Through his work on Los Angeles-based public access television program Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show, actor/musician David Liebe Hart began working with cohort Adam Papagan as well as catching the eye of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, creators of the Adult Swim program Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! on which Liebe Hart has made frequent appearances. With his assortment of eclectic puppets and performances of quirky songs about aliens and life lessons Liebe Hart quickly became one of the program's most popular of personalities.
As it turns out, everything he does on camera is really just David being David, the bits about communicating with aliens included. With the show currently on hiatus, Liebe Hart has been taking his act on the road, touring the country with a full punk rock backing band. So before he performs at Bryan Street Tavern tonight, we thought we'd give the performer a call.
Check out the full Q&A after the jump in which Liebe Hart talks about his alien genetics, an infiltrator in the Christian Science Church and why he should have been casted as Opie's friend on The Andy Griffith Show.
Hi David, this is Cory Graves with the Dallas Observer ...
Wow, the Dallas Observer. I read that paper every now and then when I go and visit my sister. Yeah, my mother passed on in Lancaster this year, which was really painful.
I'm very sorry to hear that. I didn't know you had ties to the area. What did you [trails off] ...
Yeah, sure you can interview me. I just finished the Tim and Eric Billion Dollar Movie, but they cut back everything I did and only kept the part at the end of the movie when I'm talking to the guy that looks like Steven Spielberg's lookalike.
When is that movie supposed to come out?
Well, that's going to come out in March 2012.
So how has the tour been going?
Well, I've been touring. I just got over a terrible flu; I'm feeling better now. I just want to talk about Fall River, Massachusetts. It was sad. I called a lot of people from my church, and a lot of fans that said they were going to show up, and they didn't show up in Fall River, Massachusetts. That was a disappointment.
That's a bummer. Hopefully you'll get a better turnout in Dallas.
I'm hoping so. I'm hoping that my sister will show up. My sister has been living there for quite some time, and I like Dallas a lot. I was there in February to go to my mother's funeral which was very painful.
Has your sister seen you perform before?
No, she's not into [trails off]. She's a very talent artist and painter, but she has a regular job working at [a financial services company]. She's strictly business. She's just into working her regular job, but I'm the only one that pursued a music and acting career. I've been writing music and creating songs since the '70s when I was a young kid. A lot of the songs I've written the words and music to and some songs I've co-written with Adam [Papagan], but I've written songs way before I knew him with words and music, like, "All My Friends Like Asian Girls".
How did you first get into songwriting?
I started music in the '70s. I was inspired by different rock and roll musicians. I listened to WLS radio station. They played a mix of country and western, rhythm and blues and gospel and jazz music. I started writing my own songs after being inspired by the songs I heard on the radio. I first started writing religious music, and then I branched out into writing love songs.
Who are some of these artists that inspired you?
My songs are with CCLI, Christian Copyright Licensing International. Like 480 of my songs are with CCLI; they're my gospel songs and my contemporary Christian songs. Some have rock and roll melodies or jazz or classical or country and western melodies, and a lot of them are words and music by me. A lot of large churches in Dallas use my music, from Calvary Chapel to the Lutheran, Foursquare, Methodist, Presbyterian. All the churches that have a praise band for their music.
Has anything wild happened to you on tour?
Are there any crazy stories? I was just shocked that all these people I called that promised they were going to show up and didn't. I don't know what my phone bill is going to be like, but I called the people from the Christian church and other people that I thought were really top-notch fans -- I called them on my cell phone to remind them and they all said they were going to show up -- and none of them showed up like they said they were going to do. It was really a disappointment. This guy named [name redacted] said he was one of my biggest fans and said he was going to be in Fall River, Massachusetts, and I was kind of disappointed that he didn't show up.
Was that the only show like that?
Have people been showing up to the other shows? People have showed up to the other shows, but what was really a disappointment is people acting like they were really hardcore fans and church members that I knew that just didn't show up at all. Another weird situation was when I was in Queens, New York. I was supposed to be picked up and taken to the Christian Science Church and the woman never showed up. Then she told me that she was a Catholic that had infiltrated the Christian Science Church and she says, "Why do you want to go to church with a bunch of losers? There's nothing but a bunch of senior citizens there." I thought that that was pretty crappy. I was waiting outside for two hours for her to pick me up and she kept on saying she was coming, and she never showed up, and she told me she was pulling my leg. And she said she was buying clothes in the Queens Christian Science Church so she was a Judas amongst Jesus and she was a phony. She's going to have to pay for her negative karma because that was pretty ice cold.
Why do you think negative things like these incidents keep happening to you?
It's not just happening to me, it is happening to a lot of people. That's like saying a terrible storm like [Hurricane] Irene, it was the people's fault when it came through, but it came through. Sometimes bad things just happen to good people. David Letterman told me if I was ever in New York that he would let me be on his show. That didn't happen.
You say that a lot of your songs are love songs, do you meet a lot of women on tour?
I met the prettiest woman in Philadelphia that reminded me of my cousin Phyllis that died. I met a beautiful brunette woman that looked just like Mary Tyler Moore that was extremely attractive, and she told me that she was a songwriter and that she did rock and roll music, and she was in a band. I'm hoping that she calls me back, she was very attractive. She played some of her songs on her cell phone for me and it sounded really good. I'm hoping that she'll follow through and contact me because she was the prettiest and nicest girl fan that I met in Philadelphia.
How did you first get into using puppets, and when did you get your first puppet?
Well, Jim Henson was my Sunday school teacher in the Christian Science Church and so was Buffalo Bob from Howdy Doody Time and Burr Tillstrom that did Kukla, Fran and Ollie. I have a lot famous puppeteer Sunday school teachers that were in the Christian Science Church. The first one I had was Burr Tillstrom and I second had Jim Henson and they taught me how to build hand puppets and about the Bible and the beatitudes with Kermit the Frog and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie and it was a fun way of teaching me. When I was going to college I went to a place where they taught puppeteering and taught people how to build puppets, and I built some of my own puppets. I have 44 puppets. I toured with Tim and Eric for the first five years. I got replaced on the last tour they did with Neil Hamburger. When I toured with Tim and Eric they were sold out everywhere. I did a comedy skit with them then Tim and Eric got me to bring four of my puppets to sing songs. Now the sad situation is even though I wrote the words and the music to the songs I performed on the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Warner Brothers owns them. They will not let me use those songs. They told me I am not allowed to use the songs that I wrote for Tim and Eric because they own them. I did create other songs that I have written about aliens and about a lot of different situations.
Why do you have so many songs about aliens?
Aliens are real. For some strange reason society doesn't want people to accept it. It's where all of our factory engineering technology comes from. On my Caucasian side I'm related to Orville and Wilbur Wright who made the airplane, and my grandmother told me on her deathbed before she passed on in '68 that Orville and Wilbur Wright had worked with an alien race. Right after she passed on I met Jesedel Ordius at the La Brea Tar Pits where I sold my artwork and she shared a lot with me about her alien races that were vegetarian and lived to be 3,000 years old because they don't eat meat or salt. They're vegetarians, so they live to be very old. I found out a lot of races of people from Earth are descendants of extraterrestrials and don't even know it. Like the Irish come from the Omegan race, which come from the Star Kaladan, the Swedish and Norwegian people are descendants of the Paladians, and the Armenians and East Indians and Iranians and Germans are descendants of the Corinians, which is interesting -- they were the ancient astronauts. The Bible talks about angels that blended in with mankind and took wives in the book of Genesis. It's an interesting thing.
Are there places on the Internet where readers can find out more about these kinds of things?
Oh you can, you can. Jesedel Ordius and Bob Renaud who was in contact with the Korendians , their phone number has been disconnected and their email hardly works anymore. The Paladians are good friends of mine and the Korendians. I don't like the negative stuff they put online about the Omegans though. All of the stuff about the Korendians, Bob Renaud who has been working with the Korendians in an underground base in Massachusetts put up a lot of stuff, and so did the Korendians themselves. So their language, their alphabet, and everything about them is on the Internet. All you have to do is type in "Korendian" or "Paladian" and everything about them comes up. I've seen UFOs as well when I was going camping in Wisconsin and fishing with my dad. I saw unexplained objects the military calls "fast walkers" because they move at a fast speed. Our military hasn't been able to catch them because they aren't able to move at that speed.
How often do you get recognized by fans?
It happens all the time. People ask for my picture. I was in a grocery store earlier when we stopped to get gas and a man asked for my autograph and asked for a picture and he bought a couple of CDs from me. All the time. There was a waitress at a restaurant. By a lot of people.
Have you ever run into an obsessed fan that's said or done something weird to you?
One fan lied and said he worked for NASA, and he didn't. He said he liked to talk about the UFO phenomenon and the songs I wrote about that. He called me in the middle of the night making weird sounds and everything and I found out he didn't work for NASA. He was just a young kid trying to be a smartass.
What instruments can you play?
