(Edit - Andrew's DVD Secret Dancing is now available at Go Faster Stripe so go buy it Richard Herring Claims and in a no way tongue in cheek way that it "might be the greatest comedy DVD of all time")
Today i have a very special interview with the one and only Andrew Collins , lets not waste anytime lets get straight to it
Ross - You now have a very well respected job as the Radio Times film editor , but how did you make your start in journalism ?
Andrew - Via the back door, or tradesmen's entrance. I did a degree in graphic design and illustration, and a year out of college, I had grown bored with commercial art, and started my own fanzine. I wrote most of it myself, and laid it out - years before desktop publishing, this was all photocopying and cutting stuff out - and sent a copy to my beloved NME to see if they would mention it. This was 1988. New features editor James Brown liked the fanzine and asked me to come in. I did. It was the most exciting moment of my life, as the NME had really been my bible since the end of the 70s. James promised to put a few bits of writing my way. In the meantime, the paper was looking for a part-time design assistant, so I applied for that, and got the job. This was my way into the NME office, from whence I pestered every section editor until they caved in and let me write some reviews, and then features, and eventually I left the design job and took over the gossip column. Then I applied for my first staff job, features editor, in about 1990, and got it. All of a sudden, I was a journalist. Without any training. Each office job then basically led to another, for the best part of ten years.
Ross - Do you get any kind of extra perks being a member of the Radio Times staff ?
Andrew - Not really. I get a copy of the Film Guide, which is published once a year, but then I also contribute to it. There are advance tapes of TV shows knocking about the office, but I'm not that bothered about watching things before they're aired. Sky Movies were kind enough to send me The Pacific on disc, as I didn't have Sky Movies. So that was a nice perk, I guess. Working for the magazine is enough of a perk. If you'd told me as a kid, in a household that got the Radio Times and TV Times without fail, that I would one day have my name and photo in it, I wouldn't have believed you. And nor would I have dreamed I could meet Barry Norman, who was one of my TV heroes in the early 80s, and even consider him a co-worker! When I first met Richard's parents, his father treated me like a celebrity because he'd seen my face in the Radio Times. It means a lot to a certain strata of people. It's very mainstream.
Ross - Have you ever had to review any films that you really didn't want to watch , and of these films were you surprised by the film once you had actually seen it ?
Andrew - Over the years, whether as a journalist, or as a critic, or as the presenter of Radio 4's weekly film programme Back Row, or as the Radio Times' film editor, I've been to a lot of preview screenings. I am disappointed by most modern films, certainly the Hollywood ones. If anything thrills me, I am over the moon. I expect very little. So, yes, I've seen hundreds of films that I didn't particularly love, but there are always surprises. And I find that on the whole, the foreign language films that earn a release here are far and away more interesting. You know, I didn't expect to dislike Inception, and I went in there with high hopes, but it let me down. I have to adjust my expectations, as you are prone to crashing disappointment if you get too excited beforehand.
Ross - This is a obvious question but what is your favorite film ?
Andrew - The Poseidon Adventure. It's not the greatest film ever made, that's Apocalypse Now, or The Godfather, but it's my favourite. I saw it at an impressionable age, ten, and it scared the life out of me. I can see its technical shortcomings - it was after all made in 1972 - but I still love every minute of it. If I ever get on Mastermind, 1970s disaster movies will be my specialist subject. I was lucky enough, while working on Back Row, to meet Ernest Borgnine, one of the stars, and speak down the line to Ronald Neame, its director. He passed away this year, so having spoken to him is even more precious
Ross - With regards to the Collings and Herrin podcast it started off with the general premise of going through the newspapers and finding entertaining stories to discuss in recent months you seem to have moved away from that format instead going with the (in my opinion) more enjoyable format of just chatting and telling stories with occasional references to the newspapers , are you happy with the way the podcast is developing ?
