Archive for June, 2010

Band Bonding: An Interview with Paul and Storm

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2010 by mattstorm

I had the pleasure of doing some Q + A  with the wonderful and funny Paul and Storm.  I first heard of these guys when i went to PAX East earlier this year.  They have great sense of humor and they are the nicest guys to boot.  You can check out what they’re all about at their website here. Much like their twitter account Paul’s responses are with a P and Storm’s responses are with an S.  Here is our interview.  Enjoy!

Me:  What musician, band or comedian was your biggest influence?

S: If I had to pick one, it would be “Weird Al” Yankovic, who really is the one-man Beatles of modern comedy music. But I’ve been influenced by (or we, depending on if we’re aggregating our answers) many acts, including the actual Beatles, Monty Phython, Tom Lehrer, MST3K, TMBG, and pretty much anything that has harmony and/or is oddball clever.

P: From a performing standpoint, groups like Barenaked Ladies, The Bobs (an a cappella group from San Francisco), and Moxy Fruvous (a canadian pop/rock quartet) were all very influential to our particular improvisatory performing style.

Me:  How did the both of you meet?

S: We answered an ad to become part of a doo wop a cappella group that lasted all of one summer. After that we formed a new group with two of the other guys, called Da Vinci’s Notebook, which we were part of until it broke up after about ten years. Because we didn’t want to get day jobs, we decided to form the duo, pick up instruments, and write brand-new material. So far so good.

Me: What interests do you have outside of music?

S: Tons of interests. We both enjoy pop culture, particularly movies and television. Science fiction, history, video gaming, eating good food, gardening, our families, and general do-gooding also leap to mind.

P: What he said. I particularly am a pop culture junkie (current music excepted; see question #6), and Nexflix streaming is my crack.

Me:  Was music your first career choice?  If not what was?

S: In hindsight music has always been our career, but when we first started Da Vinci’s Notebook Paul was doing help desk and graphic design for a law firm, and Storm was a financial analyst with MCI.

P: While I always enjoyed performing, I’d never *seriously* considered making a living at it. Our old band started out as a hobby group, and over the years, slowly grew more popular until it eventually become a second job, and then our only job.

Me:  How did you get involved with PAX as well as Jerry and Mike?

S: Jonathan Coulton was the connection.

P:  We’ve been appearing regularly as an opening act for Jonathan for the past four years or so. He, of course, became quite popular in the past few years, and played PAX several times.

S:  We started not-very-subtly lobbying Jerry and Mike when they came to a JoCo/P&S show in Seattle three years ago. Then they decided they’d take a chance on us for ’08, and it was pure Win.

Me:  What kind of music do you listen to?

S: I really don’t listen to a ton of music anymore. When I do it’s like comfort food–classic rock, 70’s and 80’s pop, TMBG, and a smattering of newer stuff. Every once in a while a new band will sneak in, like Tally Hall, but it’s a bit embarrassing how little I know about current popular music.

P: I am, ashamedly, much the same. I’ve become that old guy who doesn’t know most of the popular acts these days, the one I used to swear I would never become. I try to keep in touch with the particularly popular stuff, but am hopelessly ignorant of much.

Me:  What’s your favorite movie of all time?

S: Toy Story. I wasn’t even close to being a kid when it came out, but it never fails to cheer me up when I’m bummin’.

P: It changes often for me; but it usually bounces between Singin’ in the Rain and Seven Samurai, depending on how cheerful I feel that day.

We also had a few reader questions!

Mary asks:  What comes first when writing new material; the joke or the music?

S: Usually the joke, but not always. Sometimes we’ll start with the idea of doing a certain musical style, and then think of what would be funny to do in that style. But by and large songs grow out of a single funny inspiration.

George asks:  Can God microwave a breakfast burrito so hot he himself cannot eat it?

S: No.

