Zach Galifianakis may be one of the funniest guys around, but he takes music seriously. He shares his favorite fun-loving band, some poetic campfire music, as well as his pick for the best screamer in rock and roll right now. He also tells us about the greatest concert he’s ever seen. Zach stars in the TV series Bored to Death which returns to HBO this fall.
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Brazilian Girls -- St. Petersburg
Broken Social Scene -- 7/4 Shoreline
My Morning Jacket -- Wordless Chorus
Palace Music -- We All, Us Three Will Ride
Alabama 65 -- I Paid My Fee
Anne Litt: Hi, I’m Anne Litt, and I’m here with comedian Zach Galifianakis. Today, we will be playing excerpts of songs he’s selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Welcome, Zach.
Zach Galifianakis: Thank you very much, Anne.
AL: Thank you for coming. Why don’t we jump in? Tell us what you brought.
ZG: I actually just brought the soundtrack to “White Chicks.” No, the score, excuse me, the score!
AL: Composed by…
ZG: This is a group called Brazilian Girls, and they’re pretty exotic. And I’ve seen them live a couple of times, and the song I’ve picked is called Saint. Petersburg.
Song: Brazilian Girls – St. Petersburg
ZG: Her thing for a while, I don’t know if she’s still doing this, it’s she’s never shown her eyes. That was a thing. Have you ever interviewed her?
AL: No, never. They’ve been to KCRW though a bunch of times.
ZG: I imagine they have, yeah. I think that they’re funny also in a way. They have a lot of fun energy, where a lot of times music today is so sappy -- and I love sad. I love depressing everything. But their music kind of puts me on a different level. And I like their themes in their music. But St. Petersburg? I don’t even know what it’s about, I just like it so much. I like the way she says “Do you like my acting?” I think she’s making fun of people that might say that to somebody.
AL: Do you say that to people?
ZG: Yeah, it’s my ice breaker at parties.
AL: That was “St. Petersburg” by Brazilian Girls. It is the Guest DJ Project on KCRW. I’m Anne Litt. I’m here with Zach Galifianakis. Talk to me about this song.
ZG: I like end of songs that have really big trumpets, and trombones. And, crescendo? Is that the right thing? But at the end.
I’ve seen Broken Social Scene. This was a show where there were more people on stage in their band than there were in the audience. Because it was a surprise show, they didn’t advertise. And there were maybe 16 people on stage and I’m not kidding, maybe 9 people in the audience. And it was the greatest concert I have ever seen.
This was in Birmingham, Alabama, about five years ago. And they just used the horns a lot with rock ‘n roll, which I find to be a pretty sweet mix. I have this fantasy of having like a music school, or music compound, and these kinds of people would come and selfishly entertain me. And I would feed them. So I could imagine a band like Broken Social Scene doing that. That would be a lot of fun.
Song: Broken Social Scene - “7/4 (Shoreline)”
AL: That was Broken Social Scene, “7/4 (Shoreline).” That is a pick of Zach’s. He’s in the studio for KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. I’m Anne Litt. And up next, you picked My Morning Jacket’s “Wordless Chorus.” A favorite of mine. Tell me why you love this.
ZG: Well, people don’t really understand that to sound good while you’re screaming is a real talent. And I think Jim James, the lead singer, just is one of the great screamers right now. And I used to go see them years ago, I saw them in Orange County opening for somebody, and again I was blown away by great they are. Again, another live band…there’s 35 songs of theirs that I could’ve put on this list.
Song: My Morning Jacket: Wordless Chorus
AL: There’s something about the live experience with you, I think, don’t you?
ZG: I think so. I mean, I never went and saw live shows and I see them now. I guess I feel like I’m making up for lost time. But yeah, I think this live thing…I just saw My Morning Jacket twice in the last month. And I felt like a 13-year-old girl with head gear on. I couldn’t believe how great it was.
AL: Our guest is Zach Galifianakis. Your next pick is Palace Music, “We All, Us Three Will Ride”. Talk about this. Palace Music and Will Oldham - he’s made, what, about 25 albums? Talk to me about why you love Palace Music.
ZG: I was living in New York when I got turned on to this CD, “Viva Last Blues”, I think is what this is from? What I like about his voice is it sounds very untrained and unrehearsed. But behind all of that is nothing but love and passion. And also I think he’s an amazing poet. I’m a sucker for lyrics and great words. I think it’s one of those things that maybe you can translate yourself and come up with your own storyline. It’s just a beautiful modern campfire song that I absolutely love.
Song: Palace Music - “We All, Us Three Will Ride”
AL: Do you put on music to match a feeling you’re having or a moment that you’re in, if you’re at home?
ZG: Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to do that. Like the other day I bought a new refrigerator. I’m like I don’t have a song that tells me how I’m feeling inside! That I feel like I got ripped off by the delivery company! Where are those songs?! (laughs)
Sometimes I think it’s the other way around in a way. I want…if I have kind of some emptiness in me, or I’m not thinking, or I’m just kind of looking for my keys for 2 ½ hours, or my belt that I happen to be wearing…oh, it’s forty-five minutes now, the time’s passed…where’s my…oh, I’m wearing it! I wish it hadn’t happened.
But sometimes when I feel like I’m a little bit blank inside, I’ll put music on and get wrapped up in it a bit. And then that will predict my mood.
AL: So that was Palace Music, “We All, Us Three Will Ride.” It’s the Guest DJ Project here on KCRW. I’m here with Zach Galifianakis. And the last choice you have is Alabama 65. And I have to say, I confess, I had no idea who this was.
ZG: I’m going to tell you what I think I know. I looked them up through the…what is that fancy typewriter called…the internet!
I Googled them, and then they had a MySpace page. I’m like finally, this thing’s gonna pay off, this MySpace thing. I e-mailed them and I said “Is there any way to buy your music?” And they said “No.” And then they e-mailed me back saying, well we’re kind of musicians that live in Germany. We found this old gospel music from years and years ago. And we’ve kind of put layers underneath it. And that’s exactly what it is, it’s kind of what Moby did a few years back.
This isn’t necessarily gospel, it’s more kind of a twangy, hill music I guess. And the guys, the producers of Alabama 65, which IS Alabama 65, have put ornamentation around this music. And that’s what it is.
AL: The thing I love about this Guest DJ Project is we have all these different people coming in here and a lot of people, just like you, come in and say ‘I just want to introduce this band to the world because I heard them and I think they’re amazing. So, can you introduce them for us? Ladies and gentlemen…
Song: Alabama 65: I Paid My Fee
ZG: This is Alabama 65, and this song is called “I Paid My Fee.”
AL: Zach, thank you so much for joining us on KCRW.com
ZG: Thank you very much for having me.
AL: For a complete tracklisting and to find these songs online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject