David tells me we met at Riot Fest in 2014 though I don’t remember that. My first memory of having David Anthony in my life is the two of us yelling on the phone to each other.
He was the music editor of The AV Club in Chicago at the time. I was an editor at Noisey in New York. Although I’d been working at a music website for a few years by that point, being in the media was never something I aspired to. I was a teetotaler who grew up on punk and learned about music journalism through fanzines. There was no publication whose bylines held any sort of prestige for me. There were no hip media circles of which I wanted to be a part. There were no coked-out industry parties I wanted to be guestlisted for. I just wanted to take that same spirit of the zines I grew up on and apply it to a larger scale. I wanted all the smaller, deserving punk/emo/indie/alternawhatever bands to get the same shot as musicians from decidedly cooler genres. And I wanted it to be done in a smart way, one that came from a place of knowledge and appreciation, not just paying lip service or making jokes out of them. That proved to be a lonely endeavor, though. There weren’t many people out there who shared that vision. Then I met David and I felt less alone.
“Call me when you get home?” One of us would regularly text the other that during the course of a work day. We both knew what it meant. It was code for: This low-paying, thankless job is driving me nuts today, can I let off some steam about it to you tonight? David and I would talk on the phone and vent about industry troubles, whether it was coping with difficult coworkers, the challenge of finding reliable freelancers, threatening incompetent accounting departments, or dealing with premiere requests from pushy publicists. I would pace around my apartment, unloading into the phone while gesticulating angrily, or I would listen to David do the same. I could feel years of built-up tensions lifting off my shoulders after finally being able to gripe about these things to someone who got it.
This was how David and I bonded and became friends. We understood each other from being fellow reluctant travelers of the media landscape and I don’t think it’s too pompous to say that he and I helped push our little slice of indie rock into a more culturally acceptable place.
Eventually David and I had the idea to turn our regular gripe sessions into a podcast so that the world could be privy to the struggles of two media unicorns who had found each other in the wild. Plus there was an alarming dearth of white guys talking to each other in the podcast world. We recorded something like 40 episodes of that show, some better than others. (During one episode we joked that it would be funny if we had a spinoff podcast exclusively dedicated to Pauly Shore called A Shore Thing. It was a throwaway joke, but we recorded seven episodes of it anyway. Because it was funny to us.) As anyone who has put that much effort into a podcast will tell you, it’s draining. Coming up with ideas, recording yourselves, listening to yourselves back, editing yourselves until you hate the sound of your own voice—it’s a lot, especially when the two people are located in different cities. There were times when I didn’t feel like doing it, but even in the most mundane moments, I appreciated the chance to talk to my friend.
David is going in for surgery next week. Even though he has written about it extensively in his newsletter, I’m still not sure what exactly it entails. I know that it’s serious. I know that it’s caused him discomfort. I know that dealing with the procedural logistics has been financially and emotionally draining. I’m excited for it to be over and for him to get back to normal life. We have committed to recording a celebratory episode of our podcast once he’s out of the fog. The mere premise we have planned for it makes me laugh to think about—and it was all David’s idea.
This has been a hard year. I’m eager for it to get a little easier once my friend heals. David, if you’re reading this, see you on the other side, brother. Call me when you get home.
Besides the podcast, I’m just now realizing how many features David and I have collaborated on, with him writing and me as his editor. Here are a few highlights:
This long history of Jud Jud, which I know is David’s pride and joy.
His year-long series examination the influence of punk albums that came out in 1998.
The last thing we worked on together, a profile of Laura Stevenson, in which I made him change the entire intro twice before just going back to what he’d originally written oops sorry David.
I never really paid attention to Drug Church but David wanted to interview Patrick Kindlon about their record CHEER. I said yes fine whatever stop emailing me David. It ended up being one of the best conversations I’ve published. I think about it regularly. I finally gave CHEER a chance this year and I’ve listened to it well over 100 times. I don’t know why I was so resistant.
David also kicked in several editions of my Rank Your Records series, two of which were extremely popular. I felt too close to the subject matter to do one with Laura Jane and David was the only person I trusted with it. He also did one with Jake from Converge in which Jake ranked them chronologically because he believes the band keeps getting better. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention David’s hardest earned one, in which he talked to Tim Kinsella about Joan of Arc’s deep catalog for so long that the two had to break for lunch in the middle.
ALSO: DO YOU WANT A POSTCARD?
Hey speaking of my friends (yes I have friends despite being emotionally dependent and no fun to be around uhh jealous much???), last winter I printed a bunch of photos I’d taken over the year and mailed ‘em to pals. I was thinking of sending out some music-related photo postcards as a thank you to the people kind enough to opt for a paid subscription to REPLY ALT. I’m gonna gather mailing addresses via a paid-subscriber-only email next week, so if you’ve been considering getting a paid subscription, now would be a good time. Hell, for the rest of the month, I will even knock 15% off the subscription price AND you get a postcard AND you get to support some dipshit writer wow what a deal: