This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing not one but TWO of my favourite pod-casters ever!! It took all my strength to not fan girl freak out and stay professional, even though both Scott and Forrest are so chilled and down to earth, being a long term fan of the show my heart was racing the entire time. I love their show, it's probably one of the first podcasts I ever listened to and I crave for every week.
Running since October 2014, with a total of 60 million listens, Astonishing Legends is one of the biggest and most well known podcasts out there with tens of thousands of listeners all over the world. Definitely one of my favourite podcasts ever, AL covers a wide range of topics centred around the unknown and the classic mysteries such as Emilia Earhart, Dyatlov Pass, Oak Island, Sallie House and the lesser known but super creepy incidents such as the Devil In The Diner, The Cackowski Intruder and The Laughing Indian. They recently did a 6 part series on the infamous Patterson Gimlin film and even interviewed Bob Gimlim him self!! #swoon.
AL takes on the unexplained in a manner of "sitting on the fence" and explore every aspect of the situation. They do extensive research, present it in a very neutral manner and let the listener decide how they feel about the situation. Scott and Forrest really take you on a journey, that's very heart centred and are so respectful of the people involved in the incidents.
Research is conducted by The Astonishing Research Corps or ARC which is a volunteer based group made up of people who are passionate, have extensive experience and background on topics. Our own Rob Kristoffersen is a part of ARC and we all know he is THE go to alien guy and has heaps of experience as a paranormal investigator too, so people of his calibre are in ARC, hence the quality and depth of information presented in the show.
So without too much more fan girl blabbing from me, I present Scott's interview:
Name: Scott Philbrook
What are you day jobs? Full time podcaster
Where are you based? Los Angeles
How long have you been listening to HHS? Off and on since 2016
How did you hear about HHS? Twitter and through direct contact.
Do you believe in aliens? After doing our show, more than I used to.
Do you believe in ghosts? Yes. Especially after last year.
Do you believe in Big Foot? Now I do.
What got you guys interested in the paranormal?
Lifelong curiosity and interest, but also I was inspired personally at least by both the TV Show Unsolved Mysteries as well as its predecessor In Search Of and other smaller shows like Sightings.
How did you two come up with the idea of Astonishing Legends?
Well we wanted to start a podcast, and it only seemed natural to us to build one about the strange kinds of things that we were already talking about all of the time. When we would be gathered with mutual friends we were often off in a corner debating the unknown. As we began to talk about the idea, we took comfort in the fact that we both had a background in post-production so we felt that technically our learning curve would be low. The bigger challenge would be becoming good podcasters or broadcasters and learning how to tell stories rooted in both speculation as well as investigation. That continues to be the challenge with every episode and we learn a lot from each one we post.
What inspired you to choose podcasting as a medium?
In a word, accessibility. Although we weren’t certain how you went about setting up an RSS feed or getting published, we figured we could learn it pretty easily and we knew that we knew how to work with production and post-production equipment. But I suppose the main reason we chose it was because anyone can do it. It sounds like a joke, but that’s the truth. Anyone can podcast. It’s a true meritocracy. If you don’t have an income requirement especially, you can do it all day long every day if you want. It’s a bit harder if you’re trying to make a living, but if you focus on good, consistent content, you can do that too.
AL researches, explores and takes on a “on the fence” approach to some of the strangest occurrences. How did you two come up with this format?
Our goal when we started the show was to do something different than most of the people in the genre, that we were aware of anyway, were doing. We felt a lot of content in the paranormal genre was taking itself too seriously, or when interviewing guests, not asking either the obvious questions, or the hard ones. We wanted to do all of that, but more importantly, to the point of your question, we naturally evolved to a viewpoint of wanting to present every possible explanation for the mysteries we explore. That means covering everything from the mundane to the fringe. We do that because it is our belief that our listeners should be provided the most impartial and comprehensive information we can muster up so they can make their own informed decisions about what to believe. We recognize that our own confirmation bias muddies the waters, but we try to acknowledge that as well along the way so even that can be taken into account. My point is, we never set out to take the ‘on the fence’ approach really. We just evolved to that method of presentation.
Out of all the topics you’ve covered which has been your favourite?
It’s hard to say and since I’m the one doing this I can only answer for me (Scott). I would have to say for me it’s been The Betz Sphere. Prior to that it would have been Skinwalker Ranch.
Which topic would you say has had the most impact on you and really rattled your beliefs?
The Sallie House, for obvious reasons. I can’t get into all of them here, but if you hear the series you’ll know why.
How was ARC formed?
It was born from trying to find a way to organize and accept the constant emails we were receiving from folks requesting to volunteer and do research for the show. We just need to find a way to structure and organize it, so we use a threaded chat and group working software called Ryver, which is similar to Slack. Tess manages it for us.
How did you find Tess?
Tess found us. She tells her story about it on the Arcapalooza series (our 100th episode, and 101 I think). She reached out to us and kept after us, for months, until we agreed to take her on. She is an amazing person. Extremely diligent, hard-working, smart, self-starting and does not require supervision. She takes initiative and we feel very lucky to have her not only as our Head of Research, but now a Producer on the show.
How did you come up with the logo?
In my last life I was a television commercial editor for 17 years. Over the course of that career I met and worked with literally hundreds of ad agencies, creative directors, copy writers and art directors. It was easy for me to find someone to help us design a logo when the time came and the guy we wound up hiring is John Mahorney of JEM Creative Design. We highly recommend him and you can find him at his website at https://www.jemcreativedesign.com/
How did you meet Forrest?
We honestly can’t remember. I mean we’re not sure. We’ve known each other at least 20 years, but for many of the years initially we were closer to various mutual friends than we were to each other. I lived in Los Angeles for 9 years in the 90’s and during that time I knew Forrest and would see him occasionally at get togethers, but that was about it. I then moved with my family to New York City for 9 years and thought I would never be back in Los Angeles, but circumstances changed, and we moved back to Los Angeles in 2010. My wife was working and I had stopped working to raise our young son. When he got older and I decided I needed to return to work, that’s when Forrest and I began hatching our plan to take a shot at podcasting. At the time he was working full-time as a permalancer in an industry he’d been in for some time, and I was reluctant to return to commercial editing.
Does pineapple belong on pizza?
I would say yes absolutely, but then again I managed a small pizza restaurant in college that had 100 toppings. You’d have been better off asking me if rattlesnake belonged on a pizza, because we had that and I felt that it did NOT.
Your personal paranormal/unexplained story:
My personal paranormal/unexplained story is well and truly detailed in our series on the Sallie House. It all took place in July of 2018 and for the details you can listen to that extremely long series if you’re interested, but the long and short of it is that we, me specifically, gathered an EVP in that house on a recorder that was left by itself in a closed room on an unoccupied floor for 5 minutes and that recording changed my life. There were circumstances that surrounded it as well, ongoing events that plagued me for many months after. That encounter with whatever made that recording changed me forever and made me come to regret something I had said early on on our show, which was that I hoped that someday I would personally experience something paranormal.
EEEPPPPP so exciting!! I highly recommend everyone listen to the Sallie House episodes, even if you don't listen to any other episodes in the podcast, just so you can be a part of Scott's journey with dealing with the unexplained. He was so brave and kind to share his experience, especially when many would have kept it private. Next week we interview the other half of AL, Forrest!! Y'all come back now hear!!