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Hey kids, had a lovely chat with the three young stars of the new film BandslamVanessa Hudgens, Aly Michalka and Gaelan Connell talked about playing music that’s decades older than them, college, paintball zombies and being smacked in the face by David Bowie.

 Dig it.

 

Bandslam

Vanessa Hudgens

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  The music of Bandslam crosses a lot of generations.  How much were you familiar with before you made the film?

Vanessa Hudgens:  Basically all of it. I’m such a huge fan of Cheap Trick, so I was really excited once I knew {I Want You to Want Me} was in the movie.

 

LMD:  Tell me about working with Gaelan.  Compared to yourself and Aly Michalka, he’s a newcomer to show business.

VM:  We love Gaelan so very much.  He’s adorkable.  He’s just awesome, you know?  I think that he was perfect to play Will.  He came in and he owned it from the get-go.  He was just a lot of fun.  He doesn’t give himself enough credit, I feel.

 

LMD:  I feel like he’s caught between these two forces of nature, you and Aly. 

VM:  No, no we share him. {Laughs

 

LMD:  There’s an interesting stigma in this country where if you’re a singer it’s very hard to be taken seriously as an actor, and if you’re an actor who wants to sing, the bias goes the other way.  You’ve managed to balance both a film and singing career, but do you ever see yourself at a point where you would have to choose?  Which one would you lean toward?

VM:  You know, sure, I mean, I feel like as of now, people only know me from High School Musical, so because it’s a musical, they know me as both.  So, I guess in that sense I kind of got off easy.  But I think that if you’re extremely focused on whatever one that it is; like if I’m gonna do music, I’m gonna wait until I can really put my full heart into it.  I think that you can juggle both if you’re really, really passionate about each of them.  But if I would have to pick I would probably pick acting.

 

LMD:  Really?  Does acting make you feel more creatively fulfilled?

VM:  I just haven't gotten to a place in music where I have felt fulfilled; like where I’ve felt that this is my very own creation.  I just feel like I have not gotten there yet.  Maybe when I do, then my answer might change, but as of now, I just feel like I’ve been working towards acting longer.  It’s always been something that I’ve strived a little bit harder for.

 

LMD:  Your director Todd Graff seems very happy to let his actors collaborate on scenes.  You and Gaelan filmed the New York sequence on cell phones.

VM:   Yup, it’s my very own work! {Laughs}

 

LMD:  So has that experience inspired you to make films of your own?

VM:  I’ve always loved making movies.  I have the stupidest movies on my computer -  that I’ve actually made on my computer.  I made a scary movie with Ashley {Tisdale} and my little sister.

 

LMD:  Release it! Put it on YouTube or something.

VM:  No chance!  But I’ve been getting more into still photography.  I don’t know, it’s just fun, it keeps me occupied.

 

LMD:  The concert sequence in Bandslam looks like so much fun with you going all Gwen Stefani on the audience.  Was that a fun scene to shoot?

VM:  It was a great time.  I mean, we were all up there playing our instruments and it was awesome, you know?  I’m not a rocker, I don’t do rock, so like being up there with a Flying V, singing a Bread song, I felt pretty badass.  I had so much fun jumping around like a crazy person, but hey, it’s all good.

 

LMD:  Did you get to meet David Bowie?

VM:  Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.  It was here in New York and I just went in and I didn’t know what to say, I was almost starstruck, and I was like, “I am such a huge fan of yours.”  He’s like, {in British accent} “Oh, thank you, luv.  How are you?” {Laughs} And I’m like, “I’m fiiinnnee…,” and we just talked a little bit.  You have to ask Gaelan his experience to meet Bowie though, cos that was great, his is much better than mine.

 

 

Aly Michalka

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Bandslam must’ve been so close to your heart as a musician.

Aly Michalka:  It was so close, yeah!  I felt very connected to Charlotte; her love for life and her energy.  Especially her just having to go through this journey with Will and kind of finding herself as a person, but at the same time helping somebody come out of their shell.  I just got a whole load of music education in this movie, you know, a part that I was already pretty educated on, but it was really neat being able to talk to Todd and his vision and being able to walk away with friends.  Me and Gaelan are super-close, me and Vanessa are close and me and a lot of the cast still talk, so it’s a great thing. 

 

LMD:  How much of the soundtrack did you know?

AM:  I was familiar with just about every song, except Amphetamine was the only one I wasn’t really aware of and that turned out to be my favourite one.  But I was already a fan of David Bowie, and I knew Cheap Trick and Wilco and Peter, Bjorn and John, and all those bands I was a fan of, so it was a neat coincidence.

 

LMD:  This movie is all about music.  Were you able to contribute to the soundtrack as a musician?

