Everything about Penny Bank intrigued me. On a mission to record 20,000 songs by recording 14 daily, songs about everything and nothing at all– I wanted to know more. I’ll be the first to admit that the first time I heard one of Penny Bank’s songs, I wasn’t super impressed as they are so short and seem a bit simple but, as I dug into his story and mission a bit more, it made me fall more and more in love with everything he is doing. With 6,000 songs under his belt and counting, neither Penny Bank nor I really knew where to start but I knew that I wanted to ask him some questions about all things Penny Bank so here goes:
What’s your go-to coffee order?
Small coffee with milk. What’s yours, Girl At The Rock Shows?
(If you’re wondering, mine is a soy vanilla latte extra hot)
What’s the worst concert you’ve ever been to and why?
This one only comes to mind because of hindsight. I went to see George Clinton at a casino in Atlantic City, probably 2007. We only went because we knew he was a huge influence on the Red Hot Chili Peppers but we didn’t really know his music. There were like 35 performers on stage and each one wanted to be louder than the others, so the sound in the room quickly became just unmanageable noise. It was so bad that we left, but the hindsight part is that I later fell DEEPLY in love with Parliament and Funkadelic (George’s legacy) and wish that I could have appreciated being in his presence when I had the opportunity.
How would you describe your music to your grandparents?
I wouldn’t and I don’t. They couldn’t begin to understand it, and I’m not just underestimating them. My parents barely understand it haha.
If you could compare yourself to a bird, what bird would it be and why?
Peacock, strictly for the sound they make. Hilarious bird sound. What kind of bird are you….Girl At The Rock Shows? (Moonrise Kingdom reference)
(I honestly have no clue what bird I would be— you let me ask the questions, Penny Bank!)
You’re on a mission to record 20,000 songs (which is insane). What number are you at as of right…. NOW?
5,758. I must give credit where it’s due….I was inspired to do this by a guy named Matt Farley, the current most prolific songwriter in the world. I think he’s up to 24,000. Our music is not similar at all but I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without him. Real nice guy, too.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
I recently started animating my songs and I previously have very little experience drawing, so learning to draw is sort of a hobby. But it’s just another branch of Penny Bank so I don’t know if that counts. I like to walk.
Favorite lyrics of all time?
Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts by Funkadelic. Listen to that and tell me you don’t feel loved.
If you were to rob a bank, what would be the song playing in the getaway car as you escape?
Droppin’ ‘Em – LL Cool J Side note, if I was gonna start an LLC I’d name it “Ool J” so it could be LLCool J
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I know this sounds weird but it was a Nirvana tribute band at another casino in Atlantic City, 2006. It had to be the closest thing to actually seeing Nirvana. They just had the energy that brought everyone in the room to the right place, and I’m not really even all that into Nirvana. Primus’ “Frizzle Fry” tour 2005 was a close 2nd.
Have you ever been able to finish a Rubik’s Cube?
I’ve never started a Rubik’s Cube. Have you?
(HA! I’m the person that would peel of the stickers when people weren’t looking)
What’s your favorite video game and why?
Ooof. Well I was 11 when Ocarina of Time came out so I really can’t imagine a more perfect age to be enraptured by one of the most beloved games of all time. My answer is any and all of the 3D Zelda games. But a BIG shoutout to Skitchin’ on Sega Genesis, which was the epitome of grunge at the height of grunge. It has the best video game soundtrack that will ever be, and I vow to start a band that plays real-life versions of those songs before I die. It’s difficult meeting anyone who knows that game, so if anyone out there is into it I’ll play drums! It’s real easy to contact me, just listen to basically any one of my songs.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Somehow I don’t remember.
Out of all of the songs that you’ve written, what is your favorite and why?
The first one that comes to mind is “The Miley Cyrus Siren”. It was really early on in this project and I guess it was possibly the first time one of these songs went to a silly unexpected place that I couldn’t have planned. My four favorite albums are “Miscellaneous 1-4” because each one is a collection of my mind short-circuiting over a period of time. They’re some of the only albums that accumulated slowly, as opposed to when I just sit down and focus on one subject. They’re like a catcher for all the random stuff that comes out that doesn’t fit with the current subject.
One of your most recent albums is “Songs About Wrayrow Mono”– Why Ray Romano?
I kept this project a secret from most of my personal life for about two years. I told one of my best friends about it a couple weeks ago and mentioned that people write to me all the time and ask me to make albums about different topics. He asked me to make the Ray Romano album.
I have to be honest, your music is definitely a bit different and seems a bit more stream of consciousness than anything else– where is your inspiration from?
Thank you. You’re right. I sit down every day with only a subject in mind, and then I just kind of blank out and go where it goes. It’s almost entirely word play and really has almost nothing to do with the subject.
If you had to relate yourself to one musician (musically), who would it be?
Dang, you had to specify musically haha. Penny Bank is not all that musical. I know this is supposed to be about Penny Bank but my answer has to come from another one of my projects. I won’t mention the name of it because that’s not what I’m here to do, but musically I relate it to the Beastie Boys.
How do you pick your topics for songs and albums?
When it comes to the celebrity albums, I try to go for a lot of icons and household names. Outside of that, it’s almost as random as the songs themselves. I have a couple albums where my friends came over (called “My Friends Came Over Volumes 1-3 haha) and I dragged them into my wacky world. There’s an album where one friend tells his completely earnest and heartfelt story of his recovery from alcoholism. There’s a series where that same friend spontaneously created a character called the Muscle Man, a meathead who can only count to 4 until he accidentally trips on mushrooms and learns about 5. The Muscle Man story continues over 3 albums and will make me smile til the day I die. I hope one day that I or someone (maybe someone out there reading this?) will make a full 90-minute animated movie using all of the audio from those albums. To answer your question in short, topics for albums are unlimited, except for anything hateful or in truly bad taste.
Can you give me a hint as to the topic of your next album?
“Songs About Chickens”
You mention in “Rotten Shell” that people should reach out to you about writing a song about anything– can you write a song about Girl at the Rock Shows?
Yes. Maybe even a whole album. I love hearing from people! Pennybanksongs@gmail.com for any reason at all. Thank you, and major thanks to you, Girl At The Rock Shows! (Final note – if you go to check out my stuff and click something that is unlistenable, please try again, and again, and again. With 6,000 songs you’re not necessarily gonna find a banger on your first random pick, but they’re out there!)
A couple things I learned from doing this interview with Penny Bank. First, I should probably have answers to my own questions. Out of all of the interviews I’ve done, this was the first time they had ever gotten turned around on me and I hated being in the hot seat!
Second, Penny Bank is truly on a mission but having fun with it at the same time. I think that’s why I love what he is doing so much. He has a passion for it but doesn’t take it too seriously where he isn’t able to have fun with it. I mean, his upcoming album is going to be an album all about chickens– there’s no way you’re going to be able to listen through that whole album without smiling and laughing.
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