INTERVIEW: Dan Harmon

Published in The Music (NSW) on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2016

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Dan Harmon On What’s Wrong With TV Today

The debut Australian voyage for Community and Rick & Morty creator-turned-podcast-king Dan Harmon is one of excitement and terror, as Daniel Cribb discovers.

There’s something about writing wizard Dan Harmon that makes him so relatable. Perhaps it’s the transparent relationship he’s nurtured with his fans, or maybe – like the rest of us – he’s very good at finding ways to procrastinate when there are a million other pressing tasks at hand. “I’m playing a cookie collector game, where I collect cookies,” Harmon begins from the lounge of his animation studio in California.

One of many projects on the go is Adult Swim hit animation Rick & Morty; the third season of which is within reach. “We’re just wrapping up writing the last episodes, and I just saw the first colour cut of the first episode, so that’s where we’re at.”

But he’ll have to take a break from the cult hit briefly as he brings his live podcast, Harmontown, to Australia. “I’m so excited to finally be heading to Australia that I’m only slightly put off by reports of spiders that can carry a bat up a fridge,” he says. “Do you have any idea how many spiders are down there? I’m a big spider guy – as in, I’m terrified of spiders.

“I keep telling these Americans that are warning me, ‘It’s the Sydney Opera House – I think they’ve fumigated it.”

A 2014 documentary following Harmon and co around the US on their first podcast tour shows intimate details of his personal and creative life. Some of the anxieties throughout the film came from the improvised nature in which each live podcast comes together. But the lack of a game plan is also what makes seeing Harmon live so great. “The guy you saw in the documentary getting ready for his first show, there was a fear I had then that never returned after that show,” Harmon reveals. “Some switch got thrown in my head that I was in a legitimate place and that I needed to therefore have a show, but since then I’ve done so many shows where it’s like, ‘Look, we’ll figure it out.’”

“There have been a few stinkers here and there,” he laughs. “I’m going to try not get too loaded. I’m going to be thinking about stuff on the long plane flight.”

The raw nature of each podcast sees Harmon bare all for fans, which has had an impact on the way he approaches writing. “I think that over time, I’ve gone from a place of defensiveness to very fearful reaching out and I think that those are the two big extremes when you’re a nerd. You can either be defiant about your right to one and to be alienated and separate from people, or you can be equally confident about the fact that you are.”

Surprisingly, Harmon never bookmarks ideas forged on stage for reworking or developing later down the track. “It’s more the opposite; if I’m struggling on something while I’m writing a script, sometimes it’ll erupt into something I’m talking about on stage,” he reveals.

“The great thing about podcasting is, I don’t walk off the stage with any retention of what I’ve talked about. I’ll have a vague recollection that I got upset about something and my throat will hurt a little bit, so I’ll remember, ‘Oh yeah, I was yelling about video games.’

“Between getting drunk on stage, but more importantly, there’s a sort of blackout that occurs when you have to give yourself over to monitoring people that you’re performing for.”

The audience connection is also something Harmon strives towards across the other projects he’s developed. “I guess I’d like to think the reason why Community and Rick & Morty – in spite of being totally philosophically different – both get a strong response from fans is because they’re sincere. There’s no barrier between the people making the show and the people in the audience.

“There’s always a class barrier, I think,” Harmon says of a lot of other shows out there. “The stuff that I’ve worked on, I’ve never written down to anybody and I’ve never encouraged that, and largely simultaneously ignored the audience and considered them the most important thing in the world by saying, ‘Well, these people need nothing less than the thing I think is perfect,’ because that way there stands a small chance of us connecting somehow before we all die.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/12/06/dan-harmon-daniel-cribb/

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INTERVIEW: Eric Andre

Published in The Music (NSW) and on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2016

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Why Eric Andre’s Putting His Body On The Line For Comedy

Already planning a follow-up Australian tour, US comedy madman Eric Andre tells Daniel Cribb why he’s “very, very nervous and concerned” for his safety.

“Maybe I’m not allowed to say that – maybe that’s off the record,” US comic Eric Andre begins, leaving the Adult Swim studios in LA where he’s been working on a secret project.

Those acquainted with his talk show on the same network will know just how chaotic things can get and part of that is Andre’s over-active mind. “It’s actually way more organised than it seems,” he tells. “The chaos is on top of structured bits. It’s basically just a mock talk show, so we just satirise and do our own versions of pre-existing talk show bits.”

