The Sun Interview

Conchords news, chit chat, waffle and conversation. Also convo about Bret and Jemaine in Conchords mode
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Venus
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The Sun Interview

Postby Venus » Thu May 14, 2009 10:24 pm

'For years if was just a hobby. Now it's got Conchords crazy'

FLIGHT Of The Conchords duo Bret and Jemaine have only one fan, a stalker, get racial abuse from a fruit seller who thinks they’re Aussies and battle to woo the same girl... who goes off with someone else.
The tale of two hapless Kiwi musicians trying to make it in New York and failing is a huge hit on stage, TV and CD.

But in real life the popularity of Flight Of The Conchords has soared to cult status, with Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement becoming huge stars.

They’ve picked up multiple Emmy nominations and last year won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. Live shows across the US are sell-outs.

As I meet them before a Chicago show, they each receive a silver disc for album sales in the UK.

Spoof songs such as Inner City Pressure, Hiphopopotamus vs The Rhymenoceros and Mutha’uckas are key to their appeal, which has them acclaimed as New Zealand’s top export.

Backstage, Bret, or “Brit” as fans often call him as they try to mimic his Kiwi accent, agrees. “I suppose we are their biggest export now.”

“Maybe not. Lamb’s still pretty big” adds a deadpan Jemaine.


Stalker
“Oh yeah,” says Bret, who is much livelier in real-life than his drippy character. “Maybe we’re not the greatest export. We’re still losers I guess.”

While stalker Mel (played by the brilliant Kristen Schaal) is the duo’s sole fan in the HBO series, in reality Conchord mania is here.

I’m told how other journalists sent to interview the band have even displayed stalker tendencies when in their company.

“The crowds do get fanatical at the shows, laughs Bret.

“They shout out requests and sing along. They know the songs better than we do! There’s even one fan who brings props to go with the songs.

“She throws jellybeans when we play Albi The Racist Dragon and throws an eye-patch to me when we play Bowie (in the series David Bowie gives Bret doomed advice on how to be cool, in a dream).

“Fans come up to us in the street and say ‘I love your show, so you’ve got two fans now. Me and Mel.’ We hear that all time.”

Jemaine, who lets out a machine-gun laugh every other sentence, says: “But not everyone likes us. And I definitely get sick of seeing us everywhere.

“Yesterday I was in a restaurant and had a guy shouting ‘BRET, BRET, BRET’ and then he came over and said in a disappointed tone ‘Oh, it’s you, Jemaine’.

“Then he said, ‘I’m a fan... well of the CD, it’s much better than the show.”

Bret laughs: “Well I had a guy who said to me, ‘Hey, Flight Of The Conchords. I tried to watch the first couple of episodes and, er, well I like the theme song.’ ”

Bret and Jemaine met at the University of Wellington in 1998 and have performed together ever since.

In 2002 and 2003 they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and in 2004 they made an award-winning series for BBC Radio 2, starring Rob Brydon.

Then HBO signed them up for TV and the first series started two years ago. “For years it was just a hobby,” says Bret. “Now it’s got crazy. Conchords crazy.” Tonight’s live show sees them take to the stage dressed as robots before playing songs from their first album and forthcoming follow-up (both on the legendary Sub Pop label, home of Nirvana).

The first series and show saw songs influenced by the Pet Shop Boys, Barry White and Marvin Gaye. In their new batch of songs, there’s the R Kelly-inspired Sugalumps, tearjerker Hurt Feelings and the side-splitting Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor.

Bret says: “In the new series there’s Visage/Eurythmics synth stuff and a bit of The Police and Roxanne too. And Daft Punk. Oh, and Flight Of The Conchords — we are a big influence on ourselves.”

Adds Jemaine: “But we don’t always take a song and then parody it. We start off with ideas and then it develops into a style.

“On the first album there’s the song The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room). It didn’t come from being a parody of Prince but from an idea about a guy who’s not very good at talking to a woman.

“Then we wrote down the lyrics, then the tune and when we produced it, it turned into that.”

Bret continues: “Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor came from an experience we had in Canada.

“We were in a nightclub, four New Zealand guys, and these Canadian guys were like “Hey, too many dicks! Too many dicks! Spread out the dicks! So we just used that and put it into the script to sort of make fun of them.”

