Adam LeFevre [Interview]

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We certainly love a good character actor here at Trainwreck’d Society. And hot damn if we don’t have a wonderful actor to showcase today. Adam LeFevre has probably been in your favorite movie. He’s probably been in your mom’s favorite movie. Hell, he’s probably in your pot dealers freeloading girlfriend’s favorite movie. Seriously, for close to 40 years, Adam has been in just about anything. In fact, he is actually in MY favorite movie. And for avid fans of this now 20 year old gem of a film known as Beautiful Girls, you will definitely remember him as Victor The Meat Cutter. He was sort of the “villain”, who really didn’t deserve such a title, but when you build a divinity for Michael Rapport’s senseless character in that film, you didn’t want to like Victor.

So, of course, we were so delighted that Mr. LeFevre was willing to talk with us a bit about Beautiful Girls, acting in general, and a nice quick conversation about a very admirable and illustrious career. So, feast your eyeballs on some great work from a wonderful actor. Enjoy!

When did you first decide you wanted to join the world of acting? What were some of your earliest influences?

I began college as a pre-med student-athlete (football, baseball). Gravitated to the English and Theatre departments.I remember being thoroughly smitten when I first watched Brando’s performance in On The Waterfront.After a few decades as an actor in so many different types of mediums, what would you say has been the greatest change in the profession, for better or for worse?

After a few decades as an actor in so many different types of mediums, what would you say has been the greatest change in the profession, for better or for worse?

I think the greatest changes in the actor’s media in my time have been technical. The new technical possibilities have been both a blessing and a curse.. A blessing in the amazing range of new effects possible; Faustian to the degree the “human element” has been sacrificed or marginalized.

 

So, I honestly have a very specific reason I was hoping have you on the site… You portrayed none other than Victor The Meat Cutter in one of the greatest films of all time. And depending on how rational of a person you are, some might say you were the “villain”. So, I have to ask how that filming experience was for you? Was it as fun as I could imagine?

Filming Beautiful Girls was delightful. Working with Teddy Demme was delightful, and I still miss him. I never thought of Victor as a villain. He’s just a small town butcher looking for love.
If you could portray any famous world leader and/or dictator in history, who would it be? 

Dictator/world leader? Henry VIII because he was a rational man consumed by his passions. Or maybe Nikita Kruschev, a teddy bear or a grizzly bear depending on one’s point of view.

In your long illustrious career, you have played characters who tend to have a plethora of different occupations. That being said, what would you consider to be the most difficult occupation to portray?

I don’t think any one occupation is more or less difficult to portray than any other. Because you’re never portraying an occupation. You’re portraying a person.

 

When you look back, what would you consider your greatest non-artistic achievement?

I consider my children by far my “greatest achievement”.

 

So, what does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug here?

Two films about to be released: Gold, with Matthew McCoughahey, and Almost Paris, directed by Domenica Cameron-Scorsese.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile? Just now, remembering Ted Demme and working on The Ref and Beautiful Girls.

Greg Proops [Interview]

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There are a lot of comedians out there who have left a mark on my fragile mind, and today you are lucky enough to hear from one of them. Greg Proops is an amazing comedian who has a brilliant perspective on life and love and everything in general. The casual reader will remember Greg from Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, and the avid reader will know that he is one of the finest stand up comedians that has graced the comedy stage in the last 20 years. He has an amazing podcast as well, so be sure to get yourself on the Proopcast wagon!

And with that, we are so damn happy that Greg decided he would like to share a few words with us. He really didn’t have to, but we are so damn happy that he did. So, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Greg Proops!

 

How did you find yourself in the world of comedy? And what keeps you in the business?

I wanted to do it since I was a teenager. The freedom and being treated as an adult drew me in. The audience interaction keeps me in. I love the dance.

What are you thoughts on the modern world of comedy after so many years in the business? Are things better? Worse? Same?

Better, more Women and People of Color. The worse part is there are still too many sexist asshats. The internet has allowed us all to be free agents.

You’ve been a cast member in both the UK and U.S. versions of the hit sketch based game show Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, so what would you say was the biggest differences between the two versions? And which audience did you find the most receptive to this style of show that was unlike any other?

The money. The audiences are mad enthusiastic on both sides. We did the Palladium in London this year and the Adelphi last year and it was bonkers. I am very lucky to work with so many great improvateurs and visa versa.

If you had to pick one, what would you consider your favorite bit you have performed on either version of the show?

Tony Slattery’s pants split once at taping in London. I saw more than I wanted to. I prefer the Live version I do with Ryan Stiles.

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You have a plethora of voice over gigs under your belt, including 5 seasons as Bob The Builder and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Meance. So I’m just wondering how much do you enjoy these gigs? And what has been your favorite gig thus far?

I’m working on a new movie called Duck, Duck, Goose and it should be great. I loved Nightmare Before Christmas and I have had the pleasure of performing it live the last two years with a full orchestra, Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara and Pee wee at the Hollywood Bowl. That was like being in an opera.

