WATT WHITE is a multi-talented Composer, Singer, Songwriter, Performer and Producer based in New York City. As leader of NYC Punk-Metal band The SmashUp, he toured the US, Canada and UK with Megadeth, Deftones, and the full Vans Warped Tour, logging 30,000 road miles and earning fans nationwide… While on the road Watt recorded a comedy EP featuring the internet hit “Take Off Your T-Shirt If You Can’t Name A Song By The Band That’s On It”, which has earned a combined 200,000 plays on YouTube and FunnyOrDie–and counting. …and if you want to know more about of this guy, please go on reading…
1. Hi Watt, i’m Tarja. Welcome to MSFinland. What was your first thought this morning?
Get a haircut! And also FREE RANDY BLYTHE! I achieved one of those.
2. Listen, before we go forward, i just have to ask you this: my sources tell that you’ve won a donut eating competition… so why won’t you share this experience with us? lol
It is true, albeit a very amateur one. I think 16 was the winning number. My advice: stay with glazed products—the cinnamon twist was hard to get through.
3. Before we’ll go to your other musical credits, lets talk about your videos… especially your Metal Puppet videos, they’re really awesome, and they get right into the point without asking permission… what was the moment in your life that you noticed this artistical talent in you?
I was on tour and getting antsy…I was learning ProTools and decided to do a comedy album. Not knowing how to edit video I figured a one-take would make post production easy. It however made pre-production a nightmare!
4. Your latest video, THE BATTLE AT IKEA, how did you get the idea for it? I mean was it your own experience getting lost at Ikea? lol
The sheer adultness of it all had to be hijacked. The epic scale, and most of all—the Scandinavian product line names. Those look so exotic and metal to an American.
5. The video has been re-posted on both hardcore metal sites and the official world IKEA fan site. So, in generally these your “victims” have reacted well? or have you ever get any negative feedback?
The IKEA fan site president loved it and wrote me about it right away, she was totally on board. And for the record I don’t really have anything against IKEA. I just envision it as a metal bloodbath.
6. Now more generally, how many working hours it takes before a video is ready for the release? Tell us about the process… and What comes first? the song or the idea for the video?
I start with concept—sometimes epic, often minute—then write a song. I record the song first, then begin collecting images to arrange and alter. I then block out the “scenes”, figuring how much I can cram on to the screen. Next is puppet and backdrop construction, followed by the actual shoot. The whole process takes exactly an ass-load of time.
7. You told me some time ago that in these coming months we can wait “more emotion, more murder, more fluids” than ever before seen in a One-Take Comedy Paper Doll Cut-Out Rock Music Video. Anything you’d like to reveal about what’s to come?
Sure… I’m shooting for the next batch to be about 6 new videos to hopefully be shot in September. Victims may include: Fashion blogging, One Direction, Flatulence…but don’t quote me on that please. Please erase that.
8. In 2006, when you were the vocalist and leader of NYC Punk-metal band The SmashUp, you toured alongside Megadeth and Lamb of God… what are your best memories of those years?
Getting out of NYC where we played for our friends night after night and meeting the kids—the 15 year olds who stand right in your face and absorb, doing whatever you command. They ruled. The van tours across the US and Canada were a slog, you really feel every mile when you do all the driving. Warped Tour was like going to war. Megadeth was great—Dave was a genuine sweetheart who really cares about his fans. Lamb Of God were excellent guys and I hope Randy gets out soon, what a nightmare.
9. While on the road you recorded a comedy EP featuring the internet hit “Take Off Your T-Shirt If You Can’t Name A Song By The Band That’s On It”, what do you have to tell about it?
That song has resonated with more people than anything else I’ve created so far—young people, older people, everyone feels a connection to the concept. I have revised my stance however—I’d rather see an ignorant teen wearing a Slayer shirt than a Ke$ha one. I plan to post a “re-mastered” version, as the original is grainy. Youtube technology has improved a lot in 6 years.
10. Do you see that through your videos you are able to influence better the common opinions, or what message you want to transfer to your listeners?
I want to inspire by imbuing stupid nonsense with artistic merit. Also by beheading dolls.
11. You’re also the award-winning songwriter and producer, you’ve written over 1,000 songs spanning genres from Metal to Country. How you switch the songwriting-mood between all these genres? and which is your favorite?
Country is great to write because you don’t have to be cool with lyrics—it’s very humble and honest. Metal is great because it’s a fantasy. Hate writing pop lyrics. I like diving into a genre I don’t know—like jazz—and discovering I know more than I thought. Gotta have big ears.
12. You as a composer… your works can be seen in numerous National and International television spots, network promos, short films and radio campaigns. Your music has been heard in campaigns for products including Subway, Ford, Dr. Pepper, McDonald’s, Jeep, just to mention a few of them… to work for a product-campaign, do you have the “artistic freedom” or do you have to follow the product-chain’s strict guidelines? And from where you take the inspirations?
We often write to very strict guidelines, but occasionally—like this Subway song I wrote—I had total freedom and wound up writing not only a song but a slogan as well. Not bad work if you can get it. I realized a long time ago that getting paid to be a musician is always killer—especially when you consider the alternatives.
13. As a vocalist you have appeared on stages from Dallas, PA to Kyoto, performing and recording in a dizzying array of styles from Death Metal to Barbershop… and you’ve lent your voice to countless national & international TV and radio campaigns… what can you tell us about this experience?
Keeping your voice in shape over the course of a tour is very hard—your instrument is part of your body. Much easier to, say play bass with a hangover, cold or both. Never telegraph to the crowd when you fuck up. Be confident, especially when you suck! They’ll never notice.
14. Do you still have dreams that you would like to come true? in other words, where would you like to see yourself in 7 years from now?
I want to be the World Metal Puppet Master
15. What else do you do? i mean, when you want to relax or just being out of the public scenes, what do you normally do?
I have run at least one mile every day since 2/21/94. I am obsessed with golf and pizza.
16. If you should choose, what is/are the absolute highlights in your carreer, so far? Maybe something i didn’t ask you yet…
Just making a good living as a musician 7 years and counting is an achievement. Telling 10,000 kids to “make some fucking noise” and having them comply was great. Having 80 kids turn up to see us in Calgary and watching them mouth words I wrote was amazing.
17. Thanks Watt for this interesting chat! And now the word is yours, how would you like to close this interview?
Metal. Puppets. Glory!
Interview by Tarja Virmakari
WWIII: The Battle At IKEA
Take Off Your T-Shirt by WWIII (Watt White)