Youtube is saturated, TV is a closed shop, radio is dying. Podcasting is the new rock n roll.
We chat with Gordon Rochford, Conspiracy Guys founder, podcasting don and general media whizz.
He tells us how The Conspiracy Guys first came about, about planning for marathon 8 hour podcasts and the essential podcaster skillset
Daryl Moorhouse: I’m very delighted to welcome Gordon Rochford from Those Conspiracy Guys, I’m going to let you … I mean you define yourself as an actor, a writer, a stand up comedian, photographer, videographer, producer of Those Conspiracy Guys, a hugely popular podcast. Which of those things are you most or are you a bit of all of them?
Gordon Rochford: Oh I be a bit of all of them I think, I … I spent a lot of time learning how to do this stuff, so each little bit, you know, when you see somebody that’s like here’s this lad and he’s able to do all these things and he’s just got success and you’re like nah, overnight success this lad you know. I’ve been doing audio stuff for 20 years.
Daryl Moorhouse: Where did … what did … where did you originally start doing audio stuff?
Gordon Rochford: [crosstalk 00:00:40] and so it was music … just learning how all the buttons and the swivels and the sliders and how all that stuff works. Being able to make a sound or being able to choose what a sound sounds like on a computer and understanding like all of the technical stuff behind that. Then of course you know, the digital age and from learning how to make websites and how SEO works and all of these things that I think a lot of people don’t put enough stock in and then they put stuff out on the internet and go why is it not working and you’re like … because you just shouted into the dark. I remember building a custom Windows PC and I got one of these M-audio breaker boxes, it was like an E-SATA I think, some kind of breaker box that had XLRs and it had five [inaudible 00:01:29] jacks and a couple of little bits and bobs and that was my hardware. I had like five lads in a room and you know, fucking hanging [inaudible 00:01:36] on the wall, like oh … sorry, I didn’t know if …
Daryl Moorhouse: Of course, yeah, yeah.
Gordon Rochford: Hanging duvey’s to the wall, pinning duvey’s to the wall with big nails and stuff like that and … you know, having a lad play the saxophone into a wardrobe covered in pillows.
Daryl Moorhouse: So you started kind of with music, so tell me maybe about the journey from what you went through or kind of your various different careers or different things that you did up to Those Conspiracy Guys today, what brought you to this, in brief-ish form?
Gordon Rochford: Brief-ish, yeah, brief-ish, you know my shows are seven hours long right.
Daryl Moorhouse: I’m very aware of that.
Gordon Rochford: It was a dark day … yeah, so, I was born … we don’t go back that far, no. I started playing guitar maybe 14 and started organizing gigs and stuff in Earl and Waxford, and I learned how to organize all the music stuff and the production part and the gathering people together and making things was always kind of in me. Went to college, learned how to do all that stuff kind of professionally, was working in Dublin a bit, then … bailed out, you know. Smoked a lot of hash, went and moved to Estonia for a while and then got like a black belt at computers because everything was so much cheaper compared to … like the burgeoning boom that was here in Ireland like 2003, 4, like the … lads were coming in with 40 year old paninis and all this kind of stuff. Of course then discovered conspiracy theories and P2P sharing and Shareison, E-Donkey 2K, and all of these kind of things back in the day when we didn’t have Netflix or … popcorn time or whatever these apps are now.
Gordon Rochford: You know, learned about documentaries that were being made, Alex Jones was coming out like … or talking about Ebaums world before I started the show, Daily Motion and all of these video servers and then of course 2007 YouTube came along. Then I moved back to Ireland, moved to Dublin, became a comedian, did the circuit, did … nearly six years and then I just decided that I wasn’t doing the work properly or what I taught being a comedian was … wasn’t that. I knew what I was saying was funny but maybe not for that audience in that format, took a break of a year, and then in 2013 started producing Those Conspiracy Guys and launched in 2014 to tens of thousands of downloads almost immediately and now we’re up to a couple of million.
