Bret McKenzie, Songs Without Jokes
As you can probably glean from that gleaming album title above, Bret McKenzie—whom you know from such modern musical treasures as comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, the Muppets movie reboots and other ace kid-film soundtracks, Lord of the Rings fan blogs, guest songs for The Simpsons, cycling around the streets in his native New Zealand, and more— has a new solo record coming out filled with songs that ARE NOT COMEDY SONGS!
TPAC's updated Patron Entry Policy strongly recommends all patrons 2+ years of age to wear a mask while in the theater and public spaces. For more details and TPAC's updated health and safety protocols, visit TPAC.ORG/PatronHealth.
- Please note all tickets for TPAC events are fully digital and accessible via your mobile device through our TPAC Concierge Mobile App. A mobile ticket is the safest, most convenient, and flexible way to receive and manage your tickets while increasing protection against fraud.
- TPAC is an accessible facility with a variety of services. Visit our Accessible Services page for more information.
Adding to his successful track record writing and performing across most genres of pop music, McKenzie is a fan of wry, literate artists like Harry Nilsson, Steely Dan, Randy Newman and Dire Straits. He’s a talented player of multiple instruments and a veteran of several non-comedy bands in New Zealand back in the day, most notably the reggae-based fusion group The Black Seeds. Yet, while songs without jokes are just as much in his blood as those with, he recognizes that most people who know his work will arrive expecting a laugh. Hence, the album’s title.
“When I tell people I’m doing an album, they hit this wall: ‘Is it comedy?’ I’ve been working on it for two years, so I’m well past that, but until people hear it, it’s harder for them to wrap their head around what I’m doing.”
Written mostly during the quieter moments of 2019, with his life split between work in Los Angeles and his family in Wellington, the songs of Songs focus on themes of escape, the perpetual search for peace, and navigating a life being pulled in multiple directions at once. There are also simple meditations on driving through a city, and the weather. McKenzie was inspired by the path his aforementioned idols like Newman and Nilsson had paved, where a silly or playful number could be sandwiched directly between a song about heartbreak or an earnest redemption and a scathing satire or character commentary. He threw a bit of everything into the mix, recording ideas on his phone at home in New Zealand after the kids had gone to sleep. Upon returning to LA, he would play the sketches for his longtime producer and collaborator, Mickey Petralia, who helped McKenzie identify the best moments, then together they would add parts and shape the songs. From there, longtime film collaborator Chris Caswell created charts for that same ensemble of session players with whom they’d recorded so many pieces for film. The majority of songs were then recorded at United Studio in Los Angeles in just a few takes.