Laugh to the Music of Stephen Lynch

I was lucky enough to chat with Stephen Lynch as he passed through the area, and ask him a few questions.

Which came first in your life: music or comedy?

I’m going to guess it was music, but I don’t remember back that far. Music was always a part of my life. I grew up with a piano in the house. My dad had a guitar and he would sing. I have a funny family, but they are not that funny.

How did you come to combine the two?

Like any teenage suburban male of my generation, I grew up listening to Weird Al and Monty Python. I did a lot of musical theater, and I’ve always been a fan of the combination of music and comedy. But when I saw Spinal Tap it was the first time I’d seen comedy combined with real rock and roll music, which I thought was a real revelation. It’s music that I kind of dig. That’s when I decided to give it a shot myself. I was probably 15 or 16 when I picked up one of the guitars my dad had, or walked over to the piano that I had long been ignoring and just started writing. At first they were super dirty. What else are you going to write about when you’re 16?

Your timing and delivery are so on the mark. Did you have a coach or just gradually evolve?

It was trial and error. I listen back to a lot of it now and I think it’s awful. Thank God I continued to improve because what I thought was genius back then I shudder at now. Like anything else, you learn through hours and hours of practicing. I don’t mean practicing and writing funny songs, I mean practicing on stage. Once you are in front of people, that’s when the work begins.

How is Lion different from your previous albums?

I think there’s a subtle difference. I don’t think there’s a real radical departure from anything I’ve done before, but musically it’s more satisfying. I really took my time with it and I decided I was only going to put songs on it that I really liked. That’s why it took so long between the last one and this one. Also, I think there’s a little difference as far as the comedy goes. I find different things funny now than I did 10 years ago.

What is your favorite song on Lion?

If you ask me this same question in a month, I’ll probably give you a different answer. It’s usually the song I’m least tired of. On the new album I sort of like “The Night I Laid You Down” because that’s sort of a different style for me. It’s the first duet I wrote and it holds a special place in my heart.

Who are your musical influences?

I like people who write good songs. I like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. Those are people I grew up listening to. I still listen to that kind of singer songwriter, and people like Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, and Third Eye Blind.

Cherie Yurco is a former editor at Making Music and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for over 20 years.

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