From Mallrat to Media Mogul: Inside Greg Carlwood's Higherside


Like a lot of people, my personal media consumption has radically transformed over the past few years. Of course I still frequent news sites to read articles but it would be fair to say at this point that podcasts have burst into a significant prominence in deconstructing and reconstructing my personal beliefs and greater cosmology. When I really started to question everything, there were podcasts already up and running, custom built to blow minds. 

I quickly realized that the number of quality podcasts catering to micro-interests was overwhelming. To the point that it's actually a great challenge to fit them all in week to week. Things may be getting to a point of over-saturartion in the paranormal and conspiratorial genres but there are a handful of standard bearers that I try not to miss due to their consistent quality and intellectual value.  

The thing I love about Greg Carlwood and his program, The Higherside Chats is that Greg is just a regular and relatable dude. He is however, very knowledgable about the topics he features and really digs down into his research to prepare for his conversations. On the other hand, he is able to bring these topics down to non-initiated audiences and avoid losing people with too much off-putting jargon. 

What makes his personal story really interesting in its own right is that he found a way to break out of the drudgery of hourly pay gigs and routines that could have become his life and has been successfully living off of his own DIY media efforts. 

Part of the beauty of the Internet is that it affords weird non-conformists to carve out their own space and find audiences to connect with on an immediate, one-to-one basis. I admire his tenacity and bravery for going out on a limb against much bigger fish. You know them, the terrestrially syndicated conspiracy shows with mega-ad bucks to back their efforts. 

I don't know about you, but I have largely dropped the terrestrial shows out of my playlist in favor of indie shows like Greg's and the litany of others who provide less shock and more substance. So, if you like what Greg does and want to get some backstory about his journey from retail sales mallrat to paranormal media mogul – you'll enjoy the following exchange as much as I did. 

Greg Carlwood and a furry friend

What was your family like growing up? Was anyone there interested in odd subject matter that influenced you?
Well, I grew up as an only child in Arnold, MO. The biggest news stories there, were The Great Flood of '93 and whenever they'd paint the water tower a different color, just to give you an idea. My parents sent me to a private Catholic school from Kindergarten, which now seems so odd. Religion wasn't a big thing at home, which I think helped me see through it a bit easier than the kids that were really living in that sort of bubble more consistently. Borderline child abuse and mind control, I say. 
My parents were incredibly kind and loving parents, who were sadly quiet normal. I wish I could say my dad had some deep state job he couldn't talk about, or mom communed with spirits to determined what was for dinner, but I guess “Dad liked Star Trek” would be about as weird as it got.  God love 'em. 
Do you remember the first pieces of paranormal or conspiracy entertainment or media that captivated you and drew you into the rabbit-hole?
Probably Child's Play. You know that movie with the Chucky doll? I saw it when I was way too young and it spooked me pretty bad. My imagination would run wild with the idea that stuffed animals or action figures could come alive and “get me.” I didn't really think of it as particularly paranormal, but it certainly is. Of course, I eventually learned that demonic possession of inanimate objects was ridiculous. Then I re-learned that it wasn't.  
The first paranormal media that really blew the doors off in a real way, was probably Dr. Stephen Greer's The Disclosure Project. Two of my good friends and I took a road trip out West, and listening to those testimonies under a canopy of stars in the desert definitely left an impression.  
Conspiracy-wise, I was always butting heads with teachers  and was obsessed with punk/ska music, so a general distaste for authority and top-down control formed quiet early. The first time that all became real though, was Loose Change. Breaking down why 9/11 wasn't what we saw on TV, couldn't have come at a better time for me.  It was first brought up in a room of guys I'd known for years, and some of us learned that day that certain people are just not conspiracy oriented. 
To see lifelong friends get emotionally worked up and shut down, over just the suggestion of an Inside Job before we even watched it, was eye opening. 
How has your family or friends reacted to your path in life – are there any funny anecdotes related to that? Did your parents want you to be a lawyer or something?
I had always talked about being some kind of entertainer or film maker. A lot of people probably snickered at that behind their backs. I would have.  
My parents were pretty open though, they let me forge my own path. Once they saw me drop out of college and my options whittled down to long days at the mall, I think they probably started to sweat a bit more than they let on. 
When I moved to California with a buddy and a plan to grow marijuana in the bedroom of our apartment and sleep on the couch, I think concern for my life choices was at its peak, but that's how committed I was to getting out of the retail trap. We had a few good crops, but once you have two pounds of weed and only know three people in the state, the gameplan for fat stacks of cash starts to break down.  
As for the podcast, I don't think anyone talks shit anymore. That probably wasn't true for the first few years. Now I try to keep the conspiracy stuff out of my (newer) friendships, or I'd lose about half of them. 

