Thanks to Vincenzo Ravina for posting about this interview on Reddit, we’re having one of our biggest days ever (4000 views so far). Thanks! A little last bit of interview and some other fun related stories in the final pages of the big report….
Russell: What about Kurt? Did you ever talk to Kurt Cobain?
Al: Yeah, yeah I did. I talked to him, actually on the set of Saturday Night Live. ‘Cause Victoria Jackson is a friend of mine. I did UHF with her and I knew that Nirvana was gonna be performing that night, so I said, “Look if you ever get Kurt alone somewhere, put him on the phone with me ’cause I wanna ask him about a parody,”which she did. She called me up later in the day and said, “Uhhh, here’s Kurt Cobain,” and gave the phone to him. And I just said, “Hey, Kurt. Hi. It’s Al Yankovic. I just wanted to say I love your new album and I was wondering if I could do a parody of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?” And he said something to effect of, “Well, is it gonna be about food or something?” “Well, no, it’s gonna be about how nobody can understand your lyrics.” And he said, “Oh. Well, that’s funny.” He was extremely cool.
Russell: That video’s pretty funny. That guy with the donut—is it a donut or a bagel?
Al: Ahh, I think it’s a donut.
Russell: It’s soo…fresh. (pause) So now, what about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Do you like them?
Al: Yeah, I do.
Mike: How were they about the whole…did you ever talk to them personally?
Russell: Now that stuff came out before the Flintstones movie.
Russell: Which, whenever I show people my video library, I sit ’em down, I always make sure I say, “You gotta remember, this stuff came out before the Flintstones movie. Just givin’ you props.”
Al: Thanks. In fact, when MTV started playing the video, they said “Well, this is from the upcoming Flintstones soundtrack…”
Russell: See, see…
Al: Which, actually it wound up being on the Flintstones soundtrack, but that was…
Mike: Really? Oh, I didn’t know that. So after it was already out and you’d done the video, they came to you.
Al: Yeah, like months later they said, “Hey, can we use this song in the soundtrack?” I’m like, sure…
Russell: So anyway, Red Hot Chili Peppers?
Al: Yeah. I was at the MTV awards and Anthony Keidis was sitting two chairs away from me so I leaned over to him and said, “Anthony, what do you think? Can I do a parody?” and he said, “Well, I gotta run it by the band, but ahhh, I guess so.”
Russell: That’s a pretty genius video.
Al: Thanks. Yeah, I had to go through hundreds of hours of Flintstones footage to get just the right little bits to use. And we found the exact same patch of nowhere that they shot their video on.
Russell: You found the same patch?
Al: We drove two and half hours out to Palmdale or wherever it was, and said, “I think that’s the bush they had…yeah.” (laughs)
Russell: How did you know even to go in that which direction? Did they tell you?
Mike: Location scouts.
Al: We talked to the original location scout.
Russell: That’s really really funny. So, I saw the “Amish Paradise” video today on MTV. Is it getting a lot of airplay?
Al: It seems to. It’s on like three or four times a day.
Russell: Florence Henderson, that’s pretty genius. How was it working with her?
Al: Oh, it was great. I mean, she was very professional, a great sense of humor. She showed up on the set and she said she was watching the “Gangster’s Paradise” video and she was getting the Michele Pfeiffer look down. She’s such a machine (laughs).
Russell: She does the Michelle Pfeiffer…(laughter)…she looks pretty good.
Al: She looks, you know…kinda like Michelle Pfeiffer, in her own Brady-like way.
Russell: Before we go, tell us some of your old favorite TV shows.
Al: Old favorites. Police Squad is my all time favorite.
Mike and Russell: Alright.
Al: Twilight Zone. Monty Python, SCTV…nothing much else comes immediately to mind. Any others that you wanna…
Russell: No, no. (pause) When’s the tour gonna start?
|Al: Right now it’s tentatively scheduled for May 24th. We have our first gig already at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania.
Al: We’re talkin’ Amish Country. We’ll get the Amish contingency going in…
Russell: You gonna be wearing the full-on Amish outfit this tour?
Al: Oh yeah. sure.
Russell: What are you gonna do about the no mustache, though?
AI: Well, (weakly) I, I don’t know yet. We’ll probably just have to be an Amish with a mustache for that song.
Russell: That’s a great place to do a gig.
Al: Yeah, we wind up doing a lot of amusement parks, ’cause it’s kind of a family oriented show.
Russell: So that’s your audience?
Mike: Do you think there’ll be a lot of neck braces there? (laughter) It’s safe to assume…you figure it’s an amusement park—there could be.
AFTER GETTING JENNA TO TAKE PHOTOS OF AL GOOFING ON THE HOTEL TENNIS COURTS, MIKE AND RUSSELL RECONNOITER BACK TO RUSSELL’S ROOM TO DEBRIEF, WHERE THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WAS WAITING ON THE HOTEL VOICE MAIL SYSTEM…
(see last issue’s Russels Simins/Simmons identity controversy for context)(***I dug up issue two to read Simins’ hilarious tales of being mistaken for Def Jam Records’ head honho, I’ll post it here someday….PROMISE. -YDG ed.):
MESSAGE CENTER: …one fifteen, PM.
