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February 2019

Musical Mondaze

zebrahead

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Just a week before dropping their creative baker’s dozen “Brain Invaders” on fans, Orange County’s zebrahead is also prepping for a spring tour that will take them to Australia, and while they’ve seen and experienced more than most of us could ever imagine in their over 20 years together, they are still finding new things to enjoy while out on the road.

Anytime you think you have seen it all something new comes along and blows your mind,” says bass player Ben “Ozz” Osmundson.

Brain Invaders,” their 13th album, will be released March 8 on MFZB Records.

We recently sat down with Ozz to discuss the band’s longevity, their mishmosh sound, and why they’re saying more lyrically with “Brain Invaders” than they have in previous albums.

TrunkSpace: You guys have been writing and performing together since the late ‘90s. Do you find yourselves still experiencing firsts as zebrahead, or do you think you have seen and experienced it all at this stage in your musical journey?
Ozz: Super happy to say we are experiencing new things every day on tour. Anytime you think you have seen it all something new comes along and blows your mind. The trick for us is to never just sit backstage and look at the walls – we always go outside, make some friends, see the sights and experience life.

TrunkSpace: We’re only about a week away from the release of your latest album, “Brain Invaders,” which happens to be number 13. Are you guys the superstitious sorts, and could you have ever imagined that you’d drop a baker’s dozen worth of albums on the world when you first started out?
Ozz: I think most of us are not superstitious at all. So, the number 13 just kind of makes me smile. And to be honest, I never thought we would last past two albums. We all quit our jobs 20 years ago and said “let’s go for it” and we haven’t looked back. I just wanted to get to see the world and couldn’t believe it was happening. Now all these years later I still want to get to see the world and really can’t believe how lucky we are. It’s all amazing and humbling.

TrunkSpace: No one is closer to the music than you. When you listen back to those early records to where you guys are now with “Brain Invaders,” where do you hear the biggest difference in the music, and were those changes part of a plan or a natural progression?
Ozz: The biggest change I hear is the change in the speed of the songs. We recorded our first couple albums way, way, way too slow. We adjust them live to the speed we wish we recorded them, but I think it scares people sometimes. Also, the newer albums I would say are less funk influenced and more skate punk? But, at the end of the day were a mishmosh of different influences.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Ozz: Super happy we are now in the position where we can record the album, mix it, master it and distribute it completely on our own. We still have a record label in Japan, but outside Japan we do everything ourselves. We have been pushing in this direction for the past 10 years by taking more and more control of our own situation.

TrunkSpace: Are there things that you enjoyed 20 years ago with the band that you don’t necessarily have the same love for today? For example, is touring a different experience now? Does life alter your in-band POV?
Ozz: For me personally the touring thing is still amazing. You can drop me in the middle of Tokyo or Berlin or Paris and I know my way around. I am beyond lucky. Traveling gets exhausting and rough sometimes, but every travel day ends with a show, and the show always makes you forget all the crap it took to get there.

TrunkSpace: What do you get working in a band atmosphere that you wouldn’t be able to achieve as a solo artist? Does effort inspire effort in the process, and by that we mean, does one person’s eureka moment inspire the others?
Ozz: I don’t think I would ever want to do the solo thing. I really enjoy the collaboration when it comes to any art form. Looking at things from another person’s point of view is pretty valuable. When you stop listening to others and think you know it all is the day you realize you knew absolutely nothing.

TrunkSpace: You guys have been writing together for a long time now. Is there a creative kinship among the group where the process of creating new material is more of a well-oiled machine than it was 20 years ago?
Ozz: It’s always a mess. We email each other idea, jam out new ideas and sit around cracking jokes instead of working. I think if it was a perfect polished experience it wouldn’t work out the same. I personally like writing together the best. When someone plays something amazing you can see the reaction immediately on everybody’s face and that to me is the best.

TrunkSpace: In the writing itself – the lyrics – are you guys touching on topics that your younger selves would have never even thought to write about with earlier albums like “Waste of Mine” and “Playmate of the Year?” Have the albums become a bit like chapters of your lives where you see the music reflecting what is going on outside of the music itself?
Ozz: With the newest album I think we finally reached the point that we couldn’t ignore what was happening around us as much. We have always been the happy party band that wants to make you smile and forget the world, but the world has reached new limits these days and even your beer drinking buddies are getting fed up.

TrunkSpace: For you personally, what’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Ozz: By far the highlight for me was getting nominated for a Grammy. We did a song with Lemmy from Motörhead and it got nominated for best metal performance years ago. At that moment I knew that we would never even come close to that moment. Hell, a Grammy nomination and sitting next to Lemmy, who we worked on the song with, it will never get better than that!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Ozz: I don’t think I would. The future scares the crap out of me.

Wait, I take that back! I would go look. Like I said earlier, every day I realize how dumb I was yesterday and it sure would be great to avoid and learn from all my ridiculous mistakes before the rest of the world sees them.

Brain Invaders” drops March 9 on MFZB Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sark Asadourian

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Taking on the leading role in a film at 10 years old is no big deal for newcomer Sark Asadourian. Sure, his new film “Cecil,” available now on DVD and VOD, was his first major acting project, but having previously worked with director Spenser Fritz – whose childhood the coming-of-age-comedy is based – helped to lesson any nerves that he when he arrived on set.

We recently sat down with Asadourian to discuss sharpening his basketball skills, binging a beloved ‘90s sitcom, and why he hopes to one day fly on screen.

TrunkSpace: Your new film Cecilis based on the real-life experiences of writer/director Spenser Fritz. As a performer in the piece playing the title character did you feel a responsibility to deliver on Spensers personal expectations of the project when hes seeing pieces of himself and his upbringing in the narrative youre helping to give life to on screen?
Asadourian: I was 10 when I filmed Cecil, so I don’t think I was thinking about that at the time. I was thinking more about how my own experiences related to Cecil’s experiences.

TrunkSpace: “Cecilis one of your first projects, and not only was it a lead role, but it was a lead TITLE role! Did you feel pressure going into production, and if so, how did you manage your nerves and focus on performance?
Asadourian: I don’t think I did have much nerves. I had acted in a bunch of smaller projects previously, so I knew how set would work. I also worked with Spenser to film the trailer for the Kickstarter campaign, so I was already comfortable with Spenser and some of the crew. From that experience I knew working with Spenser would be fun – I felt like I would be in good hands. So I was really just looking forward to the experience and I couldn’t wait to meet Abby (Christa Beth Campbell) and Martha (Sophie Harris).

