New weird album: 'Running With Scissors'
Weird Al: Living up to his name
Web posted on: Monday, July 12, 1999 4:34:58 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- With such songs as "Eat It," "Like a Surgeon," and "Amish Paradise," Weird Al Yankovic has established himself a leading song parodist. His latest stab at success comes with the album "Running With Scissors" (BMG/Volcano).
The new album's spoofs include "Jerry Springer"; a takeoff on the Barenaked Ladies' 1998 hit "One Week"; and "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," based on The Offspring's single from last year, "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).
Radio host Dr. Demento, known for his own novelty music, discovered Alfred Matthew Yankovic when he 13 years old. Demento had spoken at Yankovic's school, and the teen-ager passed him a tape of "Belvedere Cruising" -- a song about the family's Plymouth. Demento played it three years later, and encouraged Yankovic to do more during his high-school and college years.
Yankovic didn't officially take on the moniker "Weird Al" until he hosted a novelty new-wave radio show during his college years at California Polytechnic State University, where he was studying architecture.
CNN Entertainment News Correspondent Jim Moret caught up with "Weird Al" in Hollywood to talk about thriving career.
Q: Do I call you 'Weird?' 'Al?' What do I call you?
Yankovic: Well, since we're close personal friends now, you can call me 'Al.'
Q: OK, Al. Your latest parody album, "Running With Scissors," went into the Billboard charts at 35, with a bullet, which is pretty darned good.
Yankovic: Right. Not too shabby.
Q: Not too shabby. "The Saga Begins" is a familiar song. It's based on Don MacLean's "American Pie," and the story's also familiar to anyone who's seen "Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace."
Yankovic: That's correct.
Q: This album came out in June. Did you get an advance copy of the script? How did you know all the plot points from "The Phantom Menace?"
Yankovic: Well, there's a thing called the Internet, and there are quite a few unofficial "Star Wars" Web sites which, I'm sure -- much to Lucasfilm's chagrin -- posted basically the whole plot of the movie months in advance of "The Phantom Menace" coming out. So I did some research and wrote the parody about six weeks before I ever really saw the movie.
Q: And George Lucas, we hear, loves it.
Yankovic: Yes, I'm very, very honored and flattered they seem to like it OK.
Q: On this album, "Running With Scissors," you're not only going to be running with scissors, you're touring with scissors. Thirty-five cities between now and October 1, and it's about a two-hour show. So you give the people a lot for their money.
Yankovic: It's a full-on rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza. We try to give the people as much bang for their buck as we possibly can.
Q: Way back when you started, did you look forward to the day when you'd have two hours of material?
Yankovic: Oh, I used to dream of that day, and now it's here.
Q: And you like to think of yourself as both a parodist and a songwriter?
Yankovic: I'm two mints in one. I'm a hyphenate. I do it all.
Q: And we talked about this debuting at number 35. This is really a validation for you. You've had peaks and valleys, and you're clearly on the rise again. A whole new generation is enjoying the music.
Yankovic: It's really a gratifying way to do live shows because I look out into the audience and its really multigenerational. It's a family show, but we get everything from toddlers to geriatrics. They're all out there. It's great.
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