It’s been established that TBS’s Wedding Band is the best new comedy of the year. Digital Airwaves connected on Friday with Derek Miller – who plays Mother of the Bride drummer and lover of pyrotechnics Barry – to chat about what makes the hilarious show rock.
“I was kind of on board from the beginning,” he said about joining the show, which requires all four leading men to actually be the titular band – singing and playing their own instruments – in addition to delivering the laughs as actors. “I didn’t see it as cheesy. I come from an improv background but I also do a show here in Los Angeles that’s an improvised musical. I’m excited.”
As talented as Miller is in the role of Derek, it might surprise you to know that it took him quite a bit of work to land the gig. “I went in [to audition] like three or four times,” he revealed. “I kind of made it through on comedy merit. I actually can’t play the drums. I don’t even own drumsticks. I think the other guys tested had moderate experience. They at least kind of knew what they were doing. I just kind of goofed around.”
His hilarity won over one important person, though: Wedding Band‘s music guru, Adam Schlesinger of the band Fountains of Wayne. “I had been a huge fan of Adam’s for a long time. I’ve seen Fountains of Wayne in concert probably like ten times. I’m like geeking out at him,” confided Derek. “I understand he was like a big champion of mine later.” With some help from two coaches including Fountains of Wayne drummer Brian Young, Miller now looks like a pro on the drum kit, even if he isn’t one.
Getting to rock out each week is no easy feat, however. Miller and his three co-stars – Brian Austin Green, Peter Cambor and Harold Perrineau – have to learn the songs that Mother of the Bride performs in each episode, which are then also released on iTunes. And this isn’t your standard pop fare, either. The show’s done a unique version of the disco classic ‘I Will Survive’ and Miller teases that another upcoming episode boasts a Greek take on the techno tune ‘Like A G6.’
“They did go with an audio booth on set so we could, in between takes, go and record different chunks of vocals,” he added. “I’d wrap a fourteen-hour day and I’d know we were playing two songs the next day and I’d have to rehearse for two hours. It was a lot of work.”
One of the standout performances from the series so far has been a funeral version of ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ which features Miller on lead vocals. As it turns out, that song selection was his idea. “That initially was going to be ‘Living Years,'” the actor explained – but when he was out with his family, inspiration struck: he heard the Simple Minds hit and was convinced it was an even better choice. “I called [co-creator] Josh Lobis, I think it was like midnight, and I was like, ‘Josh, we have to do this song instead.'” Thus, one of the more truly catchy covers in recent memory happened.
Aside from the fantastic music, one of the big reasons that Wedding Band works is the chemistry between the cast members – and Miller explained that the right lineup for Mother of the Bride was fairly obvious. “The four of us went into the room together, and something just kind of clicked,” he said of the ensemble’s initial test. “It was just really natural and fun. I think from that moment we kind of knew if this wasn’t the group, something was going to be wrong.”
That camaraderie is something that Miller is particularly proud of, both off and on screen. “Besides the guys, because I love everybody,” he said, “we’re good buddies [on the show] and I think that’s really great. There’s a lot of comedies on now that are very mean-spirited or snarky, and on this show you don’t have that with the guys.”
It’s what lends Wedding Band a certain amount of charm. Here’s a comedy that makes the audience feel good about life, even if you’ve never been anywhere near a ‘white trash’ wedding or any sort of band. The bond between the characters and the fun they’re having is infectious. That’s what happens when talented actors like this cast are given great writing to play with and then let loose. It’s something an audience wants to be a part of, and so too does Miller enjoy the ride.
“I just love how this has all kind of come together,” the actor confided. “I hope we get to do more. It’s a treat for me.” As it is for all the folks who get to enjoy Miller and his co-stars making us laugh – and sing along – every Saturday night.
You can connect with Derek Miller on Twitter (@thederekmiller). Wedding Band continues with an all-new episode tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on TBS.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.