What was it like when you decided to give up your traditional 9-5 gig and pursue Higherside as a full-time endeavor? What career did you abandon and how long did it take you to come to that life-altering decision?
I am just so lucky to have my special lady, Theresa. When I wouldn't shut up about starting a podcast, she actually bought me the first mics. She has been super supportive since day one, and she was a crutch that I really needed to take the full leap.
After nearly a decade of managing Great American Cookie kiosks & Sunglass Hut establishments, I had finally gotten the “dream job” as far as I could tell, with Gamestop
If I have to manage a corporate retail chain, why not video games right? Firstly, they actually treat employees much worse, because there are so many to cycle through who think they want the job. Also, you have the resale aspect where even the normal customers are going to be disappointed in those trade values, but then you have the tweakers who are trying to convince you to give them $1.50 for some old broken controller they fished out of the trash. It was a lot of pressure, and really disheartening when I realized I couldn't even suck it up at a video game store.  
I remember one day at our annual Store Managers meeting, I was particularly liquored up and went on a rant at the table about how we're all sitting around busting our asses and drinking the corporate Kool-Aid, meanwhile we all manage million dollar stores and nobody can afford to buy a house. I remember saying, “If we're at this meeting next year, then we really fucked up.” and sure enough, a couple of them are still going several years later. 
I get it. It's very hard to break out of a path that you've been carving (often unknowingly) since high school. Even when The Higherside Chats was finally getting an audience, I still didn't see how it could replace the day job. 
I started with a couple advertisers, but once they pulled out, I saw how unstable that model was for a conspiracy show. Then, I tried donations and something I called “the Moneybomb,” where I'd give half of the donations back to a random listener. Those were great days cause I'd bring in a couple hundred bucks and also gift people between $200-$600. It was awesome to make that sort of difference, but I was advised to quit that model, as it was a little too close to gambling.  
Finally, when Theresa fully encouraged me to quit my job, I had to learn a lot more about websites/taking payments/etc, and made the Plus membership system. Luckily, that ended up being the last piece of the puzzle. 
I actually had a great relationship with my boss, Bob, before leaving Gamestop. We both knew our issues were with the structure, not the people. Although, I used to get respect for clocking in at 6am rather than 9am, but what I was really doing is laying on the floor half asleep, brushing up on my next podcast guest and just being happy to log 3 of the 8+ hours without any customers.  
Eventually, it became clear my performance was slipping and I just called him up and quit. The conversation was pretty much like this:
“Yeah Bob, I think I'm done with Gamestop.”“Ah, I thought you might be. Did you find another job somewhere?”“Well, actually, I've been doing this show online and it's going well enough now that I think I can leave.”“Really? Bring in your keys and tell me about it.”  
Bob quit Gamestop the following week. 
Who was your first guest on the show? What made you choose that individual? Where you a natural right from the start?
The first couple dozen shows were just with friends. We told offensive jokes and smoked weed. A couple of times we tried to podcast on mushrooms, with little success. We also did really hacky bits like, Guess Romeo's Race, -things I knew were not going to cut it, so no, not a natural from the start at all. 
My first real guest, because I was a fan and he actually replied, was Michael Tsarion. He no longer responds to my emails. 

