Move over Coco and Krusty, there’s a new clown in town and he goes by the name of Puddles! A clown with a 21st century twist, Puddles fronts Puddles Pity Party, a band renowned for their theatrical yet soulful renditions of well known classics. Puddles currently stars in the international hit cabaret show, La Soirée, which makes a welcome return to the UK! Ahead of the show, I was able to speak to Puddles about being one of the new acts on the show, touring with Tenacious D and being a Youtube sensation!
Hi Puddles! You’ll be starring in the hit cabaret show, La Soirée at the La Soirée Spiegeltent (Southbank) from Wed 5th November, How are you feeling ahead of the first show?
At first I was nervous. I’ve never been to London before. Cars drive on the other side of the road, which can be dangerous for uninitiated pedestrians like me. And I heard that there is a really big gap somewhere that I better watch out for. But now that I’ve been here for a few days, I’m getting used to the environment and relieved that I’ve so far avoided any traffic incidents.
As one of the new acts in this year’s La Soirée cast, how have you found working with the returning cast? Could you describe the rehearsal process for the show?
The La Soiree cast and crew are tremendously talented and very brave to perform such daring acts so barely dressed. Rehearsal week was productive, with lots of collaboration between the performers. Our director, Brett Haylock, makes the atmosphere fun while somehow staying on task. His enthusiasm is refreshing, and the cast is so welcoming. I’m going to be very sad when the run is over and I have to leave. Sadder than I already am.
Your career as a singing clown has spanned almost 20 years, having fronted the all-clown band Greasepaint who enjoyed modest success in the early 00’s as support act on the Tenacious D tour. However it’s your solo project, Puddles Pity Party, that has received so much attention these days. What inspires Puddles to keep going?
I think travel has been the key to keeping me going. The past few years has had me on the road a lot with the EELS Tour and an on-going residency at NYC’s Sleep No More, as well as multiple engagements with Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle. All the travel and varied collaboration has kept me inspired and caused a certain creative momentum to take hold. Also for me, performing is a form of therapy and more affordable than seeing a psychiatrist! I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t have a stage to cry on.
Your rendition of Lorde’s 2013 hit single Royals has proved to be very popular, having received over 8 million hits, how does that make you feel as an artist?
Scott Bradlee is a buddy of mine. He came up with a great arrangement for the Royals track, and we had such a good time shooting the video in his apartment for his Postmodern Jukebox series. I had no idea it would be as popular as it is. I get letters from folks all over the globe saying how much the video has touched them. Folks reaching out to say that they’re touched is, well, very touching. Overwhelming even.
How important have you found social media sites such as Youtube career-wise?
Social media is huge. Without Youtube and Facebook and the rest, I would not be afforded so many of the performance opportunities I have today. Sure, I could still be creating music and performing my live show without social media (as I have been for years prior). But I wouldn’t be able to reach nearly as many people. It serves as a direct connection between me and all the Pity Partiers. So many doors have opened for me performance-wise and friendship-wise, thanks to social media. It makes a lonely guy feel not so alone.
You’ve performed on well-known TV networks such as FOX, ABC, NBC and PBS to name a few. What was your favourite TV show to work on?
I had a blast during my recent performance on WGN where The Bozo Show was born back in the 1960’s. The Bozo Show was the longest running children’s program in the history of American television. It featured cartoons and sketch comedy and a 12-piece orchestra and games and its host, Bozo the Clown, was a household name. The crew at WGN let me use Bozo’s dressing room and gave me a tour of the old studio where they filmed all those episodes in front of a live audience way back in the 60’s. The buckets and ping pong balls from the Grand Prize Game were still there. It was magical!
You are not only a performer, but you work behind the scenes as well, having written music for Cartoon Network and Adult swim. How have you found writing for well-known television networks? What are the challenges to working in TV?
Cartoon Network and Adult Swim are creative networks run by creative people and it’s always a pleasure when they ask me (or my associate Mike Geier) to provide some music for their projects. Usually they’ll have a certain theme or a song style in mind when they approach me, and that helps facilitate the writing process. The lead-time is usually one or two weeks to write, record and master the track. So a quick turn-around is really the only challenge, especially if I’m on the road and nowhere near a recording studio. But it’s a fun challenge that I’ll always make time for. It’s amazing what you can record by yourself using just your laptop.
For aspiring musicians and songwriters, what advice would you give them?
I would advise any musician, writer, or performer to nurture your creativity at all costs. Study your idols, but carve your own path. You must get out there and keep doing it. And don’t be afraid to express yourself. It’s ok to cry. You gotta let it out. Your tears. Your joy. Your creativity. This advice is not just for professional and aspiring artists, but for all humans. Let it out, or it’ll eat you up.
Interview by Lucy Basaba.
Puddles is currently starring in La Soirée on the Southbank. For the Theatrefullstop review of the show, visit here…
For more information on the production, visit here…