Comedian and actor David Cross will soon be resurrecting his role in the cult hit Arrested Development and stopped by the station to share some of the songs that redefined his idea of art, helped him through his awkward teenage years in Atlanta and much more. Arrested Development returns this Spring on Netflix.
For More Info: http://www.facebook.com/officialdavidcross
1. O Superman - Laurie Anderson
2. The Carny- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
3. 5:15 - The Who
4. Not Ready to Make Nice- Dixie Chicks
5. Talent Is A Vampire- Bongwater
Dan Wilcox: Hey this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I have the pleasure of sitting here with actor and comedian David Cross. He’ll be resurrecting his role as Tobias Funke in the cult hit Arrested Development which returns this Spring on Netflix.
Today we’ll be talking about songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Welcome David.
DC: Hello, thank you.
DW: What’s the first selection you’ve got for us today?
DC: The first song I picked is “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson, which was one of a handful of songs in my life where I noticed it as it was playing. I didn’t know anything about the artist or the song itself and it was somewhat in the background, and I noticed it and made people stop within whatever the situation was, or “turn it up” or “What is this?”.
It was one of those songs that redefined what music is or what art is and not necessarily redefined it, but just expanded my idea of like, “Oh, you can do that? I’ve never heard of this thing ” or “never seen this thing” and, I would say, more than any other factor, any other external stimulus thing that I experienced, changed the direction of who I was and what I ended up doing comedically. It was a huge, huge influence and it started with this song.
DW: From Laurie Anderson it’s called “O Superman” on KCRW.com.
Song: “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson
DW: Ok that was Laurie Anderson with the song “O Superman”. I’m sitting here with David Cross. We’re going through some of his song picks today...
DC: Yeah, I just listened to that song again for the first time and scratch that I don’t like it anymore.
DW: (laughs) Ok, well you know let’s move on from that. What do you have next for us?
DC: Next is “The Carny” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and I was in the car, had driven back from a gig, and it was very rainy, I remember that too, and this song had just started playing and it was so dramatic and evocative. It tells an incredible story and I wasn’t that familiar with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I was familiar with Birthday Party.
DW: And that’s Nick Cave’s first band.
DC: Yes, first band in Australia, yeah. It’s a great marriage of this narrative and his performance and the music behind it. He’s like a poet author who makes music, and not in the kind of Leonard Cohen, Jim Morrison way. Jim Morrison is highly overrated.
DC: He is. He is.
DW: Well let’s check it out this is a song called “The Carny” from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on KCRW.com.
Song: “The Carny” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
DW: We just heard a pick from David Cross, “The Carny” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
DC: This song is "5:15" from Quadrophenia by The Who.
This song, and this album in particular, I feel closer to..as if this song was a human being, it would be my best friend. I can't say that The Who are my favorite band, there was a time when they were, but they're the most important in my life and I don't imagine that'll ever change. Just because of what they meant at the age I was when I came to them, or they came to me.
Quadrophenia in particular where there wasn't any before or just little bits and pieces of "nobody knows what I'm going through, this is hard, life's", you know, the things that a 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 year old go through. They're all very real. And they're certainly very real and hyper real in the moment. Nothing encapsulated and articulated those feelings like the album Quadrophenia, and this song in particular. There are a number on the album that do that, but this song - there are certain lines and the one that really kicked my ass -- "sadly ecstatic that their heroes are news" -- is so meta because my friends and I, who were way into The Who and way into kinda this, keep in mind I’m in Atlanta in the 80's, early 80's, and I'm trying to be a Mod. I had this chartreuse jacket, the pork pie hat and, you know, was saving money to get a GS scooter and I had like a Mac and it was ridiculous. Again, you're talking about an 18 year old/19 year old who was very awkward, self conscious, that didn't have very high self-esteem at all, but yeah this song, and this album, really spoke to what I was going through.
DC: Well, let's check it out. This is the song "5:15" from The Who.
Song: "5:15" by The Who
DW: That was The Who with the song "5:15" from the legendary album Quadrophenia
This next song that you’ve got on your list here David, I’m very intrigued on your reason for selecting this one. Why don’t you get into it?
DC: This next song is “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks. I knew next to nothing about the Dixie Chicks, and I watched the documentary Shut Up & Sing because I was interested in the subject matter, and it was riveting. I really enjoyed the documentary just as a documentary, and it wasn’t until about halfway through watching when I kind of had this slight epiphany, which took me out of the story that was being told. I started listening to the music and paying more attention to it as opposed to just the story and their personalities. This song in particular resonated with me because of the backlash they got for speaking out against the president, and I was being very vocal at the same time. When she sings about the death threats she gets I mean it still gives me goosebumps.
Song: “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks
DW: Since you grew up outside of Atlanta, and I’m guessing country music was pretty abundant around you as a kid, maybe it was something you kind of avoided for a while…
DC: Absolutely. Because of that kind of obstinate, snotty, teenage punk development that I had, if it was southern I hated it - outside of food, always liked the food. But I made a concerted effort, a conscious, active, actively not getting any kind of drawl or southern accent to my accent. In fact I remember when I was 18, the summer I was 18, I had a job at Pizza Hut, and they had a jukebox and there was a song that year that was very popular. I probably heard that song seven times an hour. Every hour, every day I worked. “Oh I love that swangin’ song, that Alan Jackson ‘Swingin’! It’s just a swangin’!” Hell yeah.
DW: It’s catchy.
DW: That was the Dixie Chicks with the song "Not Ready to Make Nice". I'm here with David Cross. And David what is this last song?
DC: How's this project going so far? Is this like The Alan Parsons Project? It was never really completed. They had blueprints for it, but I don’t think it got full funding.
Next I picked out "Talent is a Vampire" by Bongwater. Bongwater, comprising mostly of Ann Magnuson and Wayne Kramer, I was lucky enough to go see them and this is another song kind of like "O Superman" and that same genre of, it's not just a song, it's a performance and it speaks to other things than most other songs speak to. And it's got movements to it and layers to it and performance to it. Only occasionally is it a song (laughs) but it was another one of those pieces of art that shaped me and expanded my idea of what you could do, what one could do.
DW: Bongwater is a good example of one of those bands that has music that's actually laugh out loud funny.
DC: Not in a blatant comic way, it's almost like a mini radio play. Music rarely makes me laugh. I don't think this made me laugh out loud, but made me smile and appreciate the overall comic, not necessarily comic, but certainly not taking itself seriously.
DW: Let's give this song a listen. It's "Talent is a Vampire" by Bongwater here on KCRW.com.
Song: "Talent is a Vampire" by Bongwater
DW: David thank you for joining us on KCRW.com
DC: Thank you for having me. Dot com.
DW: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.