What are the personal or mental dangers of getting too deeply wrapped up in a conspiratorial worldview? Is it a phase that most people get trapped in or do you see most people move through it and beyond it? 
The biggest danger is developing a defeatist's attitude, thinking that you can't get ahead because the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, and their reptilian army are making it impossible and you're just going to stick with your shitty job until it all comes crashing down. Avoid that, and you're alright.  
Conspiracy gives you a more accurate map of how to navigate life, in my opinion. I say this because so much of our formative years are spent being told that cheating is always wrong, and if we just work hard and get a good job with a big company, we'll be happy and successful. 
Well, that's exactly the opposite of how people actually get ahead. They often do cheat, and the most successful people start their own thing. Nobody ever gets paid more than their boss, right? Think about that. Also, the school system is set up to breed people who are subservient to a management class. Funny how that management class is who paid for the education system and made it mandatory. A little insurance policy for their market share, perhaps? 
We have these warped ideas about the old days of child labor, but those were 10 yrs olds who knew how to farm and take care of themselves. Now we have a system that teaches kids essentially nothing practical or useful until college. Adult children, with plenty of bosses around to give them chores. That's what they want. Be better. 
Do you recall the worst rabbit hole you got swept up in?
Flat Earth. Eric Dubay makes one hell of an argument. 
I have always been intrigued by your approach to the topics you deal with. You have mentioned in the past that a lot of conspiracy researchers come into the topic from a religious or right-wing political bent that heavily shapes the narrative or at least the conclusions they end up reaching. Did you start Higherside specifically to offer a counterpoint that is less ideologically concentrated?
I definitely did. When THC started, it was really just Coast to Coast AM and Alex Jones here in the states. Both lean heavily right/christian and didn't agree with me. I grew up more liberal/atheist. That shows on THC, but I really wanted it to be as unbiased and focused on the guest as it could be.  
It's funny, because now because my views on both liberalism and atheism have softened quiet a bit. 
In the case of liberalism, I think it's changed. It used to be the conservatives who were policing thought and imposing censorship, which has now sort of flipped. I'm sure I just hadn't lived long enough to realize that the back and forth is part of the game.
In the case of atheism, it's because I've communed with beings on the astral plane. I've learned to stop labeling myself anything now, because eventually what the label represents will change, or you will. 
Many researchers or show hosts can come across as very dark or worse, as rabid fanatics spewing fear and division. How important is having a sense of humor when wadding through these topics?
Humor is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. You're right in that a lot of the stuff we talk about is depressing. Joking about it doesn't change the landscape one way or the other, but it does release endorphins.  
Honestly, I just don't have the “offended” gene. To see it trigger in other people just because (as Joe Rogan would say) someone made the wrong series of noises with their mouth, is fascinating to me. 
Do you have an episode you are most proud of or a guest you landed that you didn’t expect to book? 
I'm probably most proud of the health related episodes. There was this one in particular:
Dr. Richard Jacoby | The Toxic Effects of Sugar and The Corporate Food Conspiracy.
I still get emails from people saying that episode changed their lives. They were finally motivated to stop eating sugar and processed foods, and the weight just melted off. That's amazing, right? Alien demons and the Hollow Earth are fun, but getting feedback like that really sticks with a guy. 
As for guests I didn't expect to land, that still happens almost every month. The first true, “Holy shit, it's happening!” one for me was Jacque Fresco of the Venus Project. I was really into that concept for a while. Another would be Prof. Griff from Public Enemy. That still surprises me. 

What have you learned about hosting a show that has come as a result of years of producing the show? Both on the technical side relating to what makes a good show and on the personal side having to do with how you look at the world. 
Don't cater. Lots of people will have opinions on how you could do it better, once you've already made it popular. A lot of them might even be right, but try to stay as true to form as you can. The worst thing about every show I like, is that it eventually changes into something I like a lot less. They change formats, add segments that aren't that good, inject more ads, add new people, switch to video, etc. I'm always keeping that in mind. 
Podcasts are usually a 1 to 1 experience. If I like a show, I don't care how many other people are listening. Hosts sometimes forget that, and think they need to do something different at a certain point. Different from how you built the audience? Is that wise? I'm not so sure.
Have you gradually gotten more involved in experimenting with the tools of the occult since getting to know some magicians? Which guests might have encouraged or prompted you to take that dive? 
A little, but probably not to the degree the audience thinks. The fact is that magic is hard. It works, but it's hard. 
I have a guest coming up, Dr. Stephen Skinner, who is like the professor of magic. One I'm really, really, excited and proud to be presenting to the audience. The only reason the English speaking world has access to some of the old grimoires, is because he translated them.
He made the analogy that magic is like chemistry. You have to do everything just right to get results, and few people take the time, even though it can change your life. It's like most things we talk about on THC. The people who are convinced it's bullshit, are the ones who have done the least amount of research. That applies to 9/11, Vaccines, UFOs, and of course magic.  
The interest in magic, for me,  came from examining world events, secret society doctrines, and the actions of the Elite - and noticing little strange things that hinted at some form of esoterica. Maybe they are using tools they didn't teach us in school?  Again, wouldn't be the first time.   
Also, Gordon White, of RuneSoup.com has to get the shout out for taking me further down that path and understanding than anyone else. In fact, I'm halfway though his fascinating Grimoire course. Get into it!
Greg with Gordon White doing something magical

