"We Wanna Be Like 'Top Gear', Without The Cars": 'How Long Gone' Is In Its Own Lane
Chris Black and Jason Stewart are the duo behind How Long Gone, the lockdown-induced link-up between two old friends that has quickly become one of the best podcasts in the world.
While on paper, How Long Gone has all the hallmarks of a typical ‘brocast’ – two cis, white guys musing and bantering about pop culture – it is quickly turning into a very different, and very successful, beast.
The podcast’s hype is accelerating at a similar rate of knots to its own output, which comprises three new episodes a week. Over 550 How Long Gone episodes are now available on streaming platforms, which, in just three years since starting out, is a serious amount of podding. “We’ve kind of embedded ourselves in your lives,” Chris Black explains to Hypebeast, “We show up on your phone, three times a week… you can’t escape us now.”
Dubbed jokingly as a “bi-coastal elite” podcast, How Long Gone is a comedy talk show, immersive interview series, and discerning scene report all rolled into an hour-or-so package. It’s free and easy chat that isn’t forcing you to self-improve or get on your grindset. Instead, How Long Gone excels in being a regression session; with conversation revelling in frivolity and sh*t-talking.
Chris and Jason have been friends for nearly two decades, initially crossing paths when they worked in the music industry. Back then, Chris managed a pop-punk band from Atlanta called Cartel, while Jason was spinning Angeleno decks as DJ Them Jeans. Chris now writes for the likes of The Strategist and GQ while consulting for brands including Thom Browne, Stüssy and J Crew, while Jason is also a podcast consultant.
How Long Gone
Their backgrounds in music originally gave them an inherent desire for discovery, using cultural cache as their capital from the jump. “It’s just a constant,” Stewart explains “I want to know what the coolest, newest, best thing is because you get a dopamine hit when somebody is like “Oh, who’s that? And what’s that restaurant? Knowing just makes you feel cooler.”
“There’s a comforting element to just hearing people chat without an agenda. I think that’s calming for people,” Chris says. TJ agrees, “You don’t have to be the best podcaster, you just have to be better than whoever else just pulls up on your Spotify that day for new episodes. If I’m gonna clean the house I need to listen to some pods. And I’ll pull up everything that’s come out that week and I will listen to How Long Gone – cos everything else is kind of sh*t.”
Such confidence might seem over the top – but Chris and ‘TJ’ have created something special with How Long Gone. They’ll chop it up with New York drill rapper Fivio Foreign about his favourite prescription pills as he sips champagne on Zoom. They’ll compare the inseams of their shorts with actor Lee Pace. They’ll quiz Apple Music host Zane Lowe about how often he talks to his wife in his radio voice. The range is good – but the consistency makes How Long Gone great.
“Nowadays, everyone can know everything… but they just say, “It’s lit!” One thing that not everyone can do is talk about things in a fun, informative way.”
In a world where everything is accessible, How Long Gone digests contemporary culture in a breezy, entertaining manner. “Since the earth is flat, and everyone likes everything, it’s not even niche any more,” Chris says. “That’s the beauty of the whole thing and the reason why we have so many listeners.”
While the podcast game is massively oversaturated, the duo’s conversational and sh*t-shooting style into the minutiae of pop culture provides a welcome tonic from social feed scrolling. “You can talk to kids today and they’re like “I’m listening to Aphex Twin”… and you’re thinking “What the f*ck, you’re literally 12?” It all feels unbelievable,” TJ explains, “Nowadays, everyone can know everything… but they just say, “It’s lit!” One thing that not everyone can do is talk about things in a fun, informative way.”1 of 2
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How Long Gone
You’d be forgiven for thinking How Long Gone is strictly for the lads, but the podcast has “60 – 40”, male to female listener split of over 500,000 weekly listenrs. “We’ve heard interesting feedback from women, in particular, who say: ‘We get to hear how guys really talk.’ That’s a big part of the appeal.” Chris tells Hypebeast.
The duo’s go-to conversations often find them chatting about new hot spots in their New York and Los Angeles locales, bringing the listener into their world with self-deprecation and a refreshing lack of gate-keeping. “We’re not critics as we take it seriously in the fact that we want to talk about it – but we’re not making it unapproachable or intimidating,” Chris says, “We’ll tell people about the experience of a restaurant, saying it’s fine, versus fawning or destroying it. It’s all the stuff that seemingly doesn’t matter that actually matters the most.”
“I’ve taught our listeners to be fearful, not unlike Britain’s XL Bully’s – there’s no such thing as bad dogs, it’s just bad owners.”
