Have you ever wondered what life would be like if The Phenomenal Handclap Band ruled America? Probably. So it’s lucky for you that I was wondering the exact same thing and asked Sean Marquand about it. We also discussed the art of handclapping, as well as the possibility/probability of your eyeballs shooting out of your face at one of their shows.
BYT: So do you have any good jokes for us?
Marquand: No, no good jokes.
BYT: Oh. Well, I only know one joke and it usually tends to upset both Stevie Wonder fans and blind people, so I guess I’ll just keep that one to myself.
BYT: So how’s everything going? Anything you want to get off your chest? Just tell me everything, tell me everything.
Marquand: You know, have you been outside today?
BYT: I actually have not been outside today. In my defense, it’s currently cloudy.
Marquand: It’s kind of nice out here in New York.
BYT: Jealous. So I have to tell you guys, I was reading the blog and I’ve been pretty inspired by the Office Max commercial that you guys posted. I want to turn my closet into a treasure trove of pennies and buy guitars that smell like drum sets with them.
Marquand: (Laughs) I love that! And I love the Liberace Mel Gibson thing.
BYT: Yeah, it’s fantastic.
Marquand: It’s incredible. And our friend Tada is just like completely not interested. It’s so great. Love that.
BYT: And so what do you hope people are doing while they listen to your music? Because I kind of hope they’re fighting crime while roller skating, illuminated by neon lights. That’s just what I hope.
Marquand: Okay, well I was hoping people were water skiing while they’re listening to it.
BYT: Oh that’s pretty cool.
Marquand: Yeah that’d be cool. Like one of those water skiing things where you’re on a single ski kind of laying back a little bit.
BYT: Well, I think I probably couldn’t pull that off. So if I was listening to your music while I tried to do that it might end up being the soundtrack to my funeral. But anyways, what movie soundtrack do you think you’d like to make?
Marquand: Well, you know, I’ve actually had this lifelong dream, meaning the past four or five years, that we’d do a horror movie. Like we’d really love to do a werewolf picture. Like have you ever seen Dario Argento’s movies?
BYT: No, can’t say that I have.
Marquand: He does these really, really dark horror movies from like the 60’s and 70’s, and this band Goblin does the soundtracks. And I want to do something along those lines. You know, like one of those movies that’s really kind of terrible, but they let the soundtrack people do whatever they want.
BYT: Yeah that’d be pretty amazing. I think you should go for it.
Marquand: Yeah, I really want to do that. So I’m glad you asked that.
BYT: And so your MySpace says that you guys live are an “eye-popping spectacle that overwhelms the senses”…so should I maybe wear goggles to prevent my eyes from shooting out of my face and into someone’s drink?
Marquand: (Laughs) That’s a little bit uh…that’s kind of a tall order, right? But I mean, it’s just eye-popping. I mean, what am I going to say? No, I don’t know. Our shows are good, I think you’ll have a good time. We enjoy playing live…it turns out it’s actually fun.
BYT: And so does it overwhelm, like, all five senses? How? Please explain.
Marquand: (Laughs) Mostly the sense of taste, strangely. Does it really say that? All five senses?
BYT: No, it says ‘the’ senses, but I just wanted to know which ones/how many. I was hoping it would be all five, that would be pretty amazing. Then your eyes would definitely pop out.
Marquand: (Laughs) Okay.
BYT: And have you ever played a show that was met with mediocre handclapping? Or what was the most phenomenal handclapping response you’ve ever received?
Marquand: I mean, some people don’t have the handclapping down, you know?
BYT: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard.
Marquand: And then there are people who clap on the one and three. So there’s that too, and that’s pretty mediocre. But it can sound cool, like if you’ve ever listened to ‘Benny and the Jets’, they clap on the one and three which is kind of rad. But yeah, generally when you see people clapping, it’s not phenomenal at all. You really have to educate people. You’ve gotta get them up to snuff.
BYT: Yeah, you’ve gotta raise awareness. And what would you say to fans of the golf clap?
Marquand: Oh, right. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know about that one.
BYT: I say they’re not invited to your shows. That’s what I would say.
Marquand: (Laughs) Okay, sounds good.
BYT: And are you so excited to be playing at DC9? Who would you be thrilled to see standing in the crowd? Like, ultimate fantasy guest?
Marquand: Fantasy guest in the crowd in Washington DC…hmm…
BYT: Besides me, obviously…
Marquand: Besides you, obviously. I don’t know, maybe Michelle Obama will show up.
BYT: I hope so, I hope she brings the kids.
Marquand: She goes to DC9 sometimes?
BYT: Yeah, definitely. It’s her favorite.
