Here are some interviews with legendary Las
Vegas lounge singer Richard Cheese about music, martinis, and martinis.
Desert Living Magazine
This guy may be the best
lounge singer ever … or at least the best dressed
by Chris Rubin, January 2006
“I would love to gamble more when I'm in
Vegas,” says singer Richard Cheese. “But I'm so busy with the
cheap sex and binge drinking that there's just no time for any other
vices. Vegas can be frustrating: there are so many people to do,
so little time.”
Cheese and his band, Lounge Against The Machine, released Aperitif For
Destruction (Surfdog Records), their fourth CD, at the end of May, 2005.
As with his previous discs, Cheese recorded his own versions of popular
rock, metal, and hip-hop songs in his trademark über-lounge style.
Cheese covered Rage Against the Machine on his debut disc, hence the
moniker for the band. On Aperitif, he wraps his smarmy vocals
around tunes like “American Idiot” and “Welcome to the Jungle,” among
Backed by a swinging rhythm section, Cheese croons his renditions of
current hits, all recast in jaunty, finger-snapping tempos. His
utterly deadpan delivery serves to hilariously highlight the often
atrocious lyrics in many of the songs.
No dates are set yet, but Cheese will perform soon in Las Vegas, which
is a second home for him. He loves playing the town though he
prefers his action off The Strip. Sunset Station is his favorite venue
in Sin City.
“It has a great stage and a big floor with cocktail tables,” he
explains. “I get out there and really touch the people and when I say
‘people’ I mean ladies."
Singer Richard Cheese and his hilarious act
"Outside Vegas, people don’t appreciate that
it’s a real city, not just a tourist destination,” he continues.
“So we like to play for the folks who live here. We come to Vegas not as
a touring band, and not as a nightly headliner, but sort of as a
regular. It’s like being part of the family more of a fun
visiting uncle than a third cousin or the annoying mother-in-law who
lives in the house with you.”
Will Cheese and his bandmates appear any time soon on the marquee at The
Strip’s newest property? Don’t count on it.
“I don’t trust Steve Wynn,” Cheese says. “His name is Wynn … so it
seems suspicious to me. How come his name isn’t Steve ‘Lose?’
I bet it was, and he changed it.”
New Times Broward-Palm Beach - Beatcomber
"Some Kind of Muenster"
Lounge has never been cheesier than
Richard Cheese cutting up on "Me So Horny."
by Jonathan Zwickel, August 25, 2005
After taking a look at this week's cover story, you've probably
surmised that New Times has happily retired to the lounge for a
mid-summer reprieve. And while Dik Shuttle is our own fabulous local
raconteur, a Dick by another name -- that being Cheese -- has gained
notoriety on an international scale. Yes, Richard Cheese and his crack
jazz trio Lounge Against the Machine have "swankified" pop tunes over
several cult-fave albums, including I'd Like A Virgin, To The 5 Casinos,
and Tuxicity. Cheese belts tomorrow's standards today -- Sir Mixalot's
"Baby Got Back," the Killers' "Somebody Told Me," and the timeless
"Welcome to the Jungle" by GnR -- with a brassy voice and
"Stardust"-quality arrangements. When Beatcomber learned that Cheese,
the self-described "most successful unsuccessful lounge act," was
possibly hanging up his tiger-striped tux for good, he put a call in to
the singer's Vegas suite.
Beatcomber: Your website (www.richardcheese.com) gives props to a
slew of lounge-pop influences and contemporaries, but I don't see Dik
Shuttle on there.
Richard Cheese: You know, I'd never heard of Dik Shuttle until right
now. I've heard of the Space Shuttle, but I don't think the Space
Shuttle does too many lounge covers. I'll add Dik now that I know. What
we do is not by any means unique, but I think we do it the loudest. I
would say our band gets closer to the audience than any other band.
Physically, distance wise, I sometimes get within five to six inches of
the audience, and that's not just a record but a way of life.
Excellent. So tell me about your beef with Paul Anka.
You've heard that Paul Anka put out a CD called Rock Swings? The
original title of the CD was I Am Going to Rip Off Richard Cheese. Paul
Anka has made zillions of dollars -- he wrote the Tonight Show theme,
and he wrote "My Way," and he wrote that douche jingle. I don't know if
you've heard that. The last thing he needs is money, and the last thing
I need is Paul Anka to start cutting into the lounge-singer act.