TrunkSpace: What was the biggest challenge in slipping into Cecils skin and bringing him to life?
Asadourian: The lisp and the basketball playing. I had to put a lot of time into both. I had never really played basketball before the shoot, so we hung a net at home and I practiced every day. I also went to a speech therapist to learn to lisp realistically.

TrunkSpace: Was it helpful to have Spenser available to you at all times, especially with so much of himself in the character and story? Was he able to give you insight into Cecils journey that perhaps you wouldnt have been able to receive if he wasnt directing the film as well?
Asadourian: It was helpful. Spenser is really good at communicating what he wants in the scene, what Cecil would be feeling. We would rehearse each scene while the crew was setting up, so I was ready once it was time to shoot.

TrunkSpace: The story of Ceciltakes place before you were born in the mid 1990s. Was it fun getting to play in a period piece and what did you enjoy most about trying to recreate that on film?
Asadourian: I thought it was fun because the costumes were clothes I wouldn’t normally wear. I grew out my hair into a bowl cut. Putting on the clothes, the different haircut, all helped me feel like Cecil. Since Jenna von Oÿ was playing my mom, I binge watched “Blossom” before the shoot. It was fun to learn about the trends of the ‘90s. Most of the crew grew up in the ‘90s, so I think that did create a feeling of nostalgia and fun on the set.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most enjoyable part of a movie or series is the end product, but for those involved in the project, we would imagine it is the experience. For you, what will you take away from the production of Cecilthat will stay with you going forward?
Asadourian: The friendships. It was quite a small crew most days, so we all got really close. It’s harder to keep in touch with Christa, who played Abby, since she’s in Atlanta, but we still stay in touch. The relationships on screen are genuine except for with Zach (Hudson Pregont) and Chelsea (Avary Anderson). They weren’t really bullies. Sophie, who played Martha, is one of my sister’s best friends and her brother, Isaiah, who was in a bunch of the basketball scenes, is still one of my close friends.

TrunkSpace: In terms of performance, what are you most proud of with the film? Is there a particular scene or moment that you thought, Thats going in my reel!
Asadourian: One scene I’m proud of was where I was crying and upset in my bedroom because it was a hard scene for me emotionally. The other scene would be the spitball scene because it felt like an epic action scene and it was really fun to shoot.

TrunkSpace: We read that youre also into science. Is science fiction something about space exploration the kind of project that would interest you moving forward? What kind of project is the dream role for you?
Asadourian: I do like science fiction. I think it would be really fun to do a film like “Ender’s Game,” something where I would get to fly. I think it would be really cool to see the finished film because it would probably be somewhat of a surprise since so much would be CGI. A dream role for me would be a role that is challenging emotionally but still has good humor. I would love to be in a film that had a chance to go to Sundance.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Asadourian: I wouldn’t want to go in the time machine. I want to figure out my life as it goes because that is the fun of life.

Cecil” is available now on DVD and VOD.

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Musical Mondaze

Vandoliers

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According to lead singer and guitarist Joshua Fleming, the Vandoliers’ latest album “Forever,” out Friday on Bloodshot Records, is more stripped down and raw than their previous studio offerings, a testament to producer Adam Hill’s desire to better translate who they are on stage to how they sound on a record.

The sonics aren’t the only place to feel that rawness either, as the frontman admits that many of the songs are extremely personal from a lyrical standpoint. “Fallen Again,” for example, speaks to his battles with situational depression and anxiety, and he calls seeing it come together – and ultimately make the album – “my rock bottom to my triumph.”

We recently sat down with Fleming to discuss creating a cohesive sound all their own, growing songs through respect and trust for their fellow bandmates, and why he considers himself more of a storyteller than a musician.

TrunkSpace: You guys are gearing up for the release of your Bloodshot Records debut, “Forever.” What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to drop new music on the world?
Fleming: It’s nerve-racking, honestly. I can’t say I have ever worked harder on a project than this one, and the anxiety of releasing it is setting in. There are so many things you have to do to prepare for before the album drops, and in the eleventh hour it all seems to pile on at once. But once we are on the road, performing everything gets a little easier.

TrunkSpace: The band has been together since 2015 with its members traversing the music industry individually for many years before that. What felt different about bringing this album together that didn’t exist for you through other past experiences? What will stick with you about the process for the rest of your life?
Fleming: This recording experience was a change for us and it shows. We had time to write as much as we could to find the right songs. We took time on a mountain tour to compose the fiddles and horn parts. We went away from the distractions of home and went to Memphis for a week to record. The biggest difference was recording in the same room as a band. I hope we will be lucky enough to repeat this process for our next album.

TrunkSpace: We love what your producer Adam Hill has done with bands like Deer Tick in the past. As someone who is closer to the music than anyone else, where do hear his input/impact the most in the final mix of the album?
Fleming: Adam has a great ear, and he wanted this album to be stripped down and raw just like we perform on stage. It was all about getting the best take without relying on comps, whether it was the first go or the fifteenth. He pulled the best performances from us and it shows. We walked out of American Recording Studios a better band and it’s because Adam demanded greatness. I can’t thank him enough for that.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Fleming: Every song has its place, but I was vulnerable this past year. I have battled situational depression and high functioning anxiety during that time and, thankfully, I had an outlet to speak about it. “Fallen Again” is my most vulnerable and frustrated song to date, and my friend Rhett Miller helped me shape it and define it. I’m proud that this song blossomed instead of being put aside for another song. It meant so much to have the support of my band and my hero – together they transformed this song from my rock bottom to my triumph.

TrunkSpace: The band consists of six members, which is a lot of different creative brains all working under one roof. What is the process like in terms of songs coming together and implementing the input of the individual members?
Fleming: Individually each member brings experience and knowledge to the table. I trust these people, and I trust what they hear. Every song is different, but this album I co-wrote more than I ever have. After all of the songs were demo’d, we each took time to make a list of 10 songs we felt defined the moment we were in as a band, and we all decided which of the 50 songs made the cut. I work with the best musicians I know, and by allowing each member to have input we create a cohesive sound all are own. I couldn’t think of a better way to be a band.