Marquand: Great! So yeah that’s my dream guest.
BYT: So now that you guys are coming to DC, you know, the nation’s capital and all that, I just want to know what The Phenomenal Handclap Band would do if they ruled America. So I guess to start out, would you rename the country? What would the new name be?
Marquand: Would we rename the country? Yeah, I think that would be a good idea. I think that United States of America is kind of a long name. And when you say America you’re going to run into problems because you’ve got South America and North America. Yeah, we’d definitely rename it. But what, right?
BYT: Well, see, I was a big fan of Sega Genesis growing up, especially Toe Jam & Earl, so I would probably rename it Planet Funkotron.
Marquand: (Laughs) Is that right?
BYT: Yup, that’d be my ultimate name for America.
Marquand: You know what I would do though? I would change the national anthem.
BYT: Well that’s actually my next question. So what would it be?
Marquand: I think it would be ‘Life’s Been Good’ by Joe Walsh.
BYT: Yeah, I think that’d be a good one.
Marquand: I mean I think it’d be really hot, like at a baseball game at the beginning, everyone singing about their Maserati doing 185. It would just be so much more American than ‘amber waves of grain’ or whatever we say.
BYT: And like what states would you maybe delete or add?
Marquand: (Laughs) What would I delete? Man! Oh come on, because if I delete a state, you know, what about our fans there?
BYT: Right…so you might not want to pick a state that’s on your tour.
Marquand: I had some very limited exposure to Indiana…I had a roommate from Indiana that made me hate Indiana, but then I met some people from Indiana and they were nice. But for a little while I wanted to delete Indiana. But what states would I add? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to loop anyone into the US, honestly. I love this country and everything, but anyplace that gets overrun by Americans kind of gets ruined for me.
BYT: And where would you relocate the nation’s capital to?
Marquand: Hmm…I don’t know. Let’s say Four Corners.
BYT: And what would your White House-esque headquarters be like?
Marquand: What would the White House be like?
Marquand: Oh, you know what I would do? I would turn all those monuments and stuff in DC animatronic.
BYT: Oh that’d be awesome.
Marquand: And Lincoln would sings songs and stuff, and the Washington Monument would turn into some sort of slide or something. It would be a total theme park.
BYT: Yeah that’s what I always wished would happen growing up, but it never did. So hopefully you guys will make that happen.
Marquand: Yeah, it’d be so much better! All those monuments and memorials…
BYT: Definitely. And what methods of transportation would you use to get around? Because Air Force One is pretty sweet, but it could be sweeter.
Marquand: It is, it is. I don’t know…
BYT: I’d say jet packs for me, but that’s just a personal preference.
Marquand: You know, I think the next thing, though, is hovercrafts. Jet packs are never really going to work out, I think hovercrafts are next.
BYT: Man, I hope so. And what would the speed limit be?
Marquand: (Laughs) I don’t know, maybe we should just have a really terrible speed limit like 15 miles per hour so everyone would just really have to take their time.
BYT: Yeah, that could be a good idea.
Marquand: I kind of want an oppressive regime. Like more government, not less. Whatever the opposite of Libertarian is.
BYT: And what would the flag look like?
Marquand: Hmm…paisley I think.
BYT: What about some national heroes?
Marquand: Well, Buddy Hackett I think is good. He’d be a good national hero.
BYT: And what are some laws you would get rid of, versus some you would create?
Marquand: Hmm…what laws bother me…I don’t know, you know what I would do? I would just enforce every law. Like you know any of those weird laws, we’d just enforce all of those.
BYT: Oh like spitting on the sidewalk and stuff?
Marquand: The ones like waving a flag behind a horse carriage and stuff like that.
BYT: Who would you ban from the United States? You know, just be like, get the hell out of here?
Marquand: (Laughs) Who would I ban indeed…I don’t know. I’m trying to think of someone I really don’t like or someone I think should be banned.
BYT: Well, there was this one kid in my first grade class who kissed me in the lunch line against my will. He was a real freak. I would totally ban him. He ruined my life.
Marquand: There was a kid who hit me when I was a senior in high school. He hit me bare-handed, like so hard in my chest that I had this giant bruise on my chest. And then he ended up opening a bong shop later. That was his next career move, opening up a marijuana shop. So I’d probably ban him.
BYT: Well, Obama better watch his back when you guys get here. Your America sounds pretty solid.
Marquand: Yeah, we’re really excited to come.
Want more? Check out The Phenomenal Handclap band’s blog and MySpace, and make sure to check them out at DC9 this Friday August 21st for the Liberation Dance Party. Entrance is only $6!!! Open bar from 9-10:30.