LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Shannon Hoon who checked in with Marc Allan, then a music critic for The Indianapolis Star, in September 1995 was at a turning point in several ways.
In his career, Hoon and his band Blind Melon were on the road to promote a follow-up record to a debut that had topped out at No. 3 on the Billboard charts, determined not to ride the coattails of the 1993 hit single "No Rain." (" 'No Rain 2,' " he told Allan, "was not an option.")
Hoon, a 1985 McCutcheon High School grad, had recently bought a house in Lafayette and was enjoying a relatively inconspicuous life in his hometown, where his friends were still comfortable and willing to tell him where he could go. ("Isn't it wild how you come to miss that?" he laughed.)
And he talked in mesmerized terms about daughter Nico, who had been born weeks earlier, asking the father on the other end of the line about what came next with a baby in the house.
As much as anything, in an interview being resurrected this week as part of a new podcast series, the Shannon Hoon who called a few days ahead of Blind Melon's final stop in Indianapolis was, in Allan's words, "quite a presence."
"I loved him," said Allan, who, along with producer Alan Berry, culled the Hoon interview for the first season of their "The Tapes Archive" podcast.
"You listen to that guy, and he's just so full of energy and optimism," Allan said. "He had that star quality to him on one hand, and yet he was very grounded. That was my impression of him then. You get it when you go back and listen now. Then, when the news broke a month later, it was just shocking."
Fewer than four weeks after that interview -- done in advance of Blind Melon's show at the Murat Theater's Egyptian Room in Indianapolis -- Hoon died on Oct. 21, 1995, of an overdose on a tour bus in New Orleans. He was 28.
"The Tapes Archive" episode is the latest installment in looking back on Shannon Hoon, largely in Shannon Hoon's own words.
"All I Can Say," a documentary pulled from hundreds of hours of video shot by Hoon during his time with Blind Melon, debuted in April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. (When will it ever land close to Hoon's hometown? On Hoon's birthday in September, filmmaker Danny Clinch and the rest of the team on "All I Can Say" posted this note on social media: "We're working hard to secure distribution to get the film out into the world. We'll update as soon as we have any details.")
Allan said the "The Tapes Archive" interview -- set for release Wednesday -- is among 400 or so he saved during 35 years of writing about music and pop culture, dating to his days at Emerson College in Boston in 1976. Allan was with The Indianapolis Star until 2004 and continued to write for Nuvo, an Indianapolis alternative paper, for another seven years, compiling recordings as he went. (He retired from Butler University earlier this year.)
Berry, an Indianapolis videographer and filmmaker, talked Allan into allowing him to digitize the collection and then slowly roll them out in podcast series. Among the first interviews pulled from Allan's stash: comedians George Carlin and Joan Rivers, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, drummer Neil Peart of Rush, Trey Anastasio of Phish and Billy Joel.
"But having a local person -- or reasonably local person -- adds so much to the conversation because we have something in common," Allan said about an interview that was equal parts "Soup" -- Blind Melon's second record that was just hitting stores -- and Hoon's life growing up and going back to Lafayette.
"You can tell, obviously, he has a ton of affection for Lafayette, and he is just a good guy," Allan said. "I had several interviews with (Lafayette native and a Guns n' Roses founder) Izzy Stradlin, and they were fine. But they were nothing like this. This was just an oversized, big personality."
As for the tone of the 45 minutes? Hoon, who joked that he was "the most unpolished interview guy you'll ever meet," offered Allan a relaxed compliment toward the end: "Good conversations, they take the interview out of the interview."
There were plenty of gems in the conversation.
• Hoon talked about how even before the band tried to not get locked into a past represented by the heavy rotation of "No Rain," the "Bee Girl" star of the video proved to be annoying from the start. ("It's not like I leave too many gaps between words," Hoon said, "but this girl made me look like a mime.")
• He talked up guitarist Michael Kelsey, his high school friend and former bandmate in Lafayette cover band Styff Kitten, who was touring as an opening act for Blind Melon. (Kelsey played a short opening set with Lafayette singer Tevi Tarler and drummer Dennis Leas at the Egyptian Room for that 1995 show.)
• On leaving Lafayette and eventually coming home: "The best thing for me was to move away. Once I stepped outside of my home, I was able to deal with home a little better."
• And in a bit of foreboding, Hoon said of New Orleans, where the band had spent months recording the new record: "It's a city where one's will power is tested, that's for sure."
"You can't help but listen to that and go: This is painful to lose a guy like this a month later. It was hard to reconcile that," Allan said.
"Still, I hope people who remember Shannon like this and get a kick out of hearing him, again," Allan said. "And especially get a kick out of hearing him so happy and upbeat, because I get the impression that everybody who knew him, that's the Shannon that they knew. And that's the Shannon that comes across in this interview."