Photo By: Mike Brooks

TrunkSpace: What do you get working in a band atmosphere that you wouldn’t be able to achieve as a solo artist? Does effort inspire effort in the process, and by that we mean, does one person’s eureka moment inspire the others?
Fleming: It might start with a riff like “Shoshone Rose,” or a time signature change from 4/4 to 6/8 like “Fallen Again.” Everyone has ideas and when you respect and trust each other the songs benefit. Our bassist, Mark, also plays fiddle and helped write the intro to the album on “Miles and Miles.” Our guitarist Dustin wrote out and helped arrange the trumpet and fiddle parts. We all have a place in the creative process and that’s what attracts me to being in a band versus being a solo artist. I’m not alone, I am supported by people I trust and I’m better off in that environment.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Fleming: No. I don’t have a choice anyway.

TrunkSpace: We often like to ask musicians if their roots – those places they grew up and live now – can directly influence their music identity, but we don’t feel like we have to do that here. “Forever” feels very Texas in terms of where it’s come from and where it’s going. The album seems to mix perfectly the vibe of the changing Texas landscape. Is that influence something that you guys consciously are aware of, or does the vibe of your surroundings just kind of seep into what you’re doing musically?
Fleming: We are a product of our region, we couldn’t help it if we tried. That being said it’s our responsibility to respect the traditions of the music we are inspired by, it’s also our obligation to push them to their limits. My hope is that our love for our regional music can be felt by the people who take a chance by listening to us.

TrunkSpace: We also love that your songs tell a story. Do you consider yourself a storyteller, and if so, what is the greatest story you’ve ever told in song form?
Fleming: I do consider myself a storyteller, more so than a musician, and memories are the breeding ground for inspiration. I don’t know if it’s my greatest story, but “Sixteen Years” means so much to me, because I was able to talk about my journey performing music for most of my life. I played my first show at a roller rink and I mark New Year’s of 2000 day one of my adventure. Within the lyrics I reference songs from past bands, trials and victories. At the root of the song, it’s my promise to never give up, and when the pressures of self-doubt piles on to me, the outward affirmation of chorus reminds me that I am alive, I am blessed and that it’s going to be OK.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Fleming: I have already seen it, and all I have to do now is give it time.

Forever” is available Friday from Bloodshot Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Mark Hildreth

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Photo By: Jenna Berman

With his new project “Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story” recently released and a second season of “The Hollow” just announced for Netflix, we’re reconnecting with Mark Hildreth to talk the weirdness of The Weird Guy, getting to perform a famous song from your favorite band, and and why everybody should learn the incredible story of Nellie Bly.

(To check out our first chat with Hildreth, click here.)

TrunkSpace: Last we spoke, our kids had yet to discover “The Hollow.” Now that they’re super fans, we’re getting some serious street cred at home for sitting down to have another chat with “The Weird Guy.” As an actor, what are some of the creative benefits of getting to play in the animated sandbox? Can you tap into a different aspect of acting that is more heightened when you’re working in a medium where literally anything can happen and the rules of “grounding” a story don’t necessarily apply?
Hildreth: Well I’m honored to be able to help you get some “kid cred” – I know parents are sometimes in short supply of that! I’ve been lucky to get to work in voice-over since I myself was a kid. I got my first job at the age of 10 playing the role of Beany in a remake of the famous 1960’s cartoon “Beany and Cecil.” It’s been a big part of my career and has taught me a lot! Bringing a character to life using only your voice and the collaboration with so many other amazing artists who then bring your voice to life make voice-over acting a truly unique part of being an actor.

TrunkSpace: We hear that there is a new season of “The Hollow” in the works. What kind of weirdness can we expect for The Weird Guy heading into Season 2?
Hildreth: Netflix just made the official announcement last week – “The Hollow” Season 2 will premiere in 2020. It’s going to be even crazier than the first season! Everyone’s favorite characters are back, along with a slew of others who are truly hilarious! The Weird Guy will still be there, throwing monkey wrenches into all the plans and being truly crazy!

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you’ve also recorded some music for the latest season of “The Hollow.” Music has been a passion of yours for a long time now, so we’re curious what is it like getting to combine acting and music on a single project? Is it a bit like having your cake and getting to eat it too – a best case scenario?
Hildreth: Wait until you see what The Weird Guy gets to sing in Season 2 of “The Hollow!” It’s a heck of a number. And let’s just say it’s a famous song from one of your favorite bands in the world! I’ve also been playing music and singing since around age 10 and I’m always looking, hoping and waiting for a project to come along where I can both sing and act. And then along comes “The Hollow” and boom! It’s been so much fun and I’m so blessed to get to do it.

TrunkSpace: Do you approach the discovery process of a character in the same way in the animation space as you would an on-camera role?
Hildreth: It really depends on the role and the show. In voice-over, there sometimes isn’t much research you can do because it’s a brand new concept and brand new characters. Some of my voice-over roles (such as X-Men, GI Joe, Action Man, Dragonball Z or Gundam Wing) I can do some background work on. But the discovery process is very similar once you actually go to act it. Once you’re in the room with a bunch of other talented, hard working actors and doing the work together you get to go on the best part of the journey – listening and reacting to the wonderful ideas they come up with and, when it’s your turn, throwing in your own!

TrunkSpace: “The Hollow” is a Netflix series. “The Looming Tower” has a home at Hulu. As someone who has been working in the industry since well before the current “Golden Age” of television, do you see this massive influx of quality content continuing forward, especially as more and more companies branch off and create their own streaming platforms? Do you believe there is a content bubble happening and eventually we are going to see it burst?
Hildreth: When I started working on TV we were still shooting on actual film! So much has changed, and the advent of cable TV and now online content has given people opportunities we used to only dream about. But I don’t think there can be a bubble. We are in a wonderful time for television because you no longer have to make content simply to attract the largest possible audience. These days you can make a great show, find your audience and have a hit show that is tailored just for them! “The Hollow” found a super committed following. So did “The Looming Tower,” as well another cable series I’ve done – “The Tudors.” Content providers are actually starved for content right now as more and more distribution platforms become available.

TrunkSpace: Do you think the current content renaissance has inspired actors to control their own destinies more so than in the past and directly involve themselves in developing projects? Is this something that you have interest in pursuing as you go forward in your career?
Hildreth: I’m sure that it has inspired more actors to develop projects. I am in the midst of developing a satirical sketch comedy series as well as two features and several stage productions. As a writer/producer I can shepherd along projects that tell stories that I feel need to be told. I’ve been a songwriter for years – I’ve released two full-length original albums and toured in the US and Canada. Getting to bring that creative process to film and TV has been a blast.

