Simply put, Dave Hill rules. He’s like a quadruple threat — comedian, musician, writer and name-dropper — he does it all. You’ve seen him on MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Cartoon Network, TLC, Current TV and of course, on the world wide web (video below).
Hi Dave, first off, what makes you so explosive?
At the moment, I would have to say the jalapeno poppers and spicy beef chili nachos I ate for dinner last night. I don’t eat food like that too often, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Wait, no, that is a dumb and predictable answer. I guess I would have to say the thing that makes me so explosive is the overall joie de vivre that I exhibit on an almost daily basis without even trying. The first answer is more accurate though, the more that I think about it.
Your show — billed as a “variety show” with music, comedy and chat — is very popular in New York City. Why are you so successful in a format where the mighty Rosie O’Donnell failed so miserably?
I am an incredible dresser. That’s really half the battle. The other half is the hair. If you’ve got those two things covered, you’re in pretty good shape. James Brown once said “If a man has his hair and his teeth, he has everything,” which was just one more example of his genius, but I imagine a guy like that takes incredible outfits for granted, which is probably why he didn’t even bring it up.
As far as Rosie goes though, I didn’t realize her variety show came out already. I guess if it came and went already without me even knowing about it, I am in real trouble as far as getting my own variety show on television goes. Then again- as mentioned earlier- I am an incredible dresser and I really swing for the fences when it comes to my hair, so I should be all set. Did Rosie offer snacks to the audience on her variety show? I always thought this is what made her daytime show so classy. I also thought she was great on “Little Britain USA,” for real.
On a not-so-related note, when Caroline Rhea took over Rosie’s daytime slot five or six years ago, my friend Zach was the drummer in her house band for a while. I didn’t have much going on at the time, so at one point I decided to see how many days in a row I could handle sitting in the studio audience. I made it almost two weeks straight and I still have the signed Steven Cojocaro (“Cojo” to his friends) book to prove it. I was the only person in the audience each day that wasn’t wearing pleated jeans. Also, Caroline Rhea never once acknowledged the fact that I came to see her show every day even though she stood right in front of me every time she came out to great the audience before taping. Shortly afterwards, her show was cancelled. You tell me.
Do you produce these shows yourself? What’s the hardest part about pulling one of these extravaganzas together?
I do a lot of it myself, but I collaborate on the videos that I screen in the shows with friends. And lots of people have been super helpful in tracking down guests to be on the show. Also, I usually have my sidebitch Phil with me at the Explosions, but he is in England touring with his heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees, Tragedy, right now. At the Philly shows this weekend, I will have guest sidebitches in the form of the lovely and talented Kent Haines and Gregg Gethard.
The hardest part about pulling one of these extravaganzas together is booking the guests. It’s a bit of a scramble every time, but it usually works out somehow. When I had Dick Cavett and Rufus Wainwright on the show on the same night, I got an e-mail from one of Conan O’Brien’s peeps telling me that Conan was jealous of my lineup for the night. I don’t know if Conan really even knew about my lineup, but I was flattered by the e-mail anyway. Since I don’t know many folks in Philly though, I’ve been getting a lot of lovely help from the PHIT folks and also my sister, who lives in Philly. They are doing the arm-twisting for me this time around.
Who will be joining you for the Philly Shows? Why did you choose them?
On Friday I’ll have Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller and Bret Tobias from the Bigger Lovers. On Saturday, I’ll have Bob Levis, the director and producer of the soon-to-be hit movie “GOLD.” There will also be a musical guest on Saturday, but I’m not sure who that will be just yet. I promise it will be someone incredible though. Quality is job one.
I chose them because I think they will be fun and interesting guests and also because alleged Philadelphia residents Richie Sambora and Chubby Checker both said no. The balls on these guys!
What scares you most about The City of Brotherly Love?
Knife-wielding street gangs and time-travelling street urchins with soot-covered faces. I am tired of being targeted by these two groups every time I come to your town. Seriously- what the F?
Another thing that scares me is the possibility that no one will come see my shows this weekend. My last Philly Explosion took place on the first night of the Phillies being in the World Series and also it was Yom Kippur. It’s tough to compete with that sort of thing, but still some gentile non-baseball fans managed to show up and help make it a fun night.
You’re an accomplished musician (Valley Lodge) as well as comedian. Which area do you consider your self more kick-ass?
To be fair, I am incredible at both, but- in the shallowest of terms- I make a lot more money through comedy. Don’t worry though- I just punched myself in the face for typing that last sentence. I don’t know which I’m more kick-ass at though. I leave that to the people to decide, some of whom might think I suck at both. That’s okay though- I respect their right to be entirely wrong. Wait, I just reread my answer to this question and think I must sound like a major a-hole. I don’t know which I’m better at. I guess I just like doing both and I’m happy that anyone would pay attention to me doing either.
I first encountered you back in early 2000s at The Fire in Philly with your then band Uptown Sinclair. I was very impressed. I still tell people you are one of the best front men ever, who else compares to you?
