"Kate didn’t like the name at first. She had to be convinced. She just didn’t think it was funny and eventually she caved."
– Riki Lindhome
Guy MacPherson: I’ve got Riki and Kate. Who’s who?
Riki Lindhome: I’m Riki.
Kate Micucci: And I’m Kate and I play Oates.
RL: I’m Garfunkel.
GM: The voices on the phone are very similar.
KM: I’ll make sure we say who we are when we’re talking. This is Kate.
GM: Okay, good. You’ve done this a lot.
RL: Yes. This is Riki.
GM: I’ve seen you guys. You’ve been to Vancouver a few times, right?
RL: Just once. We came to the Vancouver Comedy Festival two years ago.
GM: Who said that?
GM: Ah. Well I saw you at a number of venues so it seemed like you were here a couple times.
RL: Yeah, we were there just the once but we’re really excited to come back.
KM: I was in Vancouver a few months ago working on the show Psych. I like the city a lot.
GM: When were you here last?
KM: It was September of 2010, I believe.
RL: Good for you, I don’t remember at all.
GM: Were you guys headliners then?
RL: Um, I think we were close. I don’t know if we were headliners. I think we’d headlined a couple places but we weren’t touring then as much. It was just here and there. It’s definitely increased.
GM: I see you’re at Helium this weekend.
RL: Yup, we’re actually in the car with someone from Helium right now.
GM: I know you have a lot of your own fans, but playing clubs you might reach people who don’t know you. Is that the case?
RL: This is Riki. I hope so. People bring their boyfriends, girlfriends, whoever and we love getting new fans. It’s fun for us when people haven’t heard our songs.
KM: This is Kate and not too long ago we played a show and we realized a lot of people didn’t know who we were. It’s a great challenge to try and win them over and when we do it’s a great feeling.
GM: Your act is something they might not expect at a comedy club.
RL: Oh totally, yeah. We sometimes have to overcome that when we first come out on stage. People are like, ‘What is this?’ But then it’s just so fun and silly and usually people get on board.
GM: You guys are both actors. Was this just originally a side project that got out of hand?
KM: I would definitely say that, but out of hand in a good way.
RL: It sort of snowballed in the most amazing way. This is Riki. It surprises us every day. And we’re just going with it.
KM: And this is Kate. Yeah, I think a lot of it had to do initially with YouTube and the response we got from people writing to us for the videos we posted, that Riki had posted. And then we just kept making more of them. And it kinda went from there.
GM: I think I’ve got your voices down now.
KM & RL: Oh good.
GM: I’m glad that acts like you and Flight of the Conchords and Henry Philips have this alt-cred because musical acts were sometimes frowned upon by the comedy snobs. Did you feel that at first?
RL: I didn’t feel it probably because the people that don’t like musical acts weren’t coming to see us. I don’t know, did you feel it, Kate?
KM: If it was happening, I was oblivious to it.
RL: I’m sure it’s still happening. There are a lot of people who don’t like musical comedy. That’s fine. But we haven’t really been affected by it. We haven’t really noticed it if it is happening.
GM: My sense of it is it’s just a philosophical thing; it’s got nothing to do with whether you’re actually funny or not.
RL: Right. That’s their prerogative. It’s fine with us.
GM: Kate, your mom’s a musician, right?
KM: My mom’s a piano teacher, yeah. But I didn’t take lessons from her, although she stood next to me during all of my practicing. She didn’t teach me only because I think that would have been a disaster. I wouldn’t have listened very well.
GM: She must be thrilled that you have sort of a career in music.
KM: Yeah. I started playing piano when I was four and I wanted to quit every year but my mom never let me and I’m so thankful for that.
GM: Riki, you’ve got a podcast, right?
RL: Yes. It’s called Making It and it’s on Nerdist.
GM: You’re getting some great guests.
RL: Yeah, it’s been really fun. I try to do a big variety and people at various stages of their careers so it’s kind of helpful to everybody. It’s aimed at people starting out. I want to get the real stories of how it happened.
GM: Your own story is pretty interesting, too.
RL: Yeah, it really is. Kate and I definitely didn’t have any connections. We just sort of figured it out. I feel like most of the people I’ve interviewed have had the same thing.