Has he acknowledged you at all?
Actually he has. A few months ago, he was on a radio interview and
someone called in and said, "Hey, this sounds like Richard Cheese and
Lounge Against the Machine." [Anka] said our band was quote "machine
driven" and there were no natural players. Which is of course not true
-- we have a full jazz trio, and the next show we're doing in L.A. on
August 25 has a full horn section. We're a live band, we play all over
the United States, we've played Portugal, London, and Hawaii. I think
he's just nervous because he knows I can get an erection without Viagra
and that intimidates him. Lounge music and lounge albums -- this is gang
warfare, this is the crips and the bloods is what this is.
What do you look for in the songs you cover?
We're looking for that song that has that special... something. We look
at the charts and the radio rotations, and we say, "Which song is gonna
be around five, 10, 20 years from now? Which song is the five-year-old
kid today gonna have playing at her wedding in 2020?" That's the thing:
You look at a song like "Me So Horny" -- what a love song that is! It's
a beautiful lyric and it's written from the heart. Luke Skyywalker is
from Florida, is that correct? I remember when he was just One Live
Crew. It was great that they went ahead and paid the extra money and
became Two Live Crew, and that's a great song.
We also did "People Equals Shit" by Slipknot. You have to dig deep
through a Slipknot song to find the melody, but when you do that's like
finding a diamond in the rough. These songs are on our newest CD,
Aperitif for Destruction. "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morrisette is a
really swinging number. So many of these songs you walk into a lounge
and you hear it and say, "Oh that's the song." You know? We've always
wanted to do "Add It Up" by the Violent Femmes. It's a beautiful,
boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl song.
It just has to do with the lyrics and how drunk we are. We've never
found a song we couldn't swankify. That's just a testament to what a
wonderful golden age of songwriting we're living in now. We have the Foo
Fighters writing great lyrics, we have Blink 182, those guys write some
great songs. And we're very fortunate to be living in this age. It's
like Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein all over again.
Do you play any instruments?
The only instrument I play is the microphone. I'm good at it, I'm proud
of the work I've done to be able to sing into any microphone. I've
mastered all the different types. I've been singing for many, many
years. We just started putting out CDs in 2000. Before that we put out
albums on what was called 7-track, a precursor to 8-track that didn't
really catch on. In retrospect I think that was a bad technology.
So retirement is just around the corner?
We're not doing any more live shows because I'd like to spend more time
in the studio, and I'd like to spend more time in bed, quite frankly.
We're gonna finish up the Let It Brie tour and then hopefully we're
gonna get Don and Glen and Timothy to join the band again and do a
The three guys from the Eagles. And we're gonna try and redo the Hell
Freezes Over tour, where we can reunite the band, because you make your
money on the reunion tour. We're probably gonna do that sometime next
year -- the Dick Freezes Over tour in 2006.
"Richard Cheese: Star Wars Swings!"
The lounge-singer extraordinaire talks about
love, ladies, and the Modal Nodes Bith band.
by Bonnie Burton, May
Shocking as this may sound to some fans, lounge-singer
extraordinaire Richard Cheese never watched the Star Wars films
as a young lad, but instead when he was an older, wiser adult
playing a gig with his band in a cocktail lounge -- much like
Max Rebo and his bizarre-looking band mates.
"I never saw the Star Wars movies in theaters; I guess the whole
Star Wars thing passed me by the first time around," Cheese
confesses. "I mostly watched films like the Maltese
Falcon, Goldfinger, and anything with Frank, Sammy or Dino in
it. Then, a few years ago, I played at a hotel cocktail
lounge that had one of the Star Wars movies playing on a
big-screen TV, as sort of background eye candy. It looked
like a crazy heist flick, just like Ocean's 11. This gang
of good guys was trying to knock off the biggest casino in the
galaxy, the Death Star. So I had the rest of the movies
sent to my room, and I watched them between sets. I was
struck by the 'futuristic' vibe in the movies. I guess the
'Wars' take place in space or something. Not normally my
scene, but I dug the chick with the hair and the electric swords
-- those were swingin'. Oh, and the floating car was a
Once he saw the films, especially with the Modal Nodes Bith band
happily playing for Mos Eisley Cantina patrons, Cheese was
hooked. "When I saw that cantina scene, with the big band
playing, it really knocked me over," Cheese continues.
