Bruce McCulloch on the Music of Kids in the Hall

Kids in the Hall, still head-crushingly hilarious!

Kids in the Hall, still head-crushingly hilarious!

Kids in the Hall | State Theatre | Saturday, May 16

This Saturday, May 16, Canada's finest export, comedy team Kids in the Hall, come to the State Theater for a night of their unique brand of innovative hilarity. Along with mostly new material and a handful of cherished favorites, the Kids also have a few songs planned.

The group has a celebrated history filled with some of the funniest songs committed to tape, and ahead of this weekend's performance, we spoke to Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch about his songs from the show, the influence music has had on their material, and his new book, Let's Start a Riot.

How's it been being back on the road with the Kids this tour?

Bruce McCulloch: It's been fun. We did some shows about a year ago, so it isn't as freaky where it's been other times when it really was a several-year gap. But we're pretty ready to lay it down, as we like to say.

There's been a mention of a love of punk rock with your characters both as part of Kids in the Hall as well as your new Canadian television show, Young Drunk Punk. Was that punk-rock aesthetic a big influence on your work within Kids in the Hall?

I think it was in punk rock and the weird beat poetry that Mark brought, in a sense. The Bukowski, Kerouac, and every punk record there was -- from the really good ones to the not so good ones. It just felt natural to bring music in to the show, and our best friends Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were our house band. So their music was sort of punk-surf and just felt like we had it all together.

When you chose the show's theme song, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet's "Having an Average Weekend," was that the obvious go-to choice or were there any other songs that were in the running?

There was another song in the running, and I don't remember how or when we decided on that one. I think it was as much up to the band as it was us. I actually thought it started a bit slow, but it's aged well so I think it was the right choice.

Before the television show, were your songs a part of the stage performances as well, and did the other guys have any reservations about venturing into musical comedy?

No, I think they liked it. We came out of the theater, so it wasn't like Second City with the hokey music. We wanted things to look like things and feel like things. I remember, when I used to do standup, I used to walk out to "Lust for Life" and it felt like it fit me.

First of all, we didn't talk about what we did, we didn't know what we were doing, so whatever contributions we wanted to throw in. If I wanted to do a movement piece, we don't know what that is, but it's cool. Especially in the beginning when we would just throw everything in and whatever kind of worked sort of stuck. But nobody disallowed anybody from doing anything.

Is it much different preparing musical bits for the stage than preparing them for television?

Well, I think you actually have to think where people are going to laugh. If I'm singing "Daves I Know" live, or even the song itself, I had done it on stage before it was on the show. That's something we talk about, how to get the beats around to do that. [page]

With all the songs people love from the show, have you ever heard of any interesting covers of them over the years?

Well, I know that KoRN did "Some Days It's Dark" which is from Brain Candy, which is something I read about. It was something I had written about some weird little things, "Some days it's dark, some days I work." Them doing that in front of 30,000 people in their own weird way I thought was pretty cool.

In addition to the show, you've put out two albums, Shame Based Man and Drunk Baby Project. Did you like the differences of that medium and do you think it's something you would do again?

Yeah, I think I will. I just wrote a book called Let's Start a Riot, which is the weird story of my life. I realized, "Let's do an audiobook" and thought, "Is this the first audiobook we could put music to?" I like to do monologues. I like, not to be rude, the way my voice sounds and the rhythms of it. So, yeah, I think I will do something else. I have a couple songs that I've been doing in my one-man show. I'm going to record those when I get to Vancouver. I think I'll put out a couple songs at some point.

You mentioned earlier that "Daves I Know," one of your most famous songs, predates the show. Where did it come from?

Yep, it was one of the first things I did in Calgary. "Is this a funny idea? I don't think so. Maybe. Let's try it." That one really started with the spirit of "I think my work might work." It won't always work, but it might work. That's always been our spirit. Like, "I'm going to go out and dance to a drum machine and then stop." You couldn't pitch that on another show and have them say, "OK, try it." But our show, we tried and it works.

Does another one of your most known songs, "Terriers," predate the show as well?

No, I think that came around when the show started going. I actually had a terrible dog named Binky growing up who I still have terrible scars all over my arms and legs from. So I actually kind of hated terriers. I think that's why I celebrated how great they were, in my brain that made sense.

Kids in the Hall are at the State Theatre on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m.

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