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Chat gives insight into the mind, music of the Blue Man

December 6, 2000
12 p.m. EST

They spit paint, gobble Twinkies and envelop their audience in toilet paper. As goofy as their antics are, underneath the shiny cobalt exterior and behind their wide-eyed stares are serious musical innovators. Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton take responsibility for the Blue Man Group and its cutting-edge musical instruments.

Chat Moderator: Welcome to all of you -- Phil Stanton, Matt Goldman and Chris Wink -- to CNN.com/WorldBeat chat. We are very pleased to have you with us today.

Blue Man Group: Hello everyone who has come to talk about the Blue Man Group.

Chat Moderator: The Blue Man Group is entirely unique. How would you describe the Blue Man Group and what you do?

Blue Man Group: We have the same hard time answering that question that everyone else does. We're still learning about what the Blue Man does and can do. Among the things we've noticed over the years is that the three Blue Man characters have a unique relationship that is sometimes inspiring to watch as they explore things.

They seem to like playing percussive musical instruments. They also are attracted to vibrant, explosive colors (and) sometimes slightly scientific topics. Somehow they manage to sew it all together into a ritualistic, primal, comedic frenzy.

Question from cswiii: You are largely performance art. How difficult is it to capture the liveliness and creativity of your shows on your CDs?

Blue Man Group: That's a great question. In fact, that's one of the reasons that we took eight years to actually record our CD. We felt like one of the keys was to recognize that the CD was a completely different and distinct medium from the live shows, and therefore it has limitations and elements that would be lost from a live show.

But at the same time, it also has some things that a live show can't offer. For example, some songs can go on for a long time and be kind of trance-like. You can explore a certain mood on an album that wouldn't be appropriate at a show, where the action has to keep driving forward. We were also able to use some instruments that could never fit on stage for whatever reason -- sheer size or whatever.

Finally, we got a chance to work in Surround Sound 5.1, which will be coming out in January, and felt particularly excited about presenting our tribal sound in a way that can envelope the person. ... In the shows there are only a total of six to 10 musicians playing at once. But on the CD, each song has as many as 48 tracks of music. That sounds fine in stereo, but in 5.1 surround, it becomes a completely enveloping experience.

Question from LizCNN: Where do the Blue Men get their ideas for instruments, a trip to Home Depot?

Blue Man Group: Yes, that's right: Home Depot. But here in New York it's called "Canal Street." It's a street where there's lots of hardware and crazy materials to be found.

Question from Skippy: How did you get involved with Pentium?

Blue Man Group: They approached us through the ad agency that works with Intel. It was their idea to use us. At first we weren't sure about it. But when we learned that we could help write the spots, write the music, and that they would all be character-based vignettes that aren't based on the show itself, we felt it would be a good chance to expand creatively in a couple of areas.

Chat Moderator: What is the most common misconception about the Blue Man Group?

Blue Man Group: I think for a lot of people, they just don't know what it is when they're first exposed to it. They might think it's a music group, but don't know there's a theatrical comedic side. Or some might think it's comedic, and not know there's a musical side.

I think people only see a part of what Blue Man can do, unless they make it to www.blueman.com and explore the breadth of the Blue Man experience.

Another misconception is that the Blue Man is just an actor with a mask on, when in fact the Blue Man is real.

Question from Aaron: Any chance of you including a woman in your act in the future?

Blue Man Group: We already have one in the Boston show. One of the Blue Men is a woman. When we cast for people, or look to hire people, we look for men or women.

Question from kmac: How much bigger could the instruments get than the humungous drums that are used?

Blue Man Group: Not much. But we'll keep trying. They can get longer and longer.

We're experimenting with a drum that's four stories high, but our rehearsal space is only three stories high, so we're working on that paradox. Also, the mallet that you'd have to use to play it is two stories high, so that's a problem too.

Question from debusk: Any plans to open yet another show?

Blue Man Group: Not yet. It may be more likely that we'll have some sort of Blue Man tour. But there's nothing in the plans for that to happen in the next 12 months.

Question from sputnik78: What is your makeup made of?

Blue Man Group: What makeup?

Chat Moderator: What is your favorite part of performing for each of you?

Blue Man Group: It changes, but there are a couple of things. When an ensemble clicks together as a single unit on those special nights, ... it allows for a special feeling when three are acting like one. When you're lucky enough for that feeling to extend to the whole audience, that's exciting.

In addition, one exciting thing is when you have a really genuine audience-to-performer interaction, as we do, there's something about the live experience that makes that really heightened in a way that it can't be in everyday life.

Question from jpflo:I understand that during your shows, you don't speak. What is the reasoning behind this?

Blue Man Group: We're not sure why the Blue Man doesn't speak. It may be that he just chooses not to or that he doesn't want to get involved in language because his message is much more free, rational and primordial. But we're not exactly sure. It doesn't seem to hold him back much, though.

Question from jenny_gerbi: What do you appreciate most in an audience?

Blue Man Group: The audience has a balance of enthusiasm and sensitivity, so that the quiet moments don't get railroaded by hoots and hollers. You get a real dynamic evening -- quiet, touching, intensity and explosive, exuberant party atmosphere in one night.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today. We enjoyed having you.

Blue Man Group: Well, bye everyone out in cyberworld. You guys should get back to work because your bosses don't know you're doing this.

Phil Stanton, Matt Goldman and Chris Wink joined the chat via telephone from New York. CNN.com provided a typist for them. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Wednesday, December 6, 2000.



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