Comedy Icon Talks Sony Lawsuit, Plus YouTube Interview Show, Children's Book & His Super Bowl Dreams
Weird Al Yankovic is understandably tight-lipped about his royalties lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment. But, he tells Billboard.com, it's "not personal."
"I'm not mad at Sony. I'd like to think they're not mad at me. Its just business," says Yankovic, whose Ear Booker Enterprises is suing the company for $5 million for unpaid digital royalties and for his share of settlements against peer-to-peer sites such as Napster and Kazaa. Yankovic is still part of the Sony family; his latest album, 2011's "Alpocalypse," was released on the company's Volcano imprint and notched the best chart showing of his career -- No. 1 on the Comedy chart and No. 9 on the Billboard 200.
"My attorneys and their attorneys have a fundamental disagreement about how much money I'm owed, so they have to work it out in court," Yankovic continues. "Probably the less I say about this, the happier my manager and lawyer will be. If I'm going to be needed (to testify), they will let me know."
While that goes on, Yankovic is going about his business -- and there's a lot of it these days. Yankovic has joined the Nerdist Channel on YouTube for a 10-episode run of "Face To Face," a show that features the kind of faux interviews that have been favorites at his concerts.
"I love doing these interviews," Yankovic says. "It's fun for me, and the fans enjoy them. It gives me more material I can use in the live concert, too." And unlike his parody songs, which Yankovic always does with the blessing of the original artists, "when I do these interviews I'm hoping for their forgiveness. I've been doing this since '84, and I've never received a single complaint from a celebrity, even the few times I've gone over the edge, in my estimation -- like I went pretty hard on Kevin Federline, 'cause he was such a target at the time. I feel kind of bad about that in retrospect. But for the most part, everybody's enjoyed the joke."
"Face To Face" has, however, "derailed" Yankovic's work on his follow-up to "Alpocalypse." "I had a session set up for next month and had to put those on hold 'cause I've not had time to write any new material," he says. "But I have some ideas, so the idea is at some point this year I will be back in the studio, recording the first material for a new album."
Meanwhile, Yankovic has turned his second children's book, the follow-up to his 2011 New York Times best-seller "When I Grow Up," into his editor for a fall of 2013 publication. He's being circumspect about the details of the plot but confirms that it features Billy, the protagonist from "When I Grow Up." "It's another book of Billy's adventures in the classroom," Yankovic says. "It looks like possibly the beginning of a new franchise, although I don't know if it will get quite as dark" as "The Hunger Games."
And then there's the online petition drive to encourage the National Football League to sign up Yankovic as the halftime act for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. "I certainly couldn't turn that down, but I'm not going to hold my breath," Yankovic says. "I'm extremely flattered by the attention and the fact fans want to make it happen. I don't think in reality it ever will, but I'm loving the fact that fans are making such an effort to make it happen." Though not a particularly ardent football fan -- "I'm sure the NFL would love to hear that!" -- Yankovic says he's allowed the odd image of what he'd do with the slot "to float through my mind." But mostly he says that "I try not to think about it. If I ever thought it would happen for real I would immediately have a diarrhea attack. It'd be the scariest thing I'd ever do in my life. I can't imagine anything more terrifying."