Daryl Moorhouse: Do you think that in the first instance that the comedy gave you the confidence to do the podcast or did it help you to think maybe I want to do something and get myself out there but the podcast thing is a better vehicle than the comedy?
Gordon Rochford: Absolutely, yeah, I think that … a lot of comedians now are doing podcasts and I kind of have that still like … gate keeper mentality of like look at … I wasn’t good at your thing and your not good at my thing, you know, fuck off, go back to what you’re doing telling jokes about your dick for seven minutes only and … I think being on stage and having the jokes … like I knew I was always funny and then I … you start doing confidence powder and you see people on stage telling jokes and you’re like I can do that better than them. Sure, I’m brilliant, and then you do it and then … you know that some people are laughing so there is a kind of a … a subdued … a background safety that the things that you’re saying are funny. Like right now we’re talking, I don’t know if people are laughing at home, but in my mind they are so I’m just going to say that shit anyway, you know. So I’m able to do that, sit in my own … you know, office, my own studio at home, and we all sit down together and we have our notes there.
Gordon Rochford: We talk informationally and in improv and rough around and there’s nobody else laughing but if we’re laughing, I know the audience is, so the confidence from doing the comedy definitely informed the silent laughter as I did the podcast.
Daryl Moorhouse: And what made you … when you were in that year between the comedy and the podcast starting, did you brainstorm different ideas or was it a case that you always thought this conspiracy thing is something I really want to do but I don’t know how I’m going to do it or how did the first … the idea of Those Conspiracy Guys come around the first instance?
Gordon Rochford: Well I’ve always been into conspiracy theories, so ever since hash was smoking, I was kind of going like man, did you ever think like when you look at the sky, the color blue, but like … you might not see the same blue that I see. There was one guy who I worked with in the phone shop and we were always talking about that shit for hours because we’re sitting in the [inaudible 00:06:04] center, you know, trying to sell phones to people and it’s like have you [inaudible 00:06:09], and we talk about oh shit, yeah, we started talking about Sandy Hook and it ended up being you know, it reignited my penchant for suspicious activity and you know, Sandy Hook, this is your first episode of this podcast, probably not going to get put up on iTunes now because that’s the shit that gets you kicked off YouTube and all … Alex Jones, you know. So we did Sandy Hook was one of our first episodes and I said lets do a thing about conspiracy theories. Then I went off, learned how to make websites, learned what a podcast was and how to market it properly, you know.
Gordon Rochford: Made a plan of five years worth of episodes and made this whole big huge giant scope, like spent over a year producing … we pre-recorded I think maybe nine episodes, so we had nine weeks ahead to work with, and the shows were about 90 minutes back then and it was just a bear lick of the things like hey, did you hear about that thing, okay, thanks for listening, bye. Like there was no details, it was just check this thing out.
Daryl Moorhouse: And I mean … I was Adam Books in there in Vickers Street and he was telling one of the things about … one of the concerns about podcasts is kind of that initially the audience … they can drain over time, that after 10 minutes the audience kind of goes down on the podcast and he was saying if you look at the analytics they go down … that’s clearly not an issue with the podcast that you do, because you’re doing five and six hour … three four five hour, whatever it might be, podcasts …
Gordon Rochford: 8:34 is the longest.