KM: Both Riki and I when we started out we really didn’t have any help or anybody to really look toward. It wasn’t easy along the way.
RL: It’s nice to provide people who are in our position with some sort of guide even though it’s just a small thing, it’s better than nothing.
GM: I’ve seen both of your individual songs and they’re similar in style to what you do together. When you come up with a song, how do you know if it’s just for one of you or for you together?
RL: We just kind of know.
KM: Yeah, for me, I don’t really write dirty songs on my own. It just doesn’t come out of me that way so usually all the songs that I write that aren’t dirty, they just really wouldn’t work for Garfunkel & Oates.
RL: There’s been a couple of crossovers but mostly we just know.
GM: You must influence each other because you’re so similar in style. Is that something you came to together or was one of you a stronger influence than the other?
RL: I would say melodically Kate is a stronger influence and I’ve come more around to her sensibility in that regard.
KM: But I also think the songs that Riki was writing and I was writing before we knew each other, they’re still kind of similar because we have a lot of the same influences. The ’80s are a huge influence on us as well as Broadway musicals. So starting from there we kind of had similar backgrounds.
GM: I’m a big fan of Broadway musicals, too.
KM: Oh, are you? Yeah, it’s definitely a huge influence on us. We both grew up listening to them and we both still do.
GM: Yeah, but I’m a straight guy.
RL: If it’s good, it shouldn’t matter.
GM: That’s what I say. I’m an unabashed fan. With your individual projects on the go, do you make time to create together or does one just shoot the other ideas when they come?
RL: We have to make time to create together. It took us a long time to really figure out our process but we have to carve out that time or else it won’t happen.
GM: It must be tough to plan tours, freeing up your respective schedules.
RL: It’s been a constant balancing act, I must say.
KM: It’s not easy. But right now we’re travelling every weekend in February and working in town in L.A. during the week. So there’s usually something happening. It’s making sure that it all falls into place.
RL: And sometimes you have to give up one thing or the other. It’s fine. It’s a good problem to have.
GM: Can we look forward to a big Martin & Lewis lifetime rift at some point in the future?
KM: I hope not!
RL: I don’t think so because I don’t even know what you mean by that and I was unaware of their rift so I think we’ll be fine.
GM: They didn’t speak to each other for years and years.
KM: No, I can’t imagine.
RL: I think we’ll be fine in that regard, yeah.
KM: Did we already talk about the album we have coming out in a couple of weeks?
GM: No. Tell me.
RL: Oh, cool. It’s called Slippery When Moist. Thirteen songs and we’re really proud of it. We’re so excited to put it out there. February 21st it’s coming out and we’re so excited. We cannot wait to get it out there.
GM: Who’s it coming out with?
RL: Just ourselves.
KM: Yeah, just us.
RL: We have our own fictitious record label called No One Buys Records.
GM: Is that your first record?
RL: This is our third.
GM: How many songs in your repertoire?
RL: Uh… forty?
KM: Maybe, about.
RL: Thirty? Thirty-five?
KM: The ones that we play on the road, it’s 15, 18.
GM: Back to the fictitious rift in the future, how do you deal with disagreements? Anyone in working relationships, especially creative ones, has disagreements. Are there screaming matches? Passive-aggressive pouting?
RL: I would say we’re definitely more the passive-aggressive pouters than the screaming match. I couldn’t even imagine us in a screaming match, actually. We try our best to deal with things head-on. If we have a disagreement about something we try to just put it out there and talk it through. You have to work on it and keep reestablishing what you want. We basically have to communicate more than we ever have in our lives.
GM: Are some of the songs, like a comic’s act, works in progress where they might be tweaked the more you perform it?
RL: Sometimes, but mostly not, actually. Mostly they’re finished products before we put them onstage. We’re lucky that we have that advantage. Comedians need to hash stuff out but for the most part they stay intact.
KM: But we’re definitely not opposed to reworking a lyric or two or if something doesn’t get a response trying to find something that will be better in that place.
GM: How long have you been together?
KM: We started writing songs in the spring of 2008 and did our first big show in 2009.
GM: Isn’t that amazing how quickly you’ve progressed.