I really enjoy Proopcast, by the way. But, for those out there who may not be familiar with it, what do you believe it is that sets your podcast apart from the increasingly large amount of comedian driven podcasts these days?

I’m not a misogynist. And I speak to issues.

When you look back on your obviously illustrious career in the world of comedy, what would you say you are most proud of?

The podcast. My Wife Jennifer and I have put our hearts into it.

So what is next for Greg Proops? Anything you would like to plug?

The podcast is always happening. The Greg Proops Film Club rolls on, next episode we show The Apartment on December 7th at Cinefamily. My paperback of The Smartes Book in the World comes out in February. I also ell continue being a satirical voice opposed to Trump and all he stands for. Racism, sexism, bigotry and xenphoboa.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The windows at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. (See below)

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Watch Greg for yourself at one the following dates:

12/07 Cinefamily-Greg Proops Film Club -The Apartment in Los Angeles, CA

12/14 The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, CA
12/29-31 (Podcast on the 29th) Punch Line in San Francisco, CA

1/09 NerdMelt in Los Angeles, CA
1/15 Vodkast – Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood, CA
1/26-28 (Podcast on the 26th) -Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington Virgina
3/05 The Crocodile in Seattle, WA

Hans Bauer [Interview]

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If I have learned anything from running this site for the last 5 years, it is that sometimes you strike gold without a whole lot of effort. We have done it today, folks. As I mentioned before (probably last week) we LOVE film and television writers. They are some of the most respected artists, who ironically enough do not receive enough respect. The story starts with them. They are the idea men. Even when excess individuals enter the picture and twist the story around, as it can happen sometimes, it was still THEIR story. When you see these strange visuals and exceptional storytelling brought to the silver or television screens, it all started as stimulation of some creative human being’s brain. It is a truly fascinating process, and deserves a showcase on a far more grand of a scale that it currently is today.

So back to striking gold: I discovered Hans Bauer while digging through the dark and dusty proverbial alleyways of the internet with only the intention of possibly getting some words from the dude that once wrote a screenplay about a giant snake. But, what I got was so much more. I got some beautiful insight that is on par with the insight and surprise I received from the likes of Frederic Raphael over 3 years ago. I got brilliance, and I am so happy to share it with you fine folks. This man is a writer’s writer, and I definitely don’t mean that in an insulting way. I really dig Mr. Bauer, especially after how he handles my unfortunate use of autocorrect and made him a transplant to America from a country even further away than he actually came (read below, you’ll understand and remember that I am a very simple man). So please enjoy some great words from one of my new favorite writers of anything, Mr. Hans Bauer!

 

How did you get into the world of screenwriting? What inspired you to get into the business?

As a fluke, really. I’d gone to San Francisco with a vague idea of starting a life there. Unable to find an affordable apartment, I thought I’d give LA a try. The day I moved in, the guy below me was moving out; he’d sold a script and was able to afford a house. So it hit me: I’d take a shot at this thing called screenwriting. I got very lucky, very quickly, was hired to write some scripts, optioned a few of my own. Most were sold off pitches, which I quickly realized was my strong suite. If they wanted the idea, they had to give me first crack at the screenplay, always with the implied understanding that I’d likely get booted as soon as I fulfilled my obligation. Point being, producers REALLY LIKED THE IDEAS. It did, however, take another two decades to actually get something made.

You penned the screenplay to the severely underrated 1997 suspense film Anaconda, which I honestly enjoyed very much. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this script?

Thanks. Anaconda was, in part, inspired by a misunderstanding. Once in a while I’d see a nature film that featured an anaconda, so, obviously I paid attention. How could you not?  It’s a giant snake, for Christ’s sake, there’s got to be a movie there. The misunderstanding had to do with the original King Kong. Looking at a grainy print, I saw the giant ape battling a giant snake, and how cool is that? Years later, when viewing a cleaned up print, it turned out I was wrong: Kong wasn’t battling a snake, but a giant lizard. That time I was able to make out the little lizard feet. Anyway, that’s how it happened.

Anaconda is not a film I’m thrilled about, meaning it has very little to do with the story I scripted. Mine had nothing to do with a National Geographic team looking for a lost Indian tribe, which, if you ask me, is bullshit. The fact that it found a global audience and became a brand has much to do with the studio hiring actors who covered almost every known demographic. That’s my theory.

My original draft: In an epic adventure, twenty-something, middle-grade biology teacher Andie Easter and six young colleagues, in the dead of a Chicago winter, hatch a plan to spend their summer in Brazil, hoping to reverse their meager fortunes by joining a modern-day gold rush on a tributary of the mighty Amazon.

Disoriented and increasingly isolated, the treasure hunters stray into the remote domain of three colossal snakes: daughter, mother, grandmother. One by one, under terrifying circumstances, the teachers fall victim to the devastating effects of gold fever and the relentless brutality of the primeval South American jungle. Andie Easter must discover her inner Amazon to avoid becoming prey to the Mother of All Snakes.