"What a great sound, what a happening bunch of cats, what giant
heads! That's my favorite scene in all the movies; I watch
that movie again and again, just to see that band playing.
It's dynamite. I'd love to see the full performance, not
just the two tunes that made it into the movie. Tell Dr.
Lucas to send me the footage, huh?"
Cheese's confession of being new to Star Wars fandom might be
easier to grasp when fans learn that the singer has only existed
less than a decade. The lounge-singer is actually the
alias for actor/comedian/singer Mark Jonathan Davis, who has
been writing, producing, and performing comedy novelty songs for
nearly 25 years, including tribute parodies like "The Star Wars
Cantina" and "The Phantom Medley." Working also as a
jingle singer, and doing guest stints on such TV shows as "News
Radio," "Batman: The Animated Series," and "The Man Show," Davis
has created many memorable singing characters over the years,
including network mascot Johnny Chimes at NBC Television, and
Paul the 55-year-old-intern, Shakespeare Man, and Bob Hope at
But his most recent incarnation of Richard Cheese, a lounge
singer who sings popular rock and rap songs in the Las Vegas
lounge-act style, is probably the most famous. As Richard
Cheese, Davis recruited a band and recorded lounge covers of
'90s alternative rock hits resulting in his first album, Lounge
Against the Machine, released in 2000. Four more records
followed: Tuxicity (2002), I'd Like a Virgin (2004), Aperitif
for Destruction (2005) and The Sunny Side of the Moon: The Best
of Richard Cheese (2006). Cheese is featured in the Dawn
of the Dead movie soundtrack (2004), and has appeared on "Jimmy
Kimmel Live," "Opie & Anthony," Howard Stern, CNN, MTV, and on
NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" as the show's house band.
Cheese has performed hundreds of concerts around the world,
including sellout shows in New York, Los Angeles, London, Las
Vegas, and sometimes Yavin.
Unlike his Cheese alter-ego, Davis is quick to point out that
he's been a fan of Star Wars since he was a kid. "I saw
the first Star Wars movie in Phoenix, Arizona when I was in
sixth grade," Davis says. "It had been in theaters for
about two weeks, but there were already kids in my school who
had seen it multiple times. By the end of that year, I had
seen it six times. This was before VCRs and videotapes, so
I didn't see it again for years. I remember a few years
later that the first Star Wars movie was broadcast on TV and
simulcast over a radio station, and we painstakingly recorded
the entire audio soundtrack on to cassettes. Even though I
didn't have a videotape of the movie, I still 'watched' Star
Wars by listening dozens and dozens of times, memorizing the
dialogue and sound effects over the years. I really became
an aficionado of the SFX for that first film. I even got
to meet Tomlinson Holman and Ben Burtt some years later!"
His love for the saga was so apparent that his childhood
classmates gave him an endearing nickname. "I was the
shortest kid in my class in elementary school, so I was
nicknamed Little Jawa at one point," Davis smiles. "I
accepted this dubious honor, and dressed as a Jawa for
Halloween, complete with small penlight flashlights attached to
my glasses frames for eyes."
As an adult, Davis showed his appreciation in other ways.
"I did a number of parody songs about Star Wars, the most
popular one being 'The Star Wars Cantina,' a spoof of Barry
Manilow's 'Copacabana.' I released it in 1996, around the
time of the Special Edition movies, and it became a big hit on
radio stations and among fans. Then, when Episode I came
out, I did a parody medley called 'The Phantom Medley,' which
was lots of fun. This was before the mainstream Internet,
so it was folks like Dr. Demento who gave my parodies their
earliest airplay and support. Dr. Demento used to play
other Star Wars parodies, like Weird Al's 'Y-O-D-A,' and I think
it was great to learn that Star Wars fans and novelty-song fans
were part of the same audience. It gave me confidence to
know that I wasn't the only geek out there."
