Actor Joe Manganiello plays Alcide the werewolf on True Blood and exposes himself as a hopeless romantic with a love-themed guest DJ set. He also dedicates a couple songs to his favorite musician – and friend – DJ Z-Trip and tells us how music brought him back to his creative self when he lost his way. Season 5 of True Blood is on HBO now and Manganiello stars in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film Magic Mike.
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1. Immigrant Noise - Z-Trip
2. Lay Your Cards Out - Polica
3. Back To Back (Acoustic) - Wolf Gang
4. Steve McQueen - M83
5. The Beatles - I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Liza Richardson: Hi, I'm Liza Richardson from KCRW and I'm here with actor Joe Manganiello, who plays the werewolf Alcide on HBO's "True Blood" and stars in Steven Soderbergh's latest film "Magic Mike". Today we are going to be talking about songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Joe, welcome.
Joe Manganiello: Thank you. Good to be here.
LR: Let's start. What did you bring today?
JM: The first song I brought is by a good friend of mine, DJ Z-Trip (Zach Sciacca) who to me, I think the guy is the greatest DJ in the world. I think his skills are unparalleled, I mean as a mixer, as a scratcher, as a producer. But also, I want to note that he was the one who started the whole mash-up movement. He was the one who started mixing, playing rock songs in hip-hop clubs which was really frowned upon and he took a lot of flack for that when it first happened, but now you see everybody does it.
The first song really shows his creativity and mastery of beats and genre switch-ups. And that's Immigrant Noise, which mixes Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin with Public Enemy's Bring The Noise. I mean, what self-respecting semi-intelligent white kid from the suburbs didn't listen to Public Enemy or NWA? So, you know, mixing those two together…Zach's kinda like that post-modernistic "We've seen it all before but I'm gonna take it all and put it together in a way that one plus one equals three.
Song: Z-Trip – Immigrant Noise
JM: You know, there's a period in my life where I was kinda bounced out of acting for a while. Basically, I needed to quit drinking. And so I didn't wind up working as an actor for four years and I thought my career was over, creativity was done, I was done as an artist. And I remember I was out with a buddy of mine in Los Feliz, walking down the street, and I heard this music coming out of this restaurant and it was Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" mixed with Rage Against The Machine's "Testify" and I went "What?!"
And I had never heard anything like that. It really made me inspired, it showed me that, it kind of reactivated that creative thing in me when my career was completely gone. I wound up buying turntables and going record shopping all of the time and it was my way of kind of keeping that creative flame burning even though my career as an actor, what I thought, was over.
LR: That was Z-Trip with the track "Immigrant Noise". So, what's next?
JM: The next song is a song that, you know, was big for me this past Coachella because Zach (Z-Trip) and I, we rented a house in Indio for the month. It was one of the cool parts of the whole month -- the fact that I got to introduce my favorite DJ, my favorite musician, to some music that he hadn't heard. And that's this band Polica, which is like my favorite band right now. They're unbelievable.
LR: How did you discover them?
JM: I was introduced to them. There's a girl and she introduced me to them, and I immediately was like, "This is, this is IT. She gets me, she gets my musical taste, like, oh my god, this band's incredible." And I played it for Zach and as we're going through the album, Zach stopped on this one song. He's like, "THAT'S the jam! That's the song, that's the song." So, literally Zach and I would go to Coachella all day, get back in the car, look at each other and go, "Alright, press play” and just repeat this song over and over and over again. So it was on repeat for the entire two weekends that we were out at Coachella and it's "Lay Your Cards Out" by Polica.
Song: Polica -- "Lay Your Cards Out"
LR: So that's "Lay Your Cards Out" and it's the choice of our guest DJ Joe Manganiello. OK, so the next song, tell us about this one.