I recently novelized Anaconda (Anaconda: The Writer’s Cut) in order to get across my original vision. Fingers crossed that someday Sony will make a new version and that time get it right.

 

 

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Titan A.E. was also amazing as well. I’m curious to know if it was always planned to be an animated film? And what are your thoughts on the end result as a film?

Thanks again, but Titan A.E. also had little to do with my involvement. How candid am I allowed to be here? I’d been developing a concept for a galactic pirate film (Treasure Planet) with a wanna-be producer friend who later went on to head a studio. When he got to that position, he ripped me off and turned the project into an animated TV series, somehow forgetting to mention that I was his contracted partner. I sued and we settled out of court. The guy’s next plan was to use a lot of the same material for an animated feature. That time, the studio bought all my material (a lot of it was just notes to myself) up front, and threw in a co-‘story by’ and a meaningless producing credit.

If you were to give any piece of advice to an aspiring screenwriter, what sort of advice would you give?

What can I possibly offer? My career has been a fluke. I beat the odds, got lucky over and over again. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but accept that it had a lot to do with the strength of the ideas, even if I am the one saying so, and not the actual writing. Not very helpful, am I? Hope I haven’t wasted your time.

If you could pen the script to any tragic event in Australian history, what would it be?

Actually, I’m an Austrian citizen with a Green Card, been here forever, not Australian, and know little of the history of either country.

But you mentioned Australia, and I have been toying with a story set in the South Pacific. I’ll quote from Wiki: In the annals of our World Wars, there have been many atrocities committed by our kind against each other. The South Pacific during World War II holds a special distinction for being an especially brutal and savage killing ground the likes of which humankind has never seen before or since. Yet one of the bloodiest and most horrifying massacres in the history of the war came not from the hands human beings, but from the jaws and teeth of the animal kingdom. During World War II on one remote island in the South Pacific, a platoon of nearly a thousand armed Japanese troops entered crocodile infested swamps and most never returned; a disappearance that, if reports are to be believed, would make it the single greatest instance of carnage caused by animals in history.

So what does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to promote?

The future doesn’t hold much in the way of new material. A half-dozen bought or developed scripts (Young Wizards, The Tree, some others) are still in limbo at various studios, so there’s that, Have a co-authored (Craig Mitchell) script, Motorcade, over at Dreamworks for over a decade. I occasionally hear rumblings that they’re still developing it, so we’ll see. Another script, Fishtale, is in turnaround at Sony, maybe someone will pick that up. Also have another dozen scripts (Snake, The Pet, Marooned, Texicano, among others) that have never been shopped. But mostly now I’m interested in writing novels and in my photo-based art.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I smile when I reflect on how well my new novel, Spicewood, is turning out. And when I see the images in two new photo projects: a thoroughly convincing photo-based medieval tarot deck; as if someone had recently discovered a long lost tarot deck made with a prototype camera five hundred years ago, and with American Pickers, a collection of stark, black and white portraits of working Texas Hill Country musicians. Yeah, those speak to me.

Kerry Fleming [Interview]

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Long time readers out there will be well aware of our avid love for the world of horror. Even more hardcore readers will know that we adore everything that happens around two of our favorite horror filmmakers and past interviewees, Tom Holland and Victor Miller. Both of these geniuses have been kind enough to cross our digital pages, and we are truly honored for this. And yet, they have managed to bring us even more in the likes of making us aware of the brilliant new screenwriter Kerry Fleming. And while we love Tom and Victor, today is all about our new dear friend Kerry.

Kerry Fleming has lived a full fledge life. He has been involved with the world of air traffic control for the greater part of his life, but the idea of writing for the screen and/or television has always been a niche in his mind, and he has now managed to make all of those ideas swirling in his head become a true expression of art. Our new friend Mr. Fleming has developed a brilliant new horror masterpiece that will be known to the world as Rock Paper Dead. He managed to get Victor Miller to assist on the script, and eventually was able to get  the great Tom Holland to direct. It is one of those beautiful stories that are always a damn good thing to hear.

But, let’s not let my inept and incorrigible introduction take away from the real story. We are fortunate enough to get some words from the great Kerry Fleming himself. So how about we read what he has to say for himself. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, Kerry Fleming!

 

So, for many years you were working outside of the film industry. What made you want to switch gears and become a part of the blood thirsty world of filmmaking & screenwriting?

In 2005 the Federal Government decided to privatize a section of air traffic control that included the group I worked in. After a stress filled year and a half I was finally re-hired for a unique workgroup tasked with protecting our nation’s airspace, but was forced to relocate to Washington, DC. It was during this transition that I had an idea for a Sitcom that revolved around the stress filled environment of air traffic control.

You have recently teamed up with our old friends Victor Miller and Tom Holland on the project Rock Paper Dead that seems quite intriguing. How did you come into this project? And what can you tell us a bit about the project?

