Brad Roberts: Crash Test Dummies
When I first heard that the Crash Test Dummies were coming to South Africa, I was busting with questions. The group that pushed out Hanson’s Mmmbop from my mind and replaced it with the more calming and satisfying Hmmmmm. We’re even giving away tickets to both shows. I spoke with Brad Roberts relating to everything from everything from penguins in South Africa to being on MTV. I also discover that he’s unfamiliar with the term “trolling”. We also get the answer how a boy’s hair can turn completely white.
Richard Chemaly (RC): I’ve seen you troll people who ask “lame” questions so, you brought this upon yourself. Whatever happened to the kid who’s hair turned from black into bright white?
Brad Roberts (BR): Wow. I’m confused. What, pray tell, does troll mean? Is that interweb jargon? I’m an old man! As the for the boy whose hair turned from black into bright white, he died many years ago of natural causes. In fact, that character was based on a man who piloted a boat on Niagara Falls. He miscalculated and nearly got sucked down the falls, but at the last minute he managed to escape the current. His hair turned white during or after the adventure. Over night. All of it. For good. Pretty crazy, right?
RC: It was a while back but the benefit of interviewing a nearly 30 year old band is that there’s a wide array of questions…getting on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack…was that just a cool thing or did you see that as being a big deal for the band?
BR: The Dumb and Dumber people approached us and asked us to record Peter Pumkindhead. We were doing it as a cover at the time. So this was very unusual. Usually they want a song that’s already a hit, in the movie soundtrack world. That was a lucky stroke.
RC: In the years, members have shifted, the band itself has come and gone and over the last 3 years, there’s been a real come back…you even came back to South Africa. What inspires these comebacks after deciding to semi-call-it-quits?
BR: Great offers like playing in South Africa! Honestly, that’s all there is to it. I couldn’t turn down that much fun. We played there before and it was a fantastic experience. This was just after Mandela got out of jail in the mid-90’s. A pretty exhilarating time for the nation.
RC: You got a ton of MTV play 20 years ago but not so much anymore…would you want it in 2018 though?
BR: I’m far too old to be on MTV. And in fact, I never liked making videos. I think they spoil songs. Songs are meant to be heard and to take the listener to a lyrical place. Videos are just crass commercials. Do I sound old and grumpy? Probably.
RC: I’ve been enjoying Oooh La La and Promised Land. Firstly, is there any significance in why you opted to use 3 “o”s in Oooh La La and, more importantly, why did less marketing go into the latter work when it’s still up there with the older stuff?
BR: Ooh La La is my favorite recent record. But its the last one I made. And less marketing went into it because I didn’t have a big label/money behind me. I couldn’t afford the big marketing plan on my own. And in fact I stopped making records because I kept losing money on them. But I’m glad you like that record, that you’ve even heard of it.
RC: I’ve read that you like to play your older stuff at gigs if it’s what the people want. Do you ever troll your audience and simply refuse to play one of the big ones like MMM MMM MMM MMMM or Afternoons and Coffee Spoons?
BR: Again, no idea what you mean by troll. As for refusing to play a big hit like MMM MMM MMM MMM–no way! That would be mean. It’s the song everyone wants to hear. And any artist who gets all pissy about being trapped by their hits is being a big baby. Even one hit is better than none, and refusing to play it would be asinine. There are bands who feel this way; Kurt Cobain used to refuse to play “Teen Spirit” That was all about his insecurity. Poor Kurt. Great voice, but didn’t do well under the spotlight. Mind you, he was stalked and cheated and in a bad place. I miss their music.
RC: Finally, we’re really keen to see you in South Africa. You’ve been before but probably not with the same lineup. I won’t ask what to expect because you’ll just tell me to come and find out but what have you missed from your last visit that you haven’t been able to find anywhere else?
BR: I’m very keen to go to South Africa. So we’re on the same page. As for the answer to your question, here it is: No where else but South Africa have I swum with penguins!