When radio DJs go on air, they live in a bubble, cut off from the rest of the world. “We always pretend other stations don’t exist because you only want people to listen to your station, right?” says Class 95’s Justin Ang, who’s one half of The Muttons together with Vernon A.
And by “other stations”, Justin is referring to Class 95’s sister channels — such as 987, Gold 905, Love 972, Yes 933, Oli 968 and RIA 897 — at Mediacorp.
“We’ve known the DJs from the other stations for so long and we have such history with each and every one of them,” Justin tells 8days.sg over the phone. “But nobody ever talks about our friendship and our history.”
Not anymore. This is where The Muttons’ The Mutton Sandwich Podcast enters the picture to fill in the blanks.
Launched in July, the podcast gives Justin and Vernon the opportunity to engage in deep-dive exchanges with their fellow radio pals, sharing anecdotes from their careers and personal lives and “everything in between” (That’s why it’s called a sandwich — cue rimshot.)
Justin says he was inspired from watching Variety’s ‘Actor on Actor’ series (where Chris Evans swapped war stories with Paul Rudd, and Jennifer Aniston shot the breeze with Lisa Kudrow) during Circuit Breaker. “I’m like, we do interviews all the time, we interview big stars, but interviews are so much fun to listen to when you know they’re friends,” Justin explains.
He continues, “When you know that the two people interviewing each other are real-life friends and buddies, there are all sorts of inside jokes and all sorts of Easter eggs. It’s so much more enjoyable than a regular broadcaster or journalist interviewing a star.”
True, but isn’t that a tad self-indulgent sometimes? That’s the whole point of doing a podcast, says Justin. When it comes to doing their own Muttons in the Morning show, they have to rein in on their revelry. But on a podcast, they can unleash the beast, so to speak.
“Radio is free-to-air and radio listeners might stumble upon you, or it’s just there,” Justin adds. “Podcast listeners, however, choose to listen to you because your name is on the podcast. Nobody stumbles upon your podcast. So we’ve learnt that in the world of podcasts, it’s the complete opposite. You have to be self-indulgent.”
8 DAYS: Even though the guests are your friends, surely there is a limit to how much they’re willing to share.
JUSTIN ANG: Exactly. If they were to say, “Sorry, I’m not comfortable with this question,” we’ll take it out. We’re not trying to be a sensational podcast. We’re not going to talk about who they slept with — that’s not what we want to talk about. When I say inside jokes, I mean stuff that happened between us privately, not in the public eye. There’s no reason to ever talk about it, but if it’s a funny story, let’s talk about it on the podcast! It’s not going to upset anyone or get anyone into trouble — it’s just entertaining to listen to. For example, with Jean Danker, we were never going to ask about, “Oh, what about your husband [Glenn Ong] who works for a competitor [One FM 91.3]?” It’s not meant to be a sensationalised, tabloid podcast. It’s really meant to be about our relationship with them, and all the funny things we’ve been through as friends.
The show’s first guest, 987’s Sonia Chew, revealed that she and Joakim Gomez went on a date before. Did that surprise you?
That’s a great revelation! We genuinely got a shock when we heard that. Sonia and Joakim are two of our closest friends. We talk all the time, we have secret WhatsApp groups and stuff like that. But we were stunned! We never knew that Sonia and Joakim used to date. Even though they went on one date, we still couldn’t believe the fact that they dated! That was a really fun thing to learn! We actually have Joakim lined up.. Obviously, Sonia didn’t have a nice thing to say about that date. So he will now have the right to reply. We will specifically reference that and see what he has to say.
Is that the biggest revelation you’ve heard so far?
We recently did an episode with [Love 972’s] Dennis Chew. As a DJ, he’s most famous for his ghost stories; everyone knows Chongqing [Dennis’ Chinese name] for his ghost stories. Turns out — and we never knew this — the reason he started telling ghost stories was because of Vernon! And we never knew that until we recorded the podcast! It turns out that Chongqing heard a story that Vernon can ‘see’ [spirits] — and Vernon really can see them lah. Back when we were in the old Caldecott campus — not a very clean place (laughs) — Vernon saw a lot of things, experienced a lot of things. And stories of what Vernon has seen and experienced started going around and when Chongqing heard it one day, he was like, “Oh my God, that’s an insane story! I have to tell it on the radio!” He did, and that was how the [YES 933’s ‘Grandpa Zhou’s Ghost Stories’ segment was born. We never knew that Vernon was actually the genesis of Chongqing’s most famous segment (laughs).