Daryl Moorhouse: It’s the longest, so how do you make it successful over that period of time and how do you mediate that problem that others might have where the audience kind of loses interest after 10 of 15 minutes, because it’s an extraordinary … regardless of medium, it’s an extraordinary amount of time to hold somebodies attention for in this day and age …
Gordon Rochford: Well thanks very much … was that said as a compliment …
Daryl Moorhouse: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, [crosstalk 00:07:52]. Yeah no it was, I do genuinely mean it, you know, it’s [crosstalk 00:07:58] …
Gordon Rochford: Extremely interesting but … no, I think the subject matter is … like a … okay, lets get philosophical. If you’re watching a movie you’re looking abdicate time from your life to get lost in somebody else’s fantasy, so sometimes your brain wants a rest and you want somebody else to tell you a story. Podcasting is a different thing, for what I find is a lot of people love to hear other peoples conversation. So you want to have a conversation about … lets say, I don’t know, the earth is flat, so you want to know all the stuff about it, you want to hear people who know what they’re talking about talk about it, you don’t want to go through a whole lot of YouTube videos that are like … in 1884 … you don’t want to trawl through all that stuff. So the service that Those Conspiracy Guys provided in my head was, I’ve done all that already, why don’t I tell you what I’ve learned. Like with podcasting, if you’re just coming out and going I’m going to start a podcast and I … I think I’m great, I’m just going to talk shit about what I did during my day … no.
Gordon Rochford: Unless you’re amazing, which is rare, no ones going to listen to that. The way I do it, I write about ten thousand words and notes and it’s like a half a page for each thing. I take all the elements of the research and I bring everything through and then the conversation that’s had between us all as we try to figure out what we believe or not believe is like doing the work for the person that’s listening.
Daryl Moorhouse: It’s very unusual kind of in my experience that people who are … genuinely who are very creative typically aren’t necessarily very technical, people who are very technical necessarily aren’t very creative, and that’s not a criticism of people. Everybody has different skillsets, but it’s not often that the left brain and the right brain work so it seems in your case that you have both of those things, the creative side and the technical side. First, I mean … I suppose my question is how important is the creative and the technical side as part of your success and how important is it in terms of producing content in 2018?
Gordon Rochford: I find sometimes that my creative side gets a little bit kind of zapped of energy because of all the extra production stuff, so when I’m doing a show, I’m managing the live stream, I’m making sure that all the mics are in the right place and I’m kind of listening out for the quality. If the lads are like drifting far away from the microphone and all this kind of stuff and I’m like … back on the mic, you know, and it kind of takes away from the … the flow state that you want to get into when you’re talking. Like you want to all of those technical things to be not worried about and then … the creative part … I find I come up against these roadblocks like these little speed bumps when I’m like … I want the thing to be able to do this thing and then I go hunt and then I’m like two days … trying to find the app that does the thing that I want it to do.
Gordon Rochford: I think if you’re making a podcast or you’re doing something online, you need to be what’s … what people refer to as a renaissance man or woman. Not a lot of people are able to do everything and they make partnerships with people who can do that kind of stuff. The people who invariably succeed are the ones that can do it all, so like … what’s that ones name, Pippa … Pippa … she’s like an Instagram social influencer from Ireland.
Daryl Moorhouse: Pippa O’Connor.
Gordon Rochford: Pippa O’Connor, like, people look at Pippa and go like oh yeah, she’s lovely, she sells make up now and now a book to tell you how to put flowers in a pot, she’s a lovely looking girl. Like she is so amazingly trained and honed at all of the SEO … you know, photography skills, art and aesthetics and then social media strategies and all these long term business strategies, like sales, acquisitions. All of these things you have to know how to do like it doesn’t just happen, but if you’re able to put out that air of oh this is effortless for me, you walk this tightrope of people not appreciating how hard you work and then you know, being able to succeed. So people will look at her and go oh yeah all she fucking does is she slaps on a bit of red lippy and she puts her hair up in a bun and she’s able to sell make up, like she’s totally skill less. The gap that people have to put in there is so wide because they don’t understand all the stuff it takes to get to that.
Daryl Moorhouse: So even with all the creativity and all the great content in the world, if you don’t have that technical side, it’s not going to work or it’s just going to be a lot more difficult.
