Bonus: Behind the Scenes of Season 1

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In this EXCLUSIVE BONUS EPISODE, a person who is definitely Not Michael interviews the actors and writers behind Season 1. Also included: bloopers, sound checks, and awkward laughter.

[Solutions to Problems theme music plays]

Michael (outside, on location): Here I am. On the street. In Boston, Massachusetts. The very building where Solutions to Problems is recorded. I'm gonna go in right now and talk to its creators. [footsteps as Michael goes inside]

Computer generated voice with a British accent: Now playing "Interview with the creators of Solutions to Problems, interspersed with Bloopers and Outtakes."

Austin: I'm Austin Hendricks. I am one of the co-writers and also the voice of Janet.

Nathan: I'm Nathan Comstock. I also write the show with Austin, and I am the voice of Dolphin Noise-slash-Loaf-slash-Lavender-slash-Periwinkle.

Michael: I am Michael F. Gill. I do the music, and I produce the show.

[A clip from a sound test begins to play.]

Nathan (in Loaf's voice): We are testing our microphones to see if they are completely functional.

Austin (in the background, making weird noises): Blah blah blah bla bla blah. Well, also I think...  to see if I'm actually close enough to it or not.

Nathan is now making weird noises too.

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: Michael has a writing group, and Austin and I were at various times both part of that writing group. Austin and I had been talking about doing an audio drama together. I was listening to the Dear Prudence podcast, actually, and I thought it'd be really funny if we did this but set in the Star Trek universe. And then I quickly thought, "Wait, well, if I did Star Trek I'd have to pay a lot of copyright fees, so how about a generic sci-fi universe."

[A sound clip of Nathan and Austin reading a letter simultaneously begins to play]

Nathan and Austin: Dear Janet and Janet's friend... Are two heads better than one?

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: I still have trouble with, like, I feel like if I write a Janet line, especially if it's one of those frenetic, kind of manic Janet monologues, you have to like go back and polish it up for me.

Austin: I mean, some of that is just putting it in the syntax that I talk in normally. So.. [laughter] 

[A sound clip of Austin reading a letter in a high pitched, nasally voice begins to play]

Austin: Dear Loaf and Janet, I'm something of a time travel enthusiast. For the past few months, I've primarily spent my time on planet Ee-arth, in the 1970s.

[Sound clip ends]

Austin: I think we know that Loaf is not very much like Nathan whereas Janet is very much like me. Uhh, I don't know. I feel like Janet is an exaggeration of all of my worst qualities.

Nathan: I don't know. I feel like Loaf actually is an exaggeration of some of my worst qualities too. Like, not maybe to the same extent-

Michael: You're really selling these characters here. [laughter]

Nathan: My original conception of Loaf was that he was gonna be you're weird uncle whose always going off on tangents that have nothing to do with what you're talking about?

[A sound clip of Nathan reading a letter begins to play. A voice filter has been put over it to make it sound more alien.]

Nathan: The problem is that he, uh, holds grudges against people for a reaaaaally long time. When I tried to ask him why, he says, (in a deeper voice) "You know what you're going to have done!" (back to his normal tone) I don't knooww!

[Sound clip ends]

Michael: So it wasn't a commentary on the self-absorbed nature of podcasts in having two self-absorbed characters.. [laughter] who highlight your worst qualities?

Austin: I mean Janet's character, I guess, riffs upon a lot of the ways that pop culture treats women and the ways that the media treats women in general. Not that there was a conscious thought process behind that, but that's where a lot of the jokes came from.

[Outtake from an episode begins playing. Austin fails to pronounce words.]

Austin: Compulsory heter- compulsory - jesus - compulsory, oh my god, heterosexuality, heterosexuality, compulsorily - oh my god I can't say compulsory.

[Outtake ends]

Nathan: Originally she was going to be a robot.

Austin: Oh yeah. She was going to be a robot masquerading as a human to get a job.

[A clip of Austin reading a letter through a high pitched voice filter plays]

Austin: How can I convince these people? That I am a sapient being? With a desire for bodily ononomy - autonomy?

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: Yeah, I think they're now more about how genuine emotions are beaten out of people in the entertainment industry.

Austin: I mean, there's also just a lot of superficiality to Janet's character that Janet makes no efforts to hide.

[A clip of Austin reading a letter plays. A voice filter gives it a reverb.]

Austin: I have a crush on one of the senior officers who's technically one of my managers? He's soo dreamy, with his various polished horns and gorgeous bloodshot eyes

[Sound clip ends]

Valerie: I'm Valerie Loveland. I am the voice of Frankie, and I am just as beleaguered and put-upon in real life as my character. So, I don't even have to act. I have a customer service job, and I have to be happy. I have to be like, "Hello!" at work. So I'm sighing a lot, just like her. You may know me from The Gamma Quadrant, which is a Deep Space Nine podcast.

[Clip of artificially high pitched voices counting down plays]

Valerie: About Frankie - I feel like she is what I would like to be, having so much expertise and over the top perfectionism and running things. I used to have daydreams about getting a PhD, and there's no way. [laughter] But she did it. I bet it wasn't even that hard for her.

Nathan: I like the idea that it is primarily a relationship advice podcast. Because, sort of our rule is the problem has to be something that couldn't happen in our world, but at the same time, they're all grounded in problems that really do happen in our world and they're all sort of trying to be similar to something that would be sent in to an actual advice podcast. To me, what that's saying is "Well, the future is weird. Lots of strange stuff happens. Some of it is pretty bleak, and yet, people are still just trying to figure out how to get along with each other.

