Thursday, September 16, 2021

Interview: Stephen Kramer Glickman Talks Album ‘The Moving Company,’ ‘Big Time Rush,’ and More [EXCLUSIVE]

Nerds and Beyond had the chance to sit down with actor, comedian, and musician Stephen Kramer Glickman to talk about his new cover album, The Moving Company, as well as multiple other projects. The Moving Company marks Glickman’s debut cover album, which just released on August 4. The album includes covers of Billie Eilish, The Beatles, Post Malone, and Green Day, just to name a few. His version of “Crazy” garnered massive attention and became a successful trend on TikTok.

Glickman is most known as record producer Gustavo Roque on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush from 2009-2013. He has also found major success in the voice acting business, most recently with Netflix’s Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild. Glickman currently co-hosts the podcast The Night Time Show and can also be seen in the upcoming Tubi original movie Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood. He has really done it all with ease, so let’s get to the interview with Stephen!

*THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY*

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Nerds and Beyond: First off you made your cover album, The Moving Company, during this whole pandemic, even working alongside your sister, Natalie. What was that whole process like and how did the album even come to mind?

Stephen: Well, I went through a breakup. And then I got COVID. Then, I was trapped at home with just my thoughts and my fat dog. I just was sitting around trying to figure out something to do. I couldn’t do stand-up, there was no acting, you couldn’t go out and do anything. I mean, we were quarantined, you couldn’t leave the house, and I started making live streams where I would just take song requests. I started taking requests on TikTok and started getting like 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 per live stream, which was really crazy, and I started getting a lot of crazy song requests for stuff. I mean, of course, I was getting Big Time Rush, that’s a given.

I was doing that and a producer was watching. This big Grammy-winning producer that produced for U2 was watching and reached out and was like, “Hey, you should put down a couple tracks, do a little something.” I told my sister, who’s a singer-songwriter and a music producer, she has a label, she’s a big deal in the music world, and so I told her I was gonna do it. She was super supportive and recorded a couple songs, and then that turned into a ridiculous amount of songs that I was recording and I just had no idea how to put together an album.

I just kept going back in and being like, “Hey, let’s just do another one. Let’s just do another like six songs, 10 songs today.” I was just having so much fun. And so I was able to get her to come on to produce it to kind of corral me into making a 10-song album that all makes sense where it all flows from start to finish, it doesn’t feel super disjointed. So that’s kind of a tenant of how it all went down. I got really lucky. Having someone else that’s in the business in your family is unbelievably helpful, because how [helpful is] having a little sister that you can turn to and be like, “Is this good, or is it just me singing Coldplay?”

Orion Bustamante
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Nerds and Beyond: Following the release of this album, do you have plans to make another one in the future?

Stephen: I definitely want to, for sure. I’ve thought about kind of other themes or taking a time — remember that Now! That’s What I Call Music? I thought about picking a year, like 1986, or something. Like picking my favorite songs from that year and doing something cool with it. But I’m taking my time with it. I think the next goal for me when it comes to music really is getting some music videos together. I’ve shot two so far for the album and I’d like to get a couple more, because they’re really fun. Then also I’d love to be able to hit the road and do this show. Where it’s like An Evening with Stephen Glickman where I can sit at the piano, tell some stories, and do some songs. I would love to be able to do that. Just trying to figure that whole thing out.

Nerds and Beyond: Speaking of music videos, you did a Joker-inspired one for “Crazy.” What made that whole concept come to mind?

Stephen: Oh man. Gnarls Barkley, like back in the day, would do music videos. Not even music videos, just live performances. They would dress up as Star Wars characters on stage. They dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz. They used to always do fully costumed, detailed things. So I was like, ”Man, if I’m gonna do a cover, I should do it, you know, inspired by something.” And Joker was so great, such a fantastic movie. I had pieces of the costume already, so I was like, “Let’s take it to downtown.” Downtown Los Angeles is disgusting; it’s rough downtown. There’s so many dirty alleyways and then there’s a subway. And I was like, “You can kind of fake it for Gotham a little bit.” That’s what we did. It’s pretty simple but I literally was just like, “What can we do to make something look cool?” And have it be true to form for me because I’m a huge DC and Marvel fan. I’m surrounded by toys all the time.

Nerds and Beyond: You’ve also done some stand-up, like you mentioned, and released the comedy album Voices In My Head. How is that different from recording songs, and do you find doing one easier as opposed to the other?

Stephen: They’re very different in that recording a stand-up album and putting it out … you put it out because then you go, ”Well, you know, hey, if people think it’s funny, great, but who cares. Because the audience thought it was funny.” I didn’t feel any amount of nerves when my stand-up album came out, as opposed to when this came out. When this music album came out, I was so nervous because you know you’re just right out there, bearing your raw feelings and emotions and you’re just like, “I hope that people appreciate this.” And there’s no way of knowing right away whether or not it’s good, if people like it or if they don’t. You’re kind of doing it for yourself and you’re creating it in a vacuum as opposed to stand-up where it’s all being created around other people.

