An Interview with Jarrod Alonge, the Guy Who Made Those Pop Punk Videos You Love So Much
This interview goes out to all our friends!
For all the esteem that we give the ideological importance of punk and its derivative forms, it's filled with some real insufferable and bizarre shit. This doesn't take anything away from our beloved basement show memories, but it does mean that we need a reality check from time to time on why this music (and their constituent cultures) can be so damn hilarious.
This is part of what Jarrod Alonge, a 21-year-old college grad from Tennessee, gets so right in his sketches. What began as a prototypical young man's YouTube page—making silly sketches around ghost roommates and Hitler Rant memes—took on a life of its own thanks to a few videos parodying the absurdities of punk and metalcore histrionics. The most popular of these, "Every Pop Punk Vocalist," is also the strongest. Alonge's snapback-wearing alter -ego, lead singer of the fictional Sunrise Skater Kids (from Baltimore, that weird haven of semi-successful pop-punk acts like SR-71), galvanizes his fake audience into polarized distaste/love of one's hometown, silly pop-punk nicknames ("Slappy," "Crusty"), and pizza (that's a pop-punk thing, you'll see)."Every Hardcore Vocalist" and "Every Metalcore Vocalist" (which has two installments) exist in the same vein. Most of Alonge's other videos deal with the other idiotic things perpetuated in these worlds. For instance, the eight-part "Misheard Lyrics" series interrogates potential subliminal meanings (mainly masturbation) in lyrics by bands like Memphis May Fire and Atreyu. Oddly, this satire has not completely alienated the bands he parodies; instead, he has been embraced in these communities and even made videos with members of Issues and Sleeping With Sirens. His latest video, a lyric video for Sunrise Skater Kids' "Pop Punk Pizza Party" that rehashes many lyrical tropes from the original video, dropped this Tuesday. We caught up with Jarrod to talk about being recognized, making fun of things you love, and yes, pizza.
Noisey: Tell us how you started making videos.
Jarrod Alonge: Well, I've been making videos for a long time. I just started with random projects in high school, and it kept going in college. I actually originally made my YouTube channel for guitar covers, most of which I've taken down because they're kind of hard to watch now. [Laughs] But last summer, I made "Every Metalcore Vocalist," which I only made as an inside joke between me and my friends. But later in the summer—the internet's a weird place, and people started watching it and sharing it. It became this whole thing, which I did not expect to happen. I figured I should go along those lines, so I then made "Every Pop Punk Vocalist," realized I had an audience, and kept going from there.
When did it crystalize that there was stuff to make fun of? The jokes you make are so specific, like the references to came shorts and snap-back hats are just so precise.
Well, I'd like to make it clear that it's all heavily embellished… I mean, I've never seen anybody eat pizza on stage. [Laughs] But I've been going to shows since ninth grade, and a lot of that stuff is just what I've observed. One of the things I wanted to make fun of with "Every Metalcore Vocalist" is this voice that people have on stage that is absolutely ridiculous. Like, you would never talk to another human in that voice, unless you were on stage at a metalcore show. Like, [imitating voice] "We're GLAD to HAVE you HERE!" Why are are they accenting each syllable? [Laughs]
Yeah, those things make no sense.
Right. But I'd seen all of these stereotypes when I went to the Warped Tour and just going to hundreds of shows. There was this one time where I was watching a Memphis May Fire video—and I've seen them multiple times—and listening to [lead singer] Matty Mullins give one of these speeches between songs. It just stuck out to me… his voice is so ridiculous, and nobody was making fun of this. The specific things are exaggerated, but they're based on these real observations.
So where did the pizza thing come from?
Um, it's funny you ask…apparently, pizza is a pop punk thing.
I dunno, I looked on Tumblr for inspiration and saw it was a thing. A while after that, I went to a Man Overboard show and talked to [co-lead vocalist] Zac Eisenstein after the show. I was supposed to make a video with them, but it didn't work out. Anyway, we were talking about the video and eventually got to why pizza was pop punk. And he ended up tweeting something later, something along the lines of "Cereal is now pop punk?" and then people were just catching on. I don't know, but… pizza isn't actually pop punk, but people think it's pop punk?
Yeah, I sort of wondered whether that was really a thing, because all of these other things in the videos are, as I said, so specific to these worlds.
Yeah, I'd say that those videos are 20% making fun of vocalists and 80% making fun of all of the people that like this kind of music.
To be clear, though, do you really love this music?
Oh yeah, all of the people I make fun of are people that I respect as musicians. A lot of people think I hate Matty Mullins, or [The Story So Far's lead singer] Parker Cannon or [The Wonder Years' lead singer] Soupy. But I think they're all fantastic.
So what's up next? Will you bring the characters from your videos back?
I don't really do the "Vocalist" videos anymore, because I feel like I've done the same video four times in a row. People tell me, "Oh, do 'Every Deathcore Vocalist,'" but like, they all do the same stuff on stage. But I've brought the characters back a few times. I've started calling them my alter egos now. And I've done a lot of sketches that had nothing to do with music, like the one with the guys from Issues. That technically had nothing to do with music, except that they were in it.
And how did you meet those guys in the first place?
Back when "Every Pop Punk Vocalist" was doing its thing, [lead singer] Tyler Carter messaged me on Twitter and said he really liked it. Later, I saw that their band was coming through Nashville, so I tweeted him back and asked if he wanted to do a video or something. It wasn't organized, I didn't go through the label or anything like that. It was the same thing with the video I did with [Sleeping with Sirens' frontman] Kellin Quinn. People forget that you can get things if you're just nice and ask people.
Besides the folks that you've talked to or worked with, like the guys in Issues or Man Overboard, have you gotten any reactions from other musicians?
Just stuff on Twitter. I've gotten shoutouts from Parker Cannon and a few others. Plus, I talk to people at metalcore shows, and it seems like most people in that scene know about the "Every Metalcore Vocalist" video.
Have you become famous enough to get recognized at shows?
I hate the word "famous," because I don't see myself that way. But I have been, unfortunately, recognized at shows and have just started to get used to it. People think that it must be this great thing, but it's a really awkward and uncomfortable experience to have a complete stranger quoting you to your face. I'm pretty introverted, so it's a bit weird.
Any specific moments that stand out?
There was a moment, a while after "Every Pop Punk Vocalist" was released. It was that Man Overboard show I was talking about earlier. Friends who were going with me, they said, "Jarrod, you should totally wear the clothes that you wore in that video!" I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I went along with it. It sort of felt like I was wearing a Halloween costume. I maybe expected one person to recognize me and not say anything, but when we went there, so many people recognized me that I didn't know what to do. We were waiting outside, and there was this guy from some band trying to sell CDs. He talked to my friends and I for a while, but I could tell he was distracted. At some point, he asked me, "Hey, are you the guy from that video?" And instantly, all of the people around us were like, "Yeah, it's totally that guy, I knew it!" and bringing up the video on their phones, asking for pictures…and I was just freaking out, like "Why is this happening? I don't want this!"
Do the people you meet generally appreciate the satire?
[Laughs] I mean, everybody seems to appreciate those videos. The only times I've seen anything negative are on the internet, usually from someone who just doesn't get it. And that's fine, because I honestly don't think my videos are that funny, so it's nice to see that other people don't think they're funny either. People who do like them, I just ask them, "Why?" I question their sense of humor.
So I guess you'd question my sense of humor, right?
Sameer Rao has a terrible sense of humor, played out on Twitter at @amancalledsrao