkadelick’s latest album, Inflorescence, is an expansive 10-track collection, focused and fearless, representing a world where Duke Ellington and Augustus Pablo rub shoulders with crate-digger exotica, the freak-funk of Parliament, and the 'anything fits' outsider ethos of acid-fried punks like The Meat Puppets. In this episode host Michael Shields and Mike Dillon discuss the genesis of Punkadelick and what it’s like creating music with phenomenal talents such as Brian Haas and Nikki Glaspie. They discuss the botanical influence behind the album’s title, life on the road amid their current tour, the forthcoming tour with Les Claypool and The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, and so much more.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Episode 191: Murder Ballads with Santi Elijah Holley

    This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast features an interview with journalist and essayist Santi Elijah Holley who covers music, books, culture, and religion. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, VICE, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the author of an excellent 33 ⅓ book which is the focus of this episode, a deep dive into Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads. Murder Ballads, the ninth studio album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, is a gruesome, blood-splattered reimagining of English ballads, American folk and blues music, and classic literature. Most of the stories told on Murder Ballads have been interpreted many times, but never before had they been so graphic or profane. Though earning the band their first Parental Advisory warning label, Murder Ballads, released in 1996, brought Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds their biggest critical and commercial success, thanks in part to the award-winning single, “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” an unlikely duet with Australian pop singer, Kylie Minogue. Closely examining each of the ten songs on the album, Santi Elijah Holley investigates the stories behind the songs, and the numerous ways these ballads have been interpreted through the years. Murder Ballads is a tour through the evolution of folk music, and a journey into the dark secrets of American history. Learn more about it and Santi Elijah Holley’s book in this episode!Grab a copy of Murder Ballads by Santi Elijah Holley here! 
  • Episode 190: Your Wild and Precious Life with Liz Jensen

    This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with novelist and activist Liz Jensen, Liz’s critically-acclaimed work spans black comedy, science fiction, satire, family drama, historical fantasy, psychological suspense, and most recently, a memoir. Beyond her prolific writing output, Liz is a founder member of Extinction Rebelion Writers Rebel, a literary movement using words and actions to highlight the climate and ecological emergency, and in 2023 she launched The Rebel Library, a resource for readers of climate and ecological literature in all genres. She also teaches creative writing in the UK and Denmark and volunteers on the grief helpline run by the Danish National Grief Centre. In her recent memoir, Your Wild And Precious Life: On Grief, Hope and Rebellion (Canongate, 2024) — the focus of this episode — she shares her reflections on personal and ecological grief and finding resilience after the tragic sudden death of her son Raphael in 2020. Liz’s son's death will never make sense to her. But it has taught her that it's possible to find meaning, collectively and individually, in the loss of what we love. Resilience, Liz believes, is a seed that we all bear inside us. It germinates in emergencies. It sets down roots in astonishing and unexpected ways. And if we notice it, and tend to it, it blooms. Liz’s son, a zoologist, conservationist, and ecological activist, was twenty-five when he collapsed and died unexpectedly. She fell apart. As she grieved, forest fires raged, coral reefs deteriorated, CO2 emissions rose, and fossil fuels burned. Your Wild and Precious Life is the story of how a mother rebuilt herself, reoriented her life, and rediscovered the enchantment of the living world. Set against the backdrop of climate and ecological catastrophe, Your Wild and Precious Life is an argument for agency, legacy, and the wild possibility of hope after devastation. Liz’s book is so very special and so many things all at once. It’s a deeply honest handbook encompassing the grief one experiences when they suffer profound loss. It’s a loving ode from a mother to a son. It’s a celebration of activism and a call to action. It’s a story of resilience, and proof that it’s possible to find life beyond the pain. 
  • Episode 189: How Coppola Became Cage with Zach Schonfeld

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Zach Schonfeld, a freelance writer, journalist, and critic based in New York. He contributes to Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, and other publications. He was formerly a senior writer for Newsweek, where he was on staff for five years. His first book, 24-Carat Black's Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth was published in 2020 as part of the 33 1/3 series. His latest book — entitled How Coppola Became Cage — is the focus of this episode. In 1982, a gangly teenager named Nicolas Coppola made his film debut and changed his name to Nicolas Cage, determined to distance himself from his famous family. Once he achieved stardom as the rebel hunk of 1983's Valley Girl, Cage began a career defined by unorthodox risks and left turns that put him at odds with the stars of the Brat Pack era. How Coppola Became Cage takes readers behind the scenes of the beloved cult movies that transformed this unknown actor into an eccentric and uncompromising screen icon with a wild-eyed gift for portraying weirdos, outsiders, criminals-and even a romantic capable of seducing Cher. Throughout How Coppola Became Cage Zach Schonfeld traces Cage's rise through the world of independent cinema and chronicles the stories behind his career-making early performances, from the method masochism of Birdy to the operatic torment of Moonstruck and abrasive expressionism of Vampire's Kiss, culminating with the astonishing pathos of Leaving Las Vegas. Drawing on more than 100 new interviews with Cage's key collaborators — including David Lynch, Martha Coolidge, John Patrick Shanley, and Mike Figgis — How Coppola Became Cage offers a revealing portrait of Cage's wildly intense devotion to his performances and his creative self-discovery as he drew on influences as far-flung as silent cinema and German Expressionism. These were all crucial ingredients in the creation of a singular acting style that rejects the limits of realism. Join in as host Michael Shields and Zach Schonfeld celebrate an actor that Ethan Hawke describes as “the only actor in the history of the form to really change the form” while invoking David Lynch to describe Cage as “the jazz musician of actors,” in an episode that is as Nic Cage as they come.
  • Episode 188: This Is Hardcore with Jane Savidge