P: Depends on the god. Kali? No. Anansi? Maybe. Zeus: RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

Here is the video for one of their songs “Nun Fight”

Band Bonding: An Interview with Mike Phirman

Posted in Bands, Interviews, Music In General on June 14, 2010 by mattstorm

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Phirman, a comedy musician.   He recently released his record The Very Last Songs I Will Ever Record (Volume One) and I will have a review of this awesome record soon to come.  Mike was also a part of the comedy duo Hard ‘n’ Phirm with G4 personality and funny man Chris Hardwick.  I had the honor of talking to Mike on Skype and here is a transcript of our interview.  Enjoy!

Me:  It’s clear by listening to your new album that you have many musical influences. What artists have influenced your work the most?

Mike: I would say music wise definitely Stevie Wonder inspires me the most.  If I could be like 70’s and early 80’s Stevie Wonder that’s the best to me especially his funk.   The song Street Meat to me is my sound. But then I’ve always liked the Beaches Boys and I’ve always liked things with harmonies because I’ve always found harmonizing to be a lot of fun.  Weird Al as well.  Definitely my main three are Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys and Weird Al.

Me:   When writing what comes first the joke or the music?

Mike: Actually some of them are marriages of two totally random things.   I think the easiest ones the joke comes first because that’s usually from listening to something and saying you know what, that would be funny to put something different in there like the song “Lollytown” which is this concert and Rage Against The Machine cancels and they just put in place this little goof ball band and the crowd goes nuts.  That was one of those where nothing really funny  in that happens  and then the crowd goes bananas for this band that otherwise would probably  get murdered.   So from that point of view that’s one where the song doesn’t really matter.  The ones that tend to be more difficult are the ones that start with an idea and the music like the song “Street Meat” and saying I think it would be a cool idea to do a song about street meat.  Me and my wife were walking past a street meat vendor and started singing that hook and then I have to write lyric after lyric for a song about street meat.

Me:  Were you always interested in doing comedy music or did you start out as only one over the other?

Mike:  Well I guess it’s gone kind of back and forth really I mean I think I started doing comedy music whatever that is when you’re in high school, just doing goofy songs but not with full intent of this is it! It was just fun to do and I’ve always had a four track and I because ya know just hated girls and sex. Then I played in a little cover band for fun and I played bass for my church in high school.  So there has always been an interest.  I loved just putting on random music and just playing along with it seriously but I don’t think I’d be able to seriously record because I’d get to a point where I think it’s a decent song and then  I would have to write a joke or I would shrivel.

Me:  How did Hard ‘n’ Phirm come together?

Mike:  That was at UCLA and we were both in a comedy club that got together once a week and just hashed out comedy stuff or in my case at that time I was just doing basic guitar comedy and Chris was doing stand up and we hung out for a little while.  It turned out he had a great voice and we had half similar sensibilities and we started out doing these terrible acts like dueling Homer Simpsons and stuff like that or something like let’s do a Blind Melon song.  At one point there was a contest on campus called Spring Sing so we decided to do a bunch of 80’s songs but in an unplugged style and we ended up winning that and it made us realize hey we got a thing here and it totally worked out because ya know Chris also hated girls and sex.

Me:  In the Nerdist Podcast you talk about how you survey a town by how well Spiderman could survive there which gave me a good laugh.  Are you a big comic book fan if so what are some of your favorite stories or characters?

Mike:  I’m actually not a big comic book guy however I am a big superhero guy but I also tended to be more into movies and soundtracks.  So I don’t know why but I’ve never really got into the reading aspect of it which I know I should.   I have read some and I’ve been like damn this is great! I’ve always just been more of a superhero guy in movies and in theory.  If they ever made a comic about a guy watching superhero movies I’m in! In fact the only thing I got into more than the movies was the games like Spiderman The Game.  When we get to a point where we can just plug in and I can be Spiderman or I can be Superman then I  probably wouldn’t care about the music, the movie or the comics. At that point I’m just going to go live in that world.

Me:  Do you plan on going on tour?

Mike:  I would love to but I don’t have a plan to yet.   On Tuesday I’m going to be doing a half hour show at the UCB Theater and that’s going to really be the first show aside from the Nerdist Podcast.  Some of the stuff is hard to translate from the album on to the stage with one dude there because when I’m in the studio I can just add another track and then add another track and you know what  I feel like having twenty dudes singing behind me or twenty girls singing behind me but then live it’s a guy and a guitar but in short  I would very much hope yes I would like to do that.

