Exclusive Interview with Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies)

Twenty years ago, The Crashed Test Dummies song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” saturated MTV, inspired Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Headline News”and made this Canadian band an American household name. Sadly enough, I was barely alive back then to truly appreciate them.

I didn’t watch The Grammys in 1995 (they were nominated three times) nor did I ever go to one of their shows. Lets flash forward to twenty years later, and I am at a local thrift store one day, checking out old 90′s albums. Lo and behold, I found their album “God Shuffled His Feet,” and was instantly enamored by the cover art. Here’s a renaissance-ish picture with the bands faces plastered on it.

After I listened to the album, multiple times, I grew to heart this band. I even started humming some of their songs when I was on errands. Surprisingly enough, my bf LOVED this band as a young boy and would recite lyrics word for word. I guess this band made a strong impression on him back in the day.

The Crashed Test Dummies is a prolific band, that still tours, and has a charismatic lead singer named Brad Roberts. I was fortunate enough to snag an interview of him for both Best of Baltimore Blog. I have to to admit, this is a very humorous interview and Brad Robert’s witty replies made me laugh. It was like interviewing one of my close guy friends since they spew out humorous remarks in a similar fashion like him.

Q & A with Brad Roberts

Sherryn: Why is the band called “Crashed Test Dummies”?

Brad:Wow. Are you really asking me this? Lamest question ever! Where did Spinal Tap get their name? But, seriously, you’re a good soul, so I will tell you. A medical student friend of mine dropped by an early rehearsal. He had seen a film about car accidents that day, and talked about the technology of crash test dummies. “Crash Test Dummies,” I thought. Good name for a band:  not too serious, memorable, and I liked the idea of relating ourselves to non-sentient beings.

Sherryn: Why did you want to be a musician? 

Brad: Whoa – this is a doozy; another painfully lame question, and one that illustrates your total lack of research. But again, I’m a nice guy, and you, Sherryn, are possibly a goddess. So, here goes:  I wanted to be a musician when I was a little boy because it seemed like magic to me. I was mesmerized by, and hearing my first records was the most potent experience of my young life…. Later I realized that, not being a jock, I would never attract girls; that the alternative was chronic masturbation; so, I made a band. It didn’t work out as well as I hoped as far as the girls went, but we sold some records.

Sherryn: Since ‘Crashed Test Dummies’ is a prolific band, what’s your most fave album to date?

BradWe were recently referred to as “hardly a prolific band,” but I guess that’s a matter of opinion. I’ve put out 10 records in twenty years. My fave album to date is probably my most recent one, “Ooh La La.” I also am fond of “Give Yourself a Hand” for the bad-ass vocals. Of course I will always be most proud of our biggest record, the second one we made, back in 1994. I produced that record (despite the Jerry Harrison credit) and it was, if I may say, a masterpiece. Not a bum track in the lot. Of course my band is great too, and they helped me enormously; I cannot, nor would I want to, claim that the record is all about me. But I felt I realized my vision entirely on that record. What was in my head was successfully transposed into reality, every nuance of it. Needless to say, that doesn’t always – or even often – happen.

Sherryn: How did you feel about Weird Al Yankovic parodying your song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”?

 Brad: It was a great milestone. I had the privilege of performing his version of my song with him. He used it as the first single off of that record:  high praise from a guy who is genuinely funny. The people who think he is a geek, or cheesy, have him ALL WRONG. And he’s a hell of an accordion player, which is by no means an easy instrument.

Sherryn: What inspired the song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”? 

Brad: Okay, so this is a new low in your mostly unimaginative questions. You KNOW that everyone can find the answer on the internet, and that I’ve told this story millions of times by now. But here goes: each verse describes a child, who is, in one way or another, an outsider; the humming in the chorus is meant to provide a thoughtful reflection on the verse. I drew on personal experience as well as some of my childhood chums’ war stories.  The scenarios are familiar yet strange; I like to try to make the ordinary extraordinary.

Sherryn: I read that you were into Yoga? What’s your favorite pose? Do you have any advice for Yoga beginners?

 BradWell, now hear is a question that suggests you did some tiny amount of research. And yes, I do yoga. I smoke no cigarettes, take no alcohol, and lay around in a pretzel shape all day. My favorite pose is ardha chandrasana. Look it up! For real! 

Sherryn: If you have (or haven’t) what would you like to see/ do or hear in the DMV area? 

Brad: You mean the Department of Motor Vehicles? I’d like to see them act like humans once in a while.

Sherryn: So you have a new album coming out this year? Tell us more about it! What can fans expect from it?

BradThe record that I HOPE to put out this year is like a Part II of Ooh La La. Similar vibe:  eclectic genre-crossing. Deceptively simple, I like to think.

Sherryn: How can fans (such as myself) get in contact with you? Do you use social media? 

Brad: Wow. Didn’t you even google me? Yes:  I have a website, where I post photos and short blogs, which are automatically sent on to Twitter and FaceBook. I do most of my fan interaction on FaceBook. I take a lot of photographs in New York, and I post them. You might want to check them out; I get a lot of positive feedback from them. I also try to get a lively discussion going. Sometimes they are a little too lively, perhaps even incendiary! But what’s social media for, if not to stir up minor shit-storms?


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