JM: Once again, this goes back to Zach. These first three are kind of like, you know, shout-outs to Zach. I was hanging out with Zach at one point and there was this girl that I have very strong feelings about and Zach said "OK, I'm gonna give you this song. And it's not available on iTunes. The regular version's on iTunes, I'm gonna give you the acoustic version. And when you absolutely need it, like at that perfect moment -- you save this, I'm giving you the secret weapon -- and at the perfect moment, you drop this.
So, I took the CD and sure enough there was a night, I remember 'cause I was looking at the clock in my truck and the clock changed from 4:20 to 4:21 and somehow the conversation, we were pulled off on this dirt road off of an exit off of a freeway. And the moment was there, and it was the right one and I had it loaded up. She said something and I just put up one finger and then I pressed play and this song played and it said everything that I ever wanted to say to her.
Song: Wolf Gang -- "Back To Back"
JM: Music's such a powerful thing and I think a lot of times, you know, we feel things and we don't know how to express them or we can't express them as well as a song. And then you hear that song and you're like "Man!" There's a part of you that's jealous that that person came up with it. That YOU didn't get to say that. But there's also that amazing part that, "Wow! Now I have this and now I know how to say that, now I know how to formulate that." And I think, you know, music becomes that soundtrack of our lives and you have these kind of "movie moments" that happen, and that certainly was one of them. And I felt like, you know, I was like, Cyrano de Bergerac, and I was, you know, here you play this for her, here's the poem, here's what you're gonna say.
LR: So you are very romantic, is that true?
JM: Oh god. I'm hopeless! Yeah, hopeless.
LR: That was Wolf Gang with the acoustic version of "Back To Back." What do you have next?
JM: The next choice, I actually got to meet the band, it's by M83. This next song is "Steve McQueen" and the band told me that they wrote this song to be the heart of their album. And really, I told them that Steve McQueen had become a verb for me.
LR: Nothing related to this song. Just in general.
JM: No, actually it WAS about the song. If you listen to the lyrics of the song, it's, "Woke up stronger than ever, driven by big waves of fire," you know, the song talks about having this thing inside of you that you want to get out, that you want to share. And really what they're talking about is love, and so there was actually a point where I had that feeling - had that thing - with somebody, and they then said to me, "Are you still Steve McQueening?" Meaning are you still feeling that thing like it was at the beginning. So I told them that and they were so excited to hear that "Oh my god, it's a verb now! Oh wow!" You know, that's something that I still say today and my friends…that's become the thing.
LR: I'm gonna try that. So when you're really in love, you're Steve McQueening.
JM: You're Steve McQueening.
Song: M83 - "Steve McQueen"
LR: That was M83 with the song "Steve McQueen." So Joe, that brings us to your last song.
JM: In keeping with our theme, I guess this is kind of like the love theme or inspiration, the Steve McQueen theme. And this is the last one, it's by the Beatles. But it's a really obscure, kind of weird-sounding Beatles song. This one, I mean it's like 9 minutes long, it has 3 lines in it, but it really keeps your attention the entire time. And, you know, it's really sexy and all that too.
This song, once again, it was one of those "god-shot moments" where I was sitting in a coffee shop, and there was, you know I was sitting with this girl, and we were talking…
LR: Same girl?
JM: Same girl…talking about feelings and things, and this song came on. And, you know the chorus is "I want you so bad." And so we're talking and it keeps saying "I want you so bad," and we're kind of getting to that, and it just keeps going and going and it's 9 minutes long, so we keep trying to go back to our conversation but we can't because we keep laughing because they just keep repeating "I want you so bad."
We really just couldn't even get through the entire conversation, just laughing hysterically as the song just rambled on and on and on forever. It was one of those amazing "god fingerprint moments" where it was just that perfect song at that perfect moment. It was saying, repeating, this chorus of everything we were trying to say to each other. It was a pretty amazing afternoon.
Song: The Beatles -- "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
LR: Thank you for your generosity and thinking about this and taking it so seriously and giving us a great Guest DJ set.
JM: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
LR: And for a complete listing and to find these songs online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.