EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Owl Mag Chats With David Cross, Chris Hardwick + Metallica’s Lars Ulrich About Outside Lands

August 06. 2012 | By Hillary Smith

In a conference call with this Owl and others, David Cross, Chris Hardwick, and Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich shed some light on what they’re thinking pre-Outside Lands, what performances they’re excited for, and how they’re planning on tackling this crazy, animated, chaotic three-day adventure.

Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick of Nerd Podcast:

Q: You mentioned that you find [a day show] a different tone than when you do a show at night?

A: Well, it’s just comedy is typically sort of vamperic in nature right? It works well at night, but with these festivals there’s just something about the vibe that puts people in the right frame of mind. A festival like Outside Lands is literally only one of a handful of exceptions that I can think of where you can get away with doing comedy when it’s light outside.

Q: So (Chris), you know, there’s going to be families and stuff there. Are you going to tone it down or are you going to put it all out there?

A: Well, I mean I think it’s just sort of taking the read of the audience, and if it seems like eh, there’s a bunch of kids here, then of course I’ll tone it down.

Q: Just wondering what you’re going to be doing with the performances, you know, via the Internet?

A: Oh yes we’re sending crews up from a Nerdist channel to cover the shows and hopefully our Nerdist news team [will] be able to talk to bands and just create some content around the festival. I think Outside Lands is such a phenomenal festival and I think the majority of people are probably a little more familiar with Bonnaroo than they are Outside Lands. I mean the lineup is so amazing this year that I think for us, we just love sharing stuff that we find with people.

Q: Do you think any of your more celebrated Nerdist folks will drop in?

A: Neil Patrick Harris will be there. You know, we have people like Pete Holmes who do a really popular Podcast on our network.

Q: Who are you going to see, band-wise?

A: Well, I think I’m going to try to come on Friday. My friend Reggie Watts is performing on Friday, Andrew Bird is performing on Friday. I mean Foo Fighters is back. Then on Saturday I’m just going to be running back and forth. But I’m also looking forward to Father John Misty and Sigur Ros and Dr. Dog, I’m a big fan of Dr. Dog. And then if I stick around till Sunday, I mean, Stevie Wonder, come on. Electric Guest I also like a lot too.

Q: The Podcast being such a new medium still, have you found that it gives comedy fans a deeper understanding of the comic process and the personalities?

A: Well, the job of a stand-up comic is to get their voice into the world as much as possible so that people will be able to make the decision whether or not to come see them live. There’s really not a lot of stand-up on television anymore when you think about it. Comedy Central is really getting, they’re doing a big push, starting last year, of putting more stand-up back on television, but there really is not, you know, the late night talk shows, there’s just not a lot of stand-up on television anymore. And so for the comic, the idea, the challenge becomes how do you get your voice into the world as a comedian? And so Podcasting, which was sort of a reaction to a lot of comics just needing a form of expression to get their voice into the world, ended up becoming the thing that people connected with the most. I think with Podcasting we talk for so long and so much that it really is sort of the truest expression of who we are. It’s been probably the most significant thing to happen to stand-up comedy since like Carson started putting stand-ups on television. I really think it has completely changed the game for so many of us just in terms of growing our audiences because of people who listen to the Podcast.

David Cross

David Cross, stand-up comedian and actor in sitcom Arrested Development:

Q: How does it feel to be one of the few, you know, more comedic acts performing at Outside Lands?

A: By “more comedic” you mean comedic…

Q: Yes, exactly.

A: Yes. I’m definitely I’m funnier than Norah Jones, but I’m not quite as funny as Skrillex. So I’m somewhere in between the two. You know, I’m looking forward to it. And it’s a really solid comedy lineup and San Francisco has always been a good place to do stand-up. And I’ve worked with these guys before and at Bonnaroo and that was a real pleasure that was really extremely well-run. And so I’m looking forward to the whole thing.

Q: You mentioned that there’s a pretty solid comedy lineup and I agree with you, I was looking at it. Which ones are you going to hopefully stick around and see?

A: Well I’ll definitely stick around for there are a couple of people I’m not familiar with, so I definitely want to check them out. But man I mean this set is solid. Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal are always good no matter what they do. I think it’s a really strong lineup and I haven’t seen Jackie in fuckin’ 12 years. Yes it’s just a great lineup.

Q: Do you ever get nervous looking at the rest of the lineups for this one or any other festivals or gigs?

A: I wouldn’t say nervous, but I don’t want to be too loose. I’m almost always loose and I enjoy it, and the audience seems to enjoy it, but I really want to make sure I get to everything I want to get to and have it pretty solid.

Q: Are you excited to meet Skrillex?