Andrew - I'm happy because we never sought to develop it. It develops itself. I love the organic nature of it. It's artificial, to make yourselves sit and talk into a machine for an hour every week, but beyond that, it's entirely natural. The newspapers are just there as a prop, or a prompt. Some weeks we rarely touch on the news. The relationship has grown in public. Or at least, the partly fictional relationship, which is rooted in reality. In real life, Richard isn't as horrible to me as he is on the podcast, and in real life, I wouldn't let him be. But it's fun to be called an idiot, as long as you don't start to believe it. Every week now, Richard says he wants to end it. But look how long he's been writing his daily blog! Once he's locked into something, he won't give it up lightly. And anyway, I do all the running. I have to get to his house every week. He doesn't even have to get dressed.
Ross - Aside form buying the newspapers do the two of you do any other sort of prep for the show before you hit record ?
Andrew - None. It would kill it. Other improvised podcasts are out there, and many have started since we started ours, but few are as genuinely unedited and unplanned as ours. That's its selling point, even though you don't have to buy it.
Ross - What are the differences from doing the podcast live as compared to doing it in Richards attic ?
Andrew - With an audience, you feed off the laughter, or the response, which you don't get in the attic. This can be good - Richard is particularly lively with an audience, and some of his exchanges with the front row have been golden - but it also turns it into a performance. We may be sitting down, and talking into a laptop, and rustling papers, but you have to raise your game a bit, as there are sometimes hundreds of people sitting staring at you. They have paid; they deserve a show of some sort. They must be weird to listen to at home. We still don't prepare though, and have no idea what we're going to say. That's pretty rare in live comedy. To do that every day for ten days, as we did this year in Edinburgh, was something of an achievement, despite the wavering quality, which is built in, I guess.
Ross - are you aware of the number of subscribers your podcasts get ?
Andrew - The last count Orange Mark at the British Comedy Guide conducted, based on downloads from his site, was around 29,000 a week, on average, but people go back and download older ones all the time, so that adds to the total. This is an astonishing figure. Why do they do it? I don't know. Our 6 Music podcast is downloaded around 59,000 times a month, which is not too shabby either. That rates pretty well among weekly BBC podcasts. We're not Chris Moyles, but it's a healthy audience to go to the bother of finding it and downloading it. We never did it for the numbers! Ratings are the curse of entertainment. If you compromise to grow your audience, you have betrayed yourself. I know this, as I spend my life compromising, whether it's nodding my head at the suggestions of a TV commissioning editor even though I know they're wrong, simply because I'm desperate for a commission, or taking on a writing job that your heart's not in, simply because you need the work. So at least with the podcast, which costs almost nothing to produce, and nothing to consume, the relationship between art and commerce is more balanced. We could try and get special guests stars on - we know enough famous names to do so, and once Stewart Lee threatened to turn up at a live podcast recording - but that wouldn't be in the spirit of the thing. It might get us noticed, but for the wrong reasons.
Ross - How did you feel when it was announced that BBC 6 music would be staying on the airwaves ?
Andrew - I was relieved. I'd dared to think it could happen, that the BBC Trust really could reverse the decision, because of the sheer noise of all the support, but until Lauren Laverne read out the press release that morning on 6 Music, it was too exquisite a prospect to count on. I love 6 Music. I was there on the very first day it went on air in 2002, and it's hard to shake something like that off, especially as they've recently taken me back on in a subs'-bench manner, and given Richard and I our own show ... a nice circle when you remember that it was having Rich as a guest on my then-regular weekend shows that sowed the seed of the eventual podcasts. If I had never been on 6 Music, I would still have believed passionately that it has a vital role to play in the BBC's music radio portfolio. But it's not often you see people power actually affecting change.
Ross - You've recently started a stand up career is that something you have wanted to do for a long time ?
Andrew - Well, it was Banter that started it. I'd been up to the Fringe in 1989 with a student theatre group, and had done plenty of performing onstage in that regard, but actually doing stand-up was another thing altogether. We couldn't afford a warm-up on Banter, so I was asked to go on first and get the audience in the mood. My first go at this was in Edinburgh, in 2005, where we recorded the pilot in front of a live audience. This was quite nerve-racking, but I got a few laughs, and it felt good. I proceeded to do the warm-up for all three series of Banter, admittedly before a very partisan, easy crowd, and the fact that professional stand-ups were always waiting in the wings, or behind a curtain, upped my game. One week, everything I'd come up with died, and the likes of Lee Mack and Rob Deering and Richard were waiting to come on. It was horrible. I realise I'm a comedian's worst nightmare: the emerging stand-up who hasn't paid his dues, or done the bear pit comedy nights, or touring his arse off, but that said, I am good friends with a lot of comedians, and actually, they've been very supportive. Even Richard. I haven't earned the right to do my own Edinburgh solo show in the usual way, but I have improved as I've done more podcast gigs with Richard, and I just wanted to have a crack at it. The Free Fringe allowed me to do that without the usual, built-in financial risks. It was emotionally draining, but I didn't really expect any sympathy for this, or my homesickness, from Richard or the other hardened comics I was flatsharing with, so I mostly kept my mouth shut.