Other storylines and songs in the new TV series see Jemaine turning to prostitution to make money, Bret starting a gang, the pair battling over a woman with an epileptic dog, writing a jingle for a lesbian toothpaste ad and manager Murray (Rhys Darby) arranging a meeting with New Zealand’s Prime Minister.


Failure

Bret says: “In the new series the world stays pretty similar. We stay in New York with the same characters around us. We considered the band becoming really successful but we just decided to keep it in the small world of failure.

“For the toothpaste jingle story, we were trying to think of the most humiliating job you could get.

“When I was 20 I had to dress in a boat costume, handing out flyers to advertise the local ferry.

“I’d bump into people who I was in school with in suits. They’d ask me what I was up to and I’d say ‘Oh I’m an actor, er, pretending to be a boat.’

“That was pretty embarrassing.”

Oscar-winning screenwriter and film and music director, Michel Gondry directs an episode of the new series — Unnatural Love — where Jemaine accidentally sleeps with an Australian.

He says: “We met Michel as we have a mutual costume designer! And our show is really low budget for an American TV show and Michel fits well into budget as he has low-tech ideas.” Bret says: “We met him when we were filming last year and he liked the show. He said he was interested and we liked his stuff, so it was a perfect match.

“We’ve even watched his music videos for inspiration, so it was a real treat. His mind is so creative.”

After working hard on the second TV series, Bret and Jemaine were keen to get back on the road.

Bret explains: “Playing live is like a break for us. We love it. With the live shows you can quickly test out new ideas.

“It’s not scripted and there’s no set list and so we throw in a few surprises to see if it works.”

Guessing

Jemaine adds: “When you write a script, everything gets analysed and we’re kind of guessing if people will like it. But in the live show we just say what we’re thinking and it always seems to work out fine.

“And we only work two hours a day whereas doing TV, it’s like 14 hours a day. Sometimes we fall asleep backstage and we have to be woken up two minutes before we’re due to shoot.”

Though straight-faced throughout the show, even at parts which have the crowd falling off their seats, they admit to moments in filming where they lose it. Bret laughs: “I don’t crack up too much, Jemaine cracks up a lot. I get into a zone.”

Says Jemaine: “If you know where to look, you can see us cracking a smile — usually something to do with Mel or Murray. Rhys makes us laugh the most because he comes up with a lot of surprises.

“He, Kristen and Arj (Barker, who plays their pal Dave) will come and revitalise us when we’re tired from filming.” After the show, SFTW joins Bret and Jemaine for drinks in their hotel bar, where more people seem to be gawping at the pair than Britney Spears, also in the bar.

I ask Bret how important is it to stay fresh and not be overexposed?

“We’ve always made sure that we don’t do this too much,” he says.

“I think we will probably do some film development stuff — separately.

“It’s good to work apart, as it is together, just to freshen up and get some new ideas.”

So what about Flight Of The Conchords? Will there be another series?

“We never plan like that. We didn’t even plan a second one. We might consider doing one based in New Zealand but that’s just an idea.

“We’re pretty much performing the same show that we performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002 to 50 people. Now it’s 5,000 people.

“We never expected this and we want to make sure we don’t run out of steam.”

The new series of Flight Of The Conchords, which began this week, continues on BBC4 on Tuesday at 10.30pm. Album follows in summer.


Source
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby songbird » Thu May 14, 2009 10:53 pm

Great article!

“Yesterday I was in a restaurant and had a guy shouting ‘BRET, BRET, BRET’ and then he came over and said in a disappointed tone ‘Oh, it’s you, Jemaine’.

Aww, oh Jemaine. Don't worry, we still love you :D
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby prettyrobyngirl » Thu May 14, 2009 11:38 pm

Thanks Venus SO MUCH for typing this up... Good article.
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby LauraK » Thu May 14, 2009 11:51 pm

Says Jemaine: “If you know where to look, you can see us cracking a smile — usually something to do with Mel or Murray. Rhys makes us laugh the most because he comes up with a lot of surprises.


We might consider doing one based in New Zealand but that’s just an idea.