Wesley: How you doin’ Russell? This is, ah, Wesley Dalson from Game Records. Uhm, I’m not sure if you remember me or not, Russell, but I brought you a few things down to the Four Seasons. Ahhh, my artists rap on, uhhm, uh, a lot of Southeast Cartel albums, the Havoc and Prodigy albums. Ahh, I have a artist right now that’s rappin’ on one of the songs coming out on, uh, Ice-T’s new album. They, uh, created the concept and everything and they’re thinking about going with that one for the second single. And basically, I did a D.O. promo for 92.3 The Beat, with South Central Cartel featuring two of my artists. And that’s on the front of the tape as well as six songs off the album Mobile Nobel featuring Mr. West Side. I know you’re gonna like it. You can give me a call back, the number’s on there. Alright, Russell.
MESSAGE CENTER: End of message. To save message, press…
Weird Al is the archetypal great karaoke artist, in that he pushes the disciplined art of karaoke one step further: providing his own backing track and parodic lyrics while retaining the original melody. Beck has his own karaoke fixation, as manifested in both his talkin’-blues talk-over mic style and the numerous lyrical karaoke references that appear his Odelay DGC release. In the following exclusive, two worlds collide.
HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW WEIRD AL ALBUM WHERE HE DOES A RENDITION OF “LOSER”? No. He was gonna do a full-blown “Loser” and I was sort of not down with it at the time cos he asked me like two years ago. If he asked me now I’d say go for it, but at the time I felt like I wanted that song to die, like, a quiet death. He wrote back a letter saying, “If anyone can kill a song I can kill it.” So he ended up using it in the polka. Russell Blues Explosion is a huge Yankovic fan and we watched the videos at his house. I don’t think Russell will ever forgive me for not telling him do the full blown “I’m A Schmoozer”. I think the song is already a parody of itself. It’s got inherent parody.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT WHEN WEIRD AL DOES A SONG, IT VALIDATES THE SONG-WRITING ASPECT. LIKE IF AL CAN DO THIS TO DO, AND THE SONG STILL STANDS UP, THAT’S TESTAMENT TO A CERTAIN COMPETENCE IN THE ORIGINAL TUNESMITH.
I ALSO THINK OF WEIRD AL AS BEING THE ULTIMATE KARAOKE ARTIST, TAKING SONGS AND DOING HIS OWN LYRICAL INTERPRETATIONS OVER THE TRACKS. WHAT’S UP WITH YOUR KARAOKE FIXATION?
It all started from this Filipino family I used to live next door to who used to have these karaoke orgies every night where everyone in their extended family, which seemed to be half the street, would gather there and go all out on Burt Bacharach and Mariah Carey songs. Then when “Loser” was out and the album came out and we were touring, I was walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans and there was a bunch of frat boys doing karaoke to “Loser” and now I have this little Radio Shack karaoke machine which has a built-in microphone with tape player, speaker and reverb. Reverb is essential for karaoke, really wet drench reverb. There’s a little grunge karaoke tape now. They’ve done a pretty good replication of the music.
ARE YOU HEIR TO THE HANSEN FRUIT JUICEFORTUNE?
Damn, I wish. I’d retire. I have nothing to do with the beer either.
No, Beck’s Beer.
(seven years later, “Wanna B Ur Lovr” from 2003’s Poodle Hat is pretty much a straight-up Midnight Vultures/“Peaches and Cream” homage)
MONDAY: Months after the first Weird Al interview attempt, Russell and Mike are rescheduled with Al. With just four days to go, Russell has a stroke of genius and decides it’s essential for Dick Van Patten to make a cameo during the Weird Al interview. He tells Mike D, who simply nods in agreement.
TUESDAY: Grand Royal‘s Corporate Activites Coordinator Fritz has painstakingly located Van Patten’s manager, who immediately asks “Will there be any compensation fee for Dick?” Fritz says no. The manager sounds doubtful that he’ll be avallable on such short notice but says he’ll “run it by Dick.” WEDNESDAY: Amazingly, Dick Van Patten personally calls Grand Royal to explain he has prior conmitments for Thursday afternoon. Russell tells him to cancel them. After an exhaustive discussion, Dick offers to do a telephone interview on Friday at 5:00, the day AFTER the Al interview. Faced with no other choice, Russell agrees.
FRIDAY 5:00pm: Dick Van Patten waits for Russell’s phone call but Russell is locked in the Grand Royal conference room for a crucial Butter meeting. 5:32pm: Dick never receives the call.
Grand Royal Magazine only lasted for a few more glorious issues. The Butter album came out that year and is one of the greatest things ever made by human hands. Al didn’t direct their stylee “Butter of 69” video (done by BBoy name-checked Evan Bernard) but made good on his intent by directing the Blues Explosion’s “Wail” video a year later, in 1997. Russell put out the sexy ass Public Places solo album on Grand Royal in 2001. Mike D played drums on the song “Stay”. Three years after the interview, Al put “Intergalactic” in the “Polka Power” polka medley. You know the rest.
Al’s 1988 Licensed To Ill homage, “Twister”.
What do you get when you cross Beastie Boys, Blues Explosion, Weird Al and a music page run by a Jewish guy named Adam? Enjoy. RGJX RIP 2001-2002. I handed Russell a VHS of this at a NYE show here in San Diego, which made him grin. He and Judah were both outed as Jews in a book called Jews Who Rock but it turns out that it was false information on Judah’s roots. Geezer still plays this one year-round.
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