Me:  What was your favorite record growing up?

Mike:  My favorite record would be the Soundtrack to Superman: The Movie.  My favorite song is I Wish by Stevie Wonder.  My favorite moment in music is there is a 12 or maybe 15 second turn around in the 1812 Overture that boggles my mind.   Then there are things like when I was working on the cover art for the album I listen to the Star Trek 2 Soundtrack nonstop.

Me:   I know recently you had a child and congratulations!  Do you think being a father will influence your music and comedy?

Mike:  Definitely!  It already has.  Well for one there is a song that is a take on the Wiggles.  I like the idea of being family friendly. Of course I say that but then me and Chris have a song called Super Fucking High.  I do thou prefer to be funny without cursing and when it comes to him being older I would like to do things that he can enjoy too but with that I don’t want to go the route of Jar Jar Binks.  I mean I would still rather have a planet of Wookies than Ewoks even thou they’re cute and kids love them.  All thou there are people who are asking me if I’m performing and I tell them no and yes.  Not really performing outside these days but constantly performing and playing with my son and he gives me a ton of idea as well.

Me:  How did you come up with “Chicken Monkey Duck”?

Mike:  That is one of those ones that the idea and the music are two different things.   The words, “the lyrics”, are just something I’ve always done as a little freestyle thing when I’m doing busy work I’ll do that in my head for over the last 20 years or so.  I don’t know why I guess because of all the “K” sounds for like a little percussive freestyle. Then I had a little song going and I figured what the hell I’m going to lay a track of me freestyling  over that and it sounded ok.  After recording that I figure I should make a little video for that dropping picture of a duck when it says a duck and it’s nothing revolutionary but what the hell.  So I did that and then I was like I should perform this live… Shit! Now I have to memorize the exact order I did on that one random night so that was the only part that was like AWWW Why?! After listening to it a couple of hundred times I finally got it memorized.

Check out Mike Phirman’s record here!

“walking the dog” by fun.

Posted in Bands, Music In General, Songs on June 11, 2010 by lizpuetz

I came across the song, “Walking the Dog” by fun. in a pretty atypical way for myself. Spin Magazine made a compilation for the New Jersey outdoor music festival The Bamboozle. I, being the music whore I am known to be, downloaded this free mix, burned it to a CD and popped it in my car’s radio. I found myself repeating the same song over and over again, something that hardly ever happens. I must admit, any song that has a “nah, nah, nah” chorus makes me weak at the knees. This song has something that a lot of songs don’t have nowadays, coincidentally, fun.

fun. formed from members of previous bands, most notably, the lead singer of the defunct band (and personal favorite of yours truly) the Format, Nate Ruess. This group formed in New York in 2008 has somehow stayed below the radar. They make poppy indie music that is easy to sing along with. Nate Ruess has the kind of voice that makes you want to listen more, sad, but not whiny- sentimental, but not sappy- and happy, not poppy. Ruess takes you through your emotions within a few minutes, and makes you want to come back for more.

I recommend this song as the perfect summer song to sing in your car, mainly because that is what this song is becoming for me. The essence of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” and catchy, easy to sing-long to lyrics makes this song an instant classic with your friends on the way to the beach, or a bbq. Bottom line- this song will not let you down. ENJOY!

Visit fun.’s website:

http://www.ournameisfun.com/

Song Shots: The Lonely Island – Boombox (ft. Julian Casablancas)

Posted in Bands, Music In General, Songs on June 2, 2010 by mattstorm

“A boombox can change the world, You gotta know your limits with a boombox, This was a cautionary tale, A boombox is not a toy”

Boombox is the latest single for from comedy group The Lonely Island featuring Julian Casablancas of The Strokes.  This song is silly, fun and very catchy.  The heavy bass  mixed with hilarious lyrics is a 1,2 punch of bliss.  These guys just keep releasing hit after hit and their videos compliment their songs so well also.   This video is no different.  It’s shot beautifully and Andy Samberg and Julian Casablancas truly look like rock stars in every sense you could imagine. You should definitely check out their other videos which could easily be found on Hulu