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. 

Japanese Breakfast - Diving Woman (Live on the Indie Rock Hit Parade)

Who are some acts over the years that you’ve been thrilled to have in the studio?

There’s definitely been a few. As I was preparing for this week, and I’m playing all session tracks for the tenth anniversary show on the air, I thought, ‘Oh, can I play one recording from every band I’ve had in over the past ten years?’ And the answer is no. [laughs] I’ve had way too many. It was really quick, the realization. Some highlights over the years, it’s been funny to think about the people I was a really big fan of at first, and then have gotten to befriend over the years. Two of those people have been Dean Warehem and Britta Phillips who have been on the show a bunch of times, either as Dean and Britta or as Luna. Dean was one of the first people I reached out to, to record an Indie Rock Hit Parade session. I was a big Luna fan, and it was right around the time in 2014 I think when he put out his first solo album. And then just last year or the year before, Dean contacted me. And I don’t think they were touring, they were just in the area, and wanted to know if I had some time if they could stop by the studio and they did. It was great to have this nice bookend, to have them back after so many years of the show. It’s nice to know that my show is seen as this friendly place by a lot of artists. 

Dean and Britta - As Much As It Was Worth (Live on the Indie Rock Hit Parade)

And besides the legacy groups like Luna, or supergroups like Filthy Friends (another IRHP guest) you’ve have in the studio, you do feature so many new or young artists.

That’s definitely something I love. Shilpa Ray is a new artist I’ve had in the studio. She’s well regarded in the folky-punk scene. I think her audience has grown bigger and bigger over the years. She makes a lot of appearances on guest spots, and she has notable fans besides me. It’s always fun to meet up-and-coming people who, I may like their record but I know nothing about them, and they turn out to be so much fun to work with. There’s a band called Winter that I had last year, this Australian group Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, that were both really fun to record. It’s great to see artists really early in their career, who are just getting themselves out there, and it’s really rewarding especially to have guests who want to come back multiple times and I do my best to accommodate. 

How do you discover the bands you choose to include on Indie Rock Hit Parade?

Like most radio people here and beyond, I get emails from tons of labels and promoters and people just trying to get their records played on the air. But also I do my best to listen to as much as what’s sent my way as possible. Something that’s only just increased over the last few years is the sheer volume of stuff that’s being sent to not just me but everyone in media. It’s a good problem to have, but it makes really digging deep that much harder. I think when I started out, I was much more precious about not playing the same music every week, and I still have that in the back of my head, but I also don’t want to abandon an album after its release. You may have heard of this band Tanlines; they’re a good example. The last Tanlines album came out eight years ago, when Indie Rock Hit Parade was just getting started, and now they have a new one that I just got another single from. But if I haven’t played their newer stuff in a while, I basically have to reintroduce this band to my audience. When you’re inundated with so many new albums week after week, you have to reset and re-familiarize. 

You mentioned bands or musicians returning to the studio a second time. Is there a notable story of an artist we’ll hear this Friday who was a repeat guest on Indie Rock Hit Parade?

One of my favorite examples of this is on Easter Sunday 2017, I recorded Chaz from Toro y Moi with The Mattson 2. And The Mattson 2 (Jared and Jonathan Mattson) have been on my show before–they get really out there. They did a full cover album of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with just guitar and bass, they did a full tribute to Japanese City Pop records of the 80s. They’re a really cool, adventurous duo. I’m really looking forward to seeing Jared’s solo project, which comes to The Dolphin here in Philly on June 7th. Their session, the combination Toro y Moi and The Mattson 2 session, was one of the longest sessions. I think they did five or six songs that were each six or seven minutes long or longer and they really got into some cool jazz, adventurous grooves.

And touring with them at the time was a musician Madeline Kenney, and Chaz produced her first album. I think she helped them load their stuff in for the session. When Kenney’s album came out the follow year, naturally I was like, ‘this is really, really good.’ And she was then touring, and came on the show and was really great, and now she’s become a recurring friend and guest of the show. She’s recorded three sessions, two in-studio and one from home. So there’s a session for each one of her albums. She may be the only artist who’s record a session for every one of her albums. But yeah, she spent some time joking that she was only in the studio for a minute of the session with Toro y Moi and The Mattson Two, but now she gets to do this all for her own music. She’s a very talented person to work with. Talking about how to discover new bands–that’s a good way to do it. See who’s palling around with the artists you already enjoy.

Listen to the 10th anniversary show of The Indie Rock Hit Parade this Friday night, April 21st at 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on WXPN.