Duncan Sheik is probably best-known for “Barely Breathing,” the hit single from his self-titled 1996 debut album that went Gold, spent more than a year on the charts, and earned the singer-songwriter a Grammy nomination. Beyond writing one of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century, Sheik has subsequently released a wealth of tremendous albums with a continually-changing and an ever-evolving sound. Along the way, he expanded his artistic scope to a career in composing—winning a Grammy and two Tony Awards for his work on Broadway. But long before he was writing world-renown songs and entertaining audiences with his work in two different musical mediums, Sheik was a kid in South Carolina playing hair metal covers in a talent show.

Recently, Sheik spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about what he’s working on now, his recently released Live At The Cafe Carlyle album, and some especially notable moments from his long and accomplished career in music. Over the course of the hour-long discussion, Sheik opened up about his adolescent rock band, formative years writing and recording himself while attending boarding school, playing in the orchestra pit (and later playing in a band) with Lisa Loeb at Brown University, the ups and downs that came with sudden mainstream notoriety, defying industry expectations, his unlikely path to musical theater, and much more.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Duncan Sheik (“Memento”).