As we like to say here at WXPN, our station is your home for music discovery. Playing new and undiscovered artists, or music from beloved musicians that might fall through the cracks at larger media outlets, is central to our mission. Helping XPN achieve those goals is DJ Eric Schuman, host of The Indie Rock Hit Parade and trusted curator of the niche and sometimes “weirder” side of XPN’s programming.
Schuman’s show, featuring a mix of new releases, some old gems, and his own live studio recordings, turns 10-years-old this month. To celebrate, this Friday on Indie Rock Hit Parade’s normally scheduled time of 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., Eric takes us through the recorded history of IRHP, with as many songs from individual live sessions that he could fit in the time slot. “I thought about playing a song from every session I’ve ever done.” How long would that take? Turns out, “wayyy longer than three hours.” Catch up on the history of the show and get the behind-the-scenes look at what goes into Eric’s selection process in a special Q&A below.
Let’s go back. What’s the origin of the show Indie Rock Hit Parade?
The show actually existed for a few years before I started working here. It had been off the air – a previous host here had the show; it stopped when he left. And when I got hired, one of the things I wanted to do was bring back the Indie Rock Hit Parade. It was something I was a big fan of, and it was something that represented a corner of the music world that back in 2013 was not widely represented in XPN’s mix. That’s since changed, and in turn, has pushed Indie Rock Hit Parade in a slightly different direction.
I’ve always said, and I’ve said it more recently, that the name Indie Rock Hit Parade has kind of gotten a little more facetious. As you know, yes, a lot of the bands are on independent labels; yes, a lot of them can be considered “rock” bands; I don’t know how many of them can be considered “hit makers,” but OK, I can give them that. There’s been a big blurring of genres for the past several years, and it’s been neat to push the boundaries of what I play on the show to include a lot of stuff that if you just see the name Indie Rock Hit Parade you might not think I’m playing a lot of electronic music or world beat stuff. You might just think, ‘here’s somebody who kind of sounds like Pavement,’ or who is Pavement. Which is not to say I don’t play Pavement, but I enjoy that it’s not as straightforward as that.
What’s it like to watch bands you have on the show build their careers over time?
That’s kind of been the story of the last ten years for me: seeing bands that in 2013 would’ve pretty much only been on Indie Rock Hit Parade get embraced by XPN and get showcased beyond just the show. There’s also bands that have stuck around and have only gotten bigger since I played them ten years ago. People like Sharon Van Etten or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. These are musicians who have massive fan bases now, but what has been great about Indie Rock Hit Parade is continuing to champion bands from the very start. And doing as best as I can to get in on the ground floor for up-and-coming acts.