It’s pretty much down to me and David Lee Roth circa-1980. Pre-Damn Yankees Ted Nugent was no slouch either. Not to sound all punk rock or anything, but I’ve seen Bad Brains a bunch of times and H.R. is pretty unstoppable too. The guy can do back flips likes it’s an afterthought. Also, he is completely crazy, which is a bonus. Oh, and say what you want but Morrissey rules too.
I know you’re a fan of Walter Schreifels, me too, did you catch one of the Rival Schools reunion shows?
Walter is the king. I am not just a fan, I am friends with him too, something I point out to make myself seem cool. I missed the Rival Schools shows in New York last month because I was in London doing shows then. I mention this to seem cool too. I saw Walter play solo a couple weeks ago though when he opened up for (International) Noise Conspiracy and he was awesome. He played songs from almost every band he’s been in plus his solo stuff and even a couple covers. The man is a great songwriter and entertainer. I will revise my answer to the previous question to include him. Hill, Roth, Nugent, H.R., Morrissey, Schreifels- the Mount Rushmore of rock.
You still into Norwegian Black Metal?
Yes. Duh. Why would I stop? Speaking of which, this past weekend I watched a new movie called “Until the Light Takes Us.” It’s a documentary about Norwegian Black Metal. I don’t know if it’s coming out in theatres or what, but you should totally see it however you can. I got an advance DVD of it because I am in league with Satan and also because I have been on basic cable television. The Norwegian Black Metal book by photographer Peter Beste is also maybe the greatest coffee table book ever. I got the deluxe edition for my birthday.
Who is the coolest celebrity/musician you’ve met? Why?
That’s a tough one. It might be a tie between Dick Cavett and Joe Franklin. They are both legends and I’m honored that they’ve ever even been willing to let me in the same room with them. They’ve both done my show.
I guess it’s too late to apologize for being all namedroppy at this point, but I had dinner at Joan Rivers’ house a couple times (I’m friends with her niece) and she was insanely sweet, cool, and nice. I once baked her a bread pudding with her initials in raisins on top. True story.
Ronnie James Dio did my show in L.A. the first time I did it out there and I was completely terrified because he’s Ronnie James Dio. He was such an awesome guy though and made me feel instantly comfortable. He signed my guitar “Dave Hill rocks magic- Ronnie James Dio.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but every time I look at my guitar I am reminded that I am a pretty lucky guy.
Another time, Robin Williams made a surprise appearance on my show in L.A. and was super nice. Shortly afterwards, he paid me some nice compliments in an interview. My parents read it and were nice to me for like six months after that.
What’s the best band you ever shared a bill with?
One of my previous bands, Uptown Sinclair (mentioned earlier) opened for Blondie once. That was pretty great. They played all the hits and all these years later Debbie Harry can still sing her balls off. I met Clem Burke before the show and he was dressed in a killer suit. When they took the stage though he was wearing jeans and an Adidas track jacket. I asked him what happened to his awesome suit from earlier and he explained that that was his everyday attire. He brings it down for the stage, a total power move. The man is a badass.
When I was in Cobra Verde, we toured with Mike Watt a couple times, which was highly entertaining both onstage and off. We toured with J Mascis and the Fog once too, which Watt was in as well. It was great to see them tear it up every night as those guys pretty much wrote the book on tearing it up. I used to read Watt’s tour blog and based on that and whatever other information I could gather from him directly, I counted that he shit his pants at least four times on tour. The man is a legend for many reasons. Cobra Verde shared a bill with Bob Mould once too. He’s one of my all-time faves, so I was pretty psyched about that. For the record, he’s been on the Explosion before too. Speaking of pants shitting, I almost shit my pants when he was on my show.
My first band Sons of Elvis opened for Slash’s Snakepit once, which was pretty awesome. When I introduced myself to Slash at soundcheck he said, “Hi, Dave, I’m Slash.” I remember thinking it was classy that he introduced himself and didn’t take for granted that I would know who he was even though he was still in one of the biggest bands in the world at the time. After the show, Gilby Clarke let me have a turkey sandwich from their backstage catering. I thought that was really classy too.
What’s a great affordable holiday gift for the ladies?
I think any lady would be impressed if you made her tiramisu, the popular Italian dessert cake item, and then wrapped it up really nice. As I understand it, tiramisu is mostly lady fingers, some espresso, and then some other stuff too. I’ve never made it myself, but I imagine if I were a lady and someone gave me tiramisu that they had made with their own two hands, I’d be pretty fired up about it. It’s my favorite dessert item. Don’t buy the ladies lingerie. What are you, some kind of creep?
Dave, at last count, you have 37 websites promoting your various activities? What’s the best one a new fan should visit to find about more about you and your explosions?
I would start with my popular Internet website located at www.davehillonline.com and then go from there. If at some point you end up on a website dedicated to Dave Hill, the guitar player from the British glam rock band Slade though, you should know that that is not me. I encourage you to spend time on that Dave Hill’s site though too as Slade is awesome.
Thanks Dave, see ya this weekend!
Video: Dave Hill Returns to New York Fashion Week for Spring ’09:
Free MP3: Download “All of My Loving” by Valley Lodge