Ross - After your first Edinburgh show was pretty well received , do you have plans to go back next year or maybe take Secret Dancing on tour ?
Andrew - I'd like to do Secret Dancing again, now that I've knocked it into shape at Edinburgh. I don't really fancy touring, though. I'm too old and too fond of my own bed for all that. I really admire Richard for his stamina and commitment, but he's building up his audience every time he tours, and it would be mad not to give them what they want. Also, he's at a stage where he can now actually make money from a tour. I'm not sure I could. Comedy is a young man's game. That said, I'd really like to have it filmed for a Go Faster Stripe DVD, and if that happens, I'll have to do it again, perhaps in Cardiff? And there are plans afoot to do the show again in Northampton, my home town. My guess is that Secret Dancing may reappear, sporadically, after Christmas, when I've done a bit of actual, paying work to make up for the indulgence of spending the best part of three weeks in Edinburgh. I am self employed; if I'm not working, I'm not earning, and if I'm not earning, I'm not eating.
Ross - How did your partnership with Richard Herring come about ?
Andrew - We met in 1993, when Stuart Maconie and I got our first Radio 1 series, and we took over from Lee & Herring in the old 9-10pm slot, before what was then Mark Radcliffe's evening show. I had already met and interviewed Stewart, and I was a fan of Lionel Nimrod on the radio, so I was quite excited to meet them both, outside Broadcasting House. Richard does not remember this, which rather suggests meeting two journalists from the NME was less exciting for him than it was for me to meet two comedians off of the radio. Anyway, I continued to be a fan of Richard's work - firstly, with Stew on the telly, then, as a solo performer. I have seen every single one of his Edinburgh shows since 2001, and until this year, I had paid for every ticket! When I got my first daily show on 6 Music in 2002 and we started Roundtable, the singles review show, a couple of years later, I pushed for Richard and Stewart to come on as guests. Richard and I had a fairly easy rapport, and even though he knows nothing about music, we had him back on regularly. So when I needed a regular guest on my weekend shows, he was my first choice. He was sort of between careers at the time, post-double act, pre-solo fame, and was happy to have a regular outlet. In lighter moments, I might suggest that he owes his career to me. This is presumably why he affects to not remember our first meeting!
Ross - And finally do you have anything you would like to plug at the moment ?
Andrew - I am on 6 Music, filling in for Lauren Laverne and then Steve Lamacq, until October 8, so tune in. More importantly, Richard and I have three podcast gigs coming up. The link for all the details is here
Before we get down to this interview id like to thank Richard for taking time out of his busy schedule of Podcasting and Gigging among other things to participate in this interview with me , Right lets get to it
Ross - As it occurs to me is a genuinely fresh idea for a podcast , how much stress does it cause you to write every week during its run ?
Richard - It is genuinely incredibly stressful, especially the night before. My madness and frustration is only very slightly exaggerated. On Sundays I am nearly always cursing myself for doing it, but usually by the time it's done the relief is so great that I want to do more. It's like childbirth in that sense. But is much more painful.
The AIOTM crew
Ross - How did you choose your fellow AIOTM cast members ?
Richard - I had worked with them all before. I met Emma at University and we did sketches together back then. I saw Dan Tetsell in Edinburgh doing a show with Danny Robins and asked them both to be in That Was Then This Is Now (along with Emma) and Christian was brought into that Radio 2 show to do the music. I loved the TWTTIN cast so when it came to doing AIOTM I wanted to bring them back together - but had felt there wasn't enough to do for two male actors and chose Dan over Danny, though there was nothing personal in that decision.