That's the only continuation of the show I'd like to see as it would make sense with the finale...
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby Corrine » Fri May 15, 2009 4:07 am

That would be interesting to have a continuation in New Zealand. Actually, if wanted to be realistic about it, they would have to have a continuation of the story in New Zealand (or some other country). Since the characters of Bret and Jemaine in the series were out of U.S. immigration status for more than one year (non-visa entry from New Zealand only allows for a three month legal stay with no extensions), that means that they would be barred from lawful re-entry to the U.S. for 10 years. In order to come back within 10 years, the characters would have have to sneak through the border in either Mexico or Canada. Although that could be a funny episode... :yawinkle:
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby LauraK » Fri May 15, 2009 4:14 am

D'oh! I meant to add under the first quote that we do that now.....look for the beginnings of a smile and it's a riot! It happens a LOT! :D

Corrine- seeing the Conchords trying to make it in Mexico would be a hoot!
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby kellysouthpaw » Fri May 15, 2009 4:18 am

Possible S3 plot exposed! :shock:

:lol: just kidding, but this is an idea I had, and it might not make sense to those who haven't seen the full s2 yet...

I said it back in one of the other threads, but I had a vision one night of Bret carrying Little Red and his guitar (this was before Little Red...passed on *sniff*), and Jemaine with his guitar case on his back, running with a large group of Mexicans trying to make it across the border. And of course the two of them have made "awkward friends" with some of the Mexicans and whatnot... :lol: quite a funny vision...then of course there could be Murray with a huge sombrero on...because sombrero's are always funny! Then when they got back in the US they could hitchhike across the country to try to get back to NYC, meeting some very interesting and funny characters along the way who give them rides and whatnot...

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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby NorthernSoul » Fri May 15, 2009 4:28 am

That's a great article! Thanks for sharing, Venus!

I agree that it would be interesting to see a season in New Zealand. I remember reading that their early ideas were of the band either being famous or trying to make it in New Zealand; maybe this idea can come to pass. Either way, I'd be interested to see any of their future projects :D

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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby songbird » Fri May 15, 2009 4:29 am

kellysouthpaw wrote:then of course there could be Murray with a huge sombrero on...


Just the thought of Murray in a sombrero is enough to get me laughing extra hard... :roll2:
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby ravenhpltc24 » Fri May 15, 2009 4:30 am

Great article! Jemaine really does crack up a lot in the show, but that's half the joy of re-watching the episodes so many times! Can't wait for the gag reel.

A season of the show in New Zealand might be pretty cool. There are SO many shows that take place in New York (far too many, if you ask me), but an American HBO show starring an all-New Zealand cast would be groundbreaking. But I have no issues with the guys taking a break from the TV series for a bit, if not indefinitely. They should write some fresh new songs and come back with a bang. (Although I personally would love to see the border-hopping episode, the security guys would be so confused!!)
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby vmh » Fri May 15, 2009 4:42 am

Love, love, love the idea of them in Mexico. And Rhys wearing a sombrero! Maybe Dave could act as their coyote and help smuggle them across the border. I'm cracking up already!
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James Bobin: “It’s like a five-year-old and a three-year-old. Jemaine’s the five-year-old, and Bret’s the three-year-old. They’re both wrong, but the five-year-old thinks he’s right.”

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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby Corrine » Fri May 15, 2009 5:41 am

Yes, Dave would make a great coyote. I suppose Murray wouldn't have to be smuggled in since he probably wasn't out of status working for the consulate all that time, but I'm sure he'd be there complete with his sombrero to make sure his band got back in. Love the sombrero idea!
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby Venus » Fri May 15, 2009 7:24 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article guys :D
Haha! Loving the idea of Murray in a sombrero :roll2:
If they were to do a third series I'd love at least one episode to be in New Zealand.
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby SheWolf » Fri May 15, 2009 7:29 pm

vmh wrote:Love, love, love the idea of them in Mexico. And Rhys wearing a sombrero! Maybe Dave could act as their coyote and help smuggle them across the border. I'm cracking up already!
I LOVE this idea. I remember someone mentioning it after the finale and it really brightened my day after watching what seemed like a very final finale. This type of show could go anywhere B&J's vast imaginations take them therefore anything is possible..
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Re: The Sun Interview

Postby SheWolf » Fri May 15, 2009 7:35 pm

Venus wrote:“And we only work two hours a day whereas doing TV, it’s like 14 hours a day. Sometimes we fall asleep backstage and we have to be woken up two minutes before we’re due to shoot.”
I'm sure that's the royal we, Jem's most likely the one falling asleep no? And I love the other comment coz many people often go on and on about how tired they must be on the road etc and I'm always :puzzled: coz I mean, come on, they are working less hours in a day than most of us. Only if they do 2 shows in one night and a meet and greet are they actually putting in something close to an 8 hr day.
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