Gordon Rochford: It’s … I don’t think it’s going to work, like there’s so much … there’s saturation out there now like according to Libson stats, so Libson are a podcast hosting platform but their … their vying for front row seats for the podcast revolution. Like those guys host hundreds of thousands of shows, their claiming that there’s over 700 thousand podcasts out there. If you’re not willing to try and get into the top 10 in iTunes, like if that’s not your aim, don’t start it as a business. If you’re doing it for a hobby, let it be a hobby, but if you want it to be your business, treat it like a business. Make a plan, do a business plan, make a five year projection, say you’re going to … set out a bunch of milestones, if you’re not reaching them trying to look up why. You have to know the market because it’s not just like a hobby that accidentally becomes a thing, you know, like the days of … the days of playing guitar on YouTube and getting discovered by a fat guy smoking a cigar going … yeah kid, you got the talent see, and I’m gonna bring you to the top see.
Gordon Rochford: That doesn’t happen, there’s no A and R guys going and coming to the gig with a fucking record contract for you to sign, like …
Daryl Moorhouse: Is that because all the people who were successful had the technical side sorted?
Gordon Rochford: Absolutely.
Daryl Moorhouse: So if you don’t have it you can’t even compete.
Gordon Rochford: And it looks like they don’t have it.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah but that’s part of the game though.
Gordon Rochford: It’s the effort, yeah, the effortlessness of it right.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah.
Gordon Rochford: So like dudes like Sean Mendez, right, I just watched Casey Nystat on like a two episodes on a two, ten million followers, a two episode feature on this kid who used to like play guitar in his bathroom and sing songs and then YouTube music got a hold of him and they put a lot of money behind him and he’s now on a tour and he’s got like millions of girls looking at him and all. Like that business model looks like it’s an indigenous growth from some young lad who just played guitar and sang real good and everyone looks at that and goes sure I can do that. Then they do it and it doesn’t work and they’re like why isn’t it working, it’s because it’s not that. So don’t think if you’re trying to make a podcast that it’s just going to be like your so awesome that you just switch on the mic and talk and then people will fucking love you so much that they’ll download your show and then you’ll be a millionaire like Joe Rogan.
Gordon Rochford: It doesn’t happen. I’m doing this nearly … from first inception like nearly six years, you know.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah.
Gordon Rochford: It’s … and I’m only getting even a small bit of purchase now after that long and it’s like that with anything. With music, with comedy, with … like it’s taking that long but it seems like an overnight success.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah, no it does.
Gordon Rochford: That’s the problem, so you have to get your technics down, you have to at least understand … like social medias dying a little bit, Facebook and Twitter is kind of a load of shit.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah.
Gordon Rochford: You’re putting stuff up there you have to pay for it to be seen, especially if you’re up as a business, they’re like well we’re definitely not putting your stuff up there. You have to have like … growth … word of mouth is huge and people sharing it on their own. So personal people sharing your stuff, so if you’re able to get people to emote, if you’re able to connect with people, they will tell their friends and their friends will listen. Obviously if you’re listening to something and you think it’s funny and you have mates with the same sense of humor, then y’all listen to it together and then you’re talking about it. Like I have some people messaging me going like we’re having our Those Conspiracy Guys party and a load of them are sitting around and they’re playing computer games and they’re fucking drinking beers and smoking weed and then have our podcast on in the background and there’s five or six of them and they’re all roaring laughing.
Gordon Rochford: So it’s like a communal thing that’s also you know, informative and it serves like a lot of different purposes, you know.
Daryl Moorhouse: Two more questions to ask you before we finish up.
Gordon Rochford: Sure.
Daryl Moorhouse: And first one is what would you say of all you’ve worked on, and obviously various media, audio, music, computers, and elsewhere, what would you say is your one piece of killer kit, the best piece of equipment hardware or software that you just think is the best or an essential tool, it could be something you use now, something you’ve used previously?
Gordon Rochford: Is it software or hardware?
Daryl Moorhouse: Either.
Gordon Rochford: I have to say project management software of any kind.
Daryl Moorhouse: I was thinking it was going to be a bit more rock and roll than that but that’s …
Gordon Rochford: Essential, yeah.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah.
Gordon Rochford: That and my … my Easy-E custom crack pipe, no.
