Nashville Cream: Just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I think Bad Hair Day came out when I was 8 or 9 years old, which my friends and I proceeded to pretty much wear out.
“Weird Al" Yankovic: [Laughs]
NC: Do you get that a lot? People saying that they really got into your records as kids?
WA: Yeah, well, that happens now that I’ve been around for a few decades. It’s not uncommon for me to have a grown adult come up to me and say that they got into me when they were a small child. Which is very flattering, you know. It’s nice to know that I’ve been a part of some people's lives for a long time at this point. It’s always nice to hear.
NC: It seems like you’ve always been aware that you had a fairly younger audience too.
WA: I think probably my hardest-core fans are about the same age that I was when I got into Mad Magazine, which was probably 12, 13 years old. And I should point out that my fan base really spans the demographics. I mean, you can look out into a concert audience and see everyone from young kids to geriatrics. People that got into me in the '80s, a lot of them are obviously still fans. So I certainly don’t snub them and target my music toward any age group for whatever reason. I think perhaps at a certain age kids have some kind of chemical that gets released into their brain where they start appreciating this particular type of comedy: satire, parodies, pun, irreverence and things like that. So, that might be a reason why so many people discover me at that particular age, but it’s not exclusive to that age, obviously. A lot of adult listeners seem to appreciate what I do as well.
NC: I had always heard that comedy music was notoriously difficult to pull off since comedy is so subjective, and then you add in this music element that’s also somewhat subjective. Do you have a particular way of approaching the comedy part of songwriting?
WA: Well, comedy, as you pointed out, is subjective and basically it all boils down to me writing what I think is funny. I may run some ideas or some lyrics by my wife or whoever happens to be nearby at the time just to make sure that I haven’t completely lost my mind, but at the end of the day, I write what amuses me and hope that a lot of other people will share the same opinion.
NC: It seems — and maybe it’s just me — but it seems like I’m more aware of comedy artists now than I ever was, like Hard 'n Phirm and Jonathan Coulton and those artists in general.
WA: It kinda feels like comedy music has lost a little bit of the onus or the stigma that it used to have. When I kinda on the scene in the '80s, I felt pretty alone. There weren’t a lot of people doing comedy music. I wouldn’t quite say that it’s in vogue now, but I mean there certainly are a lot more people that feel comfortable injecting humor into their music.
NC: Do you feel like you have a relationship with those artists like Jonathan Coulton?
WA: I’m a big fan of Jonathan Coulton’s — there’s a level of camaraderie. I actually sent him a copy of my last CD and he had some nice things to say about it on Twitter. I’m a big fan of his music. In fact, one of my songs, a lot of fans thought it was a Jonathan Coulton tribute — Skipper Dan. Which, that wasn’t my intention, but I could see how a lot of people might have thought that. I’m a big fan of his work, and … yeah, I think he’s great.
NC: Kinda circling back a little bit, a big part of your fan base is kinda like a die-hard fan base that I don’t see a lot with other artists. I don’t see a lot of conventions for bands that aren’t, like, KISS.
WA: [Laughs] Yeah, right.
NC: Do you find that as well?
WA: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know exactly what it is about my music that has generated such an intense fandom, but I’m glad. It’s nice to be appreciated and, yeah, certainly, I feel like I have some pretty hardcore fans. There have been certain occasions where it came in handy where they’ve really had my back. When I had that whole kerfuffle with Lady Gaga a few months ago, a lot of people got a lot of righteous indignation on my behalf. It was really kinda through their reactions that we were able to finally get my single and the album out. And, you know, there are fans that are actively trying to get me a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, trying to get me into the Cleveland Rock and Roll Museum. Regardless of whether those things happen or not, I’m extremely flattered that there are people out there spending the time and the effort to do those kind of things.
NC: It was kinda amazing how, as you said, the Lady Gaga kerfuffle blew up. I think part of that was because of the Internet and the way that everything now is very instant. Do you think, had, let’s say, the Coolio situation from years back happened today, you could expect your fans to jump on Twitter or what-have-you so quick to defend you?
WA: Yeah, I would think so. I mean, there are a lot of things that are different now that the Internet has come into popular usage. Yeah, I don’t know. There are several things in my life that probably would have been different in the Internet Age. One nice thing is that there never have to be any secrets. If there’s a song that I want to get out into the world — and this is true of anybody — you don’t have to be dependent on some executive in a glass tower somewhere to give you a thumbs-up or permission. The Internet’s a level playing field — you can put something out there and if people want to hear it, they’ll hear.
NC: Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but have you played Nashville before?
WA: I have! I’ve played Nashville several times, but certainly not ever The Ryman. I’m very excited about that. In fact, I think the first time we played Nashville — I tell this story a lot — we played the comedy club Zanies, which I believe is still there, right?
NC: Yes, it is.
WA: It’s a great club, but it’s not really geared for a rock band. So, when my booker and my agent started sending us on tour, they just figured, “It’s a comedy show, we’ll do comedy clubs.” And most comedy stages are built for a guy holding a microphone, or at the most maybe a guy behind a piano. So there wasn’t really room for a five-piece rock band with amplifiers and guitars. I remember, the stage was so crowded that my guitar player had to hold his instrument upright, I could not move around on stage. In fact, I think we probably had a few amplifiers on peoples’ tables in the audience. It was ridiculous.