Weird Al Yankovic
Jim and Bob chat with Weird Al Yankovic about his all-new show, the Ridiculously Self-Ingulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour!
Listen to part one of our interview with Weird Al here!
JB: I like to share, I really do, but when we have a great musician that’s on the show that I know either Hannah Rae or Bob is a superfan of, I gotta let you talk to them. It’s not fair to take everything for myself.
B: And thank you so much, because it was Weird Al Yankovic, been a huge fan since I was, like, ten years old, had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him. A very smart, clever guy, and a super nice guy. Couldn’t have been nicer. Weird Al Yankovic…
B: So you are on the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour–
Weird Al: Yes I am.
B: Why is it ill-advised?
Weird Al: Well, it was an idea i had that I thought would be fun for me and fun for the band, but I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be fun for everybody else, for the people in the audience…it’s a stripped-down show, cause normally, for the last 20-30 years, we’ve been doing these big production shows with lots of theatrics, props, some costumes and big video screens, and it’s a real show. We’ve been doing that and getting it bigger and better and more and more every year, and instead of trying to top ourselves this year, we thought “let’s go in the total other direction, let’s strip it down to nothing, and just have the guys walk out on stage and just play songs.
And not only that, but we’re not even really playing the hits, we’re not doing the big parodies that most people come to see, we’re doing the deep cuts, the obscure tracks…this is a tour that’s really geared for the hardcore fan that’s been hanging around for a long time that’s thinking, hey, he’s never palyed that really weird, obscure song from the third album…we learned over four hours of material, around fifty or so songs, and the other thing about this show…in the normal show, cause it’s so tightly produced and so theatrical, it’s gotta be the same every night. One song has to lead to other, there’s a costume backstage waiting to be put on, you know, so it’s gotta go like clockwork. This show, it’s literally a different show every single night. We mix it up, different songs, different order, if you follow shows, this is a good show to go tourchasing, cause if you go to three different shows, you’ll see three different shows…
B: I think the first time I heard you was Dr. Demento, which was just you and an accordion!
Al: Yeah! That was it.
B: My Bologna…
Al: Literally recorded in the bathroom.
B: Was that the first instrument you learned how to play? The accordion?
Al: Yeah! My parents decided that I should take music lessons and they were trying to decide between guitar and accordion…and they thought, well, if young Alfred plays the accordion, he’ll be the life of every party! You’re never alone when you’re an accordion player. So they made that decision for me.
B: Cause that never happens to guitar players…
Al: Oh no. That wasn’t big in the sixties.
B: When you weren’t playing the accordion, what were some of your favorite things to do when you were a kid?
Al: As a kid, gosh…
B: Did you play soccer?
Al: I played tennis, but that was only when I was a teenager, and when I was a kid…oh, miniature golf when I was a real little kid, I was really into that. In fact, when I was about four years old, I designed a whole minature golf course, which is maybe why I decided later on I should be an architect, because I got my degree in architecture, but when I was four…I’m sure it’s gone now, but I designed an entire miniature golf course.
B: Now there’s a concept for ya, what about a Weird Al miniature golf course?
Al: I really had never thought of that before and I’m probably not gonna think about it again.
B: It was an idea, and I’d play it.
Al: Well, that’s good!
More about Weird Al
FEW WOULD HAVE GUESSED that “Weird Al” Yankovic – who as a shy, accordion-playing teenager got his start sending in homemade tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show – would go on to become a pop culture icon and the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time with classic song and music video parodies such as “Eat It,” “Like a Surgeon,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” “White & Nerdy” and “Word Crimes.” Now in his fourth decade as America’s foremost song parodist, he has been honored with four Grammy® Awards and fifteen nominations, including his most recent win in 2015 for Mandatory Fun.
In 2015 and 2016, Weird Al’s Mandatory World Tour encompassed 200 shows throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, including two nights with a full orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl and a sold-out show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. In the fall of 2017, Legacy Recordings will release Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic, a career-spanning box set of all 14 of Al’s studio albums remastered for 150-gram vinyl and CD, plus an exclusive rarities album and 100-page book of archival photos, all housed in a replica of Al’s trademark accordion.
Mandatory Fun, Yankovic’s 14th studio album (released July 2014), became the first comedy album in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and the first to even reach the top of that chart since 1963. On Spotify, Yankovic set the U.S. record for having the most tracks from one album in the viral top 10 at one time, taking the first four spots. Internationally, the album debuted in the Top 10 in both Canada and Australia (#3 and #9 respectively). In addition, ”Word Crimes” debuted in the Billboard Top 40, making Al one of only three people to have had Top 40 singles in each of the last four decades, the other two being Michael Jackson and Madonna.
For Mandatory Fun, Al released eight music videos in eight days, including “Tacky” (a star-studded parody of Pharrell Willliams’ “Happy”) and “Word Crimes” (an animated grammar lesson to the tune of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”). Combined, the videos accrued more than 46 million views in their first week alone.
In the wake of his 1989 cult-hit feature film UHF, his late 1990s CBS Saturday morning series The Weird Al Show and numerous AL-TV specials he has made for MTV and VH1 over the years, Yankovic has remained a staple of film and television, from appearances on The Simpsons and 30 Rock to a musical production at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards. More recently he has guested on ABC’s Galavant (as a singing monk) and The Goldbergs (as the ‘80s version of himself). In the spring of 2015 Yankovic joined the fifth and final season of IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! as its co-host and bandleader, and he can currently be heard as the voice of the title character in Disney XD’s new animated series Milo Murphy’s Law (from the creators of Phineas and Ferb). Additional voiceover work includes Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Adventure Time, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The 7D, Teen Titans Go!, We Bare Bears, Pig Goat Banana Cricket, Uncle Grandpa, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Bojack Horseman, and the DC animated feature Batman vs. Robin.
2016 saw the release of George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison (featuring Al’s live performance of “What is Life?”), while NECA Toys debuted the first in a line of retro-clothed Weird Al action figures.
In the last decade, Yankovic’s music and videos have only become more popular. His 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood spawned the Platinum Billboard Top 10 single “White & Nerdy,” the video for which spent two months at #1 on iTunes. In 2009 he wrote, directed and starred in the themed attraction Al’s Brain: A 3-D Journey through the Human Brain featuring cameos by his mother-in-law and Paul McCartney. Two years later, Comedy Central released the concert special “Weird Al” Yankovic Live: The Alpocalypse Tour, filmed at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall. In 2012, The Nerdist Channel debuted Face 2 Face with “Weird Al” Yankovic, a fake talk show web series where Al got to “interview” some of his “close, personal friends” in the entertainment biz.
Yankovic added “New York Times bestselling author” to his resumé with the release of his 2011 children’s book, When I Grow Up (HarperCollins). The following year welcomed Weird Al: The Book (Abrams), an illustrated hardcover on Al’s life and career, followed by another Al-penned kids’ book, My New Teacher and Me! in 2013. An animated series based on those children’s books is currently being developed in partnership with the Jim Henson Company. Among other publishing milestones, on April 21, 2015 Weird Al had the honor of becoming MAD Magazine’s cover boy and the first guest editor in the magazine’s 63-year history.
For more information on Weird Al, please visit weirdal.com.
“Music is such a powerful way to convey my thoughts and ideas; it’s like a journal, a true snapshot of my life.” – Ava Della Pietra
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