'Weird Al' Yankovic Chats About Justin Bieber, Lynwood and Career Longevity, at Gallery 1988
Photos by Alley Curran & Cody Smith, courtesy Gallery 1988
The line stretched out the door and onto the balmy L.A. streets on Friday at Gallery 1988: Melrose, one of the two spaces set up by Jensen Karp to showcase pop culture-inspired art. Fans waited patiently for a chance to look at and buy work from "Is This Thing On? 2, The Weird Year," with artists creating works referencing alt-comedy heroes both past and present. A velvet painting of Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a triptych of iconic Christopher Guest roles, or Darin Shock's insanely want-able 5 color Mr. Show screenprint -- it was a comedy nerd's delight.
In one corner, tirelessly pressing the flesh with an endless receiving line of adoring fans, was the host of the evening, "Weird Al" Yankovic. We slipped in for a few minutes' chat, shortly after former Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz had lined up next to Yankovic for his own fan-boy portrait.
You're coming up on the the 30th anniversary of your first album. How does that feel?
It doesn't feel that long. You look back at the body of work, I guess it's a lot of stuff. You look back at the number of years, I guess the math works out, but it doesn't feel like 30 years.
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1983 was your first album -- who else is left from that class? It's like you, Madonna--
Dexy and the Midnight Runners somewhere in there.
That's always been the irony of my career. It was really hard for me to sign a record deal because every record company said, "Oh, you're a novelty, you're not gonna last six months from now. We want to develop acts that will last a while." And of course, 30 years later, you know.
Last man standing.
You're a 17-year-old kid now in 2012. What's the route to becoming the next parody pop star?
It's YouTube. It's how Justin Bieber got started, it's how a lot of talent got started. It's the great leveling field. You don't need the recommendation or the OK of some executive in some big glass tower somewhere. You can just upload your stuff to YouTube. And people will find out about it -- I mean, videos go viral for a reason. If you're talented and you put yourself out there, there's a really good chance that will people will take notice.
In 1998 you did a big makeover with your look, ditching the mustache and glasses for the long hair. Is there a another big change coming?
You know, I never want to guarantee anything. Every 20 or 30 years I like to switch things up. So there could be something around the corner, you never know.
So about 2018, be on the lookout?
Yeah, that's probably when all my hair will fall out. So stand by for that one.
You grew up in Lynwood?
How's that changed since you grew up there?
I haven't been around enough to give a really informed answer to that. I grew up there about 30 years ago. It feels like it's actually gotten better since I went to high school there. When I was there, it was starting to become kind of a tough neighborhood. A lot of the windows were either broken out or had the bars. It was a little sketchy. But it really feels like people are taking pride in the city now. When I was there for the Christmas parade, it felt like a homecoming. It felt like a really nice place to be.
You actually named one of your albums after Lynwood [2006's Straight Outta Lynwood].
They were really flattered by it. That's probably the only reason they invited me back for the Christmas parade.
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