Well, as I explained in the previous answer I wanted to explore how to make a sitcom and while discussing it with a good friend he mentioned that he knew a writer that might be able to help me. That person was Victor Miller. Victor agreed to act as my mentor and after completing the entire treatment for the sitcom (which I still plan to make) I started writing feature length screenplays. One day I had an idea for a horror thriller about a reformed serial killer who is haunted by his past and loses touch with reality. I pitched it to Victor and while he was somewhat hesitant at first (because he was thoroughly enjoying retirement) he did engage on the structure of the story and the character development. This went on for a few weeks until one day he said it sounded like fun and let’s do it. Over the course of the next several months we held weekly Skype sessions in which we discussed how each upcoming scene would play out and which of us would be tasked to write it. Last spring we were introduced to Amy Williams through Moveeman John T. Baker and Brad Lambert. Amy had an investor who wanted to work with her and although Amy had other projects she could have pushed, she loved our story so much she chose RPD. Amy was the one who brought in Tom Holland with the help of his son Josh and Vincent Guastini. The film is about a “cured” serial killer named Peter Harris. At the start of the film he is apprehended shortly after adding the lovely Angela Grant to his “doll collection”. Instead of getting the death penalty he is remanded to the hospital for the criminally insane, but several years later budget cuts force the staff to release several residents, including Peter. Peter initially believes he actually is cured and moves into his family’s ancestral estate. It isn’t long before memories of a tortured childhood and renewed temptations begin to unravel his sense of normalcy. When his new neighbor, the mysterious and beautiful Monica Barfield, enters his life that things get very interesting.

 

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Now that the film is finally complete, what are your thoughts on the final product? Did the story you saw in your head become projected onto the screen?

It was very humbling watching the story unfold every day on the set, and now that it’s finished I am very excited to share it with the world. It was the story in my (and Victor’s heads) head and somehow Tom Holland managed to crawl inside my brain and make it come to life. I also have to give a big shout out to our DP, Yash Bhatt, for his camera artistry on this as well. I know I am biased in my opinion, but it is a very compelling story and will bring audiences on a roller coaster ride of emotions. There are scenes that will absolutely make people cringe, scenes that will scare and scenes that will just blow everyone away. I know it sounds like a cliche, but all the actors brought their A games. I know I have heard that term used before and never really knew what people meant when they said it. I do now. While you expect that from Tatum O’Neal, Michael Madsen, and Maureen McCormick, you will be blown away watching Luke Macfarlane, and Jennifer Titus as our leads. Add in superb performances from John Dugan, Anna Margaret, and Courtlyn Cannan and I think RPD will become a rousing success.

 

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What were some of the first horror films you can remember watching, and have any of them influenced your work today, and how?

I always loved horror whether it was the classics of Frankenstein, Dracula, or The Mummy, or the B movies that Chiller Theatre would air on Saturday nights in the 70s, to the slasher subgenre that began right after that. All those films served as a base, but it wasn’t until the late 70s and 80s that I developed a deeper appreciation of the genre. There are several films that influence my writing because I found them so powerful the first time I saw them. Films like; Psycho, The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, Night of the Living Dead, Child’s Play, and the Amityville Horror. Rock Paper Dead is like a modern day Psycho, but with influences of the supernatual and slasher subgenres. It really has something for all fans of horror and our amazing cast is just icing on the cake.

When you’re not working on writing stories to frighten the hell out of people, what would one find you doing? What do you do for a bit of “me time”?

I’m still enjoying getting up every morning for my “day job” watching the skies for threats and protecting America. My wife and I spend a lot of time traveling together up to NYC to visit family, especially to see our son and his wife.

So what else do you have coming up in the near future? Anything to plug?

Funny you should ask! A friend of mine, Trent Moran, wrote a very cool supernatural thriller called Something’s on the Roof that he has asked me to help produce. We are in the process of putting together the team and to find funding. I have an 80’s throwback slasher script that I wrote called Opening Day that I would like to get into production right after RPD comes out. On the writing front, I am working on a story inspired by the haunted house I grew up in on Staten Island. It’s called Nefarious and it will be a set piece from the 60’s.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife, Karen and my Shih-Tzu Lucy.

David M. Stern [Interview]

 

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Oh, do we have a great one for you fine reader(s) today! We have been fortunate to get some words from several television and film writers over the years, and today is definitely not an exception. In fact, we may have outdone ourselves with this one. Today we have the wonderful David M. Stern, a writer who has done some of the most influential work in the last 4 decades. His work ranges from starting off on The Wonder Years, moving on to The Simpsons (yes, the god damned Simpsons!), then to Ugly Americans, and so much more. He is seriously a genius, and we are so happy to have him on the site.

And to make things even better, I called in some help from a dear friend, and host of the Four Guys Drinking podcast, Scott Lawrence. Scott has a big ole brain just crammed with Simpsons knowledge, so he was the obvious choice to ask to throw us a few Simpsons related questions. So please enjoy a wonderful collaboration of questions with the amazing David M. Stern.