Daryl Moorhouse: Second one was better.
Gordon Rochford: Yeah that one was way more … yeah, but project management software like organization is … like unparalleled importance.
Daryl Moorhouse: So that’s a key part of your …
Gordon Rochford: Yeah.
Daryl Moorhouse: Which people traditionally wouldn’t bother with.
Gordon Rochford: I mean there are so many free things there that you can use that just sort everything out and you don’t have to have that shit knocking around in your head, because I’m doing everything on my own and have been for the longest time.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah, but I think it’s a testament to the show that you could listen to any of the podcasts. It feels like it’s banter and it’s a conversation, there is no sense that this has been managed or structured or organized, which isn’t a criticism of doing that, it’s just … it’s more a comment on how well it’s done, that this thing has been structured to be that way.
Gordon Rochford: It’s breaking the rules, like it’s … nobody would think that an eight hour podcast would get any traction, like who would listen to that for that long. I have an episode on simulation theory which basically says that we’re all living in a computer simulation and we’re all part of some weird holographic code like The Matrix, right. There’s massive amounts of science behind it, there’s huge research, loads of papers done on it, and I went into my journals, I went into my jay store and I got all the scientific journals and all this kind of stuff and we went deep and we went hard and raw, it was rough. Seven and a half hours and I’ve had people mail me and say I’m just listening to simulation theory again for like the 10th time because it’s just like … it’s someone riding the arse off your head, you know. Your brain is just getting that … like they’re going … I can’t … the quantum physics bit, it just doesn’t … you know. So like I think … the most important thing is to organize so that it can sound effortless.
Gordon Rochford: If you’re able to get that … if you’re able to get people to criticize you and go how was that any good, anyone can do that, if that’s what people are saying about you, you’re doing it right, you know. Really really important to get organized and if you’re just like … oh come over at six o’clock and we’ll talk about something, you’re fucked. It’s not going to happen, do you know.
Daryl Moorhouse: Final question and everybody we interview … so that the last thing we’re going ask them is … this is primarily a production podcast, so it’s about the mechanics of production across all fields.
Gordon Rochford: Yeah.
Daryl Moorhouse: So what we’d like to ask you is who do you think we should interview next and we’ll try and get them, it doesn’t matter who it is, but whose … you know, from any production … media, radio, TV, online, anywhere. Who do you think would be a good interesting person to talk about the mechanics of production?
Gordon Rochford: I had a friend of mine, Gordon Haiden, he’s a hustler, he is … he works for a radio, he works for TV, he has his own podcasts and he is always doing stuff all the time, making it succeed, sometimes they are big successes, sometimes they are little successes, but they’re always successes. He’s unreal for the amount of time he puts in and he makes it look effortless and … whenever you’re like what are you working on now he’s like this thing, jeez I didn’t even know you were in that, yeah yeah. Like he has … 30 fingers in all the different pies and again, a very organized man.
Daryl Moorhouse: I would love to talk some more, I genuinely would.
Gordon Rochford: Cheers man, I scratched the surface, seven hours.
Daryl Moorhouse: I know, there is depth in every single thing, there is plenty more depth in every single thing we’ve spoken about but time is a force against us.
Gordon Rochford: I’d really love to do like a course to try and get into all the … like you demi course or something like … what’s that, skill share, I go here’s the thing, but most of the stuff that I know like anybody when they learn something, is just enough to do the thing that you want to do and then you do it and then you’ll work away. Like when you learn the guitar or something like that, you learn your G’s and your C and your D cord and then you just go and find all the songs that just has those cords, like that’s how I’m doing it as I go along.
Daryl Moorhouse: Yeah.
Gordon Rochford: Try more than you think you can do and especially in podcasting because it’s all so new, the thing that you do if you do it well, you could be the first and the best. Like YouTube is saturated, TV is a closed shop, radio is dying or like almost dead, like podcasting is the new rock and roll, the rules are there to be broken.