Ross - As most fans of yours should already be aware you do a daily blog , during a AIOTM run do you sometimes hold things back from the blog to include in the show ?
Richard - No not really. I feel that as I am producing so much free content that it is OK to repeat between platforms and then it is up to the consumer to decide if they want to consume some or all of it. Very occasionally I might save something up, if the blog is about something else from a day, but usually I will find the funny angle in the blog and then incorporate it and expand on it for the show. I might then take that thing and use it in my live work. I am happy to mix and match.
Ross - Do you find it difficult to keep up a daily blog ?
Richard - It's pretty easy now. There was a point when it was difficult and annoying, but I got over it. I think the key is to give yourself the permission to fail, or for a blog (or a podcast or bit of a podcast) not to be that good. Or not to fear that it might be. Usually I will come up with something with some merit in it, but if you're writing 365 blogs a year and doing an hour or so of podcasts a week, then it can't all be gold. Yet if you aren't scared to give things a spin then usually something good comes out of them. In the past I used to spend ages some times trying to think of something to blog about, now I quickly choose a subject and get on with it.
Ross - After reading 'How not to grow up' i was amazed at how open you are about certain things in your life , do you ever have any regrets about any of the things you put out there ?
Richard - No, being open is actually very liberating and I think honesty is the key to being a good comedian and a good human being. People (generally) respect the openness more, even if I am revealing something embarrassing. We are all flawed and it's a relief to read someone else admitting that, but it's also a relief to write it and for people to forgive you or empathise with you. I have found the things that I have been most scared of writing about are generally the most successful things. I still lie occasionally, but honesty is the best policy. And we are much more similar than we imagine.
Richards new book i highly recommend it .
Ross - I personally love the fact that you play smaller more intimate venues , how do you feel about it , would you like to play these big stadium shows like other comedians where you don't really have the same connection with your audience ?
Richard - I don't have much interest in playing massive venues, but nor generally do I have the choice in the matter. Generally a room of about 200-300 people is the ideal size for comedy, but I play smaller and bigger venues. Somewhere like the Hammersmith Apollo is a brilliant 2000 seater place that I would love to play in my own right one day and I have enjoyed the 500 and 600 seater places I have played on tour. There's a part of me that wants to try and master all kinds of comedy and all kinds of venue. But I don't really see why people would want to see comedy in a stadium when you're just watching a screen. Buy the DVD. Live comedy is such an amazing experience and it's a wonderful feeling when everyone in the room feels involved. So I will be more than happy to stay at the exact level I am at right now. Ross - What are Andrew Collins' true feelings towards tiny Andrew ?
Richard - I think he found it funny and disconcerting in equal measure. It was strange the way it steamrollered out of either of our controls. And it was more the introduction of characters that were supposedly from his family that he didn't like. But I think he sees that it is a very funny character, that bears little relationship to him. I think we've finally killed it off now anyway. I don't want to have to keep doing the same things every week until they outstay their welcome. It's strange when something takes off so completely like that did though.
Ross - The Collings and Herrin podcast is one i look forward to every week is it nice to have that kind of platform to be the Richard Herrin Character ?
Richard - It is fun to remove the internal censor and to say things that you shouldn't be allowed to say. As long as people get that it's a joke it's fine. But again it's liberating. It's fun to be allowed to be that horrible and rude and for people to actually like it and enjoy it when I rip into them. But sometimes I feel a bit sick afterwards, because sometimes Herrin pushes it further than I would really like. Or isn't funny enough to justify the nastiness. It's fascinating though and I kind of enjoy the failure and the times it creates a genuine tension. Because it's exciting as a performer to be testing the limits and experimenting. But I would hate to think that anyone was hurt or upset by the stupid things Herrin says. He is a twat. That is the secret of his success, I suppose.
Ross - Speaking of the Richard Herrin character is it really just a case of you turned up to 11 ?
Richard - I am much sweeter and more sensitive and a whole lot less perverted than any character I have portrayed in almost any comedy I've done. But I have my moments. It's the dark part of your psyche that thinks awful things and feels anger and jealousy and all that stuff. We correctly usually repress this side of ourselves, but I don't have the same hang ups as Herrin or AIOTM Herring and am a lot more content (generally) than he is. But then there is a tiny part of me......