The level of discernment has got to the extent where the Stateside duo are informing guests like Suki Waterhouse about the food scene in her own locale after the actress and singer-songwriter admitted she’d never heard of St. John on a recent episode. “The best part about that was a friend of mine texted me saying it’s because Suki Waterhouse thinks East London is Marylebone – I found it charming that she didn’t know,” Chris laughs when talking about how the duo stay so tapped in, “Even I get that joke now – a year ago I’d be doing a fake laugh, pretending I knew,” Jason explains.
Success has naturally led to live shows – and tours – being a big part of the increasingly hectic How Long Gone schedule. The duality of knowing and not knowing their guests on stage creates an exciting and flat-out hilarious dynamic for the audience, who often get to witness three people meeting for the first time in a live setting.
“Time moves slowly on stage. I’ll glance over because Jason runs the timer on his phone, and there’ll be ages on the clock, and be like “Are you f*cking joking?!” Chris laughs. “If you go up there with, you know, two pages of pre-written talking points and questions and everything like that, that gets you lost in the quicksand a little bit,” Jason reasserts, “The equilibrium is just a bullet point list of keywords… I’ll say “Lizzo” … then boom, eight minutes of content.”
How Long Gone
The pod’s growth has also brought on waves of new fans – with Chris and Jason having differing reactions to their new found appeal. “I think that overall, I struggled with it more than Jason at first – then I realised we actually have a smart pool listeners and 99% of the time, it’s great. Now I feel guilty about feeling that way.” Jason explains that they’ve helped their audience to act normal with them, “I’ve taught our listeners to be fearful, not unlike Britain’s XL Bully’s – there’s no such thing as bad dogs, it’s just bad owners.”
Phoebe Bridgers, Charli XCX, The Chainsmokers and Bret Easton-Ellis are just some of the other big names to jump on the pod – but their episodes with journalists, media folk and people you’ve probably never heard of are just as entertaining. The duo are still able to read the room expertly (Chris is like “The Terminator” when he walks into a venue) and understand localized crowds. That was particularly clear when Chris and Jason pulled up to the UK for their show with Matches, earlier in the year, joined with one of their adolescent hearthrobs, Alexa Chung.
“Our final frontier is being old guys on a daytime chat show. We wanna be like Top Gear, without the cars.”
As self-certified anglophiles, Chris and Jason were incredibly excited to join the British model on stage – and even more so when she posted them straight to her Instagram grid. “A British crowd is a crowd I understand,” Chris says, while talking about performing in London for this first time with Chung, “Put me in an Atlanta Falcons game and the crowd’s gonna be a little more confusing. I think the people we looked up to always dressed very cool. Our guys were corny, while British guys were cool: your Beckhams, your Robbie Williams…”
Who’s their dream guest? “I mean, we’ll get Drake. I guarantee you,” Chris asserts. “Eventually, when we do get a Liam Gallagher on, there’s a good chance that if we’re like so excited, we’re trying so hard, that it might not be a good conversation; we might blow our load or the energy will be off,” Jason explains, “So you have to sort of let it come to you a little bit and have it be mutual. I need this as much as you need this. So there is not that weird dynamic where we’re glazing, like, “Remember when you played at Knebworth? That was so awesome.”
How Long Gone
The success of the pod coupled with the duo’s acerbic taste has seen How Long Gone work on several runs of merch, with a slew of on-point collaborations with brands like Copenhagen’s Palmes, and most recently, Pacific Tote Company. Chris asserts the duo keep their collabs really high quality and to small, on pieces that they would wear and love. “We’re not huge on like, big, crazy graphics. We just work with people we respect on good product.”
Speaking about the recent collaboration with Pacific Tote Company, Jason said: “Most totes are sh*tty, and I realised that having one, really nice one – which is what this collab is – is a much better approach to life. It’s the right size and holds everything but the quality ages really nice – and that’s when a tote looks the best.”
The totes are seemingly not the only thing that set to age well. After the WGA strike ended at the end of September, How Long Gone are on the cusp of switching lanes into TV. Chris and Jason have been eyeing up some lucrative film and TV opportunities, having signed with CAA. The future and “final frontier” of How Long Gone is sounding bright, with plans to expand into visual content and partnerships, with the duo aiming to become “old guys on a daytime chat show”, like good old British TV.
“Yeah, we’re trying to take it up a notch. We recognise that without putting out the show the way that we do, none of that would be possible,” Chris asserts, “The push into something visual is definitely on the table and something we’re working towards. There’s a concept and we’ve been working on and talking about – we now have some partners that we’re really excited about.” Jason agrees, “It’s our final frontier. We wanna be like Top Gear, without the cars.”
Head to How Long Gone’s website to listen to the podcast now.
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