It has been far too long since I did an interview. Although I started well interviewing models, film stars, pro wrestlers, other bloggers, and even a U.S. presidential candidate, I haven’t done an interview in nearly a year.
This changes now. Over the next 10 days, I’m posting three, count ‘em three, interviews with brilliant up-and-comers in the entertainment industry.
Today’s interview is with Lisa Vitale, a singer/musician from Sterling Heights, Michigan best known for her work with the band Orange Marsupials. She has also reached a new level of individual fame thanks to her picture submission to College Humor.com’s Hottest College Girl 2009 site. So far, College Humor.com readers have deemed Lisa so hot, she is now in the Sweet 16.
Her next round opens on April 8th. Although I can’t guarantee she will invite all of us to her victory party if she wins, trust me, the reward will go to a good cause.
So without further ado …
Lisa Vitale: Lisa Vitale is a small girl with big dreams. She wants to become a rock icon, or at least make music that someone somewhere wants to hear!
TST: You are in the running for College Humor.com’s America’s
Cutest Hottest College Girl 2009. How did you get involved in that?
LV: It’s actually the Hottest College Girl contest. I entered the Cute College Girl of the Day contest first because I stumbled upon College Humor’s website and wanted to win a t-shirt, and through a series of random events, found myself in the running for $5,000!
TST: You are also a musician according to your myspace page. Who are your top five musical influences and why?
LV: #1. The Beatles. Generic, I know, but there’s a REASON why so many people are influenced by them. They’re amazing because they’ve always appealed to the masses, but they’re also a musician’s band- a band that people in other bands can hear and then be inspired by. They never lost their magic because they knew when it was time to stop.
#2. Led Zeppelin. One of the best compliments I ever received after a show was from a man who said I reminded him of a female Robert Plant. I was absolutely thrilled because I love everything about Plant: his stage presence, his style, his voice. It’s not all about Plant, of course. The entire band was insanely talented, but if I pick apart what I like about each band member, this interview will get a bit too long.
#3. Bob Marley. My band is a reggae-influenced rock/funk band, and the reggae influence is mainly Bob Marley.
The fact that his lyrics were so simple yet so powerful, just like the music accompanying them, really inspired my band in the way that we compose songs.
#4. Stevie Wonder. I don’t know if it even requires an explanation, but here we go. His voice is spectacular, his song-writing skills are unmatched. I saw a video once where he played a 6-minute-long drum solo! The man is a living legend.
#5. Aretha Franklin. I always love a woman with a powerful voice, so of course the Queen of Soul has to be on my top 5 musical influences. She has had a great impact on the way I sing ever since I was a little girl. I even sang one of her songs, “A Natural Woman”, when I tried out for choir in elementary school. Plus she’s from Detroit, so we have that Michiganian bond going on.
TST: There is a youtube clip of you playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” while sitting on the toilet. Where did the inspiration for that come from? Are you surprised by the videos success?
LV: The inspiration originally came out of the boredom of being a nearly-16-year-old with nothing to do on a break from school. I was playing in my bathroom as I often did because I loved the acoustics and just how big it made the vocals sound, when it struck me: why not record myself playing in there? I had to do a few takes because I’d mess up a bit on the guitar or forget a line, but eventually I made a version I was pretty happy with. I was extremely surprised that the video got any views at all, I assumed it was just something for my friends and I to laugh at. The fact that so many people enjoy my youtube videos is very flattering, and I thank everyone who has supported me so far!
TST: So tell me about your current band Orange Marsupials. How did you come up with that name? What kind of music do you guys play? Could you compare yourself to any mainstream acts?
LV: My drummer Kevin actually came up with the name. He just sort of yelled it out at band practice and it stuck (he also gives our songs ridiculous names as well, ex: “Ask The Man If He Knows How To Make Love”). Like I mentioned before, we categorize ourselves as a reggae/rock/funk band, but it’s hard to say exactly what we sound like. We’re often compared to No Doubt just because we’re a female-fronted reggae band, but we’re a bit more rock-influenced.
TST: What was your most memorable perform ance and why?
LV: My most memorable performance was when we played a show at Gibraltar Trade Center (think a giant flea market) last summer. We played two sets that day, and after the first set my drummer and I had to leave for our high school graduation. We came back and performed the second set in our grad attire, and after we finished, a guy ran up to the stage and handed me a goldfish in a bag, and said that we were amazing. Oh, and we were supposed to get paid $300, and we got nothing! It was certainly a memorable show. (A tip to aspiring young bands: If anyone offers you money to play, MAKE THEM SIGN A CONTRACT!)
TST: If you won College Humor’s Hottest College Girl would you use that in your advertising for the band? I can picture it now: Come See College Humor’s Hottest College Girl and her band as they rock your socks off!
LV: I probably would not use it in advertising my band because I’d look like an asshole, and the whole thing began kind of as a joke anyways, I never thought I’d be in the top 64, let alone the top 16 like I am now! The fact that I’ve come this far in the contest is just amazing to me, and if I don’t make it any further, just getting to where I got feels pretty good. I would, however, LOVE to win, I’d use the prize money to buy my band t-shirts/merch/new equipment, or a van for us to haul our stuff around in!
TST: Who is the best ukulele player you have ever heard? Best recorder player?
LV: The ukulele question is easy: Jake Shimabukuro. I was looking for Beatles covers one day and I found a ukulele version he did of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps“. It’s incredible, I highly recommend it. As far as recorders, I have NO clue, recorders in general just remind me of my 4th grade music class playing “Rockin’ Robin” and “La Cucaracha”.
TST: The kazoo: underrated as an instrument in popular music? Or is it’s place in music absolutely where it needs to be?
LV: The kazoo is in its rightful place. Kazoos belong in the kitchen of the music world, cooking and cleaning to support the guitars, AKA the breadwinners.
TST: This question comes from the great Marty DeBergi, and I think should be asked to every performer: “Do you feel that playing rock ‘n’ roll music keeps you a child? That is, keeps you in a state of arrested development?”
LV: Haha, Spinal Tap is one of my favorite movies!! I do feel playing music keeps us young and immature, but it’s hard to say, because we ARE still young and immature. However, I do see us making sex jokes and poop jokes (sometimes simultaneously, yikes) for many years to come.
TST: Finally. how can people find out more about you and hear more of the Orange Marsupials?
LV: We check our myspace page everyday, so if anyone wants to get in contact with us for booking or just to talk, they can add us or message us and we’ll get back to them ASAP!
For those who don’t have myspace, we can be contacted through e-mail at:
awesomelyawsome [at] AIM.com
You can find bathroom concerts of myself and my band at my youtube page:
Don’t be shy, we don’t bite!