Ross - Has Andrew repaid you the money for the CD he gave away yet ?
Richard - No, it keeps mounting up as well. Plus now we have to take compound interest into account.
Ross - In my eyes you appear to be one of the hardest working comedians out there , do you ever feel like taking a break from a lot of the side projects you do and just concentrating on one specific area ?
Richard - Maybe I should, but I like the variety. I think I need to take some time trying to do some writing for TV and get a sitcom or narrative comedy off the ground. Because that's the thing that I think I am best at and yet haven't had too much luck with actually getting on TV. So I might try and push into that in the autumn, but I have work lined up until May 2011 at which point I will be doing a new Edinburgh show I guess, so it's hard to fit it all in. And I worry about overdoing things and burning myself out. But although things are hectic it's all going well and the last few years prove that one is the master of your own destiny and you can get places by just getting on with it and working hard. As a comedian you can have this autonomy. And all the free stuff I do fuels the paid stuff and gets people coming to see my shows and buying my DVDs etc. It's a slog, but it's working, so I think I have to keep pushing onwards.
Ross - And Finally do you have any thing you would like to plug at the moment ?
Richard - My DVD Hitler Moustache is out on October 25th (if you buy from go faster stripe you can get an extra DVD with some excellent stuff on it) and my tour starts in December - richardherring.com/coab
Plus there are more live AIOTMs and Collings and Herring podcasts to look out for. Best just to keep an eye on richard herring if you're interested!
Once again id like to thank Richard for this interview its been my pleasure i hope you all enjoy it and please leave comments Cheers Ross
I'd like to start this post by thanking Dan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to take part in this interview with me it was a pleasure , Lets get straight down to business.
Ross - I first became aware of your work on the Oxm podcast where you co hosted the show with Ryan McCaffrey how easy is it to get in front of a mic and just do a show like that ?
Dan - For me, it's not hard -- I am actually more comfortable behind a mic
than I am in person. Part of this comes from having done radio, and
before that, live theater. You learn that you're in the moment, you
have to own it -- just commit to whatever you are going to say and
you'll be fine more often than not.
As for KOXM, Ryan and I have a good chemistry from our friendship.
We're on the same page, but often have different outlooks on the same
things, so that leads to great open discussions. There's also just the
right amount of friendly competition -- we want to make each other
laugh and we both agree with that "commit to the moment" thing.
Podcasting with him is effortless.
Ross - How much games journalism did you do before the Oxm days ?
Dan - I started out writing pro in 1993. I got serious about writing during
my senior year in college, and actually started in music -- I did
record reviews, I interviewed a few up and coming bands. I landed a
job at Country Guitar magazine -- I love guitar, not so much on
country, but I certainly came to appreciate it -- and started looking
for freelance work in gaming around the same time. I got good exposure
writing one-off articles for Wired and TimeOut NY, and was on staff at
Flux magazine and an AOL area called Critics Choice. Those really
helped establish me before I moved to California for a startup
magazine that didn't really start. I joined the staff of GamePro in
1997 and wrote under the name Dan Elektro for seven years. I
ultimately moved over to help launch GamesRadar in the US, then
shifted to OXM in 2006. My first big review was Gears of War, which I
gave a 10 -- only the second one in the history of the magazine. No
pressure, new guy.
Ross - After Oxm you made a short job change to the Official WOW Magazine before becoming the community manager at activision how difficult a decision was it to make those two pretty big job changes in a relatively short space of time ?
Dan - Very. I wasn't even sure I wanted to leave OXM; we had a nice balanced
staff and we all worked well together. But I also wanted to be able to
run my own show -- I'd never been Editor in Chief of anything, and the
WoW magazine was looking for someone who knew the game. I'd been
playing for four years at that point -- I actually started playing at
launch and didn't like it, then came back and saw all the upgrades and
started over. It just seemed to be the right opportunity at the right
And literally the week that I moved my desk, I got a call from
Activision saying, hey, we have this new position that we're creating,
and we want to see if it's something that would interest you. It was
loosely described as "our version of Major Nelson." I said, "You know
I just started a new job, right?" But I knew it was worth discussing
with them because it was such a great opportunity. The longer I worked
on that first WoW issue, the more I realized this was not a good fit
for me and wasn't something I would be comfortable doing long
term...and the Activision opportunity was getting more and more real.
