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The Trap Set with Joe Wong

Each Episode, Joe Wong speaks to a different musician about life.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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075: Edwin Bonilla (Gloria Estefan, Cachao, Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval)

Edwin Bonilla started his musical journey playing rock and R&B on drum kit, but as a teenager he transitioned to timbales, bongos, and congas. He developed an aggressive, hard-hitting style that brought him to the attention of legends such as: Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandaval, and Stevie Wonder. He is perhaps best known, though, for his decades-long run with Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. Joe caught up with Edwin before a recent performance of Estefan's hit Broadway musical, On Your Feet.

29mins

15 Jun 2016

Rank #1

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221:Danny Carey (Tool, Green Jello, Carole King, Zaum, etc.)

Danny Carey is the rare artist with a wildly ambitious imagination, coupled with the virtuosic ability to manifest his singular ideas. Joe joined Danny at his Hollywood studio for one of our loosest, most freewheeling episodes yet! Danny talks about: growing up in Kansas City; his love of basketball; how his Midwestern work ethic helped him assassinate his competition; his love of Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, and Tony Williams; playing in a country band with Jeff Buckley; the origins and creative dynamic of Tool; and how becoming a father changed his relationship to time. As an added bonus, Tool bassist Justin Chancellor dropped by near the end of the chat.

1hr 11mins

21 Aug 2019

Rank #2

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230: Janet Weiss (Quasi, Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag, Elliott Smith, etc.)

Janet Fucking Weiss! 2019 has been an eventful year for Janet Weiss. She left Sleater-Kinney after a twenty-four year run and soon after suffered a major car accident. Janet tells Joe about growing up in LA; discovering drumming in San Francisco; finding an artistic community in Portland; the creative dynamic of Quasi; the emotional vulnerability required to be a great collaborator; what she loved about playing in Sleater-Kinney; why she left Sleater-Kinney; and her hopes and dreams. It’s Janet Fucking Weiss, folks. Do it up!

1hr 34mins

20 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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270: Duncan Trussell (The Midnight Gospel, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour)

Today's guest is Duncan Trussell--comic, host of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, and co-creator of the stunning new Netflix Series The Midnight Gospel. (Joe composed the score for the show!) Duncan and Joe discuss: meeting at just the right time; collaborating on the music for The Midnight Gospel; temporal neighbors; how certain childhood trauma can lead to a heightened sense of empathy; mystic searching; baby flips; and more! Make sure to celebrate 4/20 by watching The Midnight Gospel on Netflix! During the age of social distancing, we're releasing daily episodes.

1hr 53mins

20 Apr 2020

Rank #4

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095: Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Wellwater Conspiracy)

Matt Cameron burst onto the Seattle rock scene in the early 80s. His singular style combines brute force, exceptional finesse, and a keen compositional sensibility. Matt  tells Joe about his SoCal childhood; why--despite a lot of hard work--he considers himself lucky; his tenure with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam; his parenting style; and why he doesn’t think of himself as a rock star. This is a great talk with one of best drummers working today!

48mins

2 Nov 2016

Rank #5

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113: Damon Che (Don Caballero)

As drummer for the highly influential band Don Caballero, Damon Che established himself as one of the most unique and beloved drummers of his generation. But, in 2009, his "creative window" closed; and he stopped playing. He tells Joe about his musical roots, what he's been up to during his hiatus, giving up alcohol, working a day job, and returning to music as a session musician. He also tells his side of the now infamous "Bellini Incident" and reflects on the creative dynamic of Don Cab. Make sure to listen to his bonus episode next week, wherein he answers listener questions!

59mins

8 Mar 2017

Rank #6

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045: Matt Chamberlain (Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Soundgarden, Critters Buggin, etc.)

One of the most compelling and versatile drummers working today, Matt Chamberlain has collaborated with everyone from David Bowie to Soundgarden; from Keith Urban to of Montreal. He tells Joe about the obsession with music that began while he was still in diapers, why he was compelled to seek musical mentors, and how he has come to embody the new paradigm of creative studio musicians.

33mins

25 Nov 2015

Rank #7

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114: Butch Vig (Garbage, Fire Town, Spooner)

Butch Vig began his career drumming with various polka outfits and rock bands like Spooner and Fire Town. Also a prolific producer, Butch recorded Nirvana's breakthrough "Nevermind", along with landmark albums for bands like Sonic Youth, Die Kreuzen, and Smashing Pumpkins. Not content to stay behind the mixing desk, he also co-founded the massively popular band Garbage. He tells Joe about growing up in Viroqua, WI; developing his musical ear; navigating through conflict; and creative reinvention.

54mins

15 Mar 2017

Rank #8

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014: Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantomas, Philm)

Joe talks to Dave Lombardo about co-founding the groundbreaking metal band Slayer, his experience as the son of a Cuban butcher living the American Dream, his Latin Jazz influences, and expanding his horizons with Fantomas, John Zorn, and Philm.

32mins

29 Apr 2015

Rank #9

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041: John Stanier (Battles, Helmet, Tomahawk)

John Stanier first burst onto the rock scene in the late 80s, as founding drummer of Helmet. He charts the course of that band's decade long run, which included mainstream, multi-platinum success but ended in acrimony. He tells Joe about the musical evolution that led him to his current band, Battles; and he explains why--despite his previous success--he was willing to start over and sleep on floors in order to help build the band from the ground up.

