"I was drunk and doing karaoke in L.A., and I decided to do 'I Am Woman,'" he says of his musical beginnings. "Then it sort of just spun out of control."
Finnerty caught the attention of director Todd Phillips, who went on to cast him (and his newly established backing band) as a sleazy wedding group in Old School, a sleazy bat-mitzvah band in Starsky & Hutch and, well, another sleazy wedding band in The Hangover.
He parlayed his onscreen career to the stage, and has toured the country belting out covers of some of pop music's sassiest singles, and even released a Christmas album featuring nothing but original Dan Band holiday jams.
Before he brings his live show to Mill City Nights, we talked with Finnerty about wedding songs, Zima, and his dream of channeling Sia.
For those who only know you from the movies, what is a live Dan Band show like?
The show we're bringing to Minneapolis is the same show that convinced Todd Phillips to put us in his movies. It's me up there as a mechanic, belting out girl songs with two guys that look like accountants and seem like they don't know why they're there.
Every band typically has those one or two songs they get sick of playing every night. Do you have any songs that fit that description?
I really don't, because secretly I like all of the songs we play. There's something about hearing a guy do Salt n Pepper -- excuse me, Pepa -- that lets you hear the words a little more clearly. We do "Shoop"; there's also a medley of Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" and "Whenever, Wherever" that will break your heart. Of course, everyone wants to hear "Candy Shop" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
I love it when dudes in the crowd only know us from the movies, and slowly begin to get excited about us playing a mash-up of "I'm a Slave 4 U" and TLC's "No Scrubs." As long as they keep chugging Zima, they'll get into it.
Does it surprise you that you've been a successful touring band for so long?
Yeah. I mean, I think it's funny that I'm making a solid living, probably more than my dad made as a judge. He went to law school, and I'm up onstage singing girl songs. Honestly, I've always treated every show like it's my last one, and it's just kept going.
You just got back from a holiday tour where you were performing some original songs too, right?
Yeah, we made a whole Christmas album of originals and we played some of those during the holiday season shows, but now we're back to just doing the hits.
Any chance you'll do another original album?
We're actually doing an album with Comedy Central, called The Wedding Album, based off of the sleazy wedding singer character I've played in the movies, and that's a combination of original songs and covers. That comes out in the spring, and it's cool because I do a duet with Nicole Scherzinger. I've got a song that I just wrote with Pat Monahan from Train called "I Can't Believe I Love You," and Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 worked on the album with me too.
Is it surreal to have big-name musicians working on the album with you?
It's always surreal to me. The only reason I'm working with those two [Monahan and Thomas] is because they came up to me at a show and said hi, and I was like, "How the fuck do they know me?"
Are there any songs you're still hoping to perform that you haven't tried yet?
We're always trying to one-up ourselves. One time, my wife walked in on me watching Pink's "Glitter in the Air" performance over and over -- where she's spinning around over the stage -- and [my wife] said to me, "That's not happening." So I told her, "It's fucking happening," and went and found someone to help put together the whole routine. It's one of my favorite songs to perform when we're in a place that can support the rigging. Other than that, I have visions of us cascading down from the ceiling on chandeliers to Sia's "Chandelier." I'm not sure if we can make that happen, but it's my dream.
Anything else we should know before heading out to the show?
Make sure you drink a little. That'll make it way better.
IF YOU GO:
The Dan Band
With Courtney McClean & the Dirty Curls
Friday, January 16
8 p.m. doors, 9 p.m. show