[A sound clip of Austin reading a letter with a voice filter plays]

Austin (in a sad robot voice):  Dear Loaf and Janet, like many people who write into your show, I work with a lot of humans. My problem is, I feel invisible to them. Like most of the time they don’t even notice me at all. No one ever says “hi” to me or asks me if I want to get lunch.

[Sound clip ends]

Austin: Oh, yeah, so a lot of the "bloopers" are.. When we were originally doing the recordings, Michael needed the letters recorded, but we did not have all of the letters recorded.

[A sound clip of Nathan reading a letter while channeling a bad impression of Chekov from Star Trek plays]

Nathan (in a high-pitched Russian voice): Dear Loaf & Janet, my brother recently got married to a man he's been dating for several years. His husband is a time agent, and recently while housesitting, I decided to sneak a look at his time machine...

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: So we just took turns reading them in silly voices. And some of those turned out pretty silly, but we couldn't really actually use them on the show.

Austin: I think there was maybe one or two we could've used, but.. yeah. They're mostly very bad.

Nathan: It's more consistent to keep having new people.

[A sound clip of Austin and Nathan alternating reading a letter plays]

Austin (in a low pitched voice): I've heard about your business...

Nathan (in an even lower pitched voice): Solutions To Problems.

Austin: ... And I'm excited to offer you our (laughing) latest product. I just know that...

Nathan: Solutions To Problems...

[Sound clip ends]

Ramy: My name is Ramy Abdelghani, I play Officer Nassif, a character in different timelines. I'm kind of obsessed with time travel, and I thought it would be a fun challenge to, not only kind of play something of a comedic post-human, but also figure out how that character would sound different based upon their experiences. I also do a lot of acting and comedy in the greater Boston area.

Nathan: Hey, should we talk about how Michael got roped into this?

[reverse vocals of Michael speaking with a lot of reverb]

Michael: As a person with experience in audio production [reverse vocals play] and audio recording, I felt it was good to get back into that. [more reverse vocals play, mixed with forward vocals] I think I recorded the entire soundtrack in a week. It was like, super compressed, and you know, there's like 2 hours of music on the soundtrack, which I'm really happy about, and the soundtrack will hopefully be released online very soon.

[Outtake clip plays]

Austin (singing): Bwew Bwew, time travel, sci-fi noises, time travel noises, bah dadada ... (talking) We do need some kind of noise here that like, separates them out.

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: The blooper, one of them, says the name of Loaf's homeworld. Is that canon?

[Outtake clip plays]

Nathan (as Loaf): I'm from Armulus Fourzeta Zombort. We don't have months per say on my planet. But I was born in the rainy season, which is all of the seasons.

Austin: You don't track anything by lunar moon cycles?

Nathan: Well, we have so many moons, you know?

[Sound clip ends]

Michael: We should also say that Nathan and Austin did not write any of the cryptic questions.

Austin: Oh yeah, Michael wrote all of the cryptic questions.

Michael: It's based on this British quiz show with has a lot of cryptic questions, called Round Britain Quiz.

[Outtake clip plays]

Nathan and Austin: Bar-BlahBlahBlah, Ber-BlehBlehBleh, Bar-BlahBlahBlah, Ber-BlehBlehBleh, Barbabrababs.

[Sound clip ends]

Michael: As anyone in audio production knows, editing a podcast is more time-consuming then you expected. But I think it's worth it, in the end, to create something that wasn't there before, to create in fact, a world that wasn't there before.

[A sound clip of Austin reading a letter through a voice filter plays]

Austin (in a high pitched voice with a bad British Accent): Dear Loaf & Janet, my son has been trying to make it as a musician since he graduated from college. They went on tour and recorded a jingle for a soft drink company. Yesterday he told me he wanted to go to Todavia and get a Todavian brain parasite put in.

[Sound clip ends]

Austin: I mean, I think it's impossible to do our podcast in a way that is not inherently episodic. Anyway, it's always going to be Monster-Of-The-Week style, but where the monster is the small scale problems that plague us everyday.

[An outtake clip plays, probably from a sound check. There were birds outside of Michael's window that kept interrupting the recording sessions.]

Nathan whispers, while Austin sings: Space Station Birds, Birds on The Space Station, Bird noises.

Nathan: Greetings listeners.

Michael: Alright, alright.

[Sound clip ends]

Nathan: Shout out to everyone who supported us, everyone who wrote reviews, everyone who follows us on Twitter. Ely, shout out to you, our best fan. And a shout out to the Audio Drama Production Podcast, which has been a really great community, some great connections and resources there. Anyone else you want to shout out, Austin?

Austin: If you are here from the Audiodrama subreddit, hello! I post there, that's me.

[A clip from a sound check plays]

[Mouth popping sounds]

Austin: Take that, pop filter! I'm glad this pop filter's working.

Nathan: Should we just wait 5 seconds and start?

Austin (in a weird voice): You're the best Michael Gill.

[Sound clip ends]

Michael (on the street): Well, that's it. I'm back outside in the greater Boston night. Season 2 is coming real soon. We're going to have some bonus episodes coming out as well. Check us out at stppodcast.com, and may all your problems be solved, by our podcast.

(theme song plays while Austin talks)

Austin: Oh man, I'm on the side! I'm on the side! There's no pop filter! There's no pop filter!

[Nathan laughs]

(theme song ends)

Austin (in weird accent): Dear Janet & Alien creature, several hundred years ago, when freezing yourself until they had a cure for X was all the rage, I froze myself until they could grow new livers, kidneys... (laughter) I froze myself until they could grow new livers, kidneys and gall bladders. A few days ago they finally figured out the gall bladders.