The first rule of Pizza Underground: You do not talk about Velvet Underground. Yup, Macaulay Culkin’s new band might technically be a pizza-themed Velvet Underground band, but when MTV News sat down with the quintet this week, they were thoroughly in character — and what a baffling character it was.
“Velvet who?” chirped pizza box drummer Deenah Vollmer when MTV News asked the inevitable first question: “Why the late Lou Reed’s iconic band?” Things followed suit from there.
Pizza Underground rocked up to MTV News HQ for their first on-camera interview decked out in all black (it hides the sauce stains!) and sunglasses, half-smiling and half-laughing as they sat down to talk about their newly Internet-famous project, which launched in November when Culkin and friends recorded an 8-minute medley of pizza songs to the tune of Velvet Underground and Lou Reed classics — “All the Pizza Parties,” “I’m Waiting for Delivery Man,” etc. The result is something akin to what The Manson Family might croon — but somehow even more drugged-out.
All members of the band sing on the medley — a cacophony of on-key droning — while actor Culkin plays the kazoo, Matt Colbourn plays guitar, Phoebe Kreutz plays the glockenspiel,Vollmer bangs the pizza box and Austin Kilham shakes the tambourine. While the endeavor could easily be passed off as a joke, the members are all seasoned artists and/or entrenched in the New York music scene, and Pizza Underground is hardly their first musical effort.
Still, while members of the band have provided more serious origin stories to print outlets — Kreutz told Vulture that the band started in 2012 as a joke to pass time while touring with Colbourn and Vollmer — the assemblage decided to cheese it up at MTV News.
“We were bitten by a radioactive pizza slice in the hills of Catalonia,” explained Colbourn. “We used to be one person and we’ve now become five.”
“I think we’re really inspired by pizza, for the most part” added Culkin. “Just its assorted toppings and the many things you can do with it. We’re just trying to focus on what’s important, really — it’s the pizza.”
When asked about specific jams, such as “Take A Bite Of The Wild Slice,” the band stuck to their doughy agenda — with a kind of rebellious spin (pun intended). “We really thought about nonconformity and doing your own thing and that’s one of the beautiful things about pizza — is there’s no wrong thing,” Vollmer said. “So ‘take a bite of the wild slice’ is just kind of go for it.”
And that seems to be what the band is doing with their newfound fame. They just released a concert film via Rolling Stone documenting their first show at Union Pool in Williamsburg, shot by their very own Andy Warhol, artist Toby Goodshank. And they also have another show lined up, this time at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on Friday (December 13). Naturally, pizza will be served.