A: Well, he’s asked me to do a set with him, jump on stage, and I usually tour with him in case one of his iPods breaks and then …I’m just there at the side and I will run up, I’ve done this a couple times, they did it in Dusseldorf and I did it also in Anchorage at a gig he played there. I jump on stage and start going (Skrillex noises with mouth). And three times I’ve had to run on stage because one of his iPods froze up and so I had to come on and go (makes Skrillex noises) and that’s what I do…yes I help them make sweet, wonderful music in case, like if a USB port is fucked up or something.

Q: Metallica is playing this weekend, so I’m wondering if we’re going to see any, you know, reprieve of Titanica?

A: Well, that would be kind of sad if it was just me dressed up walking around like cravenly looking for attention. And then just going “Hey, remember this from 18 years ago?” Or whatever the fuck it was, however many years ago it was. So no, I probably won’t be doing that. Plus, you know, I’ve gained a little weight, started losing my hair, so it probably wouldn’t look that good. Great question.


Lars Ulrich of Metallica:

Q: What made you sign up for Outside Lands? What was the attraction?

A: We’re very proud of our relation and our history with San Francisco, but this year, obviously having gone to the festival last year, I took my kids through to see Muse and all, you know, Arctic Monkeys and the rest of the bands that were playing the year before that. As a Bay area resident and as a music fan going to see the Outside Lands’ Festival every year, is — it’s a huge thing for not only me, but for my family. So, getting a chance to play it and to sort of headline it or whatever, is obviously a huge thing for us. And you know, it was just a matter of time, I guess, maybe I can say that without being too sure of myself. But, you know, listen if I’m not going to play, I’m going to go, so either way I’m going to be involved in it somehow and I’m going to take my kids and it will probably be the concert highlight of their year.

Q: For your film, do you have all your “The Song Remains The Same” fantasy sequences all lined up?

A: I’ve got my horse and my sword and my battle armor. Yeah, we’ve had…not quite that, but certainly there are stranger references than “The Song Remains The Same.” I certainly don’t mean to be disrespectful in that way. It’s a narrative and the rest of the stuff that goes on outside of the concert, is not going to feature members of Metallica in voices. It does not feature members of Metallica in any way, shape, or form.

Q: This is a first for you too isn’t it, playing in Golden Gate Park?

A: A chance to do anything in the hometown and in our back yard is an opportunity that we always jump on. And we were actually going to do — I can tell you, that we rearranged the whole summer schedule just for this, because we were going to do a whole movie in July and so we did our European Festivals in May and June and then we were going to shoot our film in July and then we were going to take August off and hang out with our kids.

Q: Thousands and thousands of your fans are very, very grateful for the fact that you rearranged your schedule. Are your kids going to start to rearrange your schedule in terms of what bands you see or are you?

A: We’re playing our last show on Thursday night and then we slide back in the middle of the night. And then Outside Lands starts the next afternoon, so it’s going to be a pretty crazy couple of days here. But, you know, we love that crazy whacky shit. And I’m pretty sure that my kids are going to tell me what bands I’m going to end up seeing and when I’m going to see them and where.

Q: You know, Orion was your festival. You guys played some four albums and it was really centered around you guys, and people that were friends of yours within relatively similar music. So, with that in mind, how do you approach something like Outside Lands where there’s so many different types of music, so many different types of fans you know, how do you approach it with the mentality that is going to draw other people in that are unlikely fans or maybe new fans vs. a festival that’s totally yours?

A: I, a lot of times, you know, write the set list 30 minutes before we go on stage, but obviously with these types of situations, when you’re playing to 50- 75,000 people it becomes a mixture. Obviously there are some songs that you should play in those types of settings, so you try to put a few of those. I hate to use the word hits, but what you know, two of those songs, and then there are some songs that work great in live situations. I think that we’re always at our best when we’re just in the moment.

Q: It seemed like backstage at festivals like these with bigger more established groups, like Metallica, and sort of smaller bands all kind of in their same general area…I was wondering if you relish the experience to give advice or intermingle with a lot of younger bands?

A: I’ll tell you. I give as little advice as possible, man. We always try to go and kind of hang out, but we definitely had the days of hiding behind the big walls and we may have been guilty of doing some of that stuff in the ‘90s, but we really try to put ourselves out there because it’s more fun for us and it’s great to meet other people and immerse yourself in some of that energy that’s out there. If somebody asks me, I’ll try to just answer their sincere questions, but we don’t walk around like some sort of elder statesmen. I’m 48 going on 16, but, I have a tendency, I mean, when I’m around Jack White or when I’m around Dave Grohl or when I’m around people like Neil Young or whatever, I’m like a fucking kid in the candy store myself. When I went down last year to see, you know, Muse and The Arctic Monkeys and Black Keys and whatever else, I mean, these are great experiences for me too.

Check out our Outside Lands Countdown HERE.

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