RL: It’s mind-boggling for us. We can’t believe it.
GM: Is there an alpha-female in the group?
RL: Uh… me.
KM: Yeah, Riki.
GM: How does that manifest itself?
KM: That’s just Riki.
RL: I think I have stronger opinions on things.
KM: Yeah. I’m a little bit more, would you say easy-going?
RL: Yeah. Kate is more easy-going.
KM: And Riki’s more type A. But it evens things out because if we were both type A or both easy-going, we’d either not exist or we’d have nothing done. You gotta need both.
RL: Yeah, it works out.
GM: On one of the videos I saw, you had larger orchestrations than just the two of you. Do you have more like that? Or plans to have more?
RL: Yeah, our new album has a lot of orchestrations. It’s very ’80s influenced but it’s also like a lot of orchestral elements.
KM: Yeah, definitely in Slippery When Moist you’ll hear a lot of that.
GM: Do you do the arrangements?
RL: We work with producers but we’re very, very hands-on. We’re there every second.
KM: It’s a group effort with the producers and Riki and I.
RL: We work with talented producers who all do musical comedy.
KM: Yeah, the two producers that we worked with on our new album have a lot of experience with musical comedy. It’s a definite fine line with funny versus making it sound amazing. You still want it to sound funny but it’s a tricky thing to find.
GM: Yeah, total fine line because you could have a great hook but it’s just not that funny or it could be funny but not work musically.
RL: We always err on the side of funny.
KM: Sometimes if it sounds too amazing, it won’t be funny. It’s a hard thing to pin down. It’s a lot of trial and error, really.
GM: Have you heard from either Garfunkel or Oates?
KM: Yes, John Oates is a friend of ours. He’s very supportive.
GM: Was he a friend before?
RL: No, but he contacted us very early on in our career.
KM: Yeah, we actually played Maneater with him and we opened for him back in 2009. He’s an amazing guy. Really, really sweet.
GM: And as for Garfunkel?
RL: We’ve never met him. We’d like to.
GM: In choosing the name, did you haggle over who was who?
KM: No, it just really made sense. Riki’s tall and blonde, and I’m short and have brown hair and if I’m not careful I’ll have a moustache.
GM: How did you choose the name?
RL: We had other names. We just thought it was funny. And they’re pretty much the biggest second bananas in the industry.
GM: But you guys aren’t second bananas anymore.
RL: No, we’re not. Hopefully. Yeah, Kate didn’t like the name at first. She had to be convinced. She just didn’t think it was funny and eventually she caved.
GM: Because she’s the type B and you rammed it down her throat.
RL: Exactly. Exactly.
GM: How many instruments do you travel with on the road?
RL: Just guitar and uke. Sometimes the venue will have a keyboard for us, which is fun, but sometimes they don’t. It’s a really simple travel situation.
GM: How often do you put out your podcast?
RL: Once a week. Every Tuesday.
GM: Do you have a bunch in the can for when you’re out on the road?
RL: I do. I just had a bunch in the can then I ran out and had to do a bunch more. I always try to have a couple ready to go so I have a few weeks to not worry about it. I never want to be like, “Ah, I have to do that today!” So I try to pack them in when I have free time or I’m actually in L.A. I try to get as many done as I possibly can.
GM: A lot of festivals now have live recordings of various podcasts. Have you thought of doing that?
RL: We’re actually doing Doug Loves Movies in Vancouver and we’re doing Who Charted? We’re doing both of those when we’re in Vancouver. We’ve never been on WTF but we’re gonna do the other two.
GM: Have you ever thought of doing your own at a comedy festival with a live audience?
RL: Not so far. It’s not really a comedy podcast. It’s under that category but that’s not really what it is. It’s more of an artsy podcast. It would have to be the perfect guest. It would have to be just right to do it live.
GM: I guess you could always bring the equipment and with all the acts at a festival you could grab one and sit in your hotel room and record one.
RL: Yeah, I’ve done that before.
GM: Well, that’s it from me.
RL: Cool. Well, it’s nice to meet you.
KM: Are you going to be coming to the shows?
GM: I’ll be at all the shows. I’ll see you around.
KM: Oh, cool. Be sure to say hello.