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DID YOU READ

TALK: Glen Campbell

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After blurring the lines of country and pop, selling over 45 million albums worldwide, hosting a variety show on network television, having sung some of the most played hits of the last millennium (“Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy”), acting in a movie with John Wayne, touring with the Beach Boys, and being a member of the Wrecking Crew–one of the most revered session groups of all-time, responsible for playing on hit records for The Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bobby Darin to name a few–where do you go from there?

Well, if you’re Glen Campbell (the man who boasts the résumé above), you craft out a covers album ranging in material from Green Day, Travis, and the Foo Fighters, to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, U2, The Replacements, and The Velvet Underground.

At face value the idea of a Glen Campbell-covers album might sound gimmicky or seem like an attempt to strike lightning again, in the same way Johnny Cash did late in his career with an unlikely covers album, The Man Comes Around. However, after listening to Meet Glen Campbell, all of these notions should be dispelled rather quickly. Campbell shows off his career-long ability of spotting a hit and makes each of the ten songs, uniquely, his own.

(And speaking of résumés, mine’s gotta look a little better now after having the opportunity to speak with Glen Campbell.)

Jim Shearer: Who came up with the idea for this project?

Glen Campbell: [Producer, Julian Raymond] told me about the whole project and asked me if I wanted to do it.

Jim: Did he select the songs for you to cover on the album?

Glen: We did it together. We had probably about 75-80 songs and we knocked it down to ten.

Jim: How did you go about picking the songs?

Glen: They were songs that I liked, makes it easy doesn’t it?

Jim: (laughs) Very easy. Did you have a favorite song out of the batch?

Glen: Oh boy, there’s a bunch of ’em on here. “These Days,” by Jackson Browne was great. They’re all good.

Jim: I think it’s a great testament to both you and the songs on the album, but your covers made me realize just how beautiful these songs actually are.

Glen: When I get a song in I just read the lyrics, first, to see what it is, and then I go by that. “Sadly, Beautiful” [by the Replacements]–what a good song!

Jim: Where there any songs that were close to making the album that didn’t?

Glen: Not that I know of. We narrowed it down to 10 and went with that.

Jim: There wasn’t an extra song or two where you thought, “Ah, maybe this needs to make it”?

Glen: No, but if we do another project I still got the sheet of [75-80 tracks]. There are still some great songs out there.

Jim: I wanted to ask you about the title of the album, Meet Glen Campbell. It seems a little odd for someone so accomplished.

Glen: I don’t know? That was Julian’s idea. I said, “That’s fine with me.” Maybe he did it for that old rock and roll feel?

Jim: Have you heard back from any of the artists that you covered on this album?

Glen: Yoko [Ono] sent us a letter, thanking us for bringing that song [“Grow Old With Me”] to the table.

Jim: It’s amazing how these songs take on a life of their own?

Glen: You know a good song will do that every time.

Jim: I was wondering what you thought about Johnny Cash’s cover album that he did late in his career?

Glen: He did that Nine Inch Nails stuff, didn’t he? I thought it was just fabulous. Of course I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan anyway. The way he interprets a song is second to none.

Jim: Did you guys ever get to share a conversation about that album?

Glen: No, never did–dadgumit.

Jim: (laughs) I was wondering, is there a major pop-culture figure from, maybe say, the 50’s through 80’s that you haven’t met?

Glen: I don’t think so. I’ve met everybody and their dog I think.

Jim: (laughs) You’re probably right. How is it to be back at Capitol Records?

Glen: It’s good. I went back through the old studios–I spent a lot of hours there doing records. It just brings a lot of memories back.

Jim: Back in the day I know you had a dispute with Capitol because you wanted to release “Highwayman” as a single. Was there a part of you that wanted to include “Highwayman” on Meet Glen Campbell just for spite’s sake?

Glen: (laughs) I never thought about it, but I sure do like that song.

(right: Glen Campbell: “I’ve met everybody and their dog.”.)

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Jim: My wife’s aunt is a lifelong fan and wanted me to ask you a couple questions.

Glen: (laughs) Go ahead.

Jim: What do you consider to be the finest achievement of your career?

Glen: My career? Boy. The TV show was really a kicker. That probably helped my career more than anything. A network show could help you reach zillions of people. That was one, but–gosh–it’s hard to pick ’em out, isn’t it?

Jim: Her next question: What do you consider to be your most successful song pick? What’s your most disappointing?

Glen: “Wichita Lineman,” that won the award for most played song of the millennium. That was a Jimmy [Webb] one there!

Jim: Most disappointing?

Glen: That would be hard to pick out. I did somebody a favor one time and put out a song that didn’t do anything. That would be one, but I can’t remember the name of it.

Jim: When you’re choosing a song, how do you know if it’s the right one for you?

Glen: Because I’ve heard them over and over. It’s also the lyrics. I read the song, look at it on paper, and see how it reads. You can tell when you’re first getting into the song. “Times Like These” [by the Foo Fighters] -you read songs like these and they’re great. If you can get a good sound on the track too, then you’re pretty close to getting a “hit record” as they say.

Jim: (laughs) Just out of curiosity, do you ever check your myspace page or spend any time on the computer?

Glen: My kids do. They’ll surf the internet as they say. I’m not an interent buff. I know enough and I don’t want to learn anymore.

Jim: (laughs) Do you text?

Glen: (laughs) No I don’t, my wife does it for me.

Jim: Last question, how was it being part of the Wrecking Crew–one of the most revered session groups of all-time, who have their footprints on countless legendary rock and roll tracks?

Glen: Being a session musician was one of the highlights of my life. I was in there making some of the greatest music in the world with this incredible rhythm section that we had. That was really, really, really a kicker for me. To get into that Wrecking Crew, when they pointed that baton at you, you really had to play. It was the best rhythm section that I ever played in.

Jim: Do you ever walk into a grocery store or restaurant, hear a song that you worked on, nudge someone, and say, “Hey, I played on this song!”

Glen: Yep, I do.

Jim: Do you remember the last time it happened?

Glen: I can’t recall, but it was fun. It was just a little something that went through my mind.

Jim: Do you ever lose track of all the songs that you worked on?

Glen: I don’t really sit around and think about it, but when it comes up on the radio and someone mentions it, yeah, it’s a nice feeling.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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