Every week there’s a new guest with a new book to promote. Does most of your “work” schedule consist of reading? That’s a lot of damn books!
Hell yeah it is. As a listener of these types of shows, I used to think that aspect cheapened things. “Oh, another guy just making things up trying to sell books. Great.” But that's a mindset for people who have never made money on their own from an expertise they've spent a lot of time developing. Of course they should write books, and hosts would be better served by actually reading them. (Helpful hint for the competition out there!)
What bothers me is when a guest avoids detail and answers every question with some form of “Well, that's in my book.” Yeah. I know. It's a good book, that's why you're here. My show has to be good too, buddy. 
Speaking of books, do you have a top five that you have read related to the show?
Gordon White – The Chaos Protocols: Magical Techniques For Navigating The New Economic Reality. (Great for learning to fold magic into your life, how to take control of your life, and why you can't depend on the old ways much longer.) 
James Taylor Gatto - Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (Why school is the way it is. Mind blowing. ) 
William Michael Mott - Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures: A Study of Subterranean Mysteries in History, Folklore, and Myth (Some of my favorite stories about inner Earth beings I've heard.) 
Peter Levenda – The Sinister Forces Trilogy (A great walk through strange areas of history, and a look at how supernatural forces would have played a role in organizing them. Amazing.)  
John Scura – Battle Hymn (Even he wasn't crazy about the name of the book, but I got him for my 50th episode to breakdown the Rothschild and Rockefeller families, and it's a great book for that.)
After so much exposure to weird and wild ideas, are you easily able to exercise discretion in what you take into your worldview, or do you find your self believing things and then disbelieving them in a constant reshaping process?
I would say I try on different hats, but my views do get a bit more cemented with time. People mistake exploring an idea for accepting it too, it's important to distinguish between those. 
Again, people tell me all day vaccines are harmless, but how many of them know what Thimerosal even is? Or what MRR stands for? Or what the SV40 virus was? Doctors used to promote cigarettes, you want to just take their word for it? 
You have to really research these things. Sometimes I do it as a thought exercise, sometimes I just really want to hear the best arguments for a fringe idea. Then you think about it for a few days, and if you can poke enough holes in it, toss it out.  
People should have far fewer knee-jerk reactions to controversial material though, if you ask me. Base it on data, when you can. 
Who are, hands down, your top three favorite people to talk to? For instance, if people just restricted themselves to those three people, they would have a pretty complete perspective on all the important territory?
Joseph Farrell, Gordon White & Nick Redfern (for the paranormal side)  – 3 of my most often returning guests. Peter Levenda should go in there too, but you said three. Sorry, Peter.
Have relationships with certain guests split over into your personal life? What has that experience been like to actually hang out with some of these guys in person? 
Definitely. Listeners and guests, really. Gordon White showed me and my lady a great time in London. The hosts of, Those Conspiracy Guys, showed us a great time in Dublin. The man behind, Lifted Labs, got us super high in Oregon. I went on a nearly two week bus tour with Freeman Fly and Dan Fogler to promote Dan's movie Don Peyote
Toured the Laurel Canyon hot spots with Mark Devlin. Spent two weeks in Armenia on a Graham Hancock tour. The list goes on. Usually when I get together with these people, we just go down the rabbit hole and get fucked up. Nobody has struck me as particularly strange, yet. 
Greg with Graham Hancock

