September 21, 2010
Posted: 03:22 PM ET
The LKL blog spoke with television star Paul Reiser as he changes pace in his career to focus on music. Pairing with Grammy winning music producer, Julia Fordham, Reiser is making music and sending a message to the families of the US troops.
LKL Blog: You’ve been a musician since before your television fame, but you are most famous for your acting roles. If you had to choose: acting or music & why?
Reiser: There's been something oddly parallel about this music project with Julia Fordham and the new TV show I'm doing. They both started "by accident," ironically in the same month. Over the course of 6 months, all the songs and all the scripts were written at the same time. We recorded the album while we were preparing to shoot the show, and now they're both coming out roughly at the same time. Even though they're totally unrelated, they kind of feed off each other in a strange way.
LKL Blog: The first single on the album “Unusual Suspects” you wrote with Julia Fordham, “UnSung Hero” focuses on families of the troops. How did this collaboration come about & what has the response to “UnSung Hero” been like?
Reiser: I had been a fan of Julia and we met years ago, through a mutual friend. And then sometime last year, we bumped in to each other again and I kind of crazily asked her if she felt like writing together. We gave it a shot – and it worked, and we kept going.
"UnSung Hero" has really taken on a life of its own. It was the last song written, and like all the other songs, I sent Julia some music and waited to see where it took her. As fate would have it, the very next day, she struck up a conversation with a woman whose son is serving in Afghanistan. And her story really impacted Julia, who as a mother of a five year-old, was really struck with what that must mean; to have your child on the other side of the world, directly in harm's way. The song just came to her in one shot. And as soon as we recorded it we felt that we had stumbled onto something special. It just felt so universal.
We were invited to perform the song a few weeks ago at a benefit in Los Angeles for Wounded Warriors Project, and the response was truly humbling. The audience was filled with military families – some with loved ones in combat as we speak, some with soldiers who've returned and are still finding their bearings. They could not have been more passionate about how the song hit them. The thing about Julia's lyrics is that they're so simple and direct. No matter what your politics may be, everyone knows what it feels like to be separated from those you love.
LKL Blog: It’s clear from your work on the piano for the “Mad About You” theme song that you can play & write music. Can you sing?
Reiser: Not at all! And when I do sing, my children ask me to stop. I leave the singing to Julia – who has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. She has this phenomenal range, and sings with such emotional honesty – she just kills me. The biggest thrill of this process was getting to hear one of my truly favorite singers in the world sing sitting right next to me. It was a genuine treat.
LKL Blog: You have been a student of music for years. Who inspired you to pursue music initially & who continues to influence you today?
Reiser: It was something that i just seemed to take to as a kid. We had a piano in the house growing up, and I just kind of gravitated to it. And my tastes are really all across the board. Growing up, it was the Beatles and Ray Charles and Aretha, then Cream and the Allman Brothers, Elvis Costello, Billy Joel... kind of all over the place. Lyle Lovett to Muse. And I've always loved the really somber classical guys – Rachmaninoff, Sibelius. And any movie with a score by Ennio Morricone.
LKL Blog: You’re currently working on scripts for the “The Paul Reiser Show” on NBC. The series is about a former television star who hasn’t worked on a series in a few years. How autobiographical will the show be?
Reiser: It's pretty darn close, to tell you the truth. I play me – a very happily married man with two great boys and a group of friends I never actually picked. All my friends are either the husbands of my wife's friends, or fathers of my kids' friends. I never particularly chose these guys – yet I got them. (I'm finding out that most guys my age seem to feel the same way.) My "character" is kind of figuring out what he wants to with the rest of his life. When I was approached about creating a new show, I had been happily staying at home for ten years, but was starting to get the nagging sensation that I probably should be getting out of the house once in a while and doing something. So... here I go.
To see the video of "UnSung Heros" go to www.juliafordham.com.
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