It got to the point where the only downside was having to move to Los
Angeles, because I like Northern California and the SF Bay Area.
I have always prided myself on not jumping around in the industry -- I
like committing to things, like GamePro for seven years and OXM for
three. I didn't want to be one of those people that you'd see at an
industry event and say "Who are you with now?" So having three jobs in
the same 12 months was really quite uncomfortable to me, but you don't
get to pick your windows of opportunity. Mine just happened to open
next to each other.
Ross - Is your current role at activision something you saw yourself doing when
you started in the video game world ?
Dan - Not really. Well, for one, the kind of role I now inhabit certainly
didn't exist when I started reviewing games like Total Carnage for
SNES and Eternal Champions for Genesis. I mean, when I started, the
person who gamers connected with at the company that made the games
was a blue hedgehog. The fact that the industry has evolved to the
point where publishers and developers can interact on this kind of
direct level is really encouraging, and I'm glad to be on the front
lines. But it's also scary, because while Major Nelson has clearly set
the standard, I'm also making up my particular version as I go along
-- and it's an awfully big stage for that kind of improv.
Ross - As a avid listener to talk radar i recently downloaded the episode
containing the Dan Amrich Roast , aside from all the jokes the talk radar
guys showed genuine affection towards you , how does it feel to have
affected the lives of other games journalists ?
Dan - That was a very special show. I didn't expect it, and quite honestly,
I didn't think I DID have an effect on other people. I really have
always felt that I was only as good as my last article and ultimately
I'm not as important as the game I'm covering anyway -- I am a
conduit, I am easily replaced. So to find out that all those guys
really felt that way -- that they cared enough to articulate it, and
that they had these tangible ways...it was very surprising, and truly
moving. It was very humbling to find out that I had any impact at all,
let alone that much. It certainly made me a lot more conflicted about
Ross - For your One Of Swords podcast who long does it normally take to put the
show together record/edit and publish it ?
Dan - I try to produce it more or less in real time. The interview segment
is recorded separately from the co-host segments, but the raw
recordings are generally about two hours total -- that includes
equipment setup and connecting on Skype and general chatter. I try to
edit directly after the co-host segment is recorded, while it's still
fresh -- if there are things I need to bleep, I don't forget them.
That's about a half hour, tops. Then it's another 20 to 30 minutes to
export, tag up the MP3, and write the show description. After 30 shows
I have it down to a rhythm so I actually try not to waste any time, so
it rarely takes more than three hours a week. I'm trying to make it
even less by doing shorter shows, which in turn make it easier for new
listeners to jump in.
Ross - With a normal Palette-Swap Ninja song how long does it take for one of
them to come together from idea to release ?
Dan - It's generally a few months at the minimum; the shortest song we ever
turned around was one month, and that was to support Maximum PC's
100th podcast. Part of the reason it takes so long is that my musical
cohort Jude Kelley and I are both gainfully emplioyed and work on the
songs in our spare time. The other is that we don't want to rush the
comedy. We both really like the songs to be funny but also to tell a
story. Generally one of us will come up with a core joke -- for Viva
Pinata, it was the chorus; for Halo ((All I Play Oh)) it was the
simple rhyme of "Hey Oh" and "Halo." We rarely start with a song and
say "let's do a joke for that" -- it works much better the other way
around. What's the story to tell, what's the joke, and what song would
Generally we kick emails back and forth. When the lyrics are there or
mostly there, then the serious work begins with learning parts and
programming drums -- Jude does that all in MIDI because he's the MIDI
master. Meanwhile I'm off learning guitar and bass parts. We build off
the drums and swap a Logic Express file back and forth in FTP until
it's all there. Sometimes that can take several weeks depending on how
complicated the song is and what else is going on in our lives. Jude
is a teacher so his summers are a little less busy, but my January to
March is a little easier in the game industry. So...it's a crapshoot
Ross - Any plans for the next video game parody song ?
