"Pizza is life and life-affirming," says The Pizza Underground. And who could disagree? By extension, The Velvet Underground could be described similarly. That's why, with songs like "Pizza Gal" and "Take a Bite of the Wild Slice," The Pizza Underground is one of the best combinations of things ever.
TPU was formed in 2012, but really took off last year, much of the momentum attributed to its kazoos and actor Macaulay Culkin. The band is also Matt Colbourn (guitar), Phoebe Kreutz (glockenspiel), Deenah Vollmer (pizza box percussion), and Austin Kilham (tambourine), who are no less important.
(And no, Culkin didn't die this weekend, contrary to rumors. He's still very much alive.)
Even if TPU is little more than a joke, it's still very sincere. The band isn't mocking The Velvet Underground (and frankly, who cares if they are?) so much as they are celebrating them.
The band only does email interviews and they answer as a group. Some people think it's funny to ask thinly veiled questions about the band's child star, but I didn't do that because I'm not a dick. I can't imagine what kind of life Culkin has had, and I don't want to. I can grasp the sway of his celebrity, but he's still just a person and I don't understand why people feel the need to treat him badly.
My questions and the band's answers are below. They even threw in some of their own questions and answers, which was weird, but totally cool.
Up on The Sun: What are the weirdest toppings you've ever tried?
The Pizza Underground: Lou Reed once said "One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz." Not that there is anything wrong with jazz; we are ourselves purists and we prefer a good ole' plain one chord cheese slice of pie. But we have certainly been presented with some pretty unique pizzas during our recent tour. Lobster, caviar and even gold flakes. We say to all pizza eaters: whatever floats your toppings boat is all good with us, as long as you are eating pizza.
So then is Chicago deep-dish pizza actually pizza or is it basically a cake?
Debates about deep dish have made it to the Supreme Court, or so we hear... but thin crust all the way for us.
How about a Calzone as a pizza? What are your opinions on calzones?
Calzones and p'zones and their cousins are not pizza. They are all pizza adjacent.
People often say that pizza is like sex -- even when it's bad, it's good. Would you agree?
Having said there that plain cheese pizza is the way to go for us, we don't necessarily advocate plain sex. But yes, we would agree with that philosophy on the whole. It's all up to individual taste, really. The one thing that pizza has going for it, that other foods don't necessarily, is that pizza is something that's with you your whole life, something that you return to again and again on your journey. There's no "acquired taste" period with pizza, nor is there a time when you stop considering it an option. Pizza occupies a genuine place in the present. Same with sex.
Are you guys getting sick of pizza yet?
We will not ever get sick of pizza. Pizza is life and life-affirming. Pizza is ever-evolving, ever-entertaining, and that goes for pies that are not just plain and still delicious to the last cheesy bite, but also for ones that look to expand the horizons of the great Pizza Pie. For example, recently we created a special Pizza Underground Pizza Pie with the national Two Boots Pizzeria Chain that has kale pesto, garlic, onions, plum tomatoes and ricotta cheese. The Two Boots scientists put all these ingredients together in a brilliant way, and we are more than pleased with how the combination turned out. Now how could we or anyone ever get sick of that; it's not only tasty, it's just super cool.
The Big Cheese, Lou, died before TPU really took off, but do you think he would have wanted to grab a slice with you guys?
Of course we could not predict what Lou Reed may have thought about us, but we definitely would like to hope that he would have appreciated our sincere devotion to the music he inspired.
Speaking of Lou Reed, it's been said that Velvet Underground's "Heroin" is supposed to mimic the feeling of being on heroin. Is it possible to musically mimic the feeling of being "on" pizza?
We certainly don't like to say anything is impossible. Like "Heroin," it would have to have a slow build as you waited for the slice to come out of the oven. Then maybe some percussion, a shaker perhaps, to mimic shaking the red pepper flakes and Parmesan over the slice. The song would build to its climax as you eat the slice and then, depending on your personal preferences, may stop short at the crust.
I'm sorry to hear you got booed from the stage in May. I didn't think people even did that anymore. What a bunch of jerks! If they had thrown pizza instead of beer, do you think it would have been less insulting?
The band's publicist explained why they didn't answer this question: Sorry, they skipped the question about the UK incident... they have routinely not responded to whenever the question is posed; there is nothing to say about it. I agree with and support the policy, no need to give further cred to the creeps.
Have you thought of opening a restaurant (pizza, of course) named after your band? What do you think would be the hardest part about running it?
The hardest part about running our own pizzeria would be that we would have to stay in one place and we wouldn't be able to bring the pizza love to the masses as we do. While we are on tour, we like to bring pies from the local pizzerias on stage with us to give out to the audience. For us, it is so much more preferable to let the experts do the cooking and we will do the eating. In every city, each pizzeria is unique and representative of the location we are in. Deenah also plays a local pizza box whenever possible -- each box is very nuanced and presents a different and unique drum version of the pizzerias they came from.
Our own favorite pizza place is Joe's on Carmine in New York... we know we can get a consistently great slice there and by the way, we heard it was Lou Reed's fav too.
Anything else you guys would like to add (additional toppings cost extra!) about upcoming projects, news or other things you guys are cooking up?
We are looking towards recording an album, creating some content for television, touring across the country, Europe and Asia and elsewhere around the globe. Basically what we are aiming for is world domination.
Troy Farah eats pizza on Twitter.
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