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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Weird Al Yankovic interviews posted here for archival purposes

For a brief time before I started freelancing for professional outlets, I covered music for examiner.com. The site is closing down this week, so here I'm copying the text of my two interview posts with Weird Al Yankovic so they do not get lost.

This interview took place in May 2011 just before he released the Alpocalypse album.

“Weird Al” Yankovic has been recording hit parodies for more than 30 years now, becoming the highest-selling musical comedy artist in history. He’s about to release his 13th album, “Alpocalypse,” which features the Lady Gaga spoof “Perform This Way.”
Yankovic will be performing in Waukegan, Illinois this Saturday at the Genesee Theatre and in St. Charles, Illinois on May 31 at the Arcada Theatre. His live show is a multimedia extravaganza with enough costume changes to rival Cher.
I spoke with “Weird Al” earlier this week. On Wednesday, I posted part 1 of the chat. Now for the rest of the discussion …
Hi, Al. I know you’ve started your new tour. How have the first few shows gone?
The first few shows are going really well. We had some server difficulties. We have a computer server that runs the films and the track for our drummer to keep everything in sync, so if that goes awry, it’s a real big problem for the show. But today we’re starting with a brand new server, so we should be pretty bulletproof from here on out.
Are you playing a lot of new material from your new album?
We are. It’s not the full-on Alpocalypse Tour quite yet, because I want to save some surprises for when the album’s actually released. We’re obviously playing “Perform This Way” and we’re playing several of the “Internet Leaks” tracks like “CNR,” “Craigslist” and “Skipper Dan.” And the polka medley, “Polka Face.”
“Perform This Way” is electropop, which is kind of a different genre for you. Did you record that song with your band, or was it all done electronically?
Well, my band did it, but here’s the thing, there’s no “real instruments” (laughs). My drummer had presequenced all his stuff in his home studio. My guitar player did all the synth tracks at home, so they walked in the first day of recording and both presented me with a DVD with digital files on it and said, “Here you go!” And then I just sang for a couple days.
It’s getting to the point where a lot of pop music … you don’t put up a drum set, you don’t tweak your guitar amp. It’s all done with keyboards and computers.
When might we expect to see the “Perform This Way” music video?
It’s going to be out about the same time as the album. We shot it last weekend. I just finished doing the offline edits and now it’s in post. I don’t want to give away what we’re doing, but it is a fairly post-heavy video. We’re gonna be working on post for about four weeks. The record label will have it in their hands on June 15 -- that’s the deadline we were given.
We know the story behind the Lady Gaga mix-up. I’m curious: How often do you actually reach the original performer for consent, versus going through their people?
More often than not, it is going through their people because I don’t happen to have Lady Gaga’s phone number, for example. And usually that’s not an issue. If we ever have a problem, then I will make every effort to contact the artist directly, but that’s not always possible.
You tweeted about the Lonely Island recently. What do you think of those guys and does their success sort of help you and the whole genre in general?
I think they’re extremely funny and they’re great at what they do. Their videos are amazing. I think that their success only makes comedy in music more accepted on the radio and in the zeitgeist, and I look at it all as a very positive thing, so I wish those guys all the best.
You had to cut short your vacation to record the Gaga parody. Do you find it a challenge to balance family and work?
It always is. I’m certainly not unique in this. Thankfully now, with Skype, I can look at them every night and talk to them over the computer, which I understand is not the same thing as being there in person, but we do what we can to stay close.
My wife and I have a deal where we try not to go more than two weeks without seeing each other. She’ll pick spots on the road to fly out with our daughter and have a little bit of quality time. It’s not ideal, but touring is an important part of what I do and we try to adjust where we can.
Your daughter is 8 now. Is it time for her to put out a single, like Willow and Jaden?
(Laughs) She’d better get on that! She’s slacking!
Your last album gave you your first Top 10 album & single of your career. Do you have any specific milestones left you’d like to achieve?
Oh, I’m sure I could make up some (laughs). I’ve done pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I guess there’s a few things I haven’t gotten around to yet. Maybe at some point I’ll do something on Broadway. I did my own movie a couple decades ago (“UHF”) and it was a cult favorite but it wasn’t what you’d call a blockbuster hit, so I’d like to have another shot at that and do it right.
I think my dream job would be to be a voice in a Pixar movie. That would be a personal achievement for me. Other than that, I’ve had a pretty blessed life and career so far and I’m very happy.
“Weird Al” Yankovic will be performing in Waukegan, Illinois on May 28 at the Genesee Theatre and in St. Charles, Illinois on May 31 at the Arcada Theatre.

PART 1, posted a few days earlier:
Weird Al" Yankovic will be performing in Waukegan, Illinois this Saturday at the Genesee Theatre and in St. Charles, Illinois on May 31 at the Arcada Theatre. I spoke with Al by phone to discuss these shows and his current concert tour. I'll be posting that interview in the next day or two (Click the Subscribe button above to receive an email when the interview publishes!) In the meantime, here are some excerpts regarding his new album.
"Weird Al" Yankovic has a new album coming out in June called "Alpocalypse," featuring the much-discussed Lady Gaga parody "Perform This Way." Now, he's opening up about some of the other parodies on the record, which include spoofs of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.
Though the 51-year-old prince of pop parody generally prefers to keep a lid on his songs until they're released, he did open up (a little) about some of the new tracks.
"Weird Al" Takes On Taylor Swift
I asked Al if "TMZ," a parody of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me," is an attack on the paparazzi culture.
"Well, it’s certainly about TMZ, the website and the tv show," he said. "I don’t want to give away too much... Like a lot of my songs, it’s a gray area in terms of its viewpoint. I think once you listen to the song, you won’t really be able to tell if I’m siding more with the paparazzi or siding more with the celebrities.
"It’s a little like 'Don’t Download This Song.' People listened to that and weren’t sure whether I was on the side of the RIAA or the downloaders, so it’s up to you to make up your own mind on that."
"Weird Al" Yankovic's Miley Cyrus Parody
"Alpocalypse" also features a track called "Party in the CIA," a send-up of the insanely-catchy Miley Cyrus hit "Party in the USA." Yankovic parodied Miley's dad Billy Ray back in 1993, with "Achy Breaky Song," a takeoff on the country smash "Achy Breaky Heart."
Does this mark the first time "Weird Al" has parodied both a father and his daughter?
"That may very well be," he says with a laugh. "That particular song ('Party in the USA') was extremely popular and the video got something like 150 million hits on YouTube. And that song’s having a bit of a resurgence now with recent events, so I guess the song is a bit topical, although that was nothing that I anticipated."
Don't expect to hear Al yelping his parody in Miley's high register.
"My vocal range isn’t as high as Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus. So we have had to change the key of some of these songs just so I can sing in a comfortable range, which is something I prefer not to do, because I try to make my recording sound as close to the original as possible."
Taylor Hanson Helps Al Sound Like Hanson
"Weird Al" fans are familiar with the singer's "style parodies," which are original compositions done in the style of a particular artist. Yankovic said he invited Taylor Hanson to play on one track because it's a Hanson style parody:
"He plays keyboards on a song called 'If That Isn’t Love.' It’s an original song, but when I wrote the song, I was trying to give it a Hanson vibe. So when it came time to record it, I thought, who better to play keyboards on it than Taylor Hanson?"
Stay tuned for more of the "Weird Al" Yankovic Interview
Yankovic also talked about when you can expect to see the music video for "Perform This Way," whether he sees himself in competition with artists like The Lonely Island, and his remaining career goals (another UHF movie?) Those details will be posted in the full interview, coming in a few days

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