One of the standout elements of the show are insanely bizarre street pranks, and while they produce comedy gold for viewers, they’re sometimes not the most fun to film. “I’m very, very nervous and concerned for my safety. I’m worried I’m going to get injured, beaten up or arrested,” he admits.

During the latest season, he’s assaulted by an agitated karate instructor. “Yeah, he went nuts. What you don’t see is, a lot of the time to really get people riled up, I’ll go back into the location like three or four times, but for times’ sake we’ll edit it like it’s one big take. I kept going back into that karate dojo; that was my third time going back in there and he absolutely lost his mind. He kicked me out and locked the door, but he forgot to lock the side door.”

It’s a polar opposite to Andre’s role on Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23, which he starred in before getting his big break. “Apartment 23 was me on unemployment, just a broke actor in Los Angeles looking for any job. I was like eating beans by candlelight. I co-incidentally sold The Eric Andre Show a few weeks after I booked Apartment 23. I didn’t even know if I was going to do The Eric Andre Show or not. I was just editing it in my shithole apartment.”

Somewhere in the middle of both is FXX hit Man Seeking Woman, which enters its third season in January. Andre plays the bachelor best friend of Josh Greenberg, played by Jay Baruchel. “Fuck, it’s such a blur,” he says of the new episodes. “I cut off my penis,” he adds. “It’s really graphic, it’s hard to watch. It’s like a goddamn snuff film – if that’s too hardcore, you let me know,” he laughs.

He’s testing the boundaries of the Australian sense of humour before his first visit, and will continue to do so during his whirlwind east coast run, which takes in intimate Melbourne and Sydney venues. The five headline dates are sold out, which Andre wasn’t expecting, but it isn’t surprising considering the cult following he’s earned through The Eric Andre Show. “I’m glad you guys get the show down there. Is it on TV or do you watch it online, like torrents?”

A potentially loaded question, but Andre’s quick to respond with approval of certain fans’ actions. “No, no, no – that’s great, I’m a pirate, too.”

It’s perhaps why he’s already looking into a potential return trip. “There are two different live shows; there’s me doing stand-up and there’s The Eric Andre Show live. I figured for my first trip to Australia run I’ll keep it simple and just do some stand-up, and see what the turnout is like.

“We already sold out all the shows on this leg, so I want to build an Australian audience and then come back and do the live talk show. I want to see how this one goes, get the lay of the land a little bit and then make a decision.”

With Eric Andre Show co-star Hannibal Buress’ Australian tour wrapping up the same day Andre’s begins, he’s hoping they might cross paths. “I’m going to see if they can stay and hang out with me.”

But perhaps they won’t be meeting up to party in Sydney after Buress’ recent experiences in the state. “What are the Hannibal headlines? Give me the deets,” Andre asks. The headlines in questions revolve around Buress calling out the city’s lockout laws via Twitter and then on stage. “Your Prime Minster is a dickhead, right? Isn’t the world going to shit? We got Donald Trump, England has Brexit… I barely know American politics, so maybe I’m wrong.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/12/05/eric-andre-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Perth International Arts Festival

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2016

Why You Need To Leave Your Comfort Zone During PIAF

“What’s the thing that makes you want to make a discovery?” Perth International Arts Festival contemporary music program associate Clara Iaccarino asks Daniel Cribb.

It’s a question she used to frame this year’s eclectic line-up, and as an artist manager herself – one that’s frequently racking up new stamps on her passport (heading to South America in the coming weeks with Sounds Austalia) – she’s in a unique position to try to expose punters to new sounds, and potentially even their favourite new act.

The PIAF contemporary music program returns Chevron Festival Gardens for 21 nights from 10 Feb, boasting talent from across the globe and featuring headliners Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Kurt Vile and more alongside a handful of lesser-known acts who might become favourites after their festival visit. “Jambinai and Aristophanes are the dark horses of the festival. It’s very unlikely that the average person would have heard of them, but when you check them out your mind blows pretty quickly – they’re the winners to back,” Iaccarino enthuses.

