“Weird Al” Yankovic must be taken seriously. Sure, he’s spent his life penning popular-song parodies, but he is by no means a novelty. Consider the facts: His career has outlasted almost every artist he’s ever poked fun at, he’s had his own movie and television show, and he’s earned six platinum albums and three Grammy awards. Soon, Yankovic will publish a children’s book with HarperCollins, release a new album and appear at All Tomorrow’s Parties by request of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Yankovic recently spoke to Paste about these developments, and in the words of his character, George Newman, in the criminally underrated UHF: “This means something. This is important.”
: I feel like I’ve been waiting 28 years for this interview.
“Weird Al” Yankovic: Me too.
: You said on your blog that you plan on recording three more songs for the new album after this current tour ends, and then you’ll release it. Do you know what those songs are going to be?
Yankovic: Well, I’ve got ideas for two of them. Whether or not I get clearance is one thing, but it’s very nebulous right now. I can’t really speak to it. I’m certainly putting effort into making sure the album comes out as soon as possible. I have some ideas floating out there but nothing definitive yet.
: Godspeed You! Black Emperor just asked you to open for them. How did that
Yankovic: Sort of out of the blue. I put it out there for many years that I’ve always wanted to play the UK and play in Europe. We just haven’t been able to make the math work out, because it’s a very expensive proposition for us to take the show overseas. There are a lot of costumes, there are computer servers; it’s just a lot of stuff to fly. Between that show and the show the next night in London, we would be making enough that we would at least break even. So, at that point, I said, “Okay, let’s do this.” We have now a confirmed European tour, even though the tour, as of right now, is only two days. Hopefully we’ll add some more, but I can’t guarantee anything.
: Do you have a following in Europe? Do you know how well your albums sell
Yankovic: I can’t speak to sales. I know that I have a lot of fans from the UK because a lot of them follow me on Twitter, and some of them have gone so far as to take the plane flight to see some of my U.S. shows. I know there’s a big fanbase there, I think through my presence on the Internet perhaps more than actual record sales. I don’t know what it’s like these days, but the last time I was in the UK, it was hard to find my stuff actually in physical record stores. But, through portals like YouTube and various other places, people have come to know my work.
: GSY!BE also asked you to play their installation of All Tomorrow’s Parties. ATP is a great festival, but it’s also kind of a hipster festival, and if I had to define the diametric opposite of hipster elitism, I would say it is you.
Yankovic: [laughs] Well, I think having me at that festival is very ironic, and irony is very
hipster-ish, so it fits in.
: Good point. Will you do anything special there, or do you do the same show
Yankovic: Pretty much a normal show, although I may have to talk to some of my British friends and see if there are any American pop culture references that just wouldn’t fly over there. There might be references or songs that they just wouldn’t be able to relate to, so I may have to tamper with it a little bit, but overall, I think it’s going to be basically the same show.
: You also wrote a movie for Cartoon Network that was just about to go into
production, but then they had some sort of shakeup and no longer do movies, right?
Yankovic: Right, it went into “turnaround,” as they say.
: Can you say what the movie is about or what will happen to it?
Yankovic: Not really. We want to keep it kind of quiet until it actually gets close to being
made. I kind of regret even talking about it as much as I did before it went to production
because, you know, it didn’t go into production. But, I was excited about it, and I wanted to share it with my fans. That’s the thing about Twitter: I’m drawn to it, and you feel a compulsion to share things with your fans that maybe you shouldn’t. I find myself guilty of that.
: Would you ever do a TV show again?
Yankovic: Yeah, I’d consider it. I’m not actually pitching a “Weird Al” TV show right now, but if somebody came to me with the right idea, I wouldn’t rule that out either. But, it’s not like I’m dying to be on a TV show. In the last 10 years, I’ve been pitched a dozen different TV shows from major players that would’ve been able to get it on the air, but all those ideas were, frankly, pretty horrible—reality shows where I would be, you know, helping a team to write song parodies, and there would be another team and it would be very Survivor-like, and it was just wrong and stupid on so many different levels, I can’t even tell you. But it would’ve gotten on the air if I said yes.
: What about your children’s book, When I Grow Up?
Yankovic: That is happening, and that is something that I’m very happy with. That will be out, I believe, on March 1 of next year with HarperCollins. I don’t have any other ideas at the moment, but I had a great experience, and I look forward to having a long relationship with HarperCollins and do some more children’s books for them. That was just something that seemed like a nice little detour from what I normally do, and I like to try to stretch myself creatively and sometimes do things that people don’t expect me to do.
: Did you generate that idea?
Yankovic: I did. I pitched them on several ideas, and that was the one that they liked, and I went ahead and did it.
: Is it autobiographical at all? The title would lead one to think so.
Yankovic: Well, only in the most overreaching broad sense, I suppose. It is sort of what the name would imply; it’s about a kid with an overactive imagination just kind of riffing on the cool and amazing things he could possibly be when he grows up.
: The last thing I want to ask is this: If you were traveling through outer space, and you were going real fast, like the speed of light, and you started screaming, would your brain blow up?
Yankovic: I would imagine so.