Way back in September 2002, Bob and David teamed up with a few former cast members for a 16-city Mr. Show-themed tour entitledHooray for America!which I had the pleasure of attending when it came through NYC (also at Town Hall). Pretty sure that they pulled the Hooray for America! tour together as a sort-of-promotional tour for the excellent Mr. Show book that came out around the same time. Of course, this was before Bob and David had found their greatest successes acting in otherprojects and it was just a couple of months before the release of David's first comedy album, so at that point there was still an air of "man, I hope these guys really make it someday" that surrounded Hooray for America! If memory serves, it included recreations of several beloved sketches from the show as well as new material, the best of which cleverly lampooned the State of Texas' bizarre fixation on executing developmentally disabled people.
Back to the present. Bob, David, and Brian Posehn have recently collaborated on a new book, entitled Hollywood Said No! Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings From the Creators of Mr. Show, which this brief jaunt is promoting. I don't want to give away any spoilers from the stage show (there are still four dates left on this "tour"), but I should at the very least mention that it was hilarious. Throughout the performance, the dialogue was peppered with enough wink-wink nudge-nudge references to classic Mr. Show gags to keep the audiencefull of bearded, pasty, plaid-wearing geeky white dudes roaring in delight. The sketches, which consisted of all-new material (except for the welcome return of FF Woodycooks and a brief Titannica tidbit) were the true centerpiece of the evening, but Bob, David, and Brian Posehn also were hilarious in each of their turns at standup. Towards the end, during the brief question-and-answer session, Bob mentioned that within a couple of years they're going to try to put together some sort of Mr. Show traveling show that will be equipped to do a lengthy, cross-country tour. That would be as awesome as a sandwich made with Apple Butter and Mustardayonnaise!
Bob expressed his gratitude towards the fans throughout the evening, in particular because, to paraphrase, when Bob and David get the opportunity do stuff under the Mr. Show banner "it's in our own voice." Even though they've certainly found far greater fame and fortune elsewhere, they love the freedom (and adulation) that their obsessive, nerdy, appreciative fans grant them, and (speaking as an obsessive, nerdy, appreciative fan), I wish they had more time to do stuff like this.
[above are pictures of the new book, which I bought after the performance. $18.50, and included autographs from Bob, David, and Posehn. A bargain at any price!!]
"It must be really confusing if you're French, and you go to watch a soccer game at a bar in a Spanish-speaking country. Every time someone scores a goal, you wonder why everyone's singing, 'WITH MILK, WITH MILK WITH MILK WITH MILK...'"
When discussing his compositional techniques and tendencies, Dan Friel seemingly hits the nail on the head in this interview:
"I love a lot of extreme, harsh music – that’s what got me into music, playing in noise and grindcore bands in high school – but at the same time, I’ve always loved very simple and purely melodic music. As a child, before I even remember listening to music to any great degree, my favorite music was the soundtrack to The Harder They Come with Jimmy Cliff [with Toots and] The Maytals, and that kind of stuff, and that’s pretty pure, major-key, beautiful pop music. ...I wanted those heavy, otherworldly textures that I got from listening to noise and psych and industrial stuff, and I wanted to learn how to write a simple, good, moving melody."
To those who appreciates Friel's solo work as well as that of his great, now-defunct (as of a year ago) noise-rock band Parts and Labor, that description highlights what Friel continues to do best: writing huge, arena-ready anthems that are swathed in his homemade, noisy, "heavy, otherworldly textures."
The inspiration for Total Folklore came from Friel's walks through NYC, which he describes as "a really weird, psychedelic experience... exciting and bizarre and soothing." This theme definitely translates throughout the record, no more evidently than on the album's first track, "Ulysses," a sprawling, 12+ minute behemoth which somehow manages to encapsulate the beauty, ugliness, weirdness, inspiration and grandeur of a trek through the city.
While "Ulysses" is clearly the album's focal point, the rest of Total Folklore cycles through tuneful, immediate tracks that wouldn't have sounded out of place on his also-great 2008 solo album, Ghost Town. Most notable are the manic, driving "Valedictorian" (and "Valedictorian"'s more slovenly nephew, "Scavengers") and last week's Song of the Week, the playfully pulsating "Thumper."
All in all, I think that the inspiration behind (and the execution of) Total Folklore is summed up best in a David Cross quote:
"In New York, you are constantly faced with this very urgent decision that you have to make, about every twenty minutes...you have to decide, immediately, you have to go 'Ohmigod. Do I look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world?'"
However, on Total Folklore, the listener doesn't have to choose, as you can sit back and enjoy Friel's awesome, fist-pump-worthy anthems while the swaths of static and feedback wash over you.