33mins

28 Oct 2015

Rank #10

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032: Fred Armisen (8G Band, Trenchmouth, SNL, Portlandia)

You know Fred Armisen from his work on Portlandia and SNL, but before he was a comedy star, Fred was a working drummer. He charts the journey from his early fascination with music, to his time touring and recording with arty Chicago band Trenchmouth, to Blue Man Group, SNL, The 8G Band and beyond. Fred also discusses the nature of his creative drive and his relationship with success.

33mins

26 Aug 2015

Rank #11

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141: Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot, Bombastic Meatbats)

Chad Smith's unabashed hard rock style could have easily clashed with the funk-punk roots of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but instead he proved to be the catalyst that launched the band to international superstardom. His muscular, yet articulate drumming evokes a cross between P-Funk and Deep Purple and acts as the perfect anchor for the bestial rowdiness of his band mates. Chad grew up in suburban Detroit, feeling like a square peg in a round hole. This unease led to misadventures in car theft, burglary, and even a stint in jail. Musically, he cut his teeth playing in countless Detroit clubs before moving to Los Angeles in 1988, during the Sunset Strip's heyday. He describes the immediate, explosive musical chemistry that has allowed the multi-decade success of the Chili Peppers. Chad also candidly discusses his evolution from living a “spiritually bankrupt” lifestyle to becoming a grounded, healthy family man.

53mins

27 Sep 2017

Rank #12

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244: Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta, At The Drive-In, De Facto, etc.)

Cedric Bixler-Zavala is best known as the explosive vocalist for bands like The Mars Volta and At The Drive-In, but he is also an accomplished drummer. He and Joe discuss: a punk rock video arcade in El Paso, TX; drumming in punk band Foss with Beto O'Rourke; the unique story behind his surname; selling bootlegged cigarettes on tour to make ends meet, just before experiencing explosive success; 90s punk dogma; and the lifelong creative dynamic between himself and his creative brother, Omar Rodríguez-López. As a bonus, Craig Wedren, who happens to be a creative influence on both Joe and Cedric, drops by to talk about his meditative Sabbath Sessions. Because we're in lockdown due to the Corona virus outbreak. We're recording by phone and bringing you new episodes of The Trap Set every day for the foreseeable future.

1hr 8mins

22 Mar 2020

Rank #13

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134: Roland & Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)

Roland, Steve Albini, and Joe discuss: Big Black, Shellac, the "Uberization" of the workforce, the Jungle of Life, and the one true God above.

49mins

9 Aug 2017

Rank #14

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010: Dale Crover (Melvins, Altamont, Nirvana)

Joe talks to Dale Crover about innate confidence when approaching the drums, his three decade--and counting--run as drummer for The Melvins, playing with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, baseball, marriage, and parenthood.

30mins

1 Apr 2015

Rank #15

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187: Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks, UK, Genesis, Bruford)

Bill Bruford’s instantly identifiable sound and brilliant sense of composition made him the defining drummer of the progressive rock movement; but at age 60, after four decades in the music business, Bill unceremoniously walked away. Bill tells Joe about: being a young jazz elitist; "leveraging himself sideways" from an upper-middle class family to the seedy life of a musician; doing a lot with “a modest amount of talent”; the creative dynamics of Yes and King Crimson; how he achieved his signature snare sound; retirement; and earning a doctorate from The University of Surrey. During the course of the conversation, Joe and Bill also christen a new band, Wongford. This is a can’t-miss episode with one of the all-time greats.

1hr 8mins

10 Oct 2018

Rank #16

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083: Mac McNeilly (The Jesus Lizard)

With a massive sound and a pummeling groove, Mac McNeilly served as the anchor for the compellingly bizarre, highly influential band The Jesus Lizard. At the peak of his powers (and popularity), he walked away from it all to focus on his family. He tells Joe about childhood chicanery; the machinations of The Jesus Lizard; and what he learned about his core identity after leaving the band.

35mins

10 Aug 2016

Rank #17

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169: Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage)

Rage Against the Machine is an exceptionally rare band that managed to combine a radical, populist message with massive popular success. At the core of the band is Brad Wilk's drumming, which combines an explosive groove and hypnotic use of space. Brad visits The Trap Set to discuss: his formative love of Van Halen; Studying with David Garibaldi; the creative dynamic of RATM, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage; playing flute; his family's roots in the jewelry business; parenting; a nine month love affair with cocaine; and his growing interest in meditation. Finally, he answers listeners' questions.

1hr 16mins

30 May 2018

Rank #18

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159: Joey Castillo (Wasted Youth, Sugartooth, QotSA, Eagles of Death Metal, Zakk Sabbath)

Joey Castillo grew up in Gardena, CA, and he found an early musical home in the vital Southern California punk scene of the early 80s. Joey's unique style combines the frenetic energy of punk with a strong sense of swing and tasteful restraint. He tells Joe about growing up in a multi-generational home; seeing his punk heroes up close; developing his own musical personality; letting his instincts guide him through life; and his thoughts on becoming a dad. Tune in next week for a bonus episode, featuring Joey's answers to your questions!

50mins

14 Mar 2018

Rank #19

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040: Reggie Watts (Late Late Show, Maktub, Solo Artist)

Reggie Watts talks to Joe about growing up in Montana, psychedelic drugs, the spirit of jazz, leading the Late Late Show Band on CBS, virtual reality, and returning to Montana to create Utopian creative compound.

49mins

21 Oct 2015

Rank #20