That’s funny because Sonia and 987’s Germaine Tan, in their inteviews, said that if it weren’t for The Muttons, they probably won’t have a radio career.
That’s a running theme! Not that we planned for it, but it’s a running theme that we can claim credit for everyone’s success somehow (laughs).
At the end of each show, you let your guests ask a question about The Muttons. Did those questions reveal anything new about you and Vernon?
Honestly, there isn’t one. I’ve been work-married to him for so long, there’s nothing about him that I don’t know and vice versa. We just spend way too much time together, and we told each other every secret in our lives. There’s nothing we don’t know (laughs).
Kinda scary, that.
It is a little scary, to be honest. A lot of people think we live together and that we live in the same house (laughs). We always tell stories of how when I order McDelivery late at night and whoever shows up at the door would ask, “Eh, where’s Vernon?” And I’m like, “Why? Why do you ask that? He doesn’t live here! This is my house.” So people think we live together! It’s nothing new lah.
Your guests are the DJs from the various Medicorp radio stations. What happens next when you run out of DJs to interview?
We never intended for this podcast to be a forever-and-ever podcast. We actually intended for it to be… okay lah, this is not a confirmed plan, but I’ll tell you anyway. So Season 1 features our radio friends — literally, our closest friends in the industry. We might be planning a Season 2 [where we invite] our friends from outside of radio, like TV and music. Still household names, just that they don’t do radio lah. But they’re still our friends. We know so many people in the entertainment industry, so we will probably do that in the next season.
The podcast is called The Mutton Sandwich. You and Vernon have a food business as well, roast meat restaurant Fook Kin. Who from the food industry would you like to interview on the show?
Well, purely again from the self-indulgent point of view, the first person we will interview is our business partner at Fook Kin. His name is Bernie Tay. He made his name not at Fook Kin, but as the founder of The Fat Boys Group, which just turned 10 years old this year. His story is worth listening to. You think of every single burger brand you can think of, and Fat Boys is really the one local brand that was built from the ground up, and has so many outlets and has become so incredibly successful, all from the incredible work of one man. The stories he can tell are really fascinating. So we would love for people to hear his story.
Great product placement for Fook Kin, too.
Yes! Of course. And we have the chance to talk about our food businesses, right? Only because we know these stories already, and we think they deserve to be told. And he’s such a fun guy as well. So he would be the absolute first person we interview.
Actually, I know he can’t even speak English and we don’t know him, but I would love to interview Chan Hon Meng, the guy behind the one Michelin-starred Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. Because from the little we know of him, he’s such an incredibly hardworking and ridiculously humble man that I think his is a story that deserves to be told. He’s such a simple but hardworking and dedicated man to his craft. It’s humbling to watch his success and all that. I don’t think he speaks English even, so that would be fun (laughs).
You’ll need an interpreter.
Or me and Vernon can use our really poor Mandarin to try to communicate with him (laughs). One of the first times I ever met him was the night he won his first Michelin star — at the Michelin awards itself. That night, after he received his award, he wanted to leave the ceremony immediately. So the people in charge of the ceremony were like, “Oh, you’re leaving so soon? Let’s call you a cab.” He says, “No, no, no, I want to take a bus home.” They were like, “No, don’t be crazy! We’re going to call you a taxi or get you a car,” and he said, “No, I cannot take taxi. I’m a bus person. I take bus.” This guy is in his suit and he just won a freakin’ Michelin star, but he can’t even imagine himself taking a taxi! He has to take a bus home. And the only reason why he had to leave the ceremony, the biggest night of his life, and take a bus home now, is because he still had to wake up at 4am the next morning to prepare his chickens for his loyal customers the next day. Wow! I was so amazed by that moment. This is the most humble, dedicated guy I’ve ever seen to his craft.
The Mutton Sandwich Podcast is now streaming on meLISTEN.
Photo: Joakim Gomez & Sonia Chew: Aik Chen