With that being said, the stand-up album was super fun to make. It was produced by Sirius XM, so it aired exclusively on Sirius XM and Pandora. It’s still airing right now and that was super cool to kind of make something. It was very topical and a lot of it was about Trump and presidents and issues I had with America. And it still works, it’s still funny.

Nerds and Beyond: Your latest project besides the album is the anime film Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild for Netflix. What drew you to it and could you talk more about the movie?

Stephen: Monster Hunter, the video game, is badass. Always has been. There’s been so many of them and I really wanted in. My character, Knox, is a little cat-like character and he’s a thief and just a totally badass character. I believe he’s called a Melynx, but I’ve seen his type of character before, and other Monster Hunter-type stuff and I’ve always thought, “Oh man, it’d be cool to play a character like that.” And then I got it, and then we recorded the voiceover for it five years ago. We were finishing voiceover work on it and then they were like, “Oh my God, they’re making a Monster Hunter movie with Ron Perlman and Milla Jovovich. We’re gonna have to wait to release until after that movie comes out.” Then that came out and it didn’t do super well. So then they tried to hold back and give it some distance so that when it did get released it would have a new audience.

They sold it to Netflix. Netflix paid to produce and do the rest of the work on it and it came out really, really cool. The best part that I love about it is when you get put in a position like that, you make a movie and then you get screwed, and you have to put it on the shelf for a little bit. You can pout and be pissed and be as angry as you want to be, but if you play your cards right you can still have a successful release, and that’s exactly what they did. It came out and the reviews are all saying that it’s better — that it wipes the slate clean from the last big live-action. It kind of does this great thing where it gave fans something to be happy about and that’s super great. That’s all you can ask for. Yeah, it’s rad and it came out cool. I think it was awesome.

Nerds and Beyond: You’ve done a decent amount of voice acting, including with Monster Hunter. How does that compare to live-action?

Stephen: Live-action is so much fun. It’s so weird and I have a live-action movie coming out in like a week from now. I did this movie called Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood, which is live-action. It’s Tubi’s first original movie and so it airs only on Tubi, which is a free streaming service. And it’s basically Home Alone, but set in an elementary school. The two bad guys are me and Jon Lovitz. It was super fun. I love doing live-action because you have a bit more control over what the audience sees. With Monster Hunter, it was super fun. I did a million takes of every line. It could be any range of stuff and they can do weird things to your voice, they can do whatever they want. But on Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood, I showed up to the set and I was like, “I think I should be wearing big giant Coke bottle glasses and I should be in a bulletproof vest, and I should be doing this and I should be doing that.” I made up a whole bunch of silly stuff kind of on the spot that I thought the character should be doing. They were like, “Yeah, let’s go with that good comedy instinct. Let’s go with your weird ideas.” It was so much fun.

Nerds and Beyond: Do you prefer to do one over the other?

Stephen: Not really. They’re both so much fun. Honestly, the best part about my career is that I get to do a lot of weird stuff. And it’s all really fun stuff. I think that’s kind of always been the hope, to not have to choose which thing you want to do, be able to just kind of do all of the weird things. Like do a music album, do a stand-up album, do voiceover, do animation, hop in for two weeks, do a live-action movie. Just jump around, play with all the aspects of this absolutely stupid business that we’re working. I mean that’s kind of the hope, to do as much as possible.

Nerds and Beyond: Speaking of doing as much as possible, you also have a podcast with Matt Walker, Mike Black, and Mike Glazer, The Night Time Show. How did that whole thing come to be?

Stephen: That is a very specific show. I’m generally interested in people’s careers, how they make things happen, how life happens for people, because it is such a difficult business and there’s so many ups and downs and there’s so much heartbreak and heartache and all the stuff that happens to people. I love sitting down with an actor or a producer or a ride builder from Disneyland and asking them questions about their lives and how it happened, how things panned out the way they did, when it could have gone somewhere.

I’m a big fan of movies and television, and so are my friends. So, we decided we should do a podcast where we can talk to the people that are our heroes and ask them the questions that you can’t just ask if you run into them at the grocery store. A podcast is a perfect excuse to really dork out with somebody and geek out, and that’s what we’ve been doing for 200 episodes for almost five years now. We just had Kevin Smith on the show and it was just extraordinary just talking to him, not only about his life and his career, but finding out what we hear little things about. We had Leah Thompson on the show and spent literally a half-hour with Leah Thompson talking about Howard the Duck. Like, all sorts of weird stuff like that but as a nerd that’s everything to me. I want to hear it all.

Orion Bustamante

Nerds and Beyond: Do you have a favorite guest that was on the podcast?

Stephen: We did The Office cast reunion, which was the most intense thing I’ve ever been a part of. It was 10,000 people in the audience. Literally, 10,000 people at LA Comic Con, as far as the eye can see. And then I’m on stage with nine cast members, and trying to ask them questions and take audience questions. That was pretty intense. The other one that stands out is like one of those moments where you’re like, “I can’t believe that this is happening.” We had the lead singer of Savage Garden on the show and he sang “Truly Madly Deeply” onstage. Lisa Loeb was on the show and sang “Stay” on the show and told stories about the making of that and we’ve had a lot of wonderful people. It’s a lot of fun. I love it.

