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 Sewing Machines on WHFR, Wednesday, August 8, 9PM 

An interview with: Dave Hill

Dave Hill is a man of many talents. Maybe you've seen one of his comedy performances or maybe you've seen his band, Valley Lodge. His talents are so many that I find him somewhat intimidating. Not in a bad way, mind you, but I should've interviewed him for The End of Irony a long time ago; I just couldn't seem to build up the courage. The other week I finally managed to get in touch with the multi-faceted entertainer and got him to spill information about music, his popularity in Japan, and his recent trip to prison.

Each week, I usually interview a musician or band for this feature, but you're a Renaissance Man, at least in terms of the entertainment field--you're a writer, comedian, and musician. So before I get branded a sellout or something, could you give a brief rundown about how exactly how kickass your band, Valley Lodge, is?

If you like stuff like Cheap Trick, the Raspberries, Thin Lizzy, Big Star, Slade, T. Rex, and the Kinks and stuff, you might find us to be seriously kickass. Also, there is lots of shredding going on, at least for indie rock anyway. If you’re not into that sort of stuff though, you might not dig it. That is my sort of matter-of-fact answer. The reality though is that we’re one of the best bands of all-time and chicks totally want to bang us. It’s actually kind of ridiculous.

Is it also true that you were a member of Sons of Elvis? Or is that just some weird Wikipedia Internet rumor?
It’s true. That was my first band. Have you actually heard of us? I formed that band with my best friends when we were teenagers. We signed with Priority Records back in the ‘90s. We were excited to be on the same label as Ice Cube because it made us feel street. We put out one album, had a song on the radio, a video on MTV late at night, and just generally had a really fun time rocking and whatnot until it all came to a screeching halt. Rock-n-roll can be a cruel mistress sometimes. I never even got to meet Ice Cube. I got a bunch of free Ice Cube T-shirts and CDs and stuff though. It was pretty exciting at the time. I still wish we had come up with a better band name though. I listened back to our album recently though and I’m proud of it. There’s some cool songs and riffs and- not unlike Valley Lodge- there is some good shredding. Plus, I did it with my best friends. Awwwwwww.

So how did you get into comedy?
I was (and still am), a writer. I got started in journalism and at the same time I kept playing in bands. From being in a bands, I was comfortable being on stage and I liked writing funny stuff (or at least trying to anyway), so it just sort of happened as a result of those two things sort of colliding. About five years ago I started playing around with making videos and doing little bits on friends’ comedy shows around town and then it just sort of grew from there. I never planned on being a performer in that way, though. I was never in plays or did improv or anything like that. It just sort of happened by being in New York and having fun and stuff, just showing up and seeing what happens. I recommend it.

And how did you get involved with the Upright Citizen's Brigade? I know you do shows up there all the time?
I got asked to showcase for the Aspen comedy festival in 2005 and they booked my showcase at UCB. That was the first time I performed there. The show went well and they invited me to keep on doing it there. Since then, I’ve done other shows there in addition to my Dave Hill Explosion show. UCB is great. Everyone is super nice. I would encourage anyone who wants to get into comedy to get involved there. And if you like to see comedy, there’s great shows there every night. Plus, beers are cheap, so it doubles as a good bar if you want to look at it that way (though that would be strange).

I read somewhere that you're actually quite big in Japan...or at least that's what I think it says. What's it like when you're over there? Have you ever considered moving there just to be able to constantly bask in the fame?
I am a big celebrity in Japan, it’s true. I love Japan and hope to go back again soon. That country kicks ass in so many ways I can’t even get into it right now. You can get a hot can of coffee from a vending machine on almost every corner. That might not seem that amazing, but when that scalding hot can of coffee comes out of the machine, it blows my mind every time.

If I could speak Japanese and not be completely confused much of the time while I am there, I would consider moving there at least for a little while. But I like to stay close to Cleveland, my hometown, so I don’t want to stray too far.

If you could pick any performer (living or dead) to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough question because most of the people I admire a lot I am also severely intimidated by. But on the comedy side of things, I would love to do something with Chris Elliott or Paul Reubens. They both make me laugh endlessly and always have. And- like every comedy person I know probably- I would give a major organ to be in a Christopher Guest movie, ideally in a really long scene with Fred Willard, who is a total god in my book. I met him once and just stood there saying stupid things until it was time to go. Oh, and I would like to be in a Woody Allen movie too. I hope he reads this and calls or something. Maybe he has himself on Google alerts and it will show up.

Musically, if Led Zeppelin needed a second guitarist in 1976, that would be pretty cool but I don’t think I could handle it mentally. Maybe I could join Thin Lizzy in the ‘70s instead. They went through a lot of guitar players and I could probably hold my own at least for a little bit. As long as dead people are involved, maybe it would be cool to invent something with Ben Franklin. It would be worth it for the outfits alone.

This isn't really a question, but I would like to say that I'm totally jealous of your purple suit.
Thank you. And you should be. It’s pretty awesome. I bought it on sale in SoHo. I was on the fence about it at the time, but it’s pretty much paid for itself in awesomeness at this point. If I’m having a bad day, I just put it on and things get electric again.

Is there anything else you'd like to mention, plug, or say?
Well, my television show The King of Miami that once aired and was ultimately canceled from the now-defunct HD cable network the MOJO Channel is now airing in the UK on Film24, Sky channel 157. I’m excited about that because I love the UK and I’m thinking having my TV show on there might get me free beers or have British chicks want to make out with me or something. Or maybe it will just lead to me getting pelted with things when I’m over there. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Also, and this isn’t really a plug or anything, but I recently performed my Dave Hill Explosion show at Sing Sing prison. It was me in front of 300 maximum security violent felons. It was the scariest and most awesome thing I’ve ever done. I know it’s a cliche, but prison changes you. I haven’t been the same since. If you ever get a chance to go to prison in that sort of context, I highly recommend it. And make sure it’s maximum security. If it’s some medium or minimum security bullshit, it doesn’t count. Those guys are pussies.

Also, the new Valley Lodge album, Semester at Sea, is out now. Go buy that and the first one. If you don’t like them, you can kick me in the nuts.

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