Hildreth as The Weird Guy in “The Hollow”

TrunkSpace: Your latest project is “Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story” for Lifetime, which is based on a true story that we actually got caught up in learning about long before this project was first reported. As you learned more and more about the real life story, did the film itself become more interesting for you to be involved with?
Hildreth: Nellie Bly is based on the important true story of one of the first exposes of it’s kind in US journalism. It is based on the story of reporter Nellie Bly who, near the turn of the 20th century, infiltrated and exposed abuses at the Blackwell Island Mental Asylum for Women in New York City. It has been very educational to learn about this ahead-of-her-time woman, the people in her life and the impact her dedication to telling the truth had on American journalism.

TrunkSpace: Something we found interesting about your character Bartholomew “Bats” Driscoll is that he would have been a bit out of place in his time… someone who not only supported his spouse to have a career, but supported her even when she went to such great lengths. How did you approach trying to understand him, especially against the backdrop of his time period?
Hildreth: Nellie Bly, played by Christina Ricci, is portrayed as a woman who is determined, ambitious and principled. We talked a lot about what kind of man a woman like that would choose as her partner and fiancé. We placed him a little bit “out of his time” like Nellie, since it would take a strong, forward-thinking man to be able to keep up with her intelligence and drive. So we brought to Bartholomew a sense of grandeur and weight (so that we can believe he could match wits with people like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer) but also a deep sense of compassion and emotion that he isn’t afraid to show.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the final product is always what’s memorable when it comes to a film or series, but for those working on the project, we have to imagine that it is the experience that stays with you. For you, what was the most memorable aspect of getting to work on “Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story?”
Hildreth: Believe it or not, getting to work in the sub-zero temperatures and biting-cold winds of Winnipeg, Canada is a great memory because I always love working in the wonderful country I grew up in. Canada really does have some of the best people in the world. It is a vibrant, multicultural and loving country. I love being there – even if it’s so cold outside I can’t actually feel my ears!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Hildreth: No way! I come from the theater! The best part of theater is you never know what’s going to happen. One day you are finally up on the stage and the lights come up and you’re live. If I knew it was going to be a good night or a bad night, or that something was going to happen that I never could have prepared for, it would take all the fun out of it! But where I hope to be is working with great people, telling important stories that give a little glimpse into the most important parts of what it means to be human! Because that’s what acting is really all about.

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Wingman Wednesday

Robert Maillet

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Being a professional wrestler – performing live in front of thousands of people at a time – prepared Robert Maillet for his career as a film and television actor. Even on his first project, the big screen, big-budget adaptation of the graphic novel “300,” the man once called Kurrgan in the squared circle was now perfectly comfortable taking direction from Zack Snyder and having all eyes on set fixated on him. Compared to the audience at an event like WrestleMania, the cast and crew of a film, even one as ambitious as “300,” couldn’t match the headcount of what he was used to working in front of while at the WWE.

We recently sat down with Maillet to discuss his latest project “Polar,” fighting an invisible enemy at his audition, and how his successful Oddities run at the WWE stemmed from dancing at an after-party.

TrunkSpace: Looking back over your career thus far, would 12-year-old Robert be surprised by how it has played out?
Maillet: Yeah, I think my 12-year-old self would be surprised because at the time, to be an actor, work as an actor – and also work as a professional wrestler – it was far away from my mind at 12 years old. And though I used a lot of my imagination at the time – I was a daydreamer and I loved movies and stuff – never would I imagine I would be in films.

It’s also not surprising, though. What I was doing at the time, when I was 12, I used to draw a lot… tell stories. Caricatures and stuff. I was into Conan, all the animated stuff – cartoons. Anything that inspired me, I would draw and tell stories, so I was kind of a storyteller, much like being a wrestler and an actor kind of have similarities.

TrunkSpace: And with your new movie “Polar,” which is based on a graphic novel, it has sort of come full comic-book-circle.
Maillet: That’s true. Funny though, a lot of the stuff I worked on, most of it is always based on comic books… graphic novels and comic books. “300,” my first big feature film I did is a true story, based on the true event of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. So, that’s fascinating when you think about it. That’s true.

TrunkSpace: A movie like “300,” or “Pacific Rim,” which you also starred in, and now “Polar” as well… they all have a visual element to them that make them feel like a live action comic book.
Maillet: That’s right, and it’s great to see that medium, that form of storytelling – comic book form – that’s so popular to translate into TV or films. Imagination can go anywhere – there’s no boundaries – so you can get some really great original stuff out of it. It’s really cool to see.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned being a storyteller even at an early age. Do you view the path of your career as one career, or was professional wrestling something separate than your on-screen acting? Because from an outside perspective it seems that professional wrestling could be a really great boot camp for on-camera acting because there is so much character work involved.
Maillet: For sure. And you’re right, I see my career as kind of the same path – the similarities between acting and wrestling. And wrestling has prepared me for being an actor, because when I was with the WWE for a couple years – my big break, of course – it’s very much is like show biz. The way the whole machine was run, the marketing machine and especially for TV stuff – when they were doing the live events and Pay-per-views and WrestleMania – it was very much show biz. You’re in character, you gotta somewhat have a script as well, you gotta know the finish and all that stuff. A lot of it is rehearsals and it’s all about storytelling – making sure the audience gets sucked into your story, gets connected with your character and what’s going on in the ring. That’s the basis for acting. It wasn’t a shock for me the first time I went on a TV set or a movie set. It was very familiar. And to me, because I was in front of a live crowd, in front of thousands of people every night, I was very comfortable being on set… being in front of the lights and in front of 50 people behind the camera.

I remember my first day on “300.” I was in makeup – five hours of makeup – and we did rehearsals for like a month prior to it. And then finally the day comes to shoot my first day… a big Hollywood feature film. It was a big deal so there’s, like I said, 50 people behind the camera just looking at you. Lights and camera are on you and you think, “I should be nervous.” It’s the one time I would have been I guess, but wrestling prepared me.

TrunkSpace: Was the success and interest of “Polar” a surprise at all? Even on IMDb it peaked at the top MOVIEmeter spot, which is not an easy feat with everything else out these days.
Maillet: It was. I remember reading the script and I remember doing the audition – it was over a year ago now, just before Christmas of 2017 – and I had no lines. I had no lines for the sides. And they wanted me to reenact a big fight with Duncan (played by Mads Mikkelsen) that would never happen in the film. They wanted me to reenact it, basically by myself, so I had to pretend I was fighting somebody else who was invisible. (Laughter) The whole scene was described basically as I stab him or shoot him and then I punch him and I fall into a barn and eventually he gets swept into the barn and kills me. So I had to reenact the whole thing.

