Posted by Sheamus Duggan
04. Apr, 2012
Justin Heazlewood, AKA The Bedroom Philosopher, is not the sort of bloke to sit around twiddling his thumbs while looking at his shoes and wondering what he should do today.
So far this year he’s already gone on a national tour with The Dresden Dolls, released a book chronicling tour stories, made a YouTube video that had half of Facebook giggling and is currently performing his musical/comedy production ‘High School Assembly’ as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Milk Bar recently had a chat with Heazlewood about his busy first quarter of 2012.
MILK BAR: You’ve had a ridiculously busy start to the year – a tour, a book release and now you’re preparing for the comedy festival. Are you actually a robot?
JUSTIN HEAZLEWOOD: No, but I’m an only-child workaholic trying to escape my troubled childhood through achievement – essentially the same thing.
MB: In January you released ‘Northcote (YouTube Comments)’, a re-interpretation of ‘Northcote (So Hungover)’ that incorporated the original’s YouTube comments as lyrics. What sparked that idea?
JH: I was bored of the song, so I had to scheme a way to play it live, without playing it live. I did the same thing with ‘I’m So Post Modern’, so I was going to do the same thing and write a whole new set of jokes. Then I realised how delicious it would be to feature the best of the YouTube Comments. It works because most of the comments are hilarious….I mean, ‘You cunts are past gay.’ That’s gold.
MB: You toured with The Dresden Dolls recently. How did that come about and whose idea was it to get Amanda Palmer on stage in hipster get-up for a live performance of ‘Northcote (YouTube Comments)’?
JH: Amanda Palmer contacted me because someone had sent her a link to Northcote. She thought I was funny and I thought she was cool. They were amazing to tour with. Imagine an international headline act coming on stage to introduce the supports! I heard Arctic Monkeys didn’t even speak to their supports after playing a bunch of shows.
Amanda and Brian are emotionally generous, spirited people. I was basking in their American confidence and self-belief. They were on stage getting fans to text in their email addresses – I am lucky to mention that I have merch for fear of being a corporate hack. There was a great moment where I banged into Amanda and she looked at me like I’d spilt the latte of her heart.
MB: Your new book, The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries, is a collection of tour stories compiled over the past few years. What’s the most bizarre gig you’ve ever played?
JH: I think house gigs are the most bizarre. I once played to 12 strangers in a tiny loungeroom on a Sunday afternoon with no microphone. It’s the most awkward atmosphere, but you warm up after a while. I also performed to the members at the Hobart Cricket Ground during an Australia V Pakistan game in 2004. At the end I said “Go Pakistan’ ironically, and scientists have never recorded a more pure form of silence.
MB: Ploughing ahead without much rest, you’re now performing ‘High School Assembly’. Could you tell us where the idea came from?
JH: It’s me re-staging a High School Assembly for Croxton High School. I play a bunch of student characters. There is a rock eisteddfod and a principal and a bad school band. There’s 20 in the cast. It’s like putting on a musical.
Josh Earl and I had the idea five years ago, when we did our Renegades Of Folk side-project. We entered a lot of talent quests at school and watched a lot of crappy dances and musical performances, so it’s quite cathartic to get to re-stage all of that under your own terms. I was a bit of a Rushmore at school – always competing in things and trying really hard at sport and drama and whatever was going – so it makes sense to me to re-appropriate that sense of over-achievement as an adult.
MB: Are you planning on having a break after the comedy festival?
JH: I’m not sure how to relax. Read: earlier workaholic only-child summation. I worked on a song with electro producer Spod for the high school assembly, and had a terribly good time – so I might try and fart out my Odelay with him.
MB: Any plans for the rest of 2012? Any more world record attempts on the horizon?
JH: Shortest gig perhaps? I know TISM did a five minute gig in the 90’s, I reckon I can get that down to 30 seconds. I’ll come on – play ‘Swan Song’ and refuse any encores.
I think I’m entering a world record for the most repackaging of one set of material. I mean, I wrote ‘Songs From The 86 Tram’ in early 2009, and here it is early 2012 and I’m playing ‘Northcote (YouTube Comments)’. I think deserves some kind of certificate.
MB: Would you rather have a pet dragon or be a dragon?
JH: I would rather be in Dragon – then it could take me to the April Sun In Cuba.
‘The Bedroom Philosopher’s High School Assembly’ runs until April 8, downstairs at The Forum Theatre.
Tickets are available at the MICF website.
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