Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stephen Lynch on the second leg of 3 Balloons and his upcoming special

Stephen Lynch kicked off the first leg of his 3 Balloons Tour in Boston in February. Now he’s on the second leg of the tour and heading to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester Saturday. Sometime next year, you can expect to see a few different versions of the tour on a Comedy Central special, on DVD, and as a concert film, if you happen to frequent film festivals. I caught up with Lynch by phone last week.

How has the tour been going since you were here in February?

The show is much funnier than it was when we were in Boston, I’m pleased to report. Even though it was pretty good then, we’ve learned a few things. It’s going well. We finished that big tour in the spring and then I took the summer off, and then I started off this new tour with a trip to Europe where I did a bunch of Scandinavian dates and Dublin and Germany. It’s been going really well. Now we’re back to the U.S. and doing some places we missed on the first part of the tour.

Is it still the 3 Balloons Tour?

Yeah. The record’s eight months old now, but it’s still the same tour, really. We’re doing the same show, maybe a few changes here and there as we come up with things.

If someone saw you in Boston at the start of the tour and came to see you in Worcester, how would it be different?

Uh. Oh boy. Now I have to write something really quickly before I get to Worcester, don’t I? The show always is evolving, so I can’t tell you exactly what will be different. The set-up will be the same, where I show some videos and do a bunch of songs from the new record and I have some friends join me onstage. But there will be subtle things, and some new jokes here and maybe a song or two replaced as we come up with other things. But nothing radically different.

When you say it’s funnier, is it just a matter of the timing?

Yeah. The jokes start to gel and you start to think of better transitions between songs, and song orders, you experiment with those. By the time I’m done with this tour, I don’t know when it will be, probably sometime next year, it’ll be just where I want it. And that’s the time you have to hang it up and start over again. Which is unfortunate, but that’s how it works.

Are you someone who can write on tour?

Not really, no. I mean, yeah, I’ve done it before. But what I really need is time and isolation, which is sort of hard to come by when you’re traveling with people and checking into hotels and on airplanes all the time. What I need to write really is to sequester myself in a room somewhere with nobody around me and force myself to do it. If given the chance to watch America’s Next Top Model or write, I will probably watch TV before I take up a pen. Which is unfortunate, but I’m very easily distracted.

Then all the songs would wind up being about America’s Top Model or the people who annoyed you on the airplane.

Yeah. That would really be horrible. Maybe not. Maybe I could write a rock opera based on America’s Next Top Model. I think it would have a very short shelf life, though.

Have you taped the show that’s going to be the new DVD yet?

Yeah. We taped it back in, I think it was April in Portland. I shouldn’t say we taped it, we filmed it. We actually used film because I wanted it to have a certain look. I haven’t seen any of the footage yet so I don’t know if it’s going to have that look that I wanted it to have, sort of a 70s rock concert, Last Waltz-type look to it. So we’ll see. I hope it comes out the way I see it in my head. I wanted it to look sort of classic and not just another something you’d see on Comedy Central.

Was there a particular reason for doing it at the Aladdin Theatre?

I like the theater. It’s sort of an old, decrepit movie theater. I don’t know when it was built. It’s got to be a hundred years old, I’m guessing. And I always pull good crowds there. And there were film crews readily accessible there. So instead of doing it somewhere where I would have had to fly in a crew of a hundred people, there were people there or near there already. I’ve always done good shows in Portland, too.

Did you do anything differently for the filming?

No. I did essentially the same show. Now what I can use out of that, I’m not sure. For example, I always close my show with “Purple Rain,” which I think would probably more than I would ever make on the sale of the DVDs to actually use, because Prince does not come cheap, I do not think. So that’ll be out. I’ll have to think of a different way to close the show. And the video, I’m thinking what I’ll do is sort of intersperse the video that I show during the show with songs and with other videos, other tour diary type videos, which I have yet to shoot. I’m trying to give it some sort of storyline instead of just song after song after song. I think, I mean, that’s the plan now. Don’t hold me to any of this. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I have some interesting ideas.

So Comedy Central’s going to have an hour version of it, you’ve got a version that’s going to be going around to film festivals, and the version that winds up on the DVD. Are those going to be three different versions?

No, I would assume that the one that winds up on the DVD will be the official work, and then if we chose to send that out to festivals, great. But what we give to Comedy Central will just be an abbreviated version. I don’t know what they want, I don’t know if they want just the songs or if they want the shortened version of the story I’m going to come up with. I don’t know. I’m really wracking me brain trying to figure out how to make this all come together.

How did you choose Gregory Dark to direct the concert film?

Somebody suggested him, I can’t remember who it was, exactly. But he came to see a show I did in Los Angeles and we spoke after the show, and he seemed to really be on board and have some good ideas and be on the same page as I was, so we just sort of clicked.

Had you seen any of his work before?

You mean his work in the music video world or the pornography world?

I’m unaware of his work in the pornography world.

Apparently he did some early work, in the 80s, I think, in the porno world. No, I wasn’t really familiar with any of his work. I just saw that he had a lot of experience, and then when I talked to him, we seemed to hit it off. That was enough for me.

Did he try to make you wear a big fuzzy mustache?

Yeah. It turned into a whole porn shoot. There were fluffers there before the show.

When does this get released in the different iterations?

You know what, I don’t know. I have to finish it first. Obviously people are waiting for me, waiting very patiently for me to do this. We did film it several months ago. But I like to take my time with these things. I want to make sure it’s quality before I put it out.

Do you have any plans for once the tour is over?

Hopefully I’ll have started writing new songs and I can get into the studio again and start recording. The last record, we did the whole thing in a week in a studio in Brooklyn. And this time what I’d like to do is sort of record in chunks, so when it comes time to put out the new record I don’t have to rush in and finish everything. I’ll have things that are already done. And that way I can tweak things to my version of perfection and change things as I go. So that’s the plan for now, just keep writing, recording.

Any idea, other than the method of recording, how you want things to be different from previous recordings?

I wouldn’t mind doing something with more of a through line to it. Maybe I’ll take a stab at a rock opera one of these days. Or even a mini rock opera and the rest can be unrelated songs. The idea of telling a little story seems intriguing to me. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past few months.

Read my previous interview with Lynch here.
Or watch my post-show interview from Boston here.

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