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with the author of the 33 ⅓ book dedicated to the legendary Britpop band Pulp’s renowned album This is Hardcore, Jane Savidge. As co-founder and co-head of legendary PR company Savage & Best, Jane Savidge is widely credited as being one of the main instigators of the Britpop movement that swept the UK in the mid 1990s. During this time, Savage & Best represented Suede, Pulp, The Verve, Elastica and Longpigs, whilst representing many other artists of the era including the Cranberries, The Fall, and Jesus and Mary Chain. She is the author of Lunch With The Wild Frontiers (2019) and Here They Come With Their Make Up On: Suede, Coming Up and More Adventures Beyond The Wild Frontiers (2022). This Is Hardcore is Pulp's cry for help. A giant, sprawling, flawed masterpiece of a record, the 1998 album manages to tackle some of the most inappropriate grown-up issues of the day – fame, aging, mortality, drugs, and pornography – and still come out crying and laughing on the other side. In this episode host Michael Shields and Jane Savidge dig into the weighty themes present in This is Hardcore revolving around fame, aging, success, and pornography. They expound upon the “Michael Jackson Incident” which propelled lead singer Jarvis Cocker to unfathomable fame, how Jarvis used music and the crafting of This is Hardocre as catharsis for his real life struggles, what the final legacy of Pulp might be, and ultimately they celebrate a 33 ⅓ book that serves as a love letter to a remarkable album.Grab a copy of Jane Savidge’s This is Hardcore here!
  • Episode 187: Ahead of the Curve with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow, co-directors of the critically-acclaimed documentary Ahead of the Curve which chronicles the career of lesbian-rights icon Franco Stevens who launched Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine ever published. Against the hostile backdrop of hate crimes and family rejection in the 1990s, with few celebrities or politicians willing to be out publicly, Curve magazine dared to celebrate a full, inclusive range of lesbians, queer women, and nonbinary people, seeding some of the most pressing conversations around LGBTQ+ community today. Growing up, Franco never saw any representation of queer women — she didn’t even know it was possible for a woman to be gay. When she realized she was a lesbian, it changed the course of her life. In 1990, Franco created a safe place for lesbians in the form of Curve magazine. Her approach to threats and erasure in the ‘90s was to highlight all kinds of LGBTQ+ women and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build the foundation for the movements being led by today’s queer activists. In this episode host Michael Shields, Jen Rainin, and Rivkah Beth Medow dig deeply into what the existence of Curve magazine meant to lesbians and the lesbian community while marveling about the obstacles and adversities Franco Stevens navigated bringing Curve to life. They discuss the controversy and complexities surrounding the word “lesbian,” a dispute concerning the name of the magazine which almost brought the publication down, the important work of The Curve Foundation, and, ultimate, they celebrate the profoundly inspiring legacy of Franco Stevens and the magazine she created which meant so much to countless people.
  • Episode 186: She's a Badass with Katherine Yeske Taylor

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with music journalist and author Katherine Yeske Taylor. Taylor began her career as a rock critic in Atlanta in the 1990s, interviewing Georgia musical royalty such as the Indigo Girls, R.E.M., and the Black Crowes while still a teenager. Since then, she has conducted several hundred interviews and contributes regularly to Billboard, Flood, Spin, and American Songwriter, among others. She is a longtime New York City resident and is extremely active in the downtown rock scene. Her book, She’s a Badass: Women in Rock Shaping Feminism, is the focus of this episode. Feminism has always been a complex and controversial topic, as female rock musicians know especially well. When they’ve stayed true to their own vision, these artists have alternately been adored as role models or denounced as bad influences. Either way, they’re asked to cope with certain pressures that their male counterparts haven’t faced. With each successive feminism movement since the 1960s, women in rock have been prominent proponents of progress as they’ve increasingly taken control of their own music, message, and image. This, in its way, is just as revolutionary as any protest demonstration. In She’s a Badass, Taylor interviews twenty significant women in rock, devoting an entire chapter to each one, taking an in-depth look at the incredible talent, determination — and, often, humor — they needed to succeed in their careers (and life). Interviewees range from legendary artists through notable up-and-comers, including Ann Wilson (Heart), Gina Schock (The Go-Go’s), Suzanne Vega, Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Orianthi, Amanda Palmer, and more. Their experiences reveal the varied and unique challenges these women have faced, how they overcame them, and what they think still needs to be done to continue making progress on the equality front. Their stories prove that promoting feminism — either through activism or by living example — is undeniably badass. In this episode Michael Shields and Katherine Yeske Taylor talk about the inspiring and eclectic interview subjects found in She’s a Badass while considering all the varying struggles they each have faced in a male-dominated music industry. They discuss how feminism has always been a complex and complicated topic, the attributes that propelled the passionate musicians in Taylor’s book to success, the importance of ally-ship, and so much more. 
  • Episode 185: California Dreaming with Noa Silver

