Today I’m speaking with Tony, who is known as the very funny @bornmiserable on Twitter. Tony is a musician, artist, Sylvia Plath enthusiast, member of the band Stryper, foot model, cheese connoisseur and a bad ass defender of social justice.
M: Everyone I talk to loves you. What’s it like being adored by the world?
T: Ha! I don’t know – you’d have to ask Boo the dog about that.
M: I did ask Boo and he said to stop making eye contact with him.
M: Where are you located on the planet?
T: I’m scattered around Los Angeles.
M: By day, you’re a mild-mannered artist, but by night, you’re a superhero known as @bornmiserable on the Twitter. Were you really miserable from day 1?
T: Likely, although photographic evidence that I dug up from my backyard seems to prove otherwise here and there. I do feel like I was meant to be miserable…so I suppose I’ve been sorted out.
M: I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who keeps their photo albums in the back yard.
M: You are a wonderful musician and you have a YouTube page called The Blackout Choir, in which you cover a variety of different artists on your acoustic guitar. What is your musical background and what musicians had the most influence on you?
T: After I received my first electric guitar, I took guitar lessons briefly in middle school, which barely resulted in me knowing one scale and a few chords. Aside from one other beginner class I took later in college, I taught myself everything else. My influences are too many to mention – musicians from Sam Cooke, the Supremes, and the Left Banke to James, Morrissey, and the Durutti Column influenced me the most. I align with music that means something lyrically or strikes an emotional response instrumentally.
M: Have you ever had the chance to meet or even work with an artist you’ve admired?
T: I have had the opportunity to meet one of my most favorite artists – Andy Prieboy, who was in Wall of Voodoo and also wrote Tomorrow Wendy, which Concrete Blonde covered and whose version is more familiar to people. He was gracious enough to listen to some covers I did of his songs and has a caricature drawing I did of him propped up in his studio. I’ve also supplied backup vocals to a song of his as well.
M: Do you play with any bands, or are you strictly a solo artist?
T: For the majority of what I do, I tend to work alone – I’ve done collaborations in the past with my friends, where I sing on something or have them sing backup vocals and/or play an instrument for me. For example, I recorded vocals for my best friend Dawn’s cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out):
She’s also done some amazing piano work for me and recently put out a song on SoundCloud called Insomnia, which I invite everyone to listen to and follow her:
M: I listened to your Smith/Morrissey cover songs. They filled me full of teenage angst and I had to go brood in my room. I imagine if he heard them he would say, “That sounds nothing like me, not even Morrissey sounds like Morrisey,” and then he’d go do some yoga. Do you ever have any outbursts like Morrissey?
T: I think I do – I wake up in the morning and I’m immediately annoyed that I woke up! I do find myself exorcising my outbursts in my writing, whether it’s tweets or perhaps lyrics.
M: I love your cover of American Music by the Violent Femmes; it’s my favorite. Have you ever covered any Depeche Mode or Talking Heads songs?
T: No Talking Heads yet, but I have covered Depeche Mode’s Judas, which seems to be relatively up my alley both musically and thematically.
M: Do you strictly play acoustic guitar? Have you ever been tempted to pick up an electric guitar, put on a bandana and play Sweet Child of Mine?
T: Hahaha, no bandanas for me. I’m a simple man – I play acoustic guitar, electric guitar, six string bass and regular bass guitar. I’ve dabbled in some keyboards, but mostly to complement my guitars in my instrumental work and original songs.
M: In addition to being a musician, you are also a very fine artist. Do you sell any of your work, or is it just something you like to do in your spare time?
T: I don’t sell any of my work, except for the random design that goes up on RedBubble. I just draw at random, whenever I feel like I’d rather not sing or play music or cause my next door neighbors to wish death upon me. Drawing tweets has been a good way of inspiring me in a different way, by hopefully taking someone’s funny tweet and taking it a step further visually.
M: I’m a big fan of your tweets and I know you hate to get political, but what do you think of our current state of politics and do you think Donald Trump will really make extinction level event great again?
T: I never thought I would ever write political tweets but I’m afraid it was inevitable, much like the downfall of MC Hammer pants. I think the current state of politics is simply what happens when you let everyone into MENSA – the idiots believe they’re just as smart as the people who are actually qualified to be there. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, his campaign is entirely based on what I like to call the John Edward of politics – he doesn’t have a gift for anything but grasping at straws of fear that his supporters already brought to their Cracker barrel potluck. We don’t’ need ISIS to destroy us – we already have the help of Donald Trump’s supporters to accomplish that.
M: [Takes off MC Hammer pants] Would you be willing to draw me as a unicorn impaling Donald Trump with my horn?
T: That would be fantastic, although I feel that’s too noble of a death for someone like him.
M: Tell the juvenile delinquents and the morbidly obese where they can find you on the interwebs.
T: People who apparently have an interest in the exceptionally mundane can find me on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/bornmiserable or if they wish to punish their eyes and their ears, they can find me on YouTube at: www.youtube.com/TheBlackoutChoir