Like many great ideas, this one was founded over booze. Bobby Hougham (pictured right), co-founder of Seattle production company The New Blank, was having dinner at his friend Chris Price’s house. He’d never met Elyas Beria before but as the three got more and more deep into wine that evening, they drunkenly suggested starting their own podcast full of their “bullshit”. That drunken suggestion led to a more sober meeting and the birth of Alcohol You Later, a podcast in the shape of “a comedic romp through the wine and spirits landscape”. Listeners can “learn what bottles to bring to your next dinner party and what to avoid - and have a few laughs along the way”.
Always intrigued to know more about adlanders’ extra-curricular activities, LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with Bobby.
LBB> I have to imagine that the idea for the podcast was born over a cocktail-enhanced conversation that resulted in, “hey, we should do this as a…” True?
Bobby> Hah! You’re not far off, I was over at Chris’s house for dinner, and he had invited Elyas, whom I had never met. We were drinking wine... a few bottles in and the guys were bantering back and forth and drunkenly saying we should start a podcast of nothing but their bullshit. They were funny as hell, but I personally couldn’t imagine anyone sober just listening to the nonsense for an hour at a time.We got back together when we could talk soberly and started throwing around the idea of a wine review.
LBB> How do you conduct your research? I mean, besides spontaneously or nightly? How do you decide on the theme for each?
Bobby> We meet to look at the calendar and assign themes where they fit but in truth, it’s a very organic process. Aside from ‘theme’ or ‘special’ episodes, we each figure out what we are bringing to the table independently from each other. Mostly so we can surprise each other and get genuine reactions but also because, in theory, each of us knows our specific speciality best.
I typically will write during the off week for the upcoming episodes, and I try to mix up the spirits I choose, so listeners aren’t just hearing about gin for two months, for example. I’m also continually looking for new or intriguing bottles, so when I find one, I tend to bump it to the top of the list.
LBB> When did you start the podcast and how often do you record it?
Bobby> We actually started the development process mid-2018 and recorded several episodes to refine the format and content. We recorded our first published episode in February 2019. Because we all have day jobs that keep us really busy, we decided on releasing episodes every other week and recording about two episodes per session. Even though we are only sampling the wine and booze, we have found that the recording gets a little too sloppy by the third episode.
LBB> Who among you has the penchant for puns?
Bobby> Well, I am generally unfunny so it wouldn’t be me, I think that Chris and Elyas are equal opportunity offenders.
LBB> What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?
Bobby> I’ve learned that podcasting is a fun media form that is very much in the exciting, Wild West stage of existence. I’ve also learned that there is a fine line between entertainment and content. We skirt that line all the time, sometimes our episodes are mostly entertainment, and sometimes they are mostly content. Finding that balance has been the hardest part for us.
I have also learned that I really don’t like the way natural wines smell but that I generally enjoy the way they taste and that I still don’t like cheap wine.
LBB> This is something you do outside of work, obviously. How does it connect if at all to what you do, and why do you think it is important to have other creative outlets?
Bobby> Well, that’s a bit tricky, it’s not as though I am drinking all day or even working with distillers or winemakers to where I would really have a crossover, the connection is a little more abstract. I work every day in visual storytelling, and while this is unscripted and entirely non-visual, there is a component of crafting an arc that delivers information and story in an entertaining and consumable way. We have a basic structure we follow for each episode, but I evaluate segments as we go to figure out how to improve or fix or change outright to make sure they fit correctly. This is something I’ve learned through my career, so doing it for AYL comes naturally.
Early in my career, a friend advised me to make sure I keep feeding the creative beast. Keep consuming other people’s work, and continue creating outside of your day-to-day work. The beast needs to be fed, it can starve, and it’s true that if you keep just doing your day job and nothing else the work definitely suffers. I have to do different things, and those things, in turn, inspire the primary expression of my creativity in new and exciting ways.