Maillet with Heather Doerksen in “Pacific Rim”

So I used my wrestling background, my acting background, to use my imagination and I hadn’t heard from them for over a month. And then a month later, January of last year, they offered me a role because they loved my performance. And when I read the script, it was in your face, I mean, they weren’t pulling punches in that film. And I knew it was gonna work because I loved those kind of films. That’s my genre, as a fan. It’s so different and unique and I like it when they’re not afraid to show the audience. It’s a great way to shock. I love that stuff.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end result is always the most memorable part of a film or TV show, but for you, we would imagine it’s the process. What will you take with you through the rest of your life – the thing that will stay with you – from shooting the film?
Maillet: Well, I think it’s the friends… the people you work with. I got close to the group, to the A-team. We got really close in filming. I had a great time with the people. We really got along very well, and I think it shows on film. It was so fun to work with all of the actors and the crew, especially with Jonas Åkerlund, the director, he was so nice and so open to our ideas. He’s easy to work with.

It’s funny with Mads – great guy, he’s a cool guy – I met him prior to that, maybe four years ago now, for a HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis four years ago. We were represented by the same convention agent, so after the event we would all go out, a group of us, to eat supper, including Mads, and so we got along very well that weekend. We started taking selfies together. (Laughter) Unbeknownst to me, four years later, I’m chasing him around the woods. It was kind of cool.

TrunkSpace: We talked earlier about how you were always a storyteller. You’ve been involved in some pretty wild storytelling in film, but are those the wildest storylines you’ve been involved with, or did your days in professional wrestling lead to more crazy things happening with you from a narrative standpoint?
Maillet: I think professional wrestling. At the time when I was there, it called the Attitude Era. They were pretty risky with the stuff they were trying to do. They had a wrestler who had a porn actor gimmick, behaving like one of those you see on www.hdpornvideo.xxx.

Maillet as Kurrgan in the WWE

TrunkSpace: Val Venis, right?
Maillet: Val Venis! But see, he worked that gimmick so well and he was this natural, great talent and he made it work. Not a lot of guys would have made it work.

At the time, it was very risky and I was afraid they were going to do something with me… something that wouldn’t be comfortable, which, in a way, they did. They put me in as this drooling monster, the evil Kurrgan who destroys everything, and then they pitched me the idea to do this fun-loving… The Oddities. I remember I was at home and I got a call from Vince Russo… not Vince McMahon… the head writer. And he never called. He never called my home before and I was like, “What the hell is going on?” (Laughter) I was kind of in limbo at the time. They weren’t sure what they were doing with me, with the whole Kurrgan thing, and then he pitched me the idea of this fun loving group, dancing and having fun while dressed up in tie-dyed goofy clothes. The whole thing was to introduce ourselves singing Miss America dressed up in tuxedos.

So, he didn’t see my face – my initial reaction while he was pitching me that – but I was basically saying no to myself. But I said yes of course. It was probably the only opportunity I would have to be with them. They would have let me go, probably, if I said no. So yes, it was very uncomfortable at first, doing that thing, because it was out of my norm, but it worked because it got over. The guys got into it. They got some great music from ICP and it got over. We got busy… really busy for a year. We did Pay-Per-Views, magazine covers and video games. So it worked, but it was not my thing to do, dancing in front of a crowd.

TrunkSpace: Unexpected lightning in a bottle.
Maillet: What happened was – this is a true story – there was a WrestleMania after-party in Boston back in ‘98. We could bring our wives with us, so I brought my wife. My wife, she loves to dance, so of course she wanted me to dance with her on the dance floor at the party. I should have known because there’s a lot of male wrestlers not dancing and they’re looking at me, staring at me. They couldn’t believe this dancing giant. So then Vince McMahon was there and saw me dancing and he couldn’t get the idea of me dancing out of his mind, so the whole Oddities thing came about.

Polar” is available now on Netflix.

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Opening Act

I Am Casting

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Artist: I Am Casting

Socials: Facebook/Twitter

Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

TrunkSpace: We’re about a week away from the release of your debut album, “Carnival Barkers.” What emotions are you juggling with as you prepare to unleash it onto the world?
Guerra: Teaspoon of excitement, tablespoon of apprehension. I’m trying to stay connected to the really positive experience of writing and recording the album. Not easy to do, as the writing/recording memories fade and the release is imminent, but definitely healthier for me than getting too focused on others’ reactions (or lack thereof) to the release.

TrunkSpace: The album seems like a very personal journey for you, both creatively and in the production process itself. Is it difficult to let something so close to you go and relinquish that control once it has been released?
Guerra: The development of the particular process that ended up working for me, both in terms of songwriting and production, is something I anticipate taking forward with new material. I’m a bit surprised to find it’s actually not been difficult to put a bow on this particular collection and “send it out into the world,” so to speak. Perhaps having control of the process somehow made it easier, in fact, to let go – as in, “You (the listener) may not like the cake I made, but I’m pretty sure I made it the way I like it.”

TrunkSpace: You wore many hats in bringing “Carnival Barkers” to life. Are you putting more pressure on yourself in terms of the album succeeding and finding an audience because you’ve had your hands in so many facets of it coming together?
Guerra: It’s definitely the case that because I wore so many hats, very few other people have any skin in the game. I’m trying to find an audience, then, without many others invested in the same goal. More work necessary to get the word out, as a result, and longer odds of breaking through in some meaningful way. That said, I don’t know if I’m putting more pressure on myself than I would have if I’d worn fewer hats (e.g., if I’d written and/or performed the tunes, but not produced the album) – I tend to over-own responsibility, in general, so whatever pressure I feel is probably amped to a level similar to that I would have experienced absent a hat or two.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Guerra: I believe “Carnival Barkers” has a real “album” vibe to it – there’s connective tissue musically and lyrically/thematically, consistent with the goals I had as I began the project. I feel pretty good about that. I also feel good about being open enough to make some significant changes in how I write and create music (old dog, new tricks kind of thing).