Even when he transforms himself into Richard Cheese, he still
likes to show his love for Star Wars. As Cheese, he has his own
distinct thoughts about the real theme of the films as only an
old-fashioned crooner could describe. "It's really about
the two chicks -- Princess Leia and Queen Amidala," Cheese
explains. "I think those two broads are what everyone was
fighting about. It's not about the galaxy or the Trade
Federation or freedom or peace; it's about the babes. Kill
my uncle and aunt, blow up my planet, cut off my hand, whatever
you want, just as long as I get the girl with the crazy hairdo
at the end. To quote Rodgers and Hart, 'Believe me sir I
much prefer the classic battle of a him and her.' Star
Wars isn't about war; it's about boy meets girl, boy loses girl,
boy travels around the universe and gets girl back. And
those girls are hot, well worth all the trouble and severed
limbs. And I don't care if you're Luke Skywalker, Ben
Kenobi, Darth Vader, or even the wrinkly, old Emperor: a
dame is a dame is a dame!"
In addition to his theories about love, ladies and Star Wars,
Cheese has a few changes he'd like to make to the classic
musical score. "I love a symphonic score as much as the
next guy, but I wish there was more lounge music in the Star
Wars movies," Cheese says. "Instead of 'Luke's Theme,' how
about playing 'The Summer Wind?' Every time Darth Vader
enters a scene, play 'When Joanna Loved Me' or 'Call Me
Irresponsible.' And R2-D2 and C-3PO should be accompanied
by the song 'Tangerine' every time. And of course, Han
Solo's theme should undoubtedly be 'Come Fly with Me,' right?
But don't change that cantina band, man! Those guys
Speaking of the cantina, Cheese is quick to point out that
Wuher, the Mos Eisley bartender might just be one of the most
underappreciated characters in the galaxy. "That Mos
Eisley bartender deserves some sympathy," Cheese says. "He
had no wait staff, no bouncers, no help whatsoever. I've
played in dives like that, and it's no picnic for the employees.
So, please, remember to tip generously, no matter what planet
you're on, because those barkeeps are working hard for you alien
folk. And tip the band...they need extra money to pay for
their giant hats."
When Cheese performs in front of his fans, he can't help but pay
tribute to the saga on occasion, often reminding his audience to
not take the dark side too seriously. "Last year, we
started playing the Imperial March theme in our live Las Vegas
shows," Cheese says. "But, instead of doing it in a
serious way, we bounce it with a jazzy swing arrangement.
I think it's a metaphor for what happened to the evil Empire.
They were stiff and uptight, and the Rebellion loosened them up
a bit. That's a good example for all of us; whether you're
a Sith Lord, an Ewok, or that way-too-skinny chick on Kamino (I
prefer some meat on my clones), music is the one thing that
everyone likes, no matter which side you're on. Good
music, especially lounge music, surrounds us, penetrates us, and
binds the galaxy together. And if your horn players have
giant heads, all the better."
To find out more about Richard Cheese and his music, visit his
The Arizona Republic
"If You Get His Lounge Act, Smile And Say Cheese"
Arizona Living Section
by Richard Ruelas, May 29, 2008
Richard Cheese, the
tiger-striped-tuxedoed singer who made lounge standards out of angst-ridden
alternative rock songs and sex-crazed rap tunes, might be more popular had his
creator, Mark Davis, treated him more like a novelty act.
But Davis, who created Cheese a decade ago, doesn't have his character mock
wildly popular Top 40 songs by the likes of Britney Spears or Usher. There
is deeper irony found in turning more-obscure songs by groups like Slipknot,
Disturbed, and Puddle of Mudd, laced with raw emotion and explicit language,
into innocuous fluff. The swing style and horn-filled arrangements drain
the anger out of the rock songs and make the most risque songs sound simply
bawdy. Cheese injected romantic emotion into his version of the hip-hop
ode to ample derrieres, "Baby Got Back." He turned the hard-rock contemplation
of suicide and self-mutilation, "Last Resort," into a bouncy dance number.
"Richard Cheese doesn't know," Davis said, referring to his alter ego's naivete
when it came to song content. "There's an innate adorability in that."
Davis has kept Richard Cheese going for 10 years. In that time, he has
released seven Richard Cheese records, appeared on television and on movie
soundtracks, and sold out clubs. But Richard Cheese never signed to a
major label that would bring his music, and idea, to a wider audience. It
remains popular, but underground.