AM:  Yeah!  I wasn’t a writer of any of the songs, but I thought it was kind of a good thing to be able separate my personal writing skills from this movie and be more of the actor.  I thought it was really cool that I was able to play on the tracks.  I played on I Want You to Want Me, obviously, cos that was all not pre-recorded.  That was all live stuff in the rehearsal space, so he rolled and those vocals are the vocals and those guitars and drums are what you hear.  And then on Amphetamine, we went in the studio and we played that and I got to play guitar and on Someone to Fall Back On, I was able to play the piano.  It was interesting cos Todd actually wrote in “Charlotte playing the piano,” because I came in my audition playing an Aimee Mann song, How Am I Different?  I played it on the keyboard and he was like, “Hm, that’s so interesting.  I never thought maybe Charlotte should play the piano.”  It was like my first audition, and I thought, ‘That’s cool, maybe if I don’t get it, I contributed.’  Then he wrote it into the script, so that was an interesting thing.

LMD:  How conscious were you of not putting your own spin on Charlotte’s music scenes?

AM:   I made sure that Charlotte wasn’t too seasoned, like too knowing what she’s doing.  When AJ and I are up on stage, we’re pretty sure of what we’re doing, we have out routine down, we’re like set.  We’re very comfortable playing our instruments and Charlotte is really, too, but she’s also in high school, still.  She’s still from New Jersey; she hasn’t been out in front of thousands of people, so I had to keep that in mind that she’s not a pro.  She’s a pro in her own home town, but that’s about it.

 

LMD:  I mentioned to Vanessa that I thought Gaelan’s character was caught between two forces of nature with Charlotte and Sa5m.  Was that part of the appeal of the role for you?

AM:  Yeah!  I thought it was cool just how he has this great friendship with Charlotte who kind of shocks him into life, and he’s like “Okay, we’re gonna go for a ride,” and then you have Sa5m, who’s kind of moody and she has this different outlook on life and friendship and he just finds something interesting and different in both of them and Charlotte finds this little Will inside of him and she just brings him out.

 

LMD:  It’s unusual that it didn’t become the cliché romantic triangle.

AM:  Yeah, and he doesn’t realise at first that Charlotte is not really into him.  I think he thinks maybe, “Okay, maybe she likes me.  Maybe it’s possible?”  And then she’s kind of like, “Dude, just so you know, it’s never gonna happen, but I love you.”  That’s a great part in the movie when she’s kind of like, “I’m gonna teach you how to do this, but don’t freak out.  I’m a little older than you; I’ve got my ex-boyfriend. I’ve got my issues.”

 

LMD:  Vanessa taught me a new word when referring to your costar.  Can you tell me about working with the adorkable Gaelan Connell?

AM:  I love Gaelan.  This is really funny, this is hilarious; I’m in my {hotel} room last night and I called Gaelan, I’m like, “What room are you in?”  He’s like, “I’m in 825,” and I’m like, “I’m in 725, you must be right above me.  Can we do Morse code?”  I was standing up on the top of the ceiling going {starts rapping on the table}.  It was really funny last night.  I love Gaelan, he’s so cool.  He’s so smart and so on top of it. Whatever I’m thinking, he’s like, “Yeah, I know, totally. Isn’t that a weird deal?” He’s on the same plane.  We have the same jokes, we have the same sense of humour.  He came out and saw me last year when I was on the road.  He’s just a sweetheart, he’s just a good person and he deserves to have lots of great fans that adore him.

 

LMD:  Compared to Gaelan, you and Vanessa are acting veterans.

AM:  Yeah, for sure, and he really jumped in.  Todd helped him, everybody helped him adapt quickly, but he didn’t need any pushing and pulling.  It was really honest and genuine, his collaboration with the cast.

 

 

Gaelan Connell

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  As I asked your costars, how much of the music of Bandslam were you familiar with?

Gaelan Connell:  Well, I’m not as super-knowledgeable as I’m sure some crazy, die-hard fans, but Life on Mars, David Bowie, these are great, timeless songs that hopefully the next generation will love just as much as we do.  I did an interview with Lisa Kudrow yesterday and they asked, “What’s the first song you ever heard,” and she’s like “Well, I got vinyl,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I downloaded something.”

 

LMD:  Todd seems to think you guys weren’t familiar with Bowie at all.

GC:  Well, he wrote the David Bowie thing cos Todd is the number one David Bowie fan.  It’s like David Bowie or Wilco, there’d be a Celebrity Deathmatch, it’d be a win-win for Todd.  The first day he gave me these huge books on rock ‘n roll and everything.  I’m not gonna pretend I know more than I don’t, but all these bands, Patti Smith, Bad Brains, all these bands that were playing at CBGB’s, you don’t wanna be up onscreen talking about stuff and you’re like ‘What is that?’ Cos then what are you, Paris Hilton? {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Did you get to meet Bowie?

