In February 2016, Communion After Dark celebrated their eighth year of podcasting. I began tuning in just a few months before that and got familiar with their playlists, DJs, and podcast opening humor that would make Deadpool grin. Having been a presence in the podcast scene for over eight years, the CAD crew does even more than create a killer alternative electronic music podcast, they’re strongly linked to long-running Tampa Bay alternative electronic nights at The Castle and they bring compelling live music to their city.
The history of the podcast
“Mark Paradise, who DJs at Tampa, Florida’s legendary industrial-goth club The Castle along with Resident DJ Tom Gold, approached me in the fall of 2007 about putting together a weekly radio show that would spotlight the best new releases from the alternative electronic music scene, industrial, EBM, synthpop, dark electro, power noise, etc. I thought it was a fantastic idea,” explains DJ Bryant Griffin, one of the founding DJs of the podcast, and also member of the band Ien Oblique.
DJ Paradise adds, “the idea to start a podcast came out of the blue one night while drinking at The Castle. I had been DJing in clubs for 10 years and was thinking of a way to expose more people to the artists who make the music. A light popped into my head, so I found Griffin drinking his beer and the concept for the show was birthed.”
Focusing on new music
While Europe is where you’re more likely to hear the various genres of alternative-electronic music, there is a significant exposure issue in the US. And it’s not for lack of fans in the country, or even a lack of other shows, says Griffin.
“Admittedly, there are other radio shows out there highlighting this music, but I always felt more were needed to help amplify this scene’s exposure to a broader audience. We chose to focus on new music because there is such an fantastic mix of material coming out on a regular basis, hard stuff, soft stuff, you name it.”
DJ Gold gets credited with choosing a name he had used since the 90s, Communion After Dark, and the podcast was essentially born. He remained part of the core trio until deciding to reduce his participation in 2012, at which point frequent guest DJ Maus stepped in to join.
The three-DJ format persists. Griffin explains, “each DJ spins five tracks, which gives us fifteen tracks for each show. The three-DJ format has proved effective for us; it tends to ensure a nice variety is maintained, streamlines the process of searching for new bands and tracks, spreads the work out, and it helps minimize us overlooking anything.”
Evolving into global domination
The show grew to worldwide popularity, which went beyond the practical initial goals of the podcast. They were happy to generate that needed exposure to new music, and also to have something familiar to locals who frequented The Castle. And the unexpected popularity didn’t compromise the goals of the podcast, it just gave them an international platform.
“When we first started I was happy that we had a listener! The goal was originally to reach people locally, but that eventually evolved into global domination,” says DJ Paradise.
“Now, we’re frequently number one in five music charts on Mixcloud, we make iTunes’ top 100 music podcast list and have shows on YouTube with more than 300,000 views. The number of listeners joining us each week is consistently strong. A lot of bands know us now and we frequently have them on the show to do special DJ sets and interviews, such as Dirk Steyer of Accessory and Simon Carter,” explains DJ Griffin, adding that the most important part is having enthusiastic listeners who buy the new music they’ve been exposed to.
I was interested in a club that had been running alt nights since 1997 to this day, because I’ve become used to a Toronto scene in flux (yeah, that old topic again). DJ Paradise notes that Tampa isn’t a stranger to the worldwide urban phenomenon of clubs coming and going.
“We are truly lucky to be in Tampa. There has been a consistent club night since 1997. Some of the clubs have come and gone, but The Castle is still going strong. It’s a place to experience for sure if you live in the area or are visiting from out of town.”
DJ Griffin went into detail about The Castle, a Tampa club, the Friday and Saturday nights of which the CAD podcasts serve as companion.
“The Castle has been running continuously with weekly nights since 1997 and proudly stands as the premier place spinning EBM, synthpop, dark electro, industrial, power noise, etc. in the United States. The crowds have been consistent and often impressive throughout the years. Part of The Castle’s recipe for success is the undeviating focus on great alternative-electronic music, its atmospheric two-story historic building that was built in the 30s, the great staff and people the club attracts, and its proximity to the walk-in traffic from Ybor City’s 7th Avenue, which is the nightlife go-to place in Tampa. Saturday Night Live may have spoofed our city in its ‘Goth Talk’ skits, but this place is no joke. Everyone should try to swing by if they are in Florida.”
In addition to being affiliated with the long-running club, the CAD crew also know a bit about promoting, they bring live acts to the city and use the popular podcast to inform fans about it. I know a few promoters in Toronto, myself, and I see the emotional and financial grind it can be, so it always impresses me when someone takes the time to be a promoter and not let it wear them out.
DJ Paradise explains, “my experience with live events is that they are a risky venture, but well worth the effort. It’s the next step up from running the podcast. Bringing the music to life so to speak. I have been doing live events for over 16 years now. ”
CAD hosts several concerts in Tampa each year, such as the Hocico show that recently happened on April 25th. Their next concert is iVardensphere with special guests Cyanotic and iszoloscope on July 14th at The Orpheum.
You can list to their podcast on the Communion After Dark website, or search for them on YouTube, iTunes, Mixcloud, PodBean, and a few other services also listed on the front page of their website.