"I have the most intelligent, loyal fans," Davis said, "but I've only got
150,000 of them."
Davis, who grew up in Phoenix, is in the midst of what he says will be the final
Richard Cheese tour. The homecoming show, which is also the first time
Cheese has headlined in Phoenix, is set for June 7 at the Celebrity Theatre.
It will be the largest Arizona venue that Richard Cheese and the Lounge Against
the Machine have played.
"Because I'm from here, it's a big deal for me," said Davis, during a lunchtime
interview at Cibo. Davis, who lives in Los Angeles, was in town to visit
his parents. He ordered a salad and asked that the kitchen hold the
Touring with the band has become a grind, Davis said. "I'm old. I'm slow.
I'm lazy," he said, none of which is conducive to driving around the country in
a van with three other guys and a load of equipment. Davis will continue
to produce Richard Cheese albums.
"As silly as it is, as inconsequential as it is, I am finding that I am making
people's days better," he said.
Early roots in parody
Letters come from soldiers in Iraq, telling Davis they have played his lounge
music during bombing raids. Others tell him that his music has helped them get
through the day. "It's surreal and creepy and great," he said.
Davis has been writing or producing novelty songs most of his life. He
wrote parody lyrics for English assignments at Lookout Mountain Elementary
School in Phoenix.
As a teenager, Davis became obsessed with Jonathon Brandmeier, the morning show
DJ on KZZP-FM from 1981 to 1983. He and a friend, Rick Piester, would
submit parody songs to the station, recording joke lyrics on a cassette.
Brandmeier played a few on the air.
"I was pretty much hooked on the whole magic of radio at that time," Davis said.
Davis took radio classes at Phoenix College and eventually got hired at KZZP.
He was assigned to produce the morning show, hosted by Bruce Kelly, and did more
comedy material there.
It was during that time, in 1988, that a germ of the Richard Cheese character
took root. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli were on a
national tour. Davis recorded a fake commercial that had the trio singing
popular songs. "We had Sinatra singing Guns N' Roses. We had Sammy Davis
Jr. singing 'Pour Some Sugar on Me,' by Def Leppard," Davis said.
Nod to Steve Allen
It was a comedy staple. Bill Murray had a lounge-singer character on
"Saturday Night Live" who most famously crooned made-up lyrics to the "Star
Wars" theme: "If they should bar wars/please let these star wars/stay."
Rick Moranis had a similar lounge-singer character on "SCTV" named Tom Monroe.
"That's been happening since Steve
Allen," Davis said, "when he would (read) 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah' by
the Beatles as dramatic prose."
Davis moved to LA in 1990 and took a job at radio station KROQ. There, he
developed an old-man character who sang Frank Sinatra versions of current songs.
The Richard Cheese character came to fruition in 2000. Cheese was similar
to previous lounge-singer characters, but taken a step further, choosing not
just popular songs of the day, but the edgiest material he could find.
Those who heard the first album, Lounge Against the Machine, a nod to the band
Rage Against the Machine, seemed to get the irony instantly.
"It's really a statement of how someone can not get it so much that they'll take
something important and trivialize it," Davis said. "When you get an
ignorant in charge - when you get a Richard Cheese or George W. Bush in charge -
this is the kind of disaster that will happen."
Although Richard Cheese hasn't found a mass audience, Davis has seen his idea
take root, although not in a way that benefits him.
Cheese was first
Two years ago, Paul Anka released "Rock Swings," containing big-band
interpretations of such contemporary hits as "Wonderwall," by Oasis, and "Black
Hole Sun," by Soundgarden, songs that Richard Cheese has performed live.
The first single off the Anka album was "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the teen
anthem by Nirvana, and a track that Davis says clearly distinguishes Anka and
"Paul Anka knows that [the Nirvana song] is the joke track on his record," Davis
said. "He must know that it's not a standard and it's never going to be a
standard. Richard Cheese thinks it's a standard because it's popular and
because the Nirvana - he calls them 'the Nirvana' - he thinks the Nirvana is the
Duke Ellington of their day." Richard Cheese has recorded a Nirvana song,
but it was the less popular and more provocative "Rape Me."
