Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's the end of the world as Weird Al knows it

And he feels fine when talking about Lady Gaga, Segways and his new album, Alpocalypse.

3:52 p.m. EDT, September 28, 2011

This past June, Weird Al Yankovic released Alpocalypse, his first studio album in nearly five years. He’s now touring the country to promote it, and will perform Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. We caught up with him last week before a show in Houston.

What inspired you to finally do a new album?

It was a long process. This might’ve been the longest I’ve gone between CDs, and there’s no great reason for that other than that I’ve been very busy with other things and I was waiting for the right thing to come along and that didn’t happen until Lady Gaga put out “Born This Way.” That’s when I thought all the cosmic tumblers had aligned and it was time for me to put out the album. It’s more of the same kind of stuff I’ve done since the beginning. It’s half-parody, half-original. There’s the requisite polka medley. It’s all infused with my warped sense of humor.

What was it like working with members of Hanson and the Doors on this album?
I got to work with [Doors keyboardist] Ray Manzarek and Taylor Hanson on a couple tracks. I did a Doors pastiche called “Craigslist.” It was just a random thought I had late one night. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be anachronistic and weird and stupidly funny to do a song in the style of the Doors, but have it be about Craigslist?” I asked Ray Manzarek, “Hey, would you like to play keyboards on this?” And he said yes, so it was a huge thrill for me to work with Ray in the studio. It was just mind-boggling. And Taylor Hanson I’ve been friends with for a long time. I’ve known the Hanson guys since the late ’90s. We’ve been working on each other’s projects here and there, and I just did a cameo appearance in one of their music videos, playing the tambourine. And I directed one of their music videos early on. One of my songs was supposed to sound kind of like Hanson, and I thought, “Well, Why don’t I get Taylor to play on that?” He happened to be in town and came into the studio and put down some tasty tracks.

Has Lady Gaga said anything to you about [the “Born This Way” parody] “Perform This Way?”
I haven’t talked to her directly about it, but according to an interview she did with Rolling Stone, she called it a “rite of passage” and she said it was “empowering.” She accurately found that it was not meant to be a putdown in any way. She said, “It sounds like Al’s got my back,” which was the case. When I write parodies, it’s never meant to step on people’s toes. It’s all in good fun and most of the artists realize that. I had a bit of a problem with her management on this particular song. But once it was in Lady Gaga’s court, she immediately approved it because she got the joke.

How do you decide what to parody?
It’s just whatever strikes me as funny. People ask me that a lot, and I could come up with some gag answers, but the real answer is who knows? Our brains work in mysterious ways and the synapses fire randomly and something will strike me as funny. And it may actually be funny or I may be out of my mind. I have to go with what I think is funny.

Have fans ever sent you parodies of your parodies?
I’ve seen some of that. I’ve had a couple of tribute albums done of fans doing cover songs, some of which are parodies of my original songs. It’s always flattering. I love it when fans will put the funhouse mirror back on me.

What songs can fans expect to hear on the Alpocalpyse tour?
A lot of stuff from Alpocalpyse obviously and pretty much all the big hits. It’s a little bit of everything, a good mix. If you want to check out my special on Comedy Central, it’s going to debut Oct. 1. It’s not the full show, since the actual show is around two hours long, but it gives you a taste of what you’re liable to see in the show.”

Do you have a favorite song from your career?
I get that a lot and it’s hard to pick, but my go-to answer for that is “White and Nerdy” just because it was my biggest hit. It sold over a million legal downloads and it’s my only platinum single. Plus, it’s not entirely autobiographical but I have a lot in common with the protagonist of that song. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research to be able to write that song.

Do you actually own a Segway?
I do. I probably wouldn’t if it weren’t part of my live show, but I come out on stage every night on a Segway for “White and Nerdy.” And when I’m not on the road, I ride it around the house. What’s something fans would be surprised to know about you? A lot of fans don’t know that I’m actually an elderly Korean woman. Now the secret’s out of the bag!

Weird Al Yankovic will perform 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5747 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $45-$65. Call 954-797-5531 or visit
Contact Joanie Cox at

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