Your Parties Suck. Ali Spagnola Can Help.
Parties have gotten stale. Admit it: the last time you were at a party, you looked at your watch while the guy who just began Crossfit cornered you, trapping you for what seemed an hour and a half and all the while you thought, “I missed Grandma’s Boy on Comedy Central for this?” The older you get, the lamer you get. It’s science.
Pittsburgh native, Ali Spagnola, has found a way to reverse the social aging process.
A self-described drinking composer with a music problem, Ali is giving new meaning to the term “party music.” Upbeat, funny, and in no way short on talent, Ali has gained over 1.5 million Twitter followers based largely on a simple idea that she, not you, thought of first. Power Hour to the people.
You played Power Hour, most certainly, but not like this. When I spoke to Ali she said the idea came fairly naturally.
“Obviously I played power hour in college,” she told me, but rather than take the time to mix sixty minutes worth of one-minute song clips together, Ali took it a step further, writing sixty tunes, all one minute in duration, that revolve around – you guessed it – drinking.
These very funny, very catchy tunes written and performed by Ali using multiple instruments (“It’s just me!” she said) have titles such as “It Sounds Like a Good Idea,” “If You’re Wasted and You Know It,” “I’m Fine Occifer,” and “You Won’t Remember This Song,” and have a variety of melodies (“Again, it’s just me”) to keep you entertained, laughing, and probably dancing poorly while you imbibe.
The CMU grad, who cites Madonna and “a lot of Top 40 radio when I was a kid” as her influences is no slouch musically. In addition to being a guitar player – “I have a Fender American Strat. His name is Jack and he is blue” – Ali also plays keyboards, which she’ll sometimes play live, and drums. Her initial foray into performing music was as the drummer for a male folk band (“I was sort of pulled into it,” she laughed) called Four Ugly Dudes. She was the pretty one. In addition to marketing her Power Hour album in an ingenious package – a shot glass that contains the album on the USB drive – Ali takes her show on the road, bringing the party to you because, let’s be honest, you don’t have that many friends.I’m projecting again.
You can watch videos of her performances on her YouTube Channel and, if that’s not enough to make you want to go have a drink with her, if it seems too conformist, try this: Ali’s act has been banned in the state of Michigan. She recounts the incident here, and when I asked her if she’d been banned from the university system or the entire state she assured me, “No, the entire state of Michigan. My act has been banned from Michigan.”
While this may seem like frat party redux, it’s anything but. I asked Ali about the type of crowds she gets at her shows and she told me it’s quite diverse. “There are people trying to recapture the college atmosphere, but a lot of people just want to laugh and have fun,” she remarked. The overwhelming sense one gets when talking to Ali is that many people seem to make up their mind about her shows before they even attend. I asked Ali about this, as well as the new material she’s working on, a departure from her current genre.
Tuff Gnarl: Drinking, partying, and getting excited is obviously a big component of your show. It seems like you keep it very positive and upbeat. Do you ever worry about people taking it as an opportunity to get too wild? Do you feel a responsibility to sort of maintain the audience, not whip them into too much of a frenzy?
Ali Spagnola: My responsibility is to make parties! (Laughs) I do worry yeah, of course. I’m always concerned. I have a show this Friday in Pittsburgh and after a couple hours a hundred people confirm on Facebook, word starts getting around, and then a cop shows up at the venue and starts threatening the manager about shutting it down. Word spreads that quickly and its just like another Michigan thing all over again. So yeah, I always get concerned that things could go wrong. But really, people that haven’t seen my show don’t understand that its not about being irresponsible or binging. It’s about playing a game, hanging out, and being a part of the show. Once you see it, you realize it’s not some insane, dangerous party, it’s just an interactive, fun thing.
I’m glad you said that because I think when people hear “Power Hour” I think that’s where their mind goes. Watching your videos, it does seem very upbeat and very fun.
I’ve never had any trouble. I’ve never had vomiting or fighting or anything like that. (Laughs) Knock on wood. It’s always been a really great crowd and people aren’t there like “Okay, time to kill ourselves!” (Laughs) They’re there to hear music and hang out and have a good time.
It seems like your fans genuinely like you and like interacting with you. Any strange fan interactions? I mean you are sometimes talking to people who have had sixty shots of beer in an hour…
Oh yeah, I mean that happens all the time in weird, uncomfortable, stalkery ways – dick pics on the internet – nothing I’d want to recount in detail because that encourages the people who are doing it right?
If some guy hears I actually read his e-mail that was a suicide note now he’s gonna want to keep doing it more. (laughs)
(Laughs) Fair enough.
I’m still not at the point where I want it to stop. I’m still flattered these things happen. “Sweet! This is a good sign, things are taking off!” I’ll let you know when I’m sick of it. (Laughs)
(Laughs) Please do. Can you tell me about some of the new stuff you’re working on? Its got to be kind of tough because when people hear your name, they’re going to expect “Power Hour.”
You caught me in the exact transition phase where I’m figuring out how to take everyone that’s excited about this “Power Hour” and keep them excited about my new stuff. Hopefully I can figure that out.
Have you written new material or is it just beginning?
It’s just beginning phase. I got, sort of, three sketches in the works in terms of songs. I’m trying to figure out the visuals, the style of how this is going to go. Its all very much in the brain-storming phase.
When you put out this new stuff, will you work with a band?
I guess we’ll see. Like I said, it’s super cost effective for me just to do it by myself but its also super-hard to be a tiny little suburban girl traveling the country alone. I always think to myself, “It’d be so much easier if I had a band of people or at least one other person that was just as passionate as me trying to get this music out there. How much further would I be?” Maybe it’s time to build a team, we’ll see.
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