Similarly, actor Bruce Campbell pitched Old Spice deodorant while seated behind
a piano, wearing an animal-print tuxedo, and playing a lounge-style "Hungry Like
The Wolf," by Duran Duran, another song in the Cheese repertoire.
Given that Anka sold millions of CDs and the Old Spice commercial was most
likely viewed by as many, there will be those who don't realize that Cheese was
"I don't need to own the genre," Davis said, "but would like (others) to respect
that I had a foothold in it."
Check out this interview that Dick did back
in the early 2000s about his first CD, "Lounge
Against The Machine".
WITH THE VAMPER"
Controversy, and Cocktails
with Lounge Singer Richard Cheese
reprinted from The Rancho Palms City Times-Dispatch,
Sunday edition, September 8, 2000, page
Cheese is a lounge singer; it says so right on his
business card. For what seems like years, Cheese has been
treating speakeasy audiences to his unique blend of belt
and heartfelt, a journeyman saloonster's story told
through imagery, phrasing, and a beat-up microphone. His
snazzy jackets, his notoriously elegant "personalle,"
and his occasional on-stage tirades belie the sensitively
complex artiste behind the ever-jostling highball. What
did that sentence mean? To find out, we sent our
correspondent, veteran Hollywood actor Robert Conrad to
catch up with the crackerjack crooner, post-gig at local
watering hole Trader Vic's, to talk about style,
standards, and stardom.
ROBERT CONRAD: Hello, Richard, nice to meet you.
RICHARD CHEESE: Wow, T.R. Sloane! This is an honor! Was
that guy with the hook in those 7-Up commercials?
RC: I haven't thought of Ji-Tu in years. Funny story, one
time, we were shooting on location in Sherman Oaks, when--
RC: (to waitress) Waitress, can I get a champagne
cocktail? Thank you.
RC: (to waitress) Make that two, hon. (winks)
RC: Slick, Bob. I think she likes you.
RC: Hey, I just noticed that we both have the initials RC.
RC: Yeah, this interview could get confusing.
RC: I don't even know which one of us just said that.
RC: Let me count backward, hang on.
RC: (taps fingers impatiently)
RC: It was you...you said it.
(suddenly, Robert Culp enters)
ROBERT CULP: Hey! Bob, Richard, good to see you!
RC: I spy an Emmy-award-nominated actor!
RC: Join us, won't you?
RC: Naw, thanks, I'm meeting some friends for pu-pu.
(Rod Carew, Ry Cooder, and Richard Crenna enter)
RC: Hi, RC!
RC: Hi, RC!
RC: Hi, RC!
RC: Hi, RC!
RC: I'm interviewing Richard about his new album, "Lounge
Against The Machine."
RC: Can I
buy you guys a round of Tiki Puka Pukas?
RC: No, we have to run, Rae Dawn is waiting for us. Nice
seeing you, fellas.
(they exit; the waitress delivers drinks)
RC: Thanks, baby.
RC: What can I say about the album? It's been a dream of
mine to record some of the best songs of the contemporary
era, what we call "alternative standards." Some
of those kids really know how to write.
RC: Yeah, you know, The Offspring, The Red Hot Chili
Peppers, The Rage Against The Machine, The Limp Bizkit.
RC: I had that once, but my doctor gave me some salve and
it went away.
RC: These groups are on what they call "the cutting
edge," out of the mainstream, pushing the envelope.
But the messages they have, the feelings they express...these
are some songs that need to be sung.
RC: What's your favorite track on the LP?
RC: I personally enjoyed "Guerilla Radio" the
most...it's got such lovely phrasing, the imagery is so
startlingly prescient, and my arranger put it in a
perfect key for me. On the line "Hold the reins,"
you can hear the molasses spilling from my tonsils.
RC: Sounds like my wedding night.
RC: I'm also pretty excited about the Nine Inch Nails
cover, "Closer." What a love song! I mean, you
have your Shakespeare, you have your Keats, and you have
your Reznor. It's the poets who get the chicks.
RC: The music on that song is quite unusual...the piano
in the middle sounds like Vince--
RC: Don't say it, we might get sued.
