To say that I am writing this with a heavy heart and sadness would be an understatement. I will not go into it any further as the mainstream media does a good job of that. I will say that as a father, our children are all precious and need to be shown love & compassion. Children are an extension of us all, and they are angels on earth! My guest today could not be more perfect as Duke Otherwise is making a name for himself in the childrens music genre. Duke has an awesome & fun album out now ‘Creepy Crawly Love’ and it is great for the whole family. Join us today as Duke Otherwise speaks on his plans for 2013, how he got into music, how precious our children are, and much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how are your Holidays coming along so far?
Duke Otherwise: I’m writing from my quaint little gypsy-cottage here on the west side of Madison, WI. My holiday spirit is just now kicking in. It snowed a good amount yesterday and my wife and I will be heading out later today to buy our first Christmas tree together. She’s from Namibia and this will be her first pine–she’s more accustomed to a thorn-Christmas tree…er…bush.
Stoli: When you think of 2013, what are you planning to take on with your music career?
Duke Otherwise: With the release of “Creepy Crawly Love” the next step is to make several videos. Mrs. Otherwise is an actress and scriptwriter so together we have some wonderfully fun ideas that we will begin filming very soon. I’ve also begun gathering together scraps of songs in anticipation of the next record. And the summer of 2013 will be quite busy. I’m getting my schedule pretty well solidified with shows.
Stoli: How did you get the alias Duke Otherwise?
Duke Otherwise: I had wanted to perform under an alias and was initially “Hank Slugworth”. Well, my wife was not fond of the name at all. I asked her to help brainstorm with me and she came up with Duke Otherwise on her first day. I immediately loved how it rolled off the tongue and gave a somewhat regal mystique to my persona.
Stoli: At what age did you get into playing music and when did you know that this could be a career path? Do you recommend that children take online guitar lessons?
Duke Otherwise: I began taking guitar lessons in 3rd grade. My best friend, Aaron Zorn, and I even formed a band then called 2CP. We started off singing silly songs about hamburgers and other foods, but then decided to get serious and we composed a highly culturally relevant song about Gangs. I think it really had a lot of credibility seeing how it was written by two rural Wisconsin 3rd graders. We still remember the opening of the song if you’d like to hear it…I put the guitar down in 4th grade and didn’t pick it up again until the end of high school. At that point, Zorn and I formed Ticklepenny Corner and after a couple years of trying to figure out who we were as a band, decided to really go full-on. I loved the idea of playing music all the time, traveling and with so many people needing to hear about the danger of gangs…it was an easy decision to make a career out of music.
Stoli: I love how you have a quote from your grandma on your press kit. How did your grandparents encourage you to pursue your passion & dreams?
Duke Otherwise: My grandparents were rather instrumental in the forming of my becoming a performer. Every holiday, my siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and I would perform some show down in the basement. After writing the show and rehearsing, we’d come upstairs and make the announcement to the adults that the show was starting. We’d charge a quarter to get in, but Grandma and Grandpa would always pay at least a dollar! They were very encouraging and laughed at our shows. They kept coming and showing their support even as I grew older–don’t know if they paid over the ticket price still though…
Stoli: I find the story of how you got into childrens music ironic. Please give readers the scoop and how you chose children’s music?
Duke Otherwise: Well, I’ve always been one to connect with kids. At parties, I’m the one chasing the kids around or playing circus swinging them on the trapeze from couch to couch. I have 17 nieces and nephews as well as many of my friend’s children who also call me uncle, so I’ve had lots of practice entertaining kids. My friend Zak Morgan encouraged me several years ago to give a children’s show a try. A little later, I booked an assembly at a school in front of about 400 kids and had the best time I’ve ever had playing music. It just made perfect sense that this was what I enjoyed doing significantly more than playing late-night bars.[youtube Mc9BhtDwz7w]
Stoli: I am listening to your album now ‘Creepy Crawly Love.’ How long has this album been in the works and where can we grab a copy?
Duke Otherwise: A couple of the songs on this album were written back when I first “gave it a try” and they stuck. When it came time the decision to make a full-length record, I just grabbed a pen and my guitar and composed most of the songs within a few weeks of beginning the recording process. The album was finished earlier this year after an exhilarating time in the studio with Matt Spransy. We laughed and laughed while making this record. The album can be bought on CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.
Stoli: I love your song “My Uncle, The Ant.” What inspired you to write that song and what does it mean to you?
Duke Otherwise: This was one of the very first kids’ songs I’ve written. Truthfully I don’t remember how I started writing this. I might have even come up with the guitar riff first which I’ve always felt has a busy, scurrying insect feel. This song is really fun to play live. Sometimes teachers or adults give a confused or worried look when I first start because the pun takes a few lines to be revealed. Though I’ve played it hundreds of times, the connection to and reaction of the audience–as well as where the song takes me–is still a surprise each and every performance.
Stoli: It does not seem from your Bio that you have children. Do you plan on having kids and do you have any advice for adults with kids to loosen up and be silly like a child?
Duke Otherwise: No, we don’t have kids yet. We got married this past year and want to wait a few years before having our own. My advice…build an indoor fort for your spouse, have an impulsive snowball fight, eat ice cream for dinner, alter your face with scotch tape, etc.. And when children see you act like this, they will be delighted! Perhaps even that single lady across the room…
Stoli: I would love to have you at my three year old’s birthday party. Is that an option and how does one book a show with you?
Duke Otherwise: Yes! It is an option. I have done house concerts over the years and they are always a hoot for kids and adults alike. To book a show, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stoli: I love children and I have my own sons. It disturbs me how child abuse is rampant globally. Please speak on how precious all children are and how we can show love instead of hurt?
Duke Otherwise: Every child is incredibly precious–we don’t even have a clue just how precious. I get sick thinking about what is done to helpless children or what could be done to a child very close and dear to me. I think one thing we can do is be on the alert for children who might be giving warning signs that they are in trouble. Or if a child gives indication of neglect or being unloved that we can come alongside them in some way. When I am playing my shows, I try to look as many kids as possible in the eyes while I’m singing some silly song or doing some crazy antic. Sometimes I catch a kid’s eye where you can just tell something’s not right–whether it’s at home or wherever. I will try to find that child after the show, give them a high five or a pat on the back and talk to them a bit to be an encouragement. There is so much that one little smile or word can do. I pray that I can be used by God to be aware of these kids who are having a rough go of it or having their childhood robbed from them and that I can be of help in any possible way. You never know what something little can do for a defenseless, beautiful child.
Stoli: What is coming up for you & where you @ online?
Duke Otherwise: While shooting my videos this winter, I’ll be playing many shows and house concerts. Here’s a couple: Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, MN on January 13th. McMillan Library in Wisconsin Rapids, WI on February 26th.