Bermuda Schwartz has been drumming in Weird Al Yankovic’s band since 1980 and has appeared on every one of the bands recordings and videos. We’re happy to speak with this Grammy award winning musician today at BLANKMANinc.com!
BLANKMANinc: I read that you first started playing the drums as a youngster, what got you into music at such a young age?
Bermuda Schwartz: “My family was musical, my mom sang and played piano, my dad played accordion, and my brother had a set of drums. He switched to guitar and I took over his drums. I was nine.”
BMi: You’re well known for your many, many years as the drummer for Weird Al’s band but how did you and Mr.Yankovic get together in the first place?
BS: “I happened to be at the Dr. Demento Show on KMET in Los Angeles, and Al was there. He was already well known on the show, and he often stopped by to answer phones and sometimes sing songs on the air. That night, September 14, 1980, he was debuting a song he had written that weekend, Another One Rides The Bus, by singing it live. He asked the other “Dementites” to sing and clap along, and asked me if I’d beat on his accordion case. Sounded like fun, and afterward I suggested he have a band and I’d be his drummer. Innocent enough words, obviously I had no idea that a major part of my career for me would begin at that moment!”
BMi: You, Steve Jay and Jim West have been in Al’s band for nearly thirty years now, what is your secret to staying together for so long when most of the bands you parody don’t even make it a decade?
BS: “We work well together, the music is always fresh for us, and most importantly… Al pays us a zillion bucks!”
BMi: You and the guys do an amazing job of recreating the songs you parody ranging from Devo and Nirvana to Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Kinks, what goes into the process of recreating so many varied styles?
BS: “Simply put, we listen carefully to parts and sounds, and repeat them. I dare say we’ve become very good at it!”
BMi: If my math is correct you’ve won three Grammy’s, you’ve earned 30 gold and platinum albums and you’ve even been on The Simpsons! Out of all of these great accomplishments what would you consider to be THE highlight of your career so far?
BS: “The sheer longevity of may association with Al is pretty amazing, but you nailed it with The Simpsons. That definitely gets the most “how cool” reaction from fellow musicians!”
BMi: Aside from being the drummer for the band you are also the Weird Al historian (as well as the webmaster) what is the strangest bit of band memorabilia that you have in your archive?
BS: “Nothing strange, but definitely some out of the ordinary stuff, like a 40ft banner advertising our concert at the Pantages Theater in L.A., and Al’s original accordion case. The archive is pretty amazing by itself though, just because of the amount of stuff. I have over 1500 audio and video retail and promo items from around the world, posters and programs from 30 years worth of shows, more than 70,000 photos, fan art and creations, live and rare recordings. It’s enough to fill a small museum!”
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