RC: Well, the whole organ part sounds like Sesame--
RC: No, seriously, zip it. The booths have ears.
(a waiter delivers a platter of appetizers)
RC: How do you feel about the profanity?
RC: In the songs or in general?
RC: You pick.
RC: Well, the songs were written a certain way by the
songwriters, and, even if they might be a bit over the
line, as the vocalist, it's not my job to change any
lyrics. The song is sacred. Oh sure, I might throw in an
ad-lib (or a mad-lib) every once in a while, but I carry
a microphone, not a pen.
RC: You have a pen right there in your shirt pocket.
RC: That's a crumber.
RC: I was talking with Larry Hagman the other day, and he
thought it was a bold statement for you to record a
version of "Rape Me" by Nirvana. We all know
you support women's causes, but this is a real hot-button
issue, isn't it?
RC: You betcha. That's why I dedicated it "to the
ladies." Sometimes, you have to sing a song because
it's the right thing to do.
is that Ray Charles over there?
RC: Don't say anything, I owe him money. (hides behind
menu) Can he see me?
RC: That wasn't in very good taste, now was it?
RC: Speaking of good taste, are you gonna eat that coco
RC: No, it's all yours.
RC: What about your cover of U2's "Bullet The Blue
Sky"? It's such a politically-charged song, how do
you think your fans will react to you in the role of
RC: I'm in Dublin in 1993, rehearsing for a walk-on duet
during the Zoo-TV finale at the RMS stadium. Bono says to
me, "Richard," he says, "we're thinking of
singing B The B.S. acapella, what do you think?" And
I say to him, I say, "Bono," I say, "Don't
sing it--swing it." He didn't listen to me, and I
lost my backstage pass someplace in the cafeteria, and
the duet didn't shake out, but I took my own advice for
our cover, and it turned out great. Bobby [Ricotta,
Cheese's pianist] did some great musical references in
the rap section, and he played the solo so well that it
would push the Edge over the edge.
RC: Did you say something?
(Rosemary Clooney enters)
RC: Hello, doll!
ROSEMARY CLOONEY: Hi, Richard, thanks so much for
inviting me to join you!
RC: Um, I'm not paying for her.
RC: Relax, black sheep, I'll cover the tab. Good to see
RC: You, too, RC!
RC: Did you listen to the acetate I sent over?
RC: Yes, it's fabulous. I like what you did with the
Sublime song ["Wrong Way"]. I almost cried, but
that always happens when I hear you sing.
RC: Isn't that a gem of a tune? I think the guy who wrote
it kicked, but he left behind just a wonderful acher, you
know? We decided to tell the story with just a piano and
my pipes, a real dark and quiet "Quarter To Three"
feel. Buddy Gouda sat in to hit the gunshot snare, and if
you listen carefully, you can hear Gordon [Brie, bass
player] hand me the pack of Luckys.
RC: Isn't it spelled "Luckies"?
RC: You're drunk.
RC: I think your voice sounds best on "Smack My
Bitch Up." So...decisive.
RC: Yeah, I got to introduce the boys in the band and
still punch out some good notes at the tail, all while
nursing a serious series of sips. I started with a Scotch
Rocks during the piano solo, switched to a Vodka Tonic
during the bass part, and by the time the drumming was
done, I had finished two Seven & Sevens.
RC: (slurring) That's 28.
RC: Yes, Bob.
RC: And I'm so jealous that you covered "Last Resort"
by Papa Roach. What a hep beat on that number, huh?
RC: Well, suicide and depression have been favorite
subjects of mine for years. That's why we covered "Creep"
RC: The big band was hot that night!
RC: --and the Garbage song.
RC: (she starts to sing) "I'm only happy when it
rains...I'm only happy when the Night turns black..."
I love how you did the Gene Kelly lilt on "Night,"
Richard. It gave me goosebumps.
RC: Sounds like my wedding night.
RC: Bob, why don't you go see if Barry Sonnenfeld wants
you to do a cameo in something?
RC: Okay. Bye Rosemary, bye Ricky.
RC: DON'T CALL ME THAT!
RC: Settle down, Richard, he didn't mean it.
RC: Is this one of those famous shouting incidents about
to happen? Why are you so angry so all the time?