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with author Noa Silver, who was born in Jerusalem, raised between Scotland and Maine, and now resides in Berkeley, California. After receiving her BA in English and American literature and language from Harvard University, Noa lived and taught English as a Second Language on Namdrik — part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the smallest inhabited atoll in the world. She later completed her MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University and then worked as an editor on various oral history projects, ranging from an archive documenting the Partition of India and Pakistan to a cancer researcher telling the stories of trauma experienced by cancer survivors. Her debut novel, California Dreaming — the focus of this episode — will be available everywhere on May 21st, 2024. In California Dreaming, we find Elena Berg, having grown up on stories of her mother's wild youth in California, relocating from New England to the Bay Area in 2011 for a placement as an English teacher with Teach for America. Once there, she is eager to inspire a love of poetry and literature in her diverse but underprivileged students. Her own grandfather — a Holocaust survivor — was a storyteller and teacher who touched the lives of his students for years to come. Elena’s mother followed in his footsteps, leaving behind the hippie lifestyle of her twenties to become a university professor.But Elena quickly finds herself feeling disconnected from teaching, unable to inspire her students, and before long, she grows disillusioned with her career. Coming of age between the Occupy and #MeToo movements and against the backdrop of the 2016 election and California's ever-worsening fire season, Elena reckons with California as she imagined it, and California as it really is. As she does so, she must also ultimately reconcile the person she envisioned herself to be with the person she actually is.California Dreaming is a robust debut in literary fiction. It is an earnest story that encourages readers to think about how we make meaning in our lives, and how the stories we tell ourselves influence the ways in which we see the world — and our place in it.
  • Episode 184: Holy American Burnout! with Sean Enfield

    This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Sean Enfield, an essayist, poet, bassist, and educator from Dallas, TX. Currently, he resides in Milwaukee, WI where he is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Permafrost Magazine. Now, he serves as an Assistant Nonfiction Editor at His essays have been nominated for three Pushcarts and he was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered as a finalist for their Three Minute Fiction contest. His debut essay collection, Holy American Burnout!, — the focus of this episode — was the runner-up for the Ann Petry Award, a finalist for The Megaphone Prize, a finalist for River Teeth’s Literary Nonfiction Book Prize, and is available now. Threading his experiences both as a Texan student and later as a first-year teacher of predominantly Muslim students at a Texas middle school, Holy American Burnout! weaves personal essay and cultural critique into the historic fabric of Black and biracial identity. In it, Enfield intersects examinations of which voices are granted legitimacy by virtue of school curriculum, the complex relationship between basketball and education for Black and brown students, his students’ burgeoning political consciousness during the 2016 presidential campaign, and cultural figures ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Hamlet. These classroom narratives abounding in Holy American Burnout! weave around Enfield’s own formative experiences contending with a conflicted biracial family lineage, reenacting the Middle Passage as the only Black student in his 7th grade history class, and moshing in both Christian and secular hardcore pits. As Enfield wrestles with the physical, mental, and emotional burdens that American society places on educators, students, and all relatively conscious minorities in this country, he reaches for an education that better navigates our burnt-out empire.
  • Episode 183: The Last Repair Shop with Ben Proudfoot

    This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with Ben Proudfoot, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker most noted as the director of The Queen of Basketball, winner of the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. With co-director Kris Bowers he also brought to life the short documentary film A Concerto Is a Conversation, which was an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. His latest documentary, The Last Repair Shop — the focus of this episode — was the recipient of the 2024 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Once commonplace in the United States, today Los Angeles is by far the largest and one of the last American cities to provide free and freely repaired musical instruments to its public schoolchildren, a continuous service since 1959. The Last Repair Shop grants an all access pass to the nondescript downtown warehouse where a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople keep over 80,000 student instruments in good repair and in it the film blends the unexpectedly intimate personal histories of the repair people with emotional, firsthand accounts from the actual student musicians for whom their instruments made all the difference. In this episode host Michael Shields and Ben Proudfoot expound upon what music and access to instruments means to the lives of the children in Los Angeles while considering how the power of music has changed the lives of those who passionately labor in the repair shop. They talk about how the promise of the American Dream manifests itself within the documentary, the message of hope that is abounding in the film, and so much more. Ultimately this episode celebrates an inspiring documentary that serves as a passionate love letter to Los Angeles and to those unsung heroes who gave countless others the gift of music. This is an episode that pays tribute to a truly unique program that has produced countless legends from John Williams to Kendrick Lamar.Watch The Last Repair Shop here!