Whitest Kids U’ Know member Trevor Moore has a music album out. No, it’s not a crappy Bruno type of thing. It’s an hysterical collection of tracks called, Drunk Texts To Myself, commenting on topics ranging from the Founding Fathers to underage mouthwash drinking. This is Moore’s first music album, but, as he hints below, it won’t be his last. Although Whitest Kids U’ Know no longer creates new episodes for IFC, Moore is currently touring the country with the group performing new sketches and old favorites. I sat down for lunch with Moore in New York City to talk about his new album, sketch comedy success and more. Check it out.
Before I listened to the album, I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed it, mainly because it was socially relevant and really critical.
Yeah, I tried to have each song have a point and say something. So I wanted them to be funny first and foremost, but also have some sort of reason to exist, as well.
“The Pope Rap” happened to come out right as Pope Benedict was stepping down from the papacy. I heard you on a radio show saying that that was a coincidence.
It was nuts. We had it done, filmed, edited. Comedy Central had it. They were just waiting to release it. Then that happened–the Pope quit his job. So we were like, ‘Alright. Guess we’ll release it!’ I got a lot of nasty e-mails about it, but that’s to be expected, I suppose. My parents were Christian folk singers so I grew up on a tour bus. They would tour around the country until I was 12. They had the #2 Christian radio song in the 80s.
So did the Pope song strain some things back home?
I went home for Christmas and that was the only thing that I had finished at that point, music video-wise. And they said, ‘We want to see something from the new album.’ So I showed them the Pope video and it ruined Christmas. They were not happy about it– vocally not happy about it!
You should put that as the tag line for the album: so good, it’ll ruin Christmas!
Yeah. ‘I hope you guys liked this album because it ruined my Christmas.’
Once I caught on that there was a satirical tone to the album, I started getting very excited about each premise in the songs. I think my favorite track was, “Help Me,” where you establish in the first couple of lines that it comes from child pop star’s point of view. I just knew you were going to tackle a subject you don’t hear criticized too often.
It’s just such a bizarre thing. You ‘get it’ because the potential to make money is so huge that you understand why parents would push their kids into it. Especially on that level, the parents that are pushing their kids to be these Justin Biebers and stuff, it ends one way. And it’s gross.
“Tom Hanks Is An Asshole” must have had the biggest pay-off, in terms of jokes. Who attacks Tom Hanks?!
No one! The reason I wrote that was because everyone loves Tom Hanks. You always hear that he’s such a nice guy so I thought, ‘Why don’t I write a song and just slander him?’ But you always hear that he has such a great sense of humor and he’s such a big supporter of comedy. He’s always popping into the Groundlings and stuff like that and just seeing shows. There was a moment when I thought, ‘I wonder if I should reach out and try to see if my managers could get him to appear in the music video.’ Then I remembered that last verse and went, ‘Oh, there’s no way he’s doing this music video.’ I’m hoping that he just laughs at it because [the jokes] are obviously not true.
Unlike a Bo Burnham, where it’s funny songs with lots of jokes within them, almost all of your songs could have been sketches.
That’s my background, so that makes sense. You know, when I started writing these songs, it was for [The Whitest Kids U’ Know]. I would do two or three songs a season on Whitest Kids. So when we decided to stop the show, I went to Comedy Central and said, ‘I still want to write a bunch of these songs. Would you guys want to do an album?’ I think that might just be the way that I write them. Our sketches were about three minutes long. These were about three minutes long. We always thought of sketches like songs, too. You get in. You make your point. You get out. You make them easily accessible and something people can send around on the Internet. So three minutes is like the perfect length for music and sketch.
You guys had the idea of viral videos in mind when writing sketches?
For the most part. We got our show because kids passed our videos around on YouTube. We started putting up videos around the same time that YouTube came out. It kind of organically happened together. When we started doing sketches, there was this new YouTube thing and we thought, ‘Oh, we would be great for this.’ It kind of just got ingrained in the way that we write– writing very short pieces. But yeah, that’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about that. But I guess [the songs] are written with that same kind of sketch mentality. A lot of them are stories. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end to them.
So you’ve had a show with The Whitest Kids U’ Know. You have this album out now. You’ve written and directed films like Miss March. What medium is still left to play with? Basically: when is the Trevor Moore Podcast launching?
I’m trying to hold off from doing a podcast because there are enough podcasts right now. And I love podcasts. But I just feel like it would be so hard to get traction at this point. There’s so many of them. I have a book I’ve been thinking about. But right now, I’m just trying to write another album. I really enjoyed doing this sort of musical comedy thing. That’s what my emphasis has been on recently. I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a funkadelic album. I just love how those albums feel. So I’ve been kind of tossing around that idea. Although I doubt I’ll end up doing an album that is all one genre. I kind of like bouncing around between genres, doing the dubstep and country right next to each other. I like the juxtaposition of that.
Is there a particular subject you can’t wait to tackle?
It’s funny because the best stuff is just writing about whatever’s on your mind at the moment. I wrote this album over the course of a year and originally I had about 40 ideas for songs and I cut them down to 10. So I still have a bunch of ideas from that and since it’s been about six months since we were recording the album, you start going, ‘I want to talk about that!’ I’m kind of compiling it.
What type of book can we expect?
It’s kind of a self-help book, but a comedy. I don’t want to say.
I had to try.
I don’t blame you. We keep talking about this Whitest Kids movies that we keep working on. [In July 2012, Trevor and the rest of WKUK announced they were working on a feature film.] All these kids after the live shows come up to us and ask, ‘What’s the movie going to be about?,’ and we just have to go, ‘Not yet. Not yet.’
What is the one sketch you most wanted to do but never got the go-ahead for?
There’s three sketches that I really believed in and the network said no. And we shot them anyway. We thought we’d convince them. We figured, ‘We’ll go ahead and work it into the day and shoot these sketches.’ We edited them and everything and then brought them to the network and they were still like, ‘No. You can’t do that.’ Every now and then, if we’re feeling like it, we’ll be doing a show in a city and we’ll show the sketches on a screen.
One was like McGruff, the crime dog from the PSA campaign. He was this cartoon dog who was basically telling kids that if there are strangers acting weird, what you should do. So we did just basically a whole bunch of campaigns except he was from the child rape unit. Because that’s basically what those commercials were about: trying to help kids not get molested. We were just being blunt about it. I just thought it was a very funny sketch. The network didn’t like the term ‘child rape.’ It was really funny. We had it animated and everything. We had it all done. So we show it at live shows sometimes.
There was a sketch that we wanted to do for every season but our producers would never let us do it because it was just too expensive. It was called, “Cat Congress.” The idea was to make a realistic diorama of the House of Congress with little podiums and little chairs and then get 100 cats and put them all in suits and just film them for a day just milling about, getting into fights, teaming up…whatever cats would do wearing suits. Then we would take that footage and just edit it down and do a C-SPAN kind of thing and talking about what had happened today at Cat Congress. It was a stupid silly idea but I just loved the idea of it. We could never get the budget to do it. I was even willing to compromise– it didn’t have to be 100 cats. We could have probably done it with 50 cats. Every year we would pitch it. We submitted the script every year in the packets and it never got made.