When did you decide to join the bloodthirsty business of television? What was your drive and motivation? And was it always writing that you wanted to do primarily?

My mother got me a journal when I was around 10 I think and I really took to it and began to appreciate the power of the written word very early. My brother Danny made it as an actor in Hollywood when I was around 13 and he would send me scripts he was auditioning for or parts he got along the way. Some scripts were incredible, some were award winning. But my favorites were the terrible ones because I’d read them and think ‘I can do better than this crap!’

You career was really kickstarted with your work on the first few years of The Wonder Years. Was it at all nerve-racking to become part of something so grand, at such an early stage in your career?

The Wonder Years was a total miracle job. I had only been in Hollywood for a few months. I met Neal and Carol, the creators through a mutual friend at the Circle Bar in Santa Monica. They knew I wanted to be a sitcom writer and they had already created Growing Pains. We really just hit it off on a personal level. They read a couple of the spec scripts I had written and gave me advice and notes. And then they told me that one of the ways they had made it in Hollywood was that they sent funny letters once a month to any producers they had met. I remember Neal asking, ‘how many funny letters do you ever receive from random people?’ The answer was zero. So it was great advice on how to get yourself noticed in a positive way and I took the cue and began sending them funny letters. Neal appreciated the effort and we began to pal around a bit, playing basketball together and stuff. Then a few months later, I was up at my brother’s house and saw the pilot for The Wonder Years, written by my new friends, on his desk. I snagged the script, xeroxed a copy and made it my religion. It was to this day, the best pilot I ever read. And at the tender age of 23, it was about the perfect show for me to write. I read it a hundred times and then I wrote a spec Wonder Years off that script as quick and well as I could, which was about 6 weeks. It was about Kevin’s first jr. high school dance. When I sent it to them, the show hadn’t even been cast yet. Long story short is that they really liked it. We went through a bunch of rewrites and things got a little hairy there for a little bit, in that I didn’t know if I would be able to cut it as a rewriter, which is really the job as a professional screenwriter. But, alas, I got it right finally and that episode become the 6th and final episode of the first season. The rest as they say, is history.

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What would you consider your greatest achievement during your tenure on The Simpsons?

I had a lot of proud moments on The Simpsons. Writing the season premiere of season two, “Bart Gets An F” was a real highlight. For a long time it was the highest rated Simpsons episode ever as it was the first time the show went up against The Cosby Show on Thursday nights. “Kamp Krusty” which was the season 4 premiere was another highlight. “Duffless”, which was the last episode I wrote on my first tenure with the show was also a highlight as I think it may have been the closest a first draft of mine came to the aired episode. But my favorite of all may have been “Principal Charming” about Skinner falling in love with Patty. That was a tough storyline but it came out really good and I inadverently created two characters in that script that still get a lot of play – Groundskeeper Willy and Hans Moleman( who was I believe originally named ‘Kindly Elder Gentleman.’

Did you every believe that The Simpsons would have the staying power that it has had?

Nope. I don’t think anyone did.

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A generation has grown up watching The Simpsons. What kind of impact do you believe it may have had on the way they live their lives?

Well, I think the simplest answer is that most people now understand and appreciate how cool animation is. That you can make comments in primetime using animation that never would have flown in a live action series. I also think that a lot of the satire of The Simpsons had, until that point, been only available late night. On Letterman and SNL. It brought that brand of sharp, cutting social commentary to primetime. Now it is mainstream.

What was it about 5 On With Alan Whiter that made you want to develop it for TV, as Ugly Americans?

Nice reference! Everything about it. Loved those shorts. Great, simple animation, I loved Devin Clark’s drawings. And the simple concept of monsters living among us in modern Manhattan, just accepted and kind of dumb and gross like everyone else. That essential comment of that series, I think, really dictated where I took the series on a much larger scale. That if Zombies and Werewolves did exist, society would quickly normalize them and soon they’d just be more everyday shmoes on the streets, trying to make a living and get laid and generally being stupid and common and flawed like everyone else.

This is an insanely personal question, which may not really have an answer, but I have to ask. I am a HUGE fan of Kurt Metzger. Did you hire him for Ugly Americans and/or what was it that he did that landed him that gig, which he was absolutely incredible at doing?

Anne Harris at Comedy Central brought him in. She is an amazing talent and knows everyone in New York. I didn’t know him or anyone else at the time. But as soon as I heard him I knew he was my Randall. I had to go to the mat for Kurt a little as he had no experience of any sort on VO work and there were others who were favored for the role, including Pete Holmes who went on to do a ton of amazing and hilarious voices for us. But I insisted on Kurt. He’s so great man. He owned that role. Brought a TON of his own stuff to the character. We’d write great stuff for him and then I’d tell him to riff on it in the booth. 3 out of 5 times, we’d go with his take on whatever it was. He was the perfect Zombie. I recently had an amazing dream about him being a zombie that I emailed to him.

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So what is up in your world now? Anything you’ve been working on that you’d like to plug?

