Have You Heard? is a series in which the team from Pod Bible meet the people behind the podcasts you may not have heard of yet. While the Oh. My. Pod. section in the magazine gives a quick shout out to shows of that ilk, Have You Heard aims to go deeper in an effort to spread awareness for shows that deserve more exposure! In this fifth edition we sat down with Alex Lawson and James Labous of Rabonas & Rhythms for a chat!
Who are you and what’s your podcast about?
We’re Alex Lawson and James Labous, two unashamed football hipsters as obsessed with great music as the beautiful game. The pod is an extended world tour examining the football and music cultures of different countries in turn: so we’ve covered the Uruguayan dance scene, studied Africa women’s football and met the former captain of Pakistan’s national team. We bring exclusive interviews with big names in world music – including Seun Kuti, Talvin Singh and Songhoy Blues – and host some footballing greats like former Liverpool stars Emile Heskey and Bruce Grobbelaar. We’ve also put in the miles: we’ve recorded episodes in Belarus, where we met a band keeping the country’s music roots alive using bespoke instruments, and our latest series features a special recorded in Senegal.
What was the first podcast you ever listened to?
Alex: Ricky Gervais, Kermode & Mayo, Football Weekly and an odd one from BAddiel & Skinner at the World Cup. Answer Me This was one of the first independently produced pods that reeled me in and I remain hooked today. I launched my own pod – a version of my student radio show in 2006 and followed it up with Broken Yolk, tied to a London club night; nerdy music show The Anoraks and cheeky rip off pod Desert Isolation Discs.
James: I listened to a few pods back in the day, when you could download them via iTunes and stick them on your iPod. It was mainly BBC stuff like Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time. Then there was a big gap, until I rediscovered pods during the Euros in 2016, via the Guardian football podcast. I’m still a James Richardson fan now they’ve split away with The Totally Football show
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
Pub talk. We share a love of all things football and music. Alex has been podcasting since 2006 and James is a professional editor so it’s worked really well. We’re both busy dads so the pod gives us a way to justify getting nerdy about niche interests like Norwegian disco and the strength of the Algerian forward line.
Which podcasts do you take inspiration from?
Alex: The BBC have a slew of great football pods, including World Football. The Football Ramble still hits the spot after a decade listening to them and have cleverly evolved, now producing daily shows. Music wise, Loud and Quiet’s Midnight Chats has a nice feel to it, and Hip Hop Saved My Life talks about music in a way I like: not too earnest but with plenty of passion. Oh, and magazine show The Modern Mann is a must listen.
James: The punditry on The Totally Football show is on another level so that’s my go to for footie discussions. I love Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, Kingpins, Team Human and I’ve been absolutely bowled over by George The Poet’s new podcast which pushes the boundaries of what the medium can be. It’s more like a novel in audio form, amazing. And I have to tip my hat to BBC radio docs as they’ve definitely been an influence on my editing style, and approach when I’m out and about recording in a far flung country.
Who’s your dream guest for the podcast?
We try and find the seam where the worlds of football and music collide: so we’d love
Loyle Carner, the rapper who’s a big Liverpool fan. We’d also love to quiz footballer-turn-ice hockey keeper Petr Cech, who’s a cracking drummer.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as a podcaster?
To focus on quality sound. Competition for listeners feels like a battle so making sure it sounds professional – especially when a lot of the interviews are done out and about – is important to keep people listening.
Which episode would you say is the perfect introduction to your podcast?
Probably our trip to the football mecca of Brazil. We interviewed the director a film about Carlos Kaiser, the fake footballer who carved out a career without ever playing and lived a showbiz life. We also met up with septuagenarian singer Dona Onete who discussed the prejudice people from the Amazon face and Salvador’s BaianaSystem who’ve played at Carnival. It was a really rounded episode with three fascinating interviews.