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If you’ve been reading us here at the Mothership like a good little duckling, you know that Weird Al released his new album “Mandatory Fun” today. He is also releasing one video per day at www.weirdal.com. So far we’ve seen “Tacky” and “Word Crimes”, both speaking to topics near and dear to the places where our hearts should reside. Now we have Weird Al answering questions on reddit.
Was the video for Tacky really a single shot, or was there some seamless edits?
While it looks like there MIGHT have been an edit somewhere, I absolutely guarantee you, that was all done in ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT. That was a bit of a challenge for me, because I start the video on a 5th floor fire escape, and I reappear on street level wearing completely different clothes. That means - for EVERY TAKE - as soon as the camera was off me I had to run down 5 flights of stairs WHILE CHANGING MY CLOTHES so I could be on camera again at the end. Definitely got my workout THAT day!
You said once that you were accused of not having a songwriting “style”, on account of most your originals being style parodies. I’m not sure that’s a fair criticism.
If someone were to write a style parody of “Weird Al” Yankovic the songwriter, which of your compositions should they study to glean your songwriting essence?
Hmm. Well, there were a number of original songs on my first few albums that weren’t in any particular style or modeled after any particular artist - off the top of my head, let’s say “Midnight Star” or “Nature Trail To Hell”… but that was many years ago and I like to think I’ve become a better songwriter since then. I guess “Hardware Store” would fall in that category as well - that was ORIGINALLY going to be in somebody else’s style, but then I scrapped that idea and made it a pure original.
Hi Al! You’re a hero of mine and I’m trying to become a better cook. What’s your favorite go to recipe?
Also my coworker, Sue, would like to know if you’re going to do a “Game of Thrones” song like you did with the “Saga Begins”.
1. Here’s my favorite recipe: PEANUT BUTTER BALL. First, take a glob of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it doesn’t matter… it REALLY doesn’t matter, don’t be so indecisive, just pick one or the other… it will taste the same eventually, so why are you being so stinking picky, just PICK ONE already)… then put in on a slice of bread, wad it into a ball and cram it into your mouth. Voila!
2. No plans to do anything like that, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
We are all aware of and impressed by your policy of asking for permission to parody someone’s works. What is the most memorable reaction an artist has had to a request to parody them? What are some of the best reactions artists have had to a parody of their work?
One of my favorite reactions was from Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. I did a parody of “Money For Nothing” in my movie UHF, and when I asked him for permission, he said, “Well, yeah… but you have to let me play GUITAR on it!!” So…. he did!
I was tickled by Chamillionaire’s reaction to “White & Nerdy.” I ran into him on the Grammy red carpet a few years ago, right after he had won the award for Rap Song of the Year. He thanked me, because he said my parody made it undeniable that his song (“Ridin’”) was, in fact, the Rap Song of the Year!
Have any artists ever approached you and requested for you to do a parody of one of their songs?
That happens sometimes in social settings - an artist will make a comment at a party or awards show like, “Hey Al, when are you going to do a parody of one of MY songs?” I don’t know if they’re being polite or making conversation, but that’s always nice to hear. Actually, last year I was in New York doing a satellite radio tour, and Graham Nash was in the very next room… and it just so happens I had just recorded my CSN pastiche “Mission Statement” (which is on the new album). So I walked over to say hi… he sees me, and the first words out of his mouth are, “So, when are you gonna do a parody of ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’??” I whipped out my iPhone and played “Mission Statement” for him. Instant request! (He loved it, BTW.)
Hi Weird Al! Thanks so much for doing this AMA. As a kid growing up in the ’90s, Bad Hair Day was one of the first albums I ever bought. Your music has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old and you’ve stated that there’s a good chance Mandatory Fun could be your last traditional studio album. Are you still planning to release songs on a more individual basis or are you looking at getting back into a studio, perhaps under a new label? And if you release songs indivually, will there be any sort of schedule or just more of a song-by-song basis?
Finally, how do you keep your curls so damn tight?
I haven’t made any real plans beyond the release of my current album, but since everybody’s asking… I’ll probably just be releasing singles (possibly EPs) going forward - I really don’t think the album format is the most efficient or intelligent way for me to distribute my music anymore. I highly doubt that I would sign with another label. I guess I might be open to a distribution deal, but… we’ll see. Anyway, I certainly wouldn’t want to have my releases on any kind of a schedule - that would be too much pressure, and it might actually start to feel like a JOB!
And, I keep my curls tight through sheer will power.
If you could give one quotable line of (general; inspirational?) advice - the kind one could put on a tea towel - what would it be? And do you have a mantra or motto which has helped you through tough (creative) times?
The answers are one and the same… “DON’T DRINK BLEACH.”
Someone asked me how different my life would have been if my parents had gotten me guitar lessons instead of accordion lessons. (They just deleted their question.) Anyway…
I probably wouldn’t have a music career right now. The reason Dr. Demento played my material on the radio when I was a teenager wasn’t because it was so GOOD, it was because it was such a novelty hearing a kid rocking the accordion. Dr. D. probably wouldn’t have given my tape a second listen if I had been playing acoustic guitar. And if I hadn’t gotten that early encouragement, I highly doubt that I’d be doing a Reddit AMA right now.