Just wrote my ninth Simpsons, “Kamp Krustier”. Other than that just hustling for work man. Nothing to brag about at the moment. Soon though.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Norm Macdonald’s memoir – Based On A True Story. He’s the funniest I think. Him and Louis [CK].

Corbett Redford [Interview]

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I can hardly begin to explain to you all how much I truly adore our interview subject for the day, Mr. Corbett Redford. He is by far one of my favorite musicians, artists, and overall people I have ever had the privilege to meet both digitally and in person. He’s the kind of guy who simply gives off an essence of being a natural born sweet heart. A sweet heart, who also happens to be ever knowledgable about all things that are punk ass fuck, and writes hilarious songs about polyamory and living the life of a cat. He also touches on some very serious subjects, but still manages to create some wonderfully silly tunes. He is a brilliant artist to say the least, and we are so honored to have him on the site again, this time sharing some very nice words with you all.

Corbett has also branched off into the world of filmmaking. He is the man behind the Green Day executive produced upcoming documentary, Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. And believe me, I can’t think of any other person more qualified than him to tackle this amazing subject. Corbett has lived and breathed the East Bay punk scene pretty much his entirely life. He IS the scene, and there is no way this film is not going to be amazing with his creative force in tow. I am so excited to see the final product, which is coming soon. So, please enjoy a few words with our old pal, Corbett Redford!

 

Tell us a bit if you will about the formation of the now legendary comedy/punk/rock/brilliant duo (turned band, and back to duo when applicable) group Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits. How did this group come to life?

My bandmate Dan [Abbott] and I were both aimless, weird young men when we started the band in 1995 – Dan was 18 and I was 22 – trapped in a detached suburb of Oakland, California called Pinole. There are many versions of the story of our formation – really, I would say most importantly, at the time we both needed a creative outlet that wasn’t limiting. We always thought of the band as less of a band and more of a platform to share ideas – be it through music, film, writing, or events.

And where did the name come from? It’s definitely memorable and original, but what was the inspiration behind it?

We both stoned on the way to our first show. We didn’t have a name for the band and we needed to think of one. At the time in 1995, Ebola had just hit the Congo. In Pinole, where we lived, per capita there was more fast-food available than anywhere else in the nation. Visions of both the disease of Ebola and the disease of fast-food were swirling in our wild and high minds, I guess. Dan and I are both satirists at our cores, I think.

I recently had Jello Biafra, formerly of Dead Kennedys, tell me that though he doesn’t prefer the “poppy” sound of our music, but he needed to emphasize that we had “the best band name ever” – that was awesome to hear.

BJE also happens to have one of the most energetic and impressive stage shows I have ever had the honor of witnessing. Whether it’s in a full band in a downtown punk club or a duo setting with Dan in a book store, you have an undeniably wonderful energy. So what is your process? What are you looking to convey to an audience in a live setting?

I can’t speak for Dan, but I always want for people to feel included or at least my hope is that no one builds us up to be “more important people” just because we’re on a stage and amplified. I go into a show to release my demons, to spill my heart – that is the selfish “personal therapy” part of it. But more important than that, I don’t want people to get some idea that what we are doing is anything that they couldn’t do themselves. I think Chuck Berry once said, “Rock N Roll ain’t rocket science.” I think that idea demystifies things – makes it easier for someone to feel included or that there is no difference between audience and band.

 

BJE at a book signing at Powell's Books in Portland, OR. Seriously, these guys can rock EVERYWHERE!

BJE at a book signing at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. Seriously, these guys can rock EVERYWHERE!

For those of us who have been following closely, you’ve been diligently working on an upcoming documentary called Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. Without divulging too much (“spoiling” as the kids would say) can you tell us a bit about it is going? When can we expect to see the film? And more importantly, why did you believe people should be interested in this scene?

The film has been a wild three year ride. I turned 40 and had my first kid during the course of it all. We’re done with the edit and I am just finalizing the mountains of release forms – the last stage, as they say. We conducted over 150 interviews, gathered over 35,000 photos & fliers, and over 500 pieces of archival footage. The film is a beast – I hope people dig it when it is out. No exact release date yet, but shooting for somewhere around the beginning of 2017.

It’s funny you ask the question as to why I think people should be interested in the music scene we cover in the film. Yesterday, I watched the end of the film as I was culling through timecodes and paperwork. I stopped my sorting and it hit me – our film’s ultimate focus is about the human need we all have to find a place to belong. A place we feel safe to be ourselves. With the recent rash of fear and sickness I have had since the US election results, suddenly I felt a new urgency for people to see what we have created in this documentary – which is really a story about the road to the emergence of the non-profit music collective, 924 Gilman in Berkeley, California.

Safe community spaces like Gilman existing are going to be more important than ever for outsiders who need a place to converge under the dark cloud of Trump’s America.

What made you decide to move into the film world? I know you have shot dozens of music videos in the past, but what inspired the job into full blown documentarian?

