Jam Crack Podcast Article

© Niall Grimes

We asked Niall Grimes to give us a run down of his favourite podcasts that he has recorded, since he started the popular 'Jam Crack' series last year.

Do you ever meet somebody – well, not even meet them necessarily, even just be in the same room as them or see them hanging out with other people at Fontainebleau or something like that – and take an instant unredeemable dislike to them? A deep, instinctual turn-off from their demeanour and look, so that right there and then you decide you will never like them nor most likely even bring yourself to look them in the eye?

I get that. And over the years it has been my depressing realisation that the people who spark this reaction in me the most will, upon closer examination, come to reveal themselves as the people who remind me of me?

So rest assured: I have many annoying habits, and these annoy nobody as much as they annoy me. Foremost amongst these is the habit for a stupid idea to get lodged in my brain – so lodged, in fact, that I eventually have to act on it. These are generally elaborate wastes of money and huge amounts of time and effort. Examples of this include my old Ape Index slide shows in Sheffield in the winters of 2000/2001, my national bouldering guidebook, Boulder Britain, and my career as a writer for climbing magazines.

The latest of these is Jam Crack Podcast. This was borne of loving a US-based podcast called The Enormocast. I really liked what the guy who had done it, Chris Kalous, had put together, and was really glad he had. (In case your evil carer has been upping your sedatives dosage and you have never heard of a podcast, then it's like a radio show you can download onto your computer or phone etc.)

"That seems like fun," I thought to myself, then immediately laughed as my experience of such ventures reminded me that, No, they are tons of hard work for which you somehow scrape together the motivation to carry on with in the face of dispiriting actions. So I thought, No way, wise up.

And did I? Of course not. The notion of doing a UK-based version niggled away at me. Last October, at a memorial event to a recently-deceased friend, Ben Winston, I was talking to Sophie Heason. I talked about the notion.

"You should do it then," she said. There and then, my heart sank: I knew I was going to.

There followed huge amounts of internet research into things I knew nothing about: microphones, post-production, website creation, hosting, recording techniques. Utter nightmare. But it all came together last November and it launched.

Jam Crack Podcast aims to put out interviews with interesting climber cats as well as put classic climbing literature out into the spoken world. Check it all out on my website. Subscribe on iTunes. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, don't do any of that shit: I don't own you.

To get you started, here's a few my personal favourites.

Tommy Caldwell

I caught TC at the Kendal Mountain Festival in 2015. This was my second podcast, the first I did with a big time climbing celeb (he had not long since did the Dawn Wall) and the first time to interview someone I had never me. It was the second of these which gave the interview he edge.

With a podcast you don't have that much warm-up time as it needs to be listenable from the word Go, or else people might tune out. I had arranged with Tommy's 'handler' to get half an hour. This really isn't long enough, so I got Tommy into a small art room and locked the door.

My plan n these interviews is not to have a plan, to try to let the conversation take care of itself, so it always feels that the first few minutes are crucial as this is what will set the tone for the remaining hour or whatever.

With TC this worked really well, and it turned into a great chat. This was mainly fuelled by the fact that Tommy was really cool and chatty. For instance, I later interviewed Alex Honnold, the other big-time celeb, and compared the two. In Alex's there was very little of him asking me about me – no doubt because he has the life interviewed out of him – but with Tommy it felt a lot more to-and-fro. Fun chat, fun guy.

Slate Heads, and Rubble Merchants by Paul Pritchard

Jam Crack Paul Pritchard  © Niall Grimes
One of the plans I had to make the podcast less time-intensive on my part was to have other people read classic climbing stories. The first four, the four I wanted most, worked out a dream. Dermot Somers, John Long and Chris Schulte read amazing yarns beautifully, but this one really blew me away.

Paul Pritchard was one of the most inspirational climbers in my early climbing days and he wrote he coolest articles in On The Edge. This one, for me, was the coolest. Pritchard captured the underground spirit of British climbing, and Llanberis in particular, and his words had a mythical essence to them.

His reading of this story is beautiful. It has a lovely frailty to it and a vulnerability that makes it all very believable, as well as a great sense of life on some edge, as well as fun. I recently did a competition to see what was peoples' favourite episode. This was it.

Lucy Creamer

Jam Crack Lucy Creamer  © Niall Grimes
Lucy lives around the corner. I went down to the pub one evening over by the summer and bumped into her and her partner, Tim. We got chatting and she said one thing that intrigued me, about her life in her forties. I asked he would she be up for an interview. She would.

Lucy delivered an honest, warm and engaging story of her life, from childhood obsessions, the confusions of growing up, the choices of adulthood. It was a privilege to hear. I later congratulated myself as an interviewer when, as I skipped through the recording, I almost never heard my own voice, always Lucy's.

My friend Rich said he drove to Leicester recently and played this in the car. It made him forget the entire journey, he was so wrapped up in listening to Lucy's story. Cool.

Glenn Robbins

Jam Crack Glenn  © Niall Grimes

I just happened to bump into Glenn at a party in North Wales. I just happened to have my recording kit with me. I proposed to him out of the blue. He said Yes.

Glenn was a name from my past, a photographer whose pictures I loved in the 1980s. When we met up he was still exhausted from the party, but still keen to chat. I actually knew very little about him so again it was a case of see where it goes. He took me on a tour of Arapiles in the olden days, of a troubled past, of a bad accident, of downward spirals and of hope and recovery.

I think he spent the whole time with just about enough energy to chat, which I think made him very ungaurded. Near the end I chopped off a chunk of interview as I felt his energy had dipped too far. But what we have was so lovely and fun and human.

John Redhead.

Jam Crack John Redhead  © Niall Grimes
He's a cheeky bastard. And one that took some catching. JR was one of the biggest characters from my past and one who always challenged people. When, latterly, I got to know him some I realised how lovely a guy he was.

In the bartering for his time he played around with me and took the piss. In the end I had no idea how our interview would go. Would he just want to be contrary?

In the end it was a great show. He did of course play around – he's a very playful cat – but also delivered enough to challenge a lot of the truths we hold about climbing, and the world, today. I think this one really put out some new ideas.

For more information Niall Grimes

6 Dec, 2016
A great addition to modern climbing media and a welcome change of style from other climbing podcasts. Thanks for doing this, Niall
6 Dec, 2016
Looking forward to listening to this, the US Enormocast he mentions in the article is great.
6 Dec, 2016
I really look forward to each new episode being released. Only criticism would be Niall criticising himself :D If folk think you're blathering on, they can skip it. Just do what feels right.
6 Dec, 2016
I particularly enjoy the blathering sections
6 Dec, 2016
I sat wishing that Tommy and Niall might climb out the window or hide in a closet to avoid being 'handled'. I've laughed nearly cried and sometime both at the same time. The spirit of what climbing is comes through in full measure. So, since these things impact in the way good art should: thank goodness Niall has such faults that leads him to waste his life to keep mere climbers amused (and of course the 0.01% of the UK population informed by guidebooks from his day job)
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