TrunkSpace: Is “Carnival Barkers” an album you could have created a decade ago? And by that we mean, how much of the times (and how the times have sculpted your creative POV) went into shaping it?
Guerra: No, I couldn’t have made this album a decade ago. First, with regards to the music, my writing has become increasingly integrated with the tracking (recording) process, and percussion/rhythm parts are usually developed and tracked hand-in-hand with (or even ahead of) chord progressions and melodies. These changes definitely impact my choices about the progressions and melodies themselves – I don’t believe I could have written a song like “Flood” using my former approach. Second, the lyrical content and themes of “Carnival Barkers” would not have been salient to me a decade ago. The lyrics to these songs were all written between mid-2016 and late-2017. Early in that writing period, I decided to tie the songs together, conceptually, using themes I found to be especially relevant to the political moment. So songs like “Charmer,” “Wolf” and “Lullaby” might be thought of as variations on the Pied Piper story. “Flood” and “Window” are about the exploitation of prejudice and fear of the “other” for political gain. “Helpless,” “Muggers” and “Seams” try to capture, in different ways, the experience of powerlessness. Most of the songs are about malignant influencers and/or those impacted by them.

Photo By: Alex Boerner

TrunkSpace: Would the young Cole who first picked up an instrument be surprised by your musical journey thus far? Would “Carnival Barkers” be a departure from the music he thought he would one day make?
Guerra: Yes, really surprised by the path taken. Young me, from childhood through very early adulthood, would have thought that if future me was involved in the arts, it would be as an actor or director – I’d been doing theater-related stuff for years. I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to piano as a kid, but I don’t recall thinking that those lessons were setting me up for some career choice. Even after picking up guitar late in high school, it wouldn’t have struck me to “make an album,” though I loved music. It wasn’t until my mid-20s, coinciding with another major vocational pivot (to grad school for psychology), that I began to write songs with any frequency and view myself as someone who might do that over a longer span of time.

As for the type of music I write, I can make out a bit of a fuzzy line between the musical tastes of teenage me and the music on “Carnival Barkers,” but I’ll spare you the list of “influences.” Suffice it to say that young me might have heard “Carnival Barkers” and thought, “Sure, that makes sense.”

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to discover your songwriter’s voice?
Guerra: Though I didn’t start writing in any meaningful way until my mid-20s, I’m sure that my songwriting voice has some roots in the music that most spoke to me in the preceding years – I’ve valued music over lyric for as long as I can recall, tend towards unusual and sometimes busy (for alt-pop, that is) harmonic structure and chord progressions, and largely avoid narrative exposition. On top of that base, stuff has changed pretty consistently, enough so that I think my “voice” continues to evolve, though I don’t know how visible that is to the outside world.

TrunkSpace: Which would you personally prefer… writing one album that the whole world adores, or writing a career’s worth that only a select group of people treasure?
Guerra: Artistically speaking, the career gig, every time. And practically speaking, I don’t write music that appeals to large swaths of people, so hard to even contemplate the adoration bit. I’ll take any option that gives me more time engaged in the songwriting and recording process. Of course, nowadays the “select group of people treasure you” path will likely require that the artist have some other means of surviving monetarily.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Guerra: On first blush, main upside I see to the glimpse is that if it’s positive, perhaps there’s a boost of confidence as expectations soar. “Hey sure, of course I’ll reach out to Musician X and Producer Y, since I’ve seen a future where those two are collaborating with me.”

Too much downside, though – I can see being de-motivated whether I get glimpse of shit journey (obvious reasons) or cool outcomes (I mean, how much do I need to work to obtain a fated outcome). Main hiccup to the idea of glimpsing my 10-year music outcomes/status, though, is that I get most pleasure out of process – that moment where I figure out some cool way back from the bridge to the verse or the one where I hit on some arrangement idea that makes the tune or the one where I can tell that the musicians I’m sharing the stage with are feeling it – and I’m not sure the 10-year outcome instructs me much about how to navigate all that.

Carnival Barkers” is available February 22 from Cleave Recordings.

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Musical Mondaze

Slow Coming Day

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While Slow Coming Day went their separate ways over a decade ago, its members never turned their backs on music. Lead singer and guitarist Orion Walsh has enjoyed a successful solo career in the interim, releasing seven albums under his own name, while the rest of the band have all kept music in their lives in one form or another.

Following a reunion performance at last year’s Joshua Fest in California, Walsh and his bandmates decided to come together to create new music. The result is the album “1000 Years (Like a Day),” which they wrote and recorded separately while tele-creating from different locations around the country.

We recently sat down with Walsh to discuss creative expectations, the future of band assembly, and why overthinking a song can hurt the end result.

TrunkSpace: Your upcoming album “1000 Years (Like a Day)” is your first recorded music in over a decade. As you gear up to release it to the world, what kind of emotions are you juggling with?
Walsh: It is Slow Coming Day’s first recorded music in over a decade, it’s true, but I’ve actually been releasing solo records since the band broke up. I’ve released seven solo albums now to date in the 10 years or so since the band disband. Writing this style of music again definitely brought me back in time in a way. Whenever you release new music to the world there is always several emotions going through ones mind. For this release, we did it for fun, for the old fans, and to reminisce.

TrunkSpace: With such a large gap between “1000 Years (Like a Day)” and your previous album, is it hard not to put personal expectations on it? Is there a bit of a creative build-up that you feel is ready to burst on people?
Walsh: My personal expectations for this release are as simple as, “I expect people to hear the new music if they choose.” Hopefully it gives joy to others, to old fans and maybe some new ones. I personally enjoy this album much more than “Farewell to the Familiar” as it was done totally DIY ourselves and not with a producer, changing the music or telling us what to do.

TrunkSpace: The album came together thanks in large part to technology. You would record something and then send it along to the rest of the band through email where they would then add their own creative two cents. How do you think the process itself directly impacted the songs? Do you think the end result would have been different if you were all in the same room together throughout the entire process?
Walsh: Sending the songs through email back and forth was a pretty painless process which allowed each person in the band to add their own parts on their own time. It all came together really well this way. Writing in this way is totally different than being all in the same room together, which, for us, is not really possible at the moment. Something totally different could have come out that way.

TrunkSpace: Each member of the band lives in different states and yet “1000 Years (Like a Day)” was finished. Do you think music is headed in the same direction as business with telecommuting? Is tele-songwriting the way of the future?
Walsh: Yes, absolutely.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Walsh: I am glad we were able to put this together with the constraints of living all in different states. I really enjoy “All Things New,” “First Sight,” and “Shoes, Ships, & Sealing Wax” as far as the songs go.