Nerds and Beyond: There hasn’t been a new episode since the Kevin Smith one when you reached 200 episodes. Do you plan on making any more content or was it just always mapped out that there would be a specific number of episodes?

Stephen: Tomorrow we go back in the studio. We couldn’t go into the studio because of COVID. but we’re back tomorrow recording two new episodes. We just had to take a beat because COVID was like, “Nope, you can’t perform, you can’t do this.” We used to do our show, our live podcast of The Night Time Show, at the Hollywood Improv, but that’s still coming back. That’s still hard to get people to be comfortable to come out and sit down and talk in person. We’ve done a lot of interviews over the phone, but I think we really want to follow up Kevin Smith with somebody awesome. And I think we did, I think we got something. So it’ll be good.

Nerds and Beyond: Earlier this year, you released a cover of “How to Save a Life” with your Big Time Rush co-star Kendall Schmidt. What was the planning like for it? Had you two been talking about it for a long time or was it just a spur of the moment type deal?

Stephen: I wanted to do an album, and I was already recording songs for The Moving Company. But “How to Save a Life,” I really wanted to cover it but I just hate it when people cover songs and play the same instruments the song was originally recorded with. It just seems boring. I really wanted a guitar, so I called Kendall and I was like, “Dude, would you play guitar on ‘How to Save a Life?'” And he’s like, “Dude, I’ll do you one better. I’ll produce it, I’ll do the harmonies, I’ll do the whole thing.” He didn’t need to. He did everything for it and it was so cool.

I love Kendall. He’s like the sweetest guy in the world and I think he kind of knew I wanted to put out an album, and I wanted to do this kind of stuff. So him doing that for me — him doing that song for me, working with me on it — it actually set me up really nicely instead of starting from scratch when it came to putting my album on Spotify. Now I’ve got 15,000 subscribers, 20,000 listeners all the time, and “How to Save a Life” did over 100,000 streams on Spotify. It immediately links everybody to the album, so when people are listening to that it goes, “Do you want to hear more?” There’s more songs now and that’s awesome. He’s always been a great guy, but he definitely set me up to win on that one, which is really cool. It was awesome and also is a fun role reversal, me pretending to be his producer for so long and then him actually being my producer.

Nerds and Beyond: You’ve done acting, comedy, you make music and you host a podcast. Is there anything else you’d like to venture into that you’ve never really done before?

Stephen: I’ve never done a multi-cam sitcom. I’ve never acted in front of an audience at a sitcom, that’s definitely up there for me. I’ve never done a movie musical or TV musical movie so that’s kind of my big obsession right now, try to find my way to doing some big TV movie musical. Fiddler on the Roof on NBC, I don’t know, but I love that kind of stuff.

Nerds and Beyond: Last but not least, because I feel like I’m obligated to bring this up, but most fans know you as Gustavo from Big Time Rush, as do I. You’re seen on social media quite a lot signing autographs, even writing out some of the songs for fans. Would you ever consider doing a reboot if given the chance and you’re asked by Nickelodeon or Paramount?

Stephen: Absolutely, I would in a heartbeat. It’s one of those really crazy things that I keep having these moments with Big Time Rush, where it’s really hard to put something behind you when it’s a part of your life. It’s really difficult to just let it go forever when you wake up every day to messages, no matter where you are. It’s ingrained into the culture of my life. Really weird things happen, like kids sending me money out of nowhere. Not like, “Hey, do you mind if I send you money? I have something I want you to do,” but found my Venmo and then send me money so that I would handwrite lyrics to Big Time Rush songs. That’s not even something I offer, they just made it up and I did it for them. Why not? It’s weird but I love it. It’s pretty cool.

Nerds and Beyond: I mean, you’re part of so many childhoods.

Stephen: Exactly, yeah. It’s like when you’re a part of so many people’s childhoods, it’s fun, and we did a really good job on our show, and everyone is cool. There’s no one in our cast getting DUIs or doing horrible, horrible things and getting in trouble. Everyone’s really nice and really cool and that’s a great thing. It’s made it so that fans who grew up on it don’t have to suddenly have that embarrassment after feeling bad.

It was a solid show; it was funny and weird. Especially in season 1 and season 2, we are having so much fun and it’s so stupid. Season 3 starts to get a little hard, season 4 is definitely the hardest because things were getting weird. It was getting weird. There were tensions and fights and issues with music and issues with touring, lines getting cut or things getting changed or whatever those are. It’s always weird on TV, but I was happy the whole time. I was never not happy. I was so proud and feel very blessed to have been part of it.

Nerds and Beyond: Well, I think that’s all I have for today. Thank you!

Stephen: I appreciate you having me on. If anybody that’s checking this out want to listen to the album it’s available on Spotify and Apple Music. The movies are on Tubi and Netflix. Keep an eye out for it.

We’d like to thank Stephen for sitting down and talking to us! You can stream The Moving Company on Spotify and Apple Music now. Check out The Night Time Show where you can listen to podcasts. Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild is on Netflix, while Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood premieres on Tubi on August 27!

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Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvelstaylena if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.

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