By Benjamin Leatherman
Valley folk-rock guitarist extraordinaire Mat Weddle has gotten plenty of worldwide fame in the past 18 months, since the video for his acoustic cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” debuted on YouTube in August of 2006, including more than 1.5 million views, kudos from iTunes, and loads of press coverage from the likes of Spin.
And the attention just keeps on coming, as last week, legendary shock jock Howard Stern featured the song on his Sirius Satellite Radio show. Shoehorned in between pointed discussions about ABC reality show Wife Swap and Joey Buttafuoco’s new sex tape during the January 10 edition of the show, the self-proclaimed “King of all Media” heaped plenty of praise upon the bearded Obadiah Parker frontman and the song.
“You know, a lot of people take a song that you don’t think could be acoustic and they work it, and it’s kind of a disappointment, but this I thought was really, really good,” Stern said during the segment. “I think it’s better than the original, actually.”
Like most folks, Stern discovered the song on the Internet through word of mouth, and also said he dug Weddle’s scruffy appearance, which he compared to ’70s TV star Dan Haggarty (a.k.a. Grizzly Adams).
“[Weddle] doesn’t look like a rock star. He looks like, uh, he’s like this big, heavy set guy with a beard,” Stern said. “He looks almost like, uh, I don’t know, like a truck driver, you know what I mean?”
"Truck driver" Mat Weddle, and "looks-pretty-funny-himself" Howard Stern.
Although Stern praised the cover repeatedly, sidekicks Robin Quivers and Artie Lange weren’t as high on it, mostly because Outkast’s original lyrics were now discernable.
“The song doesn’t make any sense,” Quivers said. “The first verse sounds like two people who don’t wanna leave each other, and the rest of it sounds like two people who shouldn’t be together.”
Lange’s comments were equally negative. “You know, if I was walking by this guy, I’d do what [John] Belushi did in Animal House with that one guitar guy, just grab it and smash it,” Lange joked. “I liked the first one because all it was was some great-sounding pop song and you couldn’t hear the fucking lyrics.”
Weddle was blown away by getting airplay on the show, and described it as “a cool surprise” to both him and the rest of the band. The fame has kept on coming since he originally performed the song during an open mic at Xtreme Bean Coffee House in Tempe back in August. “The video kinda blew up over a year and a half ago, and we figured it would just kinda die out and everyone would forget about it, but it just keeps going and going. It’s crazy. It has this life of its own,” Weddle says. “We’ve been getting a ton of calls and e-mails after last week.”
The guitarist says it’s almost as awesome as when the cover served as the basis for a question during the Jeopardy! College Championship last spring:
“I would have to say the Jeopardy thing and the Howard Stern are the most awesome, random pieces of trivia to tell our grandkids someday,” Weddle says.
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He doesn’t even mind how Stern continuously mispronounced his name during the segment (calling him “Wed-dee” or “Wed-lee”) or the shock jock’s comments on his appearance. “I just think that’s an interesting thing, especially coming from Howard Stern, who looks pretty funny himself,” Weddle joked.
Those who’d like to give Weddle and the rest of the band some congrats for getting some satellite airplay can do so when the band performs on Friday, January 25, at Modified Arts during the Modifest. Hit up their MySpace for more.
Click below to hear some of Stern's commentary on Weddle's "Hey Ya" cover.