Dan - Yes -- we're finishing up a live-action video for "Arcade Gaming
Shrine," but we are working on two more songs right now. One needs
lyrics but we both like the core idea very much, so we're going to try
to tackle that first. The second song just sort of came in a rush --
we have the full lyrics, but really don't have the time and focus to
do more than one song at a time, so it's just waiting in the wings. I
might revise the lyrics too, because now I'm thinking I want to change
the story a little bit. After that, we have discussed doing something
more ambitious; we're kicking around ideas. I have one crazy one but
it would require a herculean amount of effort, and it might just not
be worth that much trouble. We might be able to do something better in
the same amount of time.
Ross - Who are some of your musical influences ?
Dan - Jude and I are both huge fans of Devo, They Might Be Giants, and of
course, Weird Al Yankovic. Everything we do clearly stems from the
trails he has blazed; he proved that parody music could not only be
funny but, if created with enough care, worth hearing for years and
years. Jude and I met in an 80s cover band so we both like the
big-hair, big-synth, big-fun era of music, when MTV showed music
Ross - Is music something you could realistically do professionally ?
Dan - Short of what Jude and I did in our 80s band, probably not. We played
weddings, casinos, block parties -- they were good, paying gigs. But
for Palette-Swap Ninja, going any more "pro" than we are now is not a
goal -- like, our ultimate goal would be to play PAX or something.
We're not going to quit our day jobs and try to "make it." We do it
because for love more than fame. We want what we make to be worth
hearing, but that's out only real goal.
Ross - If you had to choose one and only one what would be your favorite game of
all time ?
Dan - I hate this question. :) It's impossible to choose, but I do keep
gravitating to Robotron 2084, because that's a game that still
challenges me -- hell, still scares me -- every time I play it. And I
have been playing it for literally decades. I have had lots of
fantastic, moving game experiences but Robotron is relentless and
every time I play it even now, I want to be better than I am.
Ross - Of all the current gen consoles which one sees the most playing time in
the Amrich house ?
Dan - I just got a PS3 a few months ago, so that combined with my years at
OXM building up a 360 library means I do play 360 more often. I play
PC a lot too -- Borderlands, L4D2, PvZ, and of course WoW. It's at
least 50/50 between PC and consoles, maybe more PC lately.
Ross - Do you feel a MMO like WOW could ever work on the 360 or Ps3 ?
Dan - Yes. I haven't seen it yet, but I want to believe it can and will
happen. I am eager to see DC Universe Online on PS3 for this very
reason -- I am a comic nerd and want to live in that world. But the
trick is that the MMO has to be designed for the console in mind, and
I think that's DCUO's first smart move. So I'm hopeful.
Ross - What are your feelings towards Kinnect and Move ?
Dan - I preordered Kinect -- Dance Central is the kind of thing that I want
to play, but my choreographer wife wants to play even more -- but I'm
taking a wait-and-see on Move. Nothing wrong with the tech, just
looking for what game will give me the excuse to invest. It's never
about the tech anyway -- it's always about the games that make you
want the tech.
Ross - Which is your favorite gaming system of all time ?
Dan - Arcades. Seriously -- I grew up on the Atari 2600, loved my Genesis,
and was thrilled to cover the 32-bit era on the front lines, so I have
strong memories. But to me, nothing beats a 400-pound plywood box that
has been created to play ONE GAME, and play it better than anything
else in the world. This is nostalgia talking, but then again...show me
a home version of Tempest or Atari's 1983 Star Wars or Robotron 2084
that is as good if not better than the coin-ops.
Ross - And finally is there anything you'd like to plug or link to ?
Dan - Always! :) One of swords -- that's my portal for all the social
media stuff from inside Activision. All the Palette-Swap Ninja info
and the free MP3s are at palette swap ninja. And I don't blog much
on bunnyears lately, but that's my portal to all my personal weird
interests -- making Ghostbusters outfits, digging into puzzles,
telling the stories of how I got my Xbox 360, stuff like that. It's
rated M for Mature.
Once again i'd like to thank Dan so much for taking the time to participate in the interview with me it has been a brilliant interview if i do saw so my self so enjoy and please feel free to leave comments with your feedback