RC: Yeah, at the tail end of "Rockafeller Skank,"
you holler at Bobby just before the record ends. You
couldn't keep that anger inside for just a few seconds
RC: I'm not angry...I'm sad. And I cry in shouts.
RC: Whoa, that's deep.
RC & RC: Sounds like my wedding night! (all laugh
RC: Bob, you kill me!
RC: Now, Richard, seriously, why "Lounge Against The
Machine"? Why Richard Cheese? Why?
RC: Well, the punks today, with their tattoos and their
piercings and their tattoo-piercings, they're the angry
ones. But we need to understand that anger. And we should
be able to, because that anger is coming from the same
place that it came from in Frank and Vic and Dean and
Tony and Sammy. We all hurt, we're all lonesome, we're
all, at some point in our lives, sitting in that bar at 3
in the morning, drowning in a--
RC: Waitress! Can I can get another drink I can?
RC: Slow down, will ya? You're not Jim West anymore.
RC: I am too!
RC: Tell you what, Bob... if you sober up, I'll have my
people call "The West Wing" and see if they can
cast you to play Rob Lowe's father!
RC: Hey! That's great! The West Wing? West? Get it? I
know Martin Sheen, too! We once competed against each
other in tug-a-war on "[Battle Of The] Network Stars."
Thanks, Richard, you're the greatest!
RC: Just shut up and eat another beef cho-cho. So, anyway,
Rosemary, as I was saying, I think all these songs speak
to all of us, and the listener can identify with the
lyrics, the music, the feeling, the everything.
RC: You know what song gets me?
RC: Which one, Bob?
RC: Nookie. Because I did it all for the nookie.
(points to himself with cho-cho skewer) I did. A
bunch of times. One time with Heather Thomas from "The
Fall Guy." She was so hot! But I ended up like a
chump, you know, like a sucker with a lump in my throat.
That's my story, man!
(Chai, the maitre d' approaches)
CHAI: Excuse me, pardon me, Mr. Cheese, but, um, Mr.
Conrad, we have to ask you to not stand on the table.
RC: He's sorry, Chai, it won't happen again.
(Bob sits back down)
RC: And Ms. Clooney, we saw you put the Fogcutter mug
into your purse, it not souvenir. If you want to keep it,
it cost you 18 dollars.
RC: Put it on my tab!
RC: Thanks, Richard!
CHAI: Thank you, Mr. Cheese.
RC: Listen, Bob, can we wrap this interview up? I have to
catch a flight to Burbank.
RC: Before you go, tell us the story behind "Come
Out And Play." On that song, you sound just a little
too "at home" with the gang speak. What gives?
RC: Well...before I got into show business, I was in a
tagging crew in the LBC.
RC: What was your sign?
RC: CHAKA-DAKA-DOO. Kind of a scat thing.
RC: Did you get caught?
RC: One time the LAPD dragged me in for possession of two
keys of Krylon, but I sang a benefit show for [Los
Angeles Mayor] Dick Riordan and didn't do any time. You
know what song he likes most? "Suck My Kiss."
Weird. But that was all a long time ago.
RC: And what about the Beastie Boys? I guess since you
cover one of their songs ["Fight For Your Right"],
it's obvious you guys patched up your spat.
RC: Mike D started that, it was never anything serious.
Sometimes he just gets a little whack when he finds roach
eggs in the fiddle faddle, you know?
RC: I'm gonna be sick.
RC: Yeah, someone should drive you home.
(Rita Coolidge walks by)
RC: Excuse me, miss?
RC: Yes? Hey, aren't you Richard Cheese? We met in
Branson in 1994, remember?
RC: Sure, sure. I'd like to introduce you to veteran
television and film actor Robert Conrad.
RC: My pleasure, m'lady. Can I trouble you for a ride
RC: No trouble at all....
RC: It was a pleasure chatting with you, Bob.
RC: Bye, Rosie, my best wishes to Batman.
(Bob exits on Rita's arm)
RC: Check, please!
Richie Cunningham is a staff writer for the Jefferson
High Sentinel. He also directed Apollo 13.
apologies to the recently departed Rosemary Clooney)
Did you read this page? Email Dick, because he wants to know that this
webpage isn't going to waste.