I play keyboards and accordion, but I haven't played in a while. My keyboard is in storage. The landlady said I had too much stuff in my apartment so I had to put a lot of stuff in storage. I been doing work with Adam and a lot of work with Tim and Eric and then playing at these different places and doing a movie and television work and all kinds of odd jobs have blocked me from [trails off]. I haven't driven a car since my divorce in 1994. When I go on tours I haven't been able to stop and enjoy myself, it's been just stopping and going and touring. We went to New York, and I wanted to ride on the trains back and forth but we weren't able to do it this time. Next time I travel I'm going to travel by myself so I can really enjoy these cities because I haven't been able to enjoy these cities at all. Another tragedy happened; Chase Bank sold me a box of old checks so my rent check bounced even though I paid it ahead of time. And of course people didn't want to drive me to the bank. They didn't understand I have to get to the bank to get that straightened out. And now I found out four or five other checks bounced and I need to get to the bank and the post office to take care of that, and sometimes the people that I travel with don't understand that I have to go to these other places. When I was touring the West Coast I wanted Adam and the other guys to drive me back because I left my jacket and my wallet behind and they didn't want to drive me back and I had to cancel all my stuff and get it all over again.
How far away from your wallet were you before you realized?
It was like less than 10 miles. I thought they could have taken me back. I had to get all my identification over again. They were a bunch of young kids that were disrespectful. I didn't like that at all.
Other than that though, things have been going all right?
Other than that, I'm grateful to work with them and they are very talented musicians.
How would you describe your new tour and new songs to somebody who hasn't seen you live before?
I want to do a mixture of all the different kinds of music, but Adam is only into the punk rock. I like punk rock, I like all kinds of music, but I also want to do religious songs. Out of the people I'm in the band with, I'm the only religious person. Everybody else is either atheist or not into religion. I want to do the religious songs as well so there's always a struggle about that. Spiritual songs are very inspiring. Way before I started playing with Adam, way before he was even born, I did standup comedy with Robin Williams at The Comedy store. There was a big gap -- we were separated from each other for 30 years -- and he forgot about our contact that we had together. Then I had an ex-girlfriend named Sonia that I did music with at different churches. Then there was George [name redacted] who I did music with. The sad situation with George and with Ruth is they were brainwashed by [trails off]. Sonia I had a good relationship with. We had a good girlfriend and boyfriend and music relationship together but Mark [name redacted] told her she'd burn in hell if she had a black boyfriend and she just gave me the silent treatment after that. We were very close before that. I had another close friend named George [name redacted] that was a very talented violinist and you could see the good work he did on the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show that is on the Internet now. My show used to air in Dallas but they made a strict rule that if you didn't live in Dallas [trails off]. Nobody makes money off of public access. Dallas TV was charging me $500 to air my shows every year, but I don't think they should be making money off the public access people. Public access people don't even make any money producing their shows.
With television and movies there's that gap between the time you make it and then for audiences to see it, but with live performances you get that instant feedback. Which is more gratifying for you?
What is more gratifying is seeing work that I've done. I've been doing television work ever since I got out of the Navy in '76. I also want to explain to you my parents paid for me to go to Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and I took piano lessons and voice lessons. Then I went to college and took music. What I wanted to say was that Danny Thomas discovered me way back in the '60s when he had his own show Make Room For Daddy. He had a spinoff called The Andy Griffith Show, and I was supposed to be Opie's best friend on that. They paid for my mother and my dad to take me to California for a cold reading and I got to meet Ron Howard when he was a young, young, young boy, and Aunt Bea and the cast of The Andy Griffith Show. That was filmed at the Desilu Studios which is now the Paramount Studios. But my parents did not want me to get into the business at such a young age, and so my acting career was put on hold until I got out of the Navy in '76 and came out to California to live on my own. When I met Danny he was at a bookstore in Beverly Hills signing his biography and I apologized that my parents didn't want me to get the show because he invested a lot of money. Marjorie Lord, who played his wife on Make Room For Daddy, was a Christian Scientist, and she wanted me to be on that show. A lot of actresses in the Christian Science Church believed in me and gave me free acting lessons, like Vivian Vance (I did gardening and yard work at her house up in the Hollywood Hills). She was a member of the church and so was Ginger Rogers and many of them gave me free acting lessons. Also Meredith MacRae, who played on Petticoat Junction and My Three Sons, believed in me and gave me free acting lessons. She would worked with me in the Christian Science Reading Room and helped me out with my career. They taught me to know that God was my agent and I was able to get a lot of work. That was very inspiring to me.