TrunkSpace: We read that this album was Slow Coming Day “coming out of retirement.” Did everyone continue to pursue music independently or was it a literal retirement from music as a whole for some of you? And, does this signal a new chapter in your musical journey?
Walsh: It’s true that this album is a “coming out of retirement” for the band, which was spawned out of a reunion show we did last year in California at Joshua Fest. We’ve stayed friends over the years. None of us “retired” from music. I don’t think that’s possible. I’ve been doing my solo career as a singer/songwriter for 10 years now. Matt (Bailey), the drummer plays music at his local church. Dave (Stoots) has played bass with several different groups over the years. Kevin (Michael) and Brandon (Queen), who contributed some songs for the album and live in LA, both have been active in different music projects over the past decade.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Walsh: No.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to overthink a song? Can a songwriter tinker so much that the breath of the song gets choked out of it?
Walsh: Absolutely. In fact, I think that songwriters and producers alike can “choke” the life out of a song quite easily by overthinking the process, especially when recording it. I think the important thing to remember when writing is, “What do I want to say in this song?” Keep it simple!

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular feeling or vibe that you get when you know a song is officially finished? How do you know to step back and say, “I’ve done all that I can do here?”
Walsh: Yeah, usually there is a point in recording a song where you just “Let it be.” Finding that place is essential. We have a saying, which is, “next song.” Basically, don’t spend time overthinking a song. Record it to the best of your ability and move forward. So many bands and music projects break up or never finish the recording process because of overthinking or being too picky.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Walsh: Yes, I would! That sounds intriguing! I’ve always been interested in time travel.

1000 Years (Like a Day)” drops February 14 on Indie Vision Music.

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Wingman Wednesday

Lovina Yavari

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Photo by: Angelo Manalac/Shirt by: Jon Lam/Location: E Blue E-Sport Stadium

As a lifelong comic book fan, model-turned-actress Lovina Yavari is having to pinch herself with her recent track record of on-camera roles. Not only is she starring as Junkie Jane in “Polar” for Netflix, but she will also be appearing in the upcoming film “Shazam!” based on the DC Comics character of the same name and in Amazon Prime’s “The Boys,” adapted from the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. It’s a pop culture-palooza of celluloid sequential success and it’s exactly what she always wanted.

We recently sat down with Yavari to discuss how her look is suited for the modern on-screen landscape, Instagram blow-ups, and what her career best-case-scenario would look like.

TrunkSpace: From an outside perspective, it seems like you are single-handedly taking over comic book adaptations in 2019. Not only are you currently starring as Junkie Jane in “Polar” on Netflix, but you’ll also be appearing in “Shazam!” and “The Boys.” Was this part of a masterful adaptation domination plan or a comic book coincidence? Does appearing in projects based on comic books and graphic novels appeal to your own personal interests?
Yavari: This was actually EXACTLY what I wanted so it’s surreal as hell. I grew up reading comic books – I loved anything by Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, and Warren Ellis. It’s the best feeling in the world to be immortalized in these fictional universes. I never stop fangirling about it.

TrunkSpace: If we can spend some time talking about Junkie Jane… first, “Polar” is visually such an interesting film and sort of speaks to the future of mass market distribution. To us, this is a movie (along with “Bird Box”) that will make studios wake up and go, “Okay, maybe we don’t have to be in theaters anymore.” As an actress, do you feel like you’re working at a historically significant period within the industry where the new guard is replacing the old in terms of how things were once done? Can you see the change happening from your perspective?
Yavari: Oh yeah, I definitely see it. I feel like I joined the industry at the perfect time – there’s more diversity, better roles for women, more opportunities for actors and social media. I can create my own content and build my brand instead of waiting around to be discovered. Ten years ago someone that looked like me wouldn’t have had a chance in hell to be seen for auditions. It’s only been the last couple years that the industry has been stepping away from casting the classic Hollywood beauty types and actually taking more risks.

TrunkSpace: Once “Polar” hit Netflix, how soon after did you feel its impact? How long did it take for fans of the film to track you down on social media or for your rise on the IMDb STARmeter to take you by surprise? (Currently sitting at 191!)
Yavari: The “Shazam!” teaser trailer was released the same week “Polar” dropped, so my Instagram blew up immediately. I felt like I logged into some alt universe.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the final product is always what’s memorable when it comes to a film or series, but for those working on the project, we have to imagine that it is the experience that stays with you. For you, what was the most memorable aspect of getting to work on “Polar” and slip into the Junkie Jane persona?
Yavari: Working with my SPFX makeup artist Traci Loader. She applied all the tattoos and track marks on my character. Funny fact, I started out in film as a makeup artist, and was once her assistant years ago. So it was crazy as hell to bump into her on set and find out she was my makeup artist. Since she knew I had a makeup background, she let me help apply my character’s tattoos. I even chose all the placements for them. All the tattoos I picked out told a story on my body, giving them meaning helped bring Jane more to life. That process helped the most.

TrunkSpace: We recently chatted with a number of your “Polar” costars, including Fei Ren and Josh Cruddas. One of the things that was a constant between every conversation we had was just how welcoming and creatively-inspiring being on this particular set was. Did you have the same experience? Was the “Polar” set one that you hated having to walk away from?
Yavari: Hands down, both the cast and crew were such a pleasure to collaborate with. Jonas was such a cool director – I had no idea I was already a massive fan of his work until I met him. He directed so many of my favorite music videos. He has such a laid-back and welcoming attitude. He trusted me to portray Jane how I wanted. I was given a couple guidelines, but had free reign to do whatever. I know experiences like that are rare in this industry, so I’m insanely grateful for it.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a model. Are there challenges to trying to cross over into the world of acting in that, do you find that casting directors view you as a model who wants to act, as opposed to an actress who happens to model?
Yavari: I feel like modeling helped me secure a lot of gigs, especially since I first started out doing commercials and print ads. I also try to maintain a diverse portfolio so I could be seen for other roles that someone wouldn’t normally cast me as.

Yavari as Junkie Jane in “Polar”

TrunkSpace: In a lot of your modeling shots, we see characters. We see you inhabiting a persona in the same way you would do an on-camera role. Do you approach modeling in the same way as acting in that, are you playing someone else when you’re taking part in a shoot?
Yavari: That’s exactly what I’m doing. I art direct and style all my photo shoots and one of the things I strive for is having my images look like stills from a movie or anime.

TrunkSpace: You’re still very early in your career but what has been a highlight thus far that you’ll carry with you moving forward?
Yavari: Oh man, being flown out to Cuba to work on a film. That was amazing. But honestly, every project I’ve had the opportunity to work on has been a highlight. It’s a constant reminder that working your ass off pays off. I’m eternally grateful for where I’m at and where I’ll be heading. I also have to give my agency, Hero Artists, massive props, too. They’ve been amazing with representing me and letting me be who I am, as opposed to trying to rebrand me into an existing artist. I get to be myself and work on projects I’m already a fan of. It’s unreal.

