Exclusive interview with Frankie Muniz

By Courtney Flagg

News Editor

Courtney Flagg ’12 spoke with Frankie Muniz in a phone interview in preparation for his performance on campus. Muniz discussed the ups and downs of the music industry and the rewarding aspects of doing something you simply love to do.

What made you decide to go into music instead of continuing with racecar driving and acting?

[I’ve] Always enjoyed music—played drums since I was 12 years old. Never thought I’d actually pursue it. I would play in my garage. It kind of just happened that I got into You Hang Up and here we are now doing a national tour, recording a new album. Things are going really well. I stopped acting—I wouldn’t say stopped, I took a break from acting four years ago to pursue racing and I loved racing but I got badly hurt last year, I shattered my hand. When I tried to start racing again I still had pains in my hand so I decided to take a break from that. So now here I am with the band. I mean I’m kind of all over the place. If I had to choose one of the three to pursue it would definitely be the band—I hope to do it for a long time.

How did you find You Hang Up? How did you become part of the band?

I had a video on my MySpace or Facebook page (one or the other) of me playing the drums; nothing serious, just me playing the drums in my garage.

The lead singer of You Hang Up (Aaron Brown), who is a mutual friend of my girlfriend and I, sent me a message along the lines of “Hey man, if you ever want to jam, it would be really cool!” I immediately responded and said, “I don’t just want to jam, I want to be the drummer in the band!” Here we are now. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. We all mesh together really well when we play. We’re really enjoying it.

Do you take part in writing any of the band’s music?

Aaron, the lead singer, is an incredible songwriter. He will come into practice and be like “I had a dream where I wrote a song and I can remember every single part of the song.” Literally five minutes later we’ll have a completed song. It’s awesome. We’ve been really lucky like that. He [Aaron] will bring in ideas like that and the four of us will sit down and write it together. Aaron brings the idea and all of us turn it into a song. We are about to record our first album in Nashville and we’re working with Joe Fitzgerald, who produced B.o.B’s album. We’ve been working really hard. We want to go in with 15-16 songs to record and pick the best 12 for the album. We’ve been working really, really hard but it’s been fairly easy because Aaron is such a great songwriter.

Do you have any people who look up to/inspire you in the music industry?

I mean, I’m literally a fan of all types of music. I like anything and everything. I just enjoy music in general. I don’t necessarily have any particular people who I aspire to be or who I try to follow. I’m just kind of all over the place.

Well, I’m like you. I don’t have any particular genre that I enjoy more than another.

Yeah, I literally will come to practice rapping and then I’ll switch over the country songs during a break. I really do like all types of music.

Is it hard to make a transition like this in the entertainment business? You started out acting and then you went into racecar driving. Now you’re in music.

There are pluses and minuses to having been on TV. The pluses being the fact that I have a little bit of a fan base that I can bring in to listen to our music. The downsides are that so many actors have tried to transition into music. I mean, 95 percent of them, their music is horrible. When you hear about an actor-band, or a former actor who is going into music, you just automatically think of bad music. I mean I do. The only band that I can think of that has actors in it, who are successful and makes good music, in my opinion, is 30 Seconds to Mars with Jared Leto. Most actors turned musicians—it’s more [of a] joke. But then again, most of the time, the actor is the lead singer—the person everyone’s looking at. I’m just the drummer! If you don’t look hard enough you may not even see me on stage. We’re not trying to make my having been on TV the band’s only selling point. Sure, it brings people in the doors but that only gets you so far. People have to enjoy your music. What we focus on is making good music and having fun while we do it. I think that’s what it’s all about. I think my favorite reaction we get is when people come to our show and expect it to be a joke and people are really pleasantly surprised.

How is being a musician in the entertainment business different from being an actor?

One thing I really like is the fact that you get an automatic reaction from the fans. When you’re playing on stage, you get to see and hear how people are reacting. When you are working on a TV show or a movie, you can be working on it for weeks and months and it can be a long time before the audience sees what you’ve been working on. And even then, you don’t get to see how they react to what you’ve done. At a concert or show when we’re playing, we get to see people get into it. I love that. The best thing about being a drummer is that I get to see everything–I’m behind everyone. I see everyone going crazy and just having a great time and I realize I want to do this forever. It’s so rewarding.

It’s so cool that you’ve found something that you love so much.

I love it. I mean I loved acting but it was one of those things that I did was I was seven or eight years old—I never really thought about it. Racecar driving was cool but it’s really stressful because you can get injured very easily and people are spending millions of dollars and counting on you to win the race and if you don’t perform well, you are going to lose your job. I just love music. I love the guys and the band and we just get along really well. We’re best friends so we enjoy being together.

So you really see yourself continuing with this in the future?

Yeah, I mean I hope people will come see us perform and download the songs so we can continue to do what we love. No matter what happens with You Hang Up specifically, I plan on being in the music world for the rest of my life. I really, really enjoy it. Even the tough stuff–the song-writing, the recording process, it’s great. No matter what it is, I want to be involved in music, for sure.

I feel like if you’re this enthusiastic about it, things can only go well for you. You know what I mean? I think the problem with some actors when they go into the music business is that they do it to change their image. But you genuinely seem like you love it.

Me specifically, I don’t even care how people look at me. I just want people to enjoy the music. I want them to be singing songs. It’s cool when people go, “Oh, it’s cool to see the band. I had no idea you were even in it. You’re the drummer?” That’s great. I think that’s so cool.

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