Catching Up With Little Pete On His Latest Adventures
by davey jones
If you remember All That or The Adventures of Pete and Pete from your Nickelodeon-watching youth, then you’ve already seen Danny Tamberelli (aka Little Pete). If you watched The Magic School Bus or played Grand Theft Auto V, you know Danny Tamberelli’s voice. But have you heard Danny Tamberelli’s band, Jounce? Last Thursday, I called Danny while he was in Los Angeles before he headed home to New York, and subsequently to Connecticut, to kick off the Jounce tour.
Davey Jones: Introductory, obligatory redhead question: what’s your favorite kind of sunblock?
Danny Tamberelli: My favorite kind of sunblock is a cotton, long-sleeve flannel. I hate sunscreen. I don’t like to wear it, but just... walk around with long-sleeve shirts on, and jeans… and hats. But if I had to pick, I guess, Coppertone. *Laughs*
DJ: Obviously you know that I know that you know that you were on Pete and Pete… and All That… you’ve done a bunch of voice work, too. Magic School Bus and Grand Theft Auto V. If there was a video game or a cartoon that you could do the voice for, what would you like those to be?
DT: Oh… Get me on Big Mouth! That’s where I’d wanna be. I think I would fit right in. So, hopefully Nick Kroll will uh… watch… listen... read this famous article. Could you CC him on that when you send it out to me?
DJ: I’ll make sure to include that. *Laughs* I’ll send him a link from the website... If you could be a video game character?
DT: Well, if it was a Pete and Pete video game, then definitely Little Pete still. But if I could pick anything? If they reboot Earthworm Jim, I would be a good Earthworm Jim.
DJ: That makes me want an entire animated Earthworm Jim movie.
DT: I mean… let’s get it done, man. Do you know anybody?
DJ: Let me call up all the graphic artists that I know. We’ll see if we can do it.
DT: [Norfolk-based illustrator] Todd Webb. He can do it.
DJ: How did you guys start working with Todd?
DT: He listened to the podcast and asked if we wanted to do some… because initially we were doing one a month… he would just do a recap in nine frames... a little comic strip for us. So he solicited us and then we really loved his work. It has a really unique, cool style.
He’s done some t-shirts for us, some posters. Sometimes it works out like that. Most of the time it does. Honestly, Pete and Pete was such a weird, quirky, left-of-the-dial show that... people who enjoyed it were sort of that way. That’s sort of how I am and how I grew up.
Now seems as good a time as any to tell you that I interviewed Todd Webb the following afternoon. Todd is an indie comic strip artist best known for drawing Dan Goodsell’s Mr Toast Comics series and the episode recaps for The Adventures of Danny & Mike podcast (Little Pete and Big Pete have a podcast!). He also has a band, Seamonster, that will be opening for Jounce at Charlie’s American Cafe in Norfolk this Saturday.
Davey Jones: I talked to Danny and he said that you hit them up about drawing for the podcast by sending them comics that were recaps of the episodes.
Todd Webb: They posted they were starting a podcast on Twitter. I just fired off, “If you guys need art, let me know.” Then, the producer of the show got in touch with me: “How serious are you?” I said, “I’ll do it. I wasn’t joking.” I’m a little behind. It was weekly, now it’s monthly. from like 20 shows to now, all of a sudden, there’s like 60 shows. They’ve expanded the endeavor. There’s merch and stuff.
DJ: It’s the first podcast I’ve really listened to. It’s easier for me, because they talk about lots of stuff instead of sticking to one story for the whole hour.
TW: It’s funny because, years ago, I worked for Nickelodeon Magazine. I used to try to pitch them on doing a Pete and Pete comic since the show was over. Let’s get Chris and Will that created the show involved. Let’s have Nick Magazine continue it as comics. It never panned out, so it’s funny to me that, years later, I’m technically doing Pete and Pete comics, but with Danny and Mike.
DJ: The show had a lot of influence on you as a kid. Musically, what did you take from the show and the guests that were featured on it?
TW: I haven’t even told Danny this, but the effect that Pete and Pete had on my life is so insane, if I stop and look at it from a distance. Not just because I enjoyed the show, but musically where I ended up heading… that show introduced me to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, The Apples in Stereo, Yo La Tengo, Polaris that did the theme song, which led me to Mark Mulcahy’s stuff. That was the first weird link. This was all pre-internet.
As a kid, I would try to find the songs that were on the show, because I liked them so much. A cereal box offered a Pete and Pete cassette tape as a mail away. That’s the only thing I ever mailed away for in my life from a cereal box. I lived in Connecticut when the internet came around, and I spent all my time on the internet looking up indie comics and indie music. I found out Mark Mulcahy was from Connecticut. He lived thirty minutes away from me. The first show I ever went to see was Mark Mulcahy performing solo in Manchester, CT. Stuff like that just kept happening.
DJ: I think the universe has a tendency to reflect what you’re projecting into it. Talk to me about your band, Seamonster, that’s opening for Jounce.
TW: For the show that’s coming up at Charlie’s, it seemed like all the other acts were full bands. So, I threw a band together for Seamonster, which is something I do once in a blue moon. It’s usually just me. I drafted my friends in Berries, which is an up and coming band in the Virginia Beach scene. I’ve known the main kid since he was like 9 years old. I used to joke with him and his brother that “I’ll raise you guys and one day you can be in Seamonster.” One of those self-fulfilling prophecies. The reason I asked them to back me on this show is we played a show together at Toast last year. They learned one of my songs on their own, Plastic Fangs, and asked me to jump on stage and sing it. We hadn’t rehearsed it at all. They did a really good job, so I asked them to help me out with this show at Charlie’s.
Speaking of venues, and Virginia Beach, I rounded out my interview with Danny (the day before) by asking him about Jounce’s favorite venues to play around the country...
DT: Oh, man. We used to play a bunch of weird places in Virginia Beach. There was a place right on the beach. In 2002, or 2005, we used to play Chick’s Beach Cafe. This is a good Virginia Beach story. It’s not Norfolk, but… it’s regional. There was a table in front of where we were playing with a group of people that were getting real drunk. Our guitar player makes real funny O-face… guitar faces… he gets really into it…
DJ: *Laughs* With his solos? Was he trying to make the weirdest faces possible?
DT: Honestly, I don’t think he realizes how much he does it. It just happens. It’s how much he cares about the music. So these people started making fun of him. They made a comment between the songs: “do you make those faces on purpose?” Being a general dick to him. He was real upset about it. And I saw that one of the guys had dropped his keys, right by where my pedals were. And I just kinda -- sneakily -- put my foot over his keys.
I grabbed them in the middle of the song, made it look like I bent down trying to fix my pedals. I grabbed his keys and stuck them in my pocket. So, at the end of the night, we’re packing up… they’re still there and they’re freaking out. They can’t find the keys. I took the keys from the guy who drove everybody there. *Laughs* They’re frantically looking for these keys, having a night, all yelling at each other. We pack up... and we leave... with his keys. The next day, we drove to Asbury Park in New Jersey and I threw them in a garbage can.
That’s what you get… that’s what you get… don’t fuck with the entertainment, because they have power, too. I’ve not told anybody that story in a long time. I totally forgot about that, too.