The “conspiratainment” genre seems pretty mutually supporting. What are the trusted shows or blogs you turn to on a regular basis for info?
Gordon White's www.RuneSoup.com  
Chris Knowles' www.secretsun.blogspot.com 
Joseph Farrell's https://gizadeathstar.com  
Everything Is A Rich Man's Trick
Michael Joseph's Esoteric Series
What have been the most important psychedelic experiences you’ve had in your life in terms of types of hallucinogens? How important are the insights you’ve pulled out of those trips?
I talk about these a lot, but the one that takes the cake is the experience I had where some friends and I were going to smoke some Salvia, just because it was legal here when we moved to CA. I had a serious blast off experience. I left the body, but it felt way more familiar than it did foreign. I spoke with two entities briefly in this other place.  
A male being who was really siked for me to be there, and welcomed be “back.” He seemed to think it was particularly interesting that I returned in this form. Then, there was a female energy that was far more cynical. She had the attitude of a permanent eye roll. She kept reminding the male being that my visit would be brief and that “It's never a long stay, so why get so worked up?” It was fairly paradigm changing.  
I also have experiences on Mushrooms, LSD, and Ecstasy that all profoundly changed my life and I almost certainly wouldn't be where I am without each one of those compounds. All used sparingly. 
A lot of conspiracies are just fun possibilities that serve as interesting “what if…” exercises that really do no harm. On the other hand I feel that a good number are peddled to the detriment of our culture by directing hysteria at minorities or esoteric practices as a means of scapegoating. You have covered pretty much everything under the sun on your show. Are there certain topics that you feel shouldn’t be given a platform because they are so outlandish or slanderous? Is there a responsibility for someone in your role to self-police against that kind of material? 
I've considered this, and I only have myself to go off of, but I've always enjoyed exploring taboo paradigms. I also like outlandish theories, and offensive humor. Personally, I have no problem switching between those things on a dime either. I can only assume some fraction of people feel the same way.  
I wouldn't say I regret exploring any topic, because I don't consider the topics of each show, necessarily an endorsement of that position. Sometimes it's like, “This is what a Flat Earther thinks.” “These are the data points that make a Holocaust denier think that way.” I would never say there's anything wrong with understanding a perspective, even if you think it's completely missing the boat. We should try and see where people are coming from before we shut them down.  
The topic of “time wasting” conspiracies does come up quiet often too, and I always just laugh. For some reason everyone starts acting like they have perfectly efficient lives when the conversation drifts to conspiracies. Sure, all that Facebook scrolling, or the 6 seasons of Game of Thrones was time well spent - but watching a chemtrail documentary is judged more harshly?
Of all the subcategories of paranormal or conspiracy topics, what are the niches that you are personally the most passionate about covering? 
I'm getting some enjoyment out of helping to increase people's understanding of magic, how it works, and what it can be. Although, I'm still talking third hand, there's something there. 
Also, I like highlighting the Industrial Age Robber Barons.  Just from them we got: 
- Suppressed energy alternatives to oil.  
- Top tier public transportation systems dismantled. Electric car killed. 
- Prohibition of alcohol and marijuana, the later is still happening of course.  
- A required-by-law school system structured from Prussian military tactics designed to create dependency and obedience.  
- Oil Wars. 
- Big Pharma/The suppression of natural cures for oil based chemical alternatives.  
...and now many of these petrochemical companies control the food supply. Not good. We should like, stop them or something. 
Do you expect to see things happening on the political level that we have never seen before with Trump and his administration at the helm? What are you bracing for?
In some ways, but the conspiracy world thinks we're always one deep breath away from the collapse, and has for as long as I've been going to the meetings. Trump is nuts, but his election wasn't much different than a more extreme (and less believable) version of the “I'm the outsider!” thing they did for Obama.  
I do think the American Empire is getting mighty expensive, wheels are turning, and we're going to see a serious economic decline in the West over the next few decades. We've been bled dry in a lot of ways. The 2008 bailout for one. These things will start to effect us eventually.  
Watch some Federal Reserve documentaries and it starts to seem like the fractional reserve banking system is supposed to break a country down to the bankers over 100 years. We've just gotten so big, we've kicked the can down the road a bit. 

I know you have trepidations on seeing the government abolished or dismantled. What positives do you think can be achieved through government action, given just how fucked up and corrupt the system is?
I'm all for making government smaller, and I think that's the key. Let states decide what their laws are. If you want to smoke weed freely, go to Colorado. If you can't be around abortions, go to Texas, etc. As a people, we have to worry less about making sure our team wins, and work to increase freedom and choice for all sides. To steal some words from Gordon White's Chaeconomica: Label-Free Edition 
“The goal should not be 'more' government spending. It should be better government spending. And that begins with de-risking the effect of croneyism by decentralising every damn thing, not centralising it further because you think your preferred dictator is honest. Croneyism will always exist. But let's have a system so that when it happens, it brings down a regional school council, not the richest country in the history of the planet.” 
I concur. Smallerize it. 
What are two or three things every person can focus on in their lives and communities that will actual make a difference or offer some defense against the games that play out at the top of the pyramid that we as individuals can do little to effect? 
The best, and sort of only, thing we can do is work on ourselves. I heard Jordon Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience say something to the effect of  “How many protesters don't even have a clean room?”
It's sort of true. Fix the foundations of ourselves first, or there's nothing to build a better way on top of.  
Also, get involved locally. Some conspiracy gurus will tell you that it's futile, that participating in their system in any way, is to energetically submit your power and blah, blah, blah.  
Okay, there might be some truth to that, but get involved anyway. Otherwise it's guaranteed to be just criminals and assholes making decisions. 
_____________________________________

Find more Greg at THE HIGHERSIDE CHATS or on TWITTER

3 comments:

  1. Fantastic interview mate! I've been an avid listener of THC just a year ago, right when I really started delving in to this underworld. It's been a steep journey but Greg and THC have really been a key inspiration to stay true, and also, not to worry too much, because we're more powerful than we think. As I'm struggling to find what to do with my time, I realize that the only thing keeping me from doing what I like is a deep-seated fear. But slowly but surely, and with all the inspiration, I might just learn how to make my own website too. Peace and thank you for this great interview.

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