Like songs or music videos, it is another way to tell a story. I had started a documentary about a different subject years ago with my long-time friend and collaborator Anthony Marchitiello (we recently formed the production company Capodezero Films together) and it hit some roadblocks. Years later in 2013, my old hometown friends in the band Green Day were looking for a director for a documentary project they wanted to do about the history of the scene they came from – and BAM – I was plucked from the ether to helm it. I could have never predicted it would take this long or that it would be such an extensive telling of the local punk music history of the Bay Area – but here we are. Not sure what comes after all this – nervous and excited to see what life brings next.

Photo taken from eastbaypunk.com

Photo taken from eastbaypunk.com


So, you have managed to slide yourself into the adult world suddenly, and became a father to a beautiful little boy. As a father, I am not ashamed to drop this stereotypical question to another father: How has fatherhood changed you? And what do you believe it has done to your creative self?

That is a good question. It has changed my entire way of looking at the world and thinking about my life. I haven’t always made the healthiest choices – bad food, to drugs & alcohol, to the kinds of overwhelming creative projects I take on. The birth of my son has made me strive to shoot for a more sustainable, manageable and focused life – the less stress I have, the longer I get to live to see my son grow. I don’t want to miss anything. Suddenly, the major thing on my mind is turning my health around and making better choices about what I get myself into. I owe this epiphany to him.

In the past 20 years on and off with this band, we have played over 2,000 shows around the US and even jumped the pond once. Being a father makes me want to be home as much as I can be – I love to read to him every night before he goes to bed. So touring a lot doesn’t feel like a priority anymore. But music, art, film – creating those things? Those things will ALWAYS have a place in my life.

Dan used to quote the Dire Straits song “Sultans of Swing” when we we talk about slowing down our non-stop touring, recording, filming, publishing… “Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene. He’s got a daytime job, he’s doing alright” was the lyric. I can see that being me. So long as my wife and son have food, shelter and access to medical care – I can meet with a band a few times a month to hammer out the kind of musical weird shit that is important to me. This film has been pretty all-consuming for the past three years… so it will be great for me to have some time again to focus on music once the documentary premieres.

Let’s get deep here: For as long as I have known you, whether digitally or when we run into each other in person, I’ve always thought of you as a sort of “spiritual guru” for me. Obviously not in a religious sense, but just as a person who has the wisdom I seek to understand. So, in light of recent events in the states, you know what I’m talking about, would you be willing to over some words of hope and/or encouragement? Basically, in your own opinion, what do we do now? And are we going to be okay?

I made a statement the other day online that I think might answer this:

“[I have been loving] seeing Bernie speaking on every outlet the past week. No loss of resolve. No fingerpointing. Just plans. And ideas. All encouraging us to stay strong. To be sticks in the spokes of Trump’s inhumane plans. I don’t know about you, but I’m heeding THIS man’s every word as we all try navigate through the next four regressive years. Now is the time to reach out to others who don’t have the same means or privilege that you might. Build more community and networks of support. Thwart homophobia and transphobia. Destroy sexism. Crush racism. Fight on, fight together. Fight the fucking power.”

Bernie changed my life. He was the perfect person for me to learn about at the most perfect moment in my life. His spirit NEVER breaks and it is so inspiring to me. He reminds us that there is ALWAYS work we should be doing to make the world a better place. ALWAYS. A Trump presidency will just be a hovering reminder that everyday we should be active in demanding a better world and curtailing the powers that be.

We will be okay. Things are going to get more shitty. But I feel that progressive populism will prevail over authoritarian populism in the next election and when it does… we will repair the dismantling Trump and his inhumane cabinet will inflict on the human condition and NEVER let them get ahold of the steering wheel again. We will one day live in an Utopian Star Trek future, dammit – or hopefully my son will. And their will always be orange Klingons trying to fuck shit up for the rest of us… we just have to stand together like Sulu, Uhura, Scotty… and even vanilla-ass Kirk did.

While I know you are still actively knocking out work on Turn It Around, but are you able tot ell us what might be coming next? I’m sure you will have to promote the hell out of the film when it is released, but are we going to be hearing more BJE in the future?

Promoting the film will be fun – I really look forward to sharing it with everyone. I really couldn’t tell you what is next. BJE might shake the dust off. I might start some new projects. Maybe I will form a band with my kid? Kids like songs about poop and farts – so do I.

Honestly, I do have a vision for a new musical project I have been dreaming of putting together with some great people here in the East Bay. Maybe that wil get off the ground…

I have a few ideas for short documentaries about local and unique subjects involving the area I grew up in here in California – one is about an old comic store where I grew up and it’s crazy history and the other is about this freaky art installation I would always see on the side of the freeway near Oakland. Not sure what is next, but I know something will pop up. Whatever it is, I want it to be simple and low stress.

Find our more about what I’m up to at:
http://capodezerofilms.com
http://eastbaypunk.com
http://bobbyjoeebola.com

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son working on putting some of his first sentences together this morning. He gets so happy and proud when his mother and I understand him.