The thing that makes PIAF so unique is the comprehensive nature of each individual aspect of the program, with film, arts and music often colliding and introducing lovers of one format to another. Last year’s bill saw Kate Miller-Heidke lead the world premiere of The Rabbits, which resulted in a wealth of music fans flocking to Heath Ledger Theatre night after night for a theatrical experience and potentially return to that side of the program this year. “I think people have a few prejudiced ideas about what theatre means; there are stereotypical notions of what theatre might involve.

“The big piece we’ve got this year that’s contemporary music but not in the Chevron Festival Gardens is a piece called Flit and it’s got a lot of musicians that people would love – there’s Dominic Aitchison from Mogwai, there’s Adrian Utley from Portishead, Martin Green from Lau — and they’re combining to put on this contemporary music performance which has crazy animation. It’s the perfect example of a great collaboration of all the art forms.”

It’s all about risk when it comes to picking PIAF shows as a punter – stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. “If you are taking a gamble and testing what is, in fact, your thing, it’s a cheap risk,” Iaccarino says.

The same prejudices exist around “world music”, which is another barrier that PIAF looks to tear down. “I’ve never been much of a lover of Top 40 radio,” Iaccarino tells. “For me, that all sounds the same, and so tapping out to dig a little deeper has been an attraction to me as a music lover. I kind of wanted to mix that up a little bit and not be bound by what those traditional definitions might be, but look at world music meaning a post-rock band from South Korea, as opposed to an African 12-piece.

“For the most part, I think people will really be pleased with pushing their boundaries a little; I really hope people want to push themselves a little further and really ask themselves what is their thing because they might not even know what that is.”

Check out the PIAF website for all the details.

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/12/06/piaf-clara-iaccarino-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Scott Reynolds

Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2016

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Why Scott Reynolds Is Living Out Of His Car

“I was really, really, really freaked out last night and now I am just sad, you know,” punk rocker-turned-troubadour Scott Reynolds tells Daniel Cribb.

Getting his start in iconic US punk band ALL in the late ‘80s and still touring the world to this day, Scott Reynolds has seen and endured a lot, but nothing could prepare him for Trump being elected as president. “I think a lot of us are shell-shocked and scared shitless but hopefully the checks and balances will keep him in check,” he tells. “I don’t know what to say, I am embarrassed for my country and ashamed of who we elected.”

He’ll be escaping the chaos during an Aussie tour with one of punk rock’s most politically charged bands, Anti-Flag, in December. “I just put the feelers out on my Facebook and said, ‘Hey, I want to tour, where should I play?’”

The next thing he knows, he’s been offered an opening slot for Anti-Flag on the other side of the world. “It’s going to be an interesting juxtaposition, my thing and [Anti-Flag’s]. I just opened for Pennywise the other day and I was really nervous about that and that went fine. So I am pretty excited, you know.”

The tour marks a rare opportunity for fans to catch the legend in an intimate environment and also signals a daring change for the musician. “The thing is, recently I have become divorced, I moved out of my apartment into a house I could afford to be a musician again. Basically, I bought my mom’s car and it’s got 80,000 grandma miles on it, so it’s in really good shape. I put a bed in the back and I throw my guitar and Chihuahua in it and start driving.

“I went to South America recently and played in Argentina and Brazil, Chile and Uruguay…it went great, I came home with a little money, I had a good time and now this. What this tells me is, my kids left home and my wife is gone, so it’s just me hanging my arse out for the best.”

Reynolds admits he never could quite figure out how to balance the two properly. “I made records but I couldn’t put them out the way I should have and it put a lot of stress on my family life,” he says. “I was halfway being a musician because I had kids and I have a job but I was also trying to play shows and make records.

“When I was in ALL all those years ago I used to do 200 shows a year, we were all over the place all the time. I don’t know if I’ll go that crazy, but I don’t know if I won’t. I am up for everything right now.”

Constantly writing new music, a new record will surface sooner rather than later. “I am not sure what will happen next, what incarnation of my thing – it might just be just me and my guitar. I might put a band together and it definitely will be a record,” he tells.

And with any luck, Reynolds’ new approach and outlook on music might result in some more ALL reunion shows. “Bill [Stevenson, drums] and I keep in touch and every once in a while we talk about playing music,” he reveals. “I would imagine that at some point we’ll probably seriously visit that topic and maybe come up with something.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/12/07/scott-reynolds-daniel-cribb/