Dave Nadelberg is the founder of the popular stage show Mortified, a comic excavation of adolescent awkwardness and angst. Fittingly, he chose a collection of songs that captures those feelings, including two creative covers, a song sung by Gonzo, and a track with the kind of “scrappy energy” and aesthetic he aspires to create. Mortified just celebrated it’s 6th anniversary.
For more: http://www.getmortified.com
1.) The Replacements - Bastards of Young
2.) The Muppets - I'm Going to Go Back There Someday
3.) Nouvelle Vague- I Just Can't Get Enough
4.) The Langley Schools Music Project - God Only Knows
5.) The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me
Dan Wilcox: This is Dan Wilcox with KCRW and I am very happy to be sitting here with Mortified founder Dave Nadelberg. And for those who might not be familiar with Mortified, it is a stage show where adolescent angst is played for laughs, which you may have heard on This American Life as well the new book Mortified: Love is a Battle Field, welcome Dave Nadelberg.
Dave Nadelberg: Thanks Dan.
Dan Wilcox: So Dave, I am very curious to find out whether you have to decided to continue this theme of Mortified in the songs that you have chosen to share with us or if you’re going to take us in a whole different direction.
Dave Nadelberg: I think I may take it in a slightly different direction. But our project -- which spans stage shows and books and now a web series at getmortified.com – it addresses things of nostalgia and childhood but also pain and a lot of that actually has always been driven by music for us and I think we wanted to give people a little peek into that.
Dan Wilcox: What's the first song that you've got for us here.
Dave Nadelberg: I'm a big fan of pop melody writers and Paul Westerberg is probably one of the best there is.
Dave Nadelberg: With his band back in the day, The Replacements, there's this song “Bastards of Young” which we've sort of adapted as our unofficial theme song. We open up a lot our shows with that. It's really got this anthemic quality to it that just seems like it speaks for an age, kind of the way “Smells Like Teen Spirit” does -- where it's like no matter when you're 16, you feel that way. There's that line ‘we are the sons of no one', you feel orphaned and adrift and that sense of rage and confusion permeates through a lot of Mortified.
Song: "Bastards of Young" by The Replacements
Dan Wilcox: “Bastards of Young” from The Replacements here on KCRW.com. So I'm sitting here with Dave Nadelberg, the founder of Mortified, what's your next song to share with us, Dave.
Dave Nadelberg: I've always been really interested in kids music and I often think that a lot of the best music, and even books to that extent, is stuff that is written for kids. I've always been a fan of Joe Reposo and Paul Williams who wrote a lot of the Muppets songs and Sesame Street songs. To me one of the best songs ever written about childhood is a song that appears in the Muppet movie called “I'm Gonna Go Back There Some Day.” “Rainbow Connection,” all these other songs, became big hits and I don’t know why this never really crossed that pop cultural threshold. It's a song about this sense of nostalgia and lament.
Song: The Muppets’ "I'm Gonna Go Back There One Day"
Dave Nadelberg: Often I will hear from kids that who are 15, 16 even 10 and they are talking about way back when, how they used to be, reflection and looking back. I think it's something that even really young kids can identify with. And I think that’s really captured beautifully in this song by Gonzo. (both laugh)
Dan Wilcox: Well I'm sitting here with Mortified founder Dave Nadelberg. What's the next track that you brought for us to share?
Dave Nadelberg: After every single piece in our Los Angeles stage show, we have a house band called the Mortified After School Orchestra. They're playing the soundtrack from generations past, everything from Sinatra to Smashing Pumpkins except they're doing it only playing eight grade instruments -- so cellos, accordions, tubas. And when we were assembling that aspect of our live show, I didn't want them to be gimmicky. And there's this band, actually that I discovered on KCRW, Nouvelle Vague, they take new wave songs from the 80's largely and the 70's and they do them as bossa nova-style things. It sounds gimmicky but they take it really serious so we use that as a model actually, be playful with it but take it serious.
Song: "I Just Can't Get Enough" Nouvelle Vague
Dan Wilcox: Nouvelle Vauge's "I Just Can't Get Enough". Sitting here with Mortified founder Dave Nadelberg. So what is the next track that you've got for us Dave?
Dave Nadelberg: There's this project called the Langley Schools Orchestra and it's this album of school kids recorded in the 70's just for posterity, you know just a music class thing. Then somebody discovered it and released it as a real album. They do this “God Only Knows” Beach Boys cover with such a strange bit of sadness.
Song: “God Only Knows” by The Langley Schools Music Project
Dave Nadelberg: There's this undercurrent of sadness underneath all the comedy that we do in Mortified. And that's the difference between us and, say, a stand up show or a sketch show is that we get to inject that pathos. And I feel like a lot of people when they connect to Mortified, they're laughing at some of the…you know, there might be a moment when someone references some band or Rubik's cube or something, some bad hair style, but what they're really connecting to are these vulnerable moments. You know there are these chimes in the song, and the second half, towards the end of it, it really starts ramping up and it just soars.
Dan Wilcox: It's the Langley Schools Music Project with their version of “God Only
Knows,” originally done by The Beach Boys and we're sitting here with Mortified founder Dave Nadelberg.
Dave Nadelberg: So we've now entered this new era with Mortified where we're doing this online video series called the Mortified Shoebox Show. You can watch it on iTunes, you can watch it on getmortified.com and it's really exciting for us because suddenly we're able to take our stage show and also do animated clips and do pieces with odd archival media, home movies and all that. And so we were creating a theme song and we approached the guys from the Mortified After School Orchestra and we said lets create our first original song. What is our sound? When we thought about that and revisited the well in terms of how we approach everything we do visually, like the aesthetic of our website, even our animated shorts, are this look that I like to call punk meets Punky Brewster -- where it's ratty on the edges but sugary mixed in, and so it's dirty sweet. There's this indie band that my co-producer Neil is really into called The Boy Least Likely To and there's a song they do called “Be Gentle With Me.” It sounds like a Fisher-Price little chime at the beginning and it really invokes that spirit but is able to infuse it with this scrappy energy.
Song: "Be Gentle With Me” by The Boy Least Likely To
Dan Wilcox: And that was The Boy Least Likely To with "Be Gentle With Me." Dave Nadelberg, thank you very much for hanging out with us on KCRW.com
Dave Nadelberg: Thank you guys so much.
[PLAYLIST GOES HERE]