That’s all anyone really wants, yeah? To be understood.

 

corberttredfordme

Martha Kelly [Interview]

 

martha-kelly-headshot

 

I recently fell in love with a brand new comedy that premiered earlier this year on FX known as Baskets. It is a series starring Zach Galifianakis, produced by Louis CK, and starring Louie Andersen as Zach’s mother. There was absolutely NO WAY this could fail with just these facts alone. Not to mention the premise of the show is god damned incredible. It was simply destined to be amazing. But, little did I know, there was going to be more. Yes, it is through this amazing show that I learned about the great Martha Kelly. A hilarious woman who simply blew my mind in her portrayal as the brilliant deadpan and sort of self-deprecating character named, well, Martha. I simply can not stress to you just how wonderful she is on this show.

And throw that, I learned that Martha is not entirely “acting”. Of course she is indeed acting, and doing great at it, but the character she portrays is very close to her own act as a stand up comedian, which I did not know she did as well. But, hot damn, I am so happy that I discovered her work. Her recent Comedy Central Half Hour Special is an absolute delight. I also managed to watch a plethora of videos of her work, and she has definitely moved to the top of acts I simply MUST see live for I kick the proverbial bucket. She’s a wonderful comedian, actress, overall human being. So, please enjoy a great interview with a great person, the delightful Martha Kelly!

 

Of all of the forms of entertainment there is to get into, why stand up? What drew you to this beautifully demented world?

I love stand-up because there are no auditions, rehearsals, or middlemen – you just write stuff you hope people will like, go to an open mic, and perform what you wrote. The audience gives you immediate gratification or rejection. To me, it’s the closest to a merit-based art form there is. If the audience likes you, you move up from open mics to booked shows and maybe someday quit your day job. You don’t have to convince casting directors or producers that an audience will like you – you just perform and see what happens.

What were some of your earliest influences? And what do you believe they would smell like after an hour special?

Some of my early influences were Rosanne Barr, Joan Rivers, and later Janeane Garofalo, Mr. Show with Bob [Odenkirk] & David [Cross], and a lot of other comics. I’d rather not speculate on anyone’s personal lives/hygiene.

You have been doing stand up for quite a while, and you are indeed a woman, so maybe you could give us some insight into women in comedy. Are we closer to losing the Boys Club mentality that has been projected onto the world of comedy? Have things improved at all? Basically, are we any closer to equality than we were 15 years ago?

I started doing stand-up in LA and then moved to Austin and did it there and have been lucky that both comedy scenes were full of really funny, good guys who treated women comics like peers and friends, not outsiders. I don’t know if there’s been a shift but there are definitely more women doing stand-up now than there were when I started, which is great. In general, it seems to me like there are tons of super funny newer comics of both sexes, which makes it really fun to go to open mics and renews my enthusiasm for stand-up.

Being a long time Austin resident, what are your opinions on SXSW? Have the changes in the set up bettered or worsened the experience for you? Or has being an on and again, off again resident desensitized you to the entire spectacle?

I like SXSW early in the week when all the stages are set up but there’s no garbage in the streets. The comedy shows usually get great crowds so I love that part. I don’t go to any of the parties or music shows because I’m a full-time dud.

What is the craft service like on Baskets? On a scale from 1 to Diabetes, how healthy are the choices?

Craft service on Baskets is terrific. We have a lot of healthy choices and plenty of comfort foods so that pretty much everybody on the cast and crew can find stuff they like.

Baskets -- Pictured: Marrtha Kelly as Martha. CR: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Baskets — Pictured: Marrtha Kelly as Martha. CR: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Speaking of Baskets, how did you enjoy your time on the show? What is set life like with such a diverse and hilarious cast essentially doing improv?

Being on the set of Baskets is one of my favorite things of all time. It’s been one of the greatest sources of joy in my whole life, second only to when my niece and nephew were babies and I got to spend every day with them. The cast and crew are a bunch of talented, good-hearted people who I love spending time with every day. Louie Anderson is great to work with. He’s always been really supportive and encouraging to me even though I’m no where near as good as him at improv. Jonathan Krisel is amazing. He’s brilliant and super funny and very sweet. There’s not a bad egg in the bunch really, except for Zach, who is a goddamn nightmare.

So what is next for you? I hear you are doing a Spider Man flick or something? Anything else you would like to plug here?

After we wrap season 2, I’ll start working on stand-up again to hopefully record an album in 2017. I might also go back to school to finish my BA in English, and/or get a job in retail. We’ll see how it goes.

When you look back on your extended career in comedy, what would you say you are most proud of?

I don’t know if I’m proud of a whole lot – I always feel like I should work harder/be funnier. But one of the things I’d wanted to do for over a decade was a Comedy Central Half Hour special and I got to do it this past summer. We recorded in New Orleans and the Comedy Central Half Hour people made it a great experience. Could not have asked for a better audience/venue/overall experience.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My dog and cat slapping each other this morning.