TrunkSpace: Give us the best of your best case scenarios. If you could pave your own career path, what would that route look like? What would be the ultimate dream?
Yavari: Work on “Star Trek,” have an action figure of my character and a comic book series (6-issue run with cover art by Junji Ito), voice for 30 video games and two abridged Shonen Jump anime series with 300 filler eps so I’ll never be out of an acting job, go to comic cons and do signings. Own a clothing, robotics, makeup and motorcycle company. Travel the world. Get my pilot license. Win an Oscar.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Yavari: Nah, I already know where I want to be in life. Anything that happens on the journey there is a bonus.

Polar” is available now on Netflix.

Shazam!” is in theaters April 5.

Featured image by: Angelo Manalac/Shirt by: Jon Lam/Location: E Blue E-Sport Stadium

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Sit and Spin

Jessica Pratt’s Quiet Signs

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Artist: Jessica Pratt

Album: “Quiet Signs”

Label: Mexican Summer

Reason We’re Cranking It: Some music exists to make us feel good, to boost our moods and bring a smile to our faces. Pratt’s “Quiet Signs” does not deliver on those goods, but it does deliver on an entirely different feel, one that comes off as wholly original to the California-based songwriter. Most albums ignite a reaction that is more surface level, but with “Quiet Signs,” a moody and melancholy journey that we found impossible to be distracted from, the reaction Pratt pulls from you occurs distinctly at the core.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Pratt comes off comfortable in her own musical skin, satisfied to be herself in every nook and cranny of her songwriting. That self-confidence becomes a collective experience for the listener.

Track Stuck On Repeat: We’ve spun “As the World Turns” too many times to count at this stage. A song that is the perfect musical accompaniment to the worst day of our week, it’s the sound our whiskey will make when it hits the glass just before we settle down for a long winter’s nap. Drink it up!

Coming To A City Near You: Pratt will be hitting the road this spring. Dates can be found here.

And that means…

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Laugh It Up

Kelly McInerney

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Name: Kelly McInerney

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
McInerney: It kind of was, yeah. I think I didn’t realize it at first but I was always obsessed with comedy. Jim Carrey was my idol as a kid. I was pretty quiet though – didn’t act out – but I was the quiet but funny type in that I was funny with my friends and if people asked me questions, I just wasn’t the big, loud class clown.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
McInerney: I decided to pursue stand-up around 2010. I had been doing improv a while but there comes a point where you’re like, “I don’t want to blame someone else for a shitty show,” and stand-up is just you and you get to write. I didn’t have a set plan… just did as many mics and shows as I could while doing improv too, and eventually I just decided to focus primarily on stand-up.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
McInerney: I don’t think it took me long. I always had a certain type of humor I gravitated to even as a kid, so it came kind of second hand when I started to do it.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
McInerney: I think my voice is louder now, both literally and the figuratively. Starting out I would just wing every joke but now I try to focus more on the technical aspect, like connecting jokes and if this bit is funny how can a make a similar bit, etc, etc.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
McInerney: Yes and no. I always look for premises but sometimes it’s hard to flesh out the joke. Sometimes I’ll have a funny premise and just hold onto it for months or years until I can grow a solid fun joke out of it.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
McInerney: Some jokes are immediately funny – a lot of those are the one-liners. A lot of times the silly, dumb jokes are just very easy to do off the bat as well. It’s the smarter ones that take a bit to rework and polish off into a funny. Also the ones that are based in tragedy or a serious topic that turns into a funny bit also sometimes takes a bit to rework and sometimes those darker ones don’t work in front of certain audiences.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
McInerney: Probably a handful of times – not long. I think you can feel it in the air if an audience kind of likes the way it’s going, but it’s “not there yet” versus “nobody gets the premise,” I’m gonna trash it. Sometimes I don’t trash it though and just save it for a future premise that ends up working better.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
McInerney: Absolutely. You could blame the audience – doing the same set in, say, Denver, might not hit as well in Phoenix. It also could be your energy. Sometimes I get tired of certain jokes and find myself not selling them as much and the audience can see that. The audience can see when you don’t care. You just have to remember to commit to the bit and jokes even if they’re old. Sure, they’re old for you, but this is a new audience and everything is new to them – you have to remember that.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
McInerney: Yes, nothing better than an audience that just loves comedy.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
McInerney: Man, I have no idea. I guess one of the best was when I did a mic in Mexico City in 2017. It wasn’t a traditional open mic – I did at least 10 minutes. I was the only English speaker and even the guy in charge was like, “Hey, heads up, they might not laugh.” And I was going in super nervous, ready to bomb, but hey, at least I did a set in Mexico, right? I ended up crushing so hard. It was one of my favorite sets I’ve ever done. Turns out jizz jokes are universally and internationally loved. The guy in charge ended up giving me a set the following day on their booked show. I was so proud. I kind of like surprising people like that because they don’t expect a blonde white girl with a potty mouth, but I bring it and they get a kick out of it.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
McInerney: It depends on what they say. Sometimes I’ll ignore them, but sometimes I’ll yell back and it ends up becoming a great tag for a joke. One guy boo’d me once as I was doing a blow job joke comparing BJs to ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s) and I said, “Have you had a dick in your mouth and have you eaten ice cream? What tastes better?” Now I add that to the joke and it makes it funnier.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2019? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
McInerney: I think too many people are doing it right now. LA is oversaturated. I mean, in a way, I guess it’s cool and good that a lot of people are because comedy is hot right now. Look at Netflix… they have a new special at least once a month. I do think it’s harder now to succeed though because there’s a lot of us, but because there is so many of us there is going to be so much good live comedy coming in the future.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
McInerney: So many things. I’m a big fan of just classic ‘90s humor: poop jokes, guys dressing up as girls, physical comedy like in “Dumb and Dumber” and any ‘90’s Jim Carrey movie. I also love dark jokes and smart ones that I could never think of – the bullets bit in Chris Rock’s “Bigger and Blacker” is one of the best if not the best joke out there. SNL during the Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell eras. Huge fan of assholes that you root for a la “Eastbound & Down” and any Danny McBride thing. Chelsea Peretti, Sarah Silverman, etc, etc. “The Tom Green Show” from way back when is basically what made me the gross goofball I am.

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