Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interview: Joe McDermott

"The Maestro of Imagination" Joe McDermott rocks on his latest disc Everybody Plays Air Guitar, where he actually plays a REAL guitar...or so it's rumored. We got to talkin' (via e-mail) & Joe shared some insights on Zombies, Trains & Hollywood

1) Does EVERYBODY play air guitar? I seem to recall my grandma playing air-balalaika. Does that count?

Was your grandmother one of the Skomorokhs ? It only counts if she was a card-carrying Skomorokh. And no, not everyone plays air guitar. I actually tried many variations - air oboe, air euphonium and air accordion, but air guitar just seemed to resonate more in our focus groups.

2) I think the vocals really shine when you sing a cappella . How many parts did you sing on "Working on the railroad"?

Thanks Yosi. I'm not really sure how many parts I sang. I usually do a pretty standard barber shop quartet to start with (standard in everything but actually knowing how to write one) and then fill in with funny stuff and sound FX vocals wherever possible. It took a really long time. I don't consider myself a great singer by any stretch, so I do lots of takes until I have the ones I can live with. After all my work was finished I had a few gospel singers come in and REALLY sing. To me that's what makes the track. I really did have a job on the railroad once though-and loved it. My dad worked for the railroad his whole life, so it's really in my blood. I grew up around a lot of trains.

3) I understand you're a father of 4(?)...(like me) do you make time to write, record, & perform?

Actually, I'm the father of three boys. I have morning insomnia and get up really early and work. fortunately, it's my full-time job so I basically have to do it and have to make the time for it. On days that I perform, I'm often finished at 11:00 or so which leaves the rest of the day to write and record. And also, I'm a bit of a workaholic.

4) What are your kids fave tunes? (on your CD's)

I think the general consensus around our house is that "Come To Hawaii" from "Great Big World" is one of our favorite songs and recordings. It's between that and "Great Big World" from the same album. But really, as far as the kids are concerned, their favorite songs of all are the songs from a Super Nintendo game that I did the soundtrack for in the 90s. It's called "Zombies Ate My Neighbors." It's apparently become sort of a cult following thing. I still get emails from nerds all over the world telling me how much they like it. Weird.

5) Where do you get your song ideas? Especially "Baby Kangaroo."

I have no idea really-especially that song. I found this cool ping-pong ball sound FX and looped it and played it in my car. The song just kind of popped into my head one day. Funny though-it was the last cut on that album that I worked on and I thought it might be too obnoxious-yes, even for a children's recording. I almost left it off.

6) I know you are based in Texas. Will folks be able to catch you live on the East or West coasts?

I'll be playing at Borders in San Francisco July 7th, Steamboat Springs Colorado July 17th and Washington DC at Jamin Java July 28th. for specifics, our web site is

7) What's next on the drawing board? A cd? DVD? Full-feature film?

Yes, probably a full-feature Hollywood blockbuster-type film featuring all of today's hottest stars. That's what I'm thinking for now anyway. (Do you have any Hollywood connections Yosi?) Actually, I'm gearing up for playing more shows with symphony orchestras. I've done a few so far and love it. I'm also doing music for a cool company called Team Baby Entertainment. I really need to do a DVD and probably will in the next few years. In the meantime, I'm starting to write for the next album.

Thanks, Joe.
I'll have Al Pacino give you a ring.
We'll do lunch.

Get your air guitars on & check out:

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