5 Questions for Uncle Phil Kliger

PHOTO: Crop of 20081214-4660 on Flickr by Roger Goun CC BY

Phil Kliger is a musician from the seacoast region of New Hampshire. You can learn more about him by reading UnclePhilMusic.com, by watching the videos found at UnclePhilms.Blip.TV, or by listening to his weekly radio program, Fridays, 10-12, on WSCA (106.1 in the Portsmouth area, and online at wscafm.com). He was kind enough to answer some questions for Geek Force Five this week, on the occasion of our celebration of independent artists and independent thought.

  • I’ll do my best… You do the music for Odd Noggin Land, and I think the music is a critical part of what makes that series work. What’s your songwriting process like for that project? Is it mostly improv? You must write while watching the footage, right? It always seems so intertwined. How much direction to John and Ryan give you?
    Working with the two of them has been ideal, mainly because I can work from the comfort of my apartment, and don’t have them hovering over me demanding me to be brilliant. They send me a rough cut of an episode with no sound at all, which I sit and watch. First, I think about the pop-culture references that I deem worthy to work into the song that will become the soundtrack/narration. Then, I take a first pass at the improvisation of a song, trying to not repeat myself, both tonally and groovitationally (yes, I make up words to explain me…). I then send the mp3 to John, who listens and gives (thankfully!) very detailed notes and feedback on what jokes to cut, which ones to improve upon. I reply with another version, and if I included most if not all of John’s notes, then he sends it to Ryan for final approval, and then they run with it to make the thought bubbles, etc.
  • Is there anyone in the New England music/creative scene that you’ve met that you would love to collaborate with (and that you haven’t already worked with)? What do you imagine a collaboration between you and that person/those persons would look or sound like?
    I am lucky that I get to work with the incomparable John Herman, who deserves so much more credit and accolades than he is willing to accept.  As far as local musicians I have only dreamed of working with, there are two.  Dave Minehane who sings for a band called THE NEIGHBORHOODS, who in the few times I have seen them, has rocked my face off—I would love for him and I to co-produce a really rockin’ all-star collective of New England Rockers, akin to Cheap Trick meets Frank Zappa meets Dr. Demento album for kids of all ages. Dave, if you are reading this give me a holler… The other is Nat Freedberg, a.k.a. Lord Bendover in the rockinest royalty band this side of Castle Donnington, THE UPPER CRUST. He has been an inspiration for me and my music for years, and I would love to just sit and pick his brain of all the music he has created in different, I don’t want to say novelty bands, because that might minimize what he has created, but I have had an idea brewing for about ten years that I think he would be the only one twisted enough to help come to fruition. So, again if you are reading this Nat, don’t hesitate to contact me…
  • Let’s close with a question I’m going to ask each of the artists I interview this week. Doing what you love doesn’t always pay well, if it pays at all. Why do you keep doing it? What drives you?
    There really is only one answer to that question…because I have to.  If I wasn’t playing music, I don’t think I would feel complete as a person—playing, recording, listening, critiquing, and getting that charge from seeing someone, be it man, woman or child, feeding off my energy being exuded musically, is more payment then all the money in the world. I am not saying that I wouldn’t mind getting real paid (nudge nudge wink wink), its just that if it meant I had to give up the one to one connection that is shared between musician and fan, or myself and a collaborator, then it wouldn’t be worth it…