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- Posted on Mar 15th 2010 8:37PM by Alma Verdejo
Describe your sound.
I don't have a great summary. I don't want to say it's just eclectic. Our live sound is much more like a funk band than most hip hop acts, although I guess most live hip hop acts end up with a funk sound. It's very different from the way the songs are built, the album versions, the sound of those grows out of the process which is a bunch of lyrics on computers really far away from each other, collaborating over ftp and email.It is the sound of the Internet. The prevalence of weirdos is integral to the audio experience. [laughs]
How did you become a musician?
Well I want say it was hard work and perseverance but it was a lot more of luck. It was a random intersection of luck and my technical skills and curiosity. I'd always been into rapping, I'd always done it and written raps. When mp3 got invented, that was like wow! Craziness! You could have something that sounded as good as a tape of your LP. It didn't sound perfect but it sounded way better than any internet-transmitted music ever sounded. Suddenly, with an mp3, it would only take half an hour to download. If you're at work and they have a T1 [connection] just like kapow! [it's there]! So, because of mp3s, web servers and people having broadband at home, that spurred me to redevelop my interest my home recording to an electronic recording platform.
What are your musical influences?
I grew up listening to Third Base, A Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul. That first De la Soul record had a huge impact on me. I was a big Public Enemy fan, NWA, that was probably one of the [most influential]. That album "Straight Outta Compton" was the album that made me say "Oh my God!" I had never heard anything like that before and that was when I was in high school.
How did you come up with your name?
The whole thing is between halfway between a joke and a puzzle. If you call it a joke, you're missing everything that's serious about it, the attention we put into the music, crafting every part of it. Certainly, I try to make the lyrics sort of not disposable. I have songs about politics but there's definitely a layer of comedy on it and the idea of a rapper named Frontalot sounds like a comedy notion. It's also, weirdly, this admission of the secretly true confession of who I am. I'm this guy that would have to trick you that I'm worth buying a rap album from.
What is nerdcore hip-hop?
I was always obsessed with the idea, no matter how much any fan of rap might fantasize of being a rapper, if you're like a huge dork, like I was growing up, that's the farthest of your career opportunities, that's the last thing you could be. Inverting that idea is really what there is to nerdcore. Instead of taking your nerd shame, hiding away your Monty Python DVDs, you can wear it on your sleeve and profess it.
How did you get approached to be on the "Elmo Potty Time" DVD?
Predictably, the guy who was in charge of the interactive division of Sesame Workshop was a fan. They had this DVD almost done, in its magazine format, and they had this one segment that wasn't working. It was the tour of the toilet paper factory and this was a bunch of footage of a factory with this super-boring voiceover by a 52-year-old guy. He was just sort of reciting of what was going on the screen, taking you to the process of how they make pulp into toilet paper. They were like "This isn't working" and they called me up. They had the voice track and I sort of had to adapt the boring description into a rap. Hopefully everyone will remember me for that.
What is the story behind the song "Indier than Though?"
That song is a swipe at the people I was on the board of directors with on WESU, my college radio station, in the '90s. I was the PSA director and I worked with the music directors and, basically, everyone on the board of directors were these huge indie rock snobs. A song could be amazingly great and super appropriate for the station and by regular, national pop music standards be completely obscure and they would suddenly decide that it had gotten too much attention and take it out of the new music bin. Some DJs would keep on playing the songs that they disapproved of, music taken out of the new music bin, and the would take them into board meetings and censor them for not being indie enough. I always found that so distasteful.
What is your musical guilty pleasure?
I find myself singing that Ke$ha song in the shower the other day. She's just awful, she made me want to throw up a little bit when I saw her music video.
What is the craziest thing you've seen on tour?
We got into insane car crash on the last tour outside Minneapolis. We ran into some freezing rain and spun around, the van and trailer, on the freeway. The trailer broke off and flipped, tore into pieces. All of our amps and merch was strewn all over the freeway, getting run over by semis. We blew a tire and teetered, we very nearly flipped the van. Instead, we were all unmarked and we were able to finish that tour.
Describe your shows in three words.
Geek. Funk. Extravaganza.
Alma Verdejo is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.