GC:  I did get to meet Bowie. I met him with Charlie Saxton, who’s the actor who plays Bug - he’s got this great smile.  Todd introduced us to Bowie in this room in New York and Charlie was just smiling and Bowie said, “Ah, he’s got a great smile,” and everybody kinda laughs because you laugh, “Ha-ha-ha, right, David Bowie said it.”  Then there’s a pause then he looks at me and he’s like, “Hey, and you have a great smile, too.”  And then he slapped me in the face.  And then everybody laughs, like, “Ha-ha, David Bowie did it,” and I was thinking, “Wow, I didn’t think I was gonna be slapped by David Bowie,” but I guess it’s a good thing.

 

LMD:  Tell us what it was like to play Will.

GC:  Well, I think he hits a little closer to home than I like to admit, especially during the kissing scenes, I don’t know how much I had to act.  I can’t believe I’m telling you this.  It was like day five with Vanessa and she was like teasing me and I’m going through with the take and I’ve just screwed up before we got to the kiss the first time and Todd’s like, “Come on, you screwed up.  Just get it.  Don’t worry about it.” And Vanessa’s like, “Yeah, come on, dude,” and I’m “Please, like you’re into this.”

 

LMD:  What was it like working with your director, Todd Graff?

GC:  One of the great things about him is that he was a child actor, too, so he’s so good with kids as a communicator.  I mean, coming into doing this huge film, it was scary.  I did a lot of huge dances in my room beforehand, but it was pretty crazy for me.  He made it so easy; he’d take me aside and make sure I was doing what he wanted and I think it comes out.  He’s really genius to put out this film that’s not typical.  I feel like a typical high school movie has such black and white characters; you’re either the cheerleader who’s actually, like, twenty-eight, or you’re like McLovin over here.  These characters are a little more complex, which I think is so exciting.  One of my favourite scenes in the movie actually is Scott Porter’s character comes in and he’s like, “Find some recon. Figure out what the deal is with this kid.”  In a normal teen movie, they’d be, “Okay, great,” and they’d do a montage, and instead these kids are looking at him like, “Dude, we’re just your friends, man, we don’t work for you,” and I think that’s so real.  I think this movie is so relatable because it’s for the ninety-five percent of us, who, we’re friends with some popular people, we’re friends with some not-so-popular people.  And that’s like how high school was, it’s not like, ‘I’m this and that and this.’  I mean maybe I just went to a really good high school?

 

LMD:  You’re a relative newbie compared to your leading ladies, Vanessa and Aly. 

GC:  Yeah, they definitely teased me a lot on set.  I didn’t know some stuff like first team, second team and all my marks are red or whatever, and they’d make fun of me and stuff, but it was good.  I learned so much.  And Aly, I have to tell you this, we played Laser Tag on the weekends sometimes and you know, you play Laser Tag in a place, they bring in a bunch of birthday parties; so we’re playing halfway through the game – Aly will say she’s really good, but here’s the real story - we’re playing halfway through the game, all these kids figure out that we’re playing with Aly.  That she’s the tall, blonde girl they’re playing with, so they just kind of drop their guns and it’s like Shaun of the Dead and they’re just walking behind her.  And Aly, who’s like super-competitive, just starts mowing down all her fans, and then we start taking down Aly’s fans cos they’re just standing there staring at her.  She got this totally inflated score, it was really lame.

 

LMD:  Do you have plans to return to Tisch?

GC:  You’re like Lisa Kudrow over here.  She’s like my mom, “After this movie, you’re going back to college, right?”  I’m like, “Moooommm…”  Tisch is a great film school, it’s a great program, I was really happy there, but I think at this point with this movie coming out and meeting people like you, I think this is probably the best shot I have at doing the stuff I’ve been talking about and so I think I’ll pursue the acting thing for a little bit now.

 

LMD:  Is that what you intended when you signed up at NYU?

GC:  Well, actually I didn’t want to have to deal with that whole hair thing, so I wanted to be behind the camera, so I went to film school.  But I also have a script that a few people are interested in and it’d be interesting to do the kind of thing, do a five million dollar movie that’s smaller, but that I could do some of the directing and stuff I’ve been doing at Tisch, so we’ve been talking to people about that.

 

LMD:  Who do you think is going to come see Bandslam?

GC:  Hopefully, everybody.  I know there’s been a strong pull for Vanessa’s audience.  People have responded so well, like adults cos there’s a lot of music references that will go right over kids’ heads.  Not to compare it to one of those great Pixar films, but it kind of has some of those jokes.  The opening line is, “Lunch today was like Guantanamo with a lunch period,” what kid is gonna get that? {Laughs}

Todd’s generation, too, would really respond well, but it’s also just the story.  I like to think it kind of has some elements of a John Hughes movie.  I mean, I just like to pitch it as just a movie about me and two incredibly hot women.  It’s all being marketed as Bandslam, but I think Bandslam’s almost just kind of background to a movie about high school and fitting in and then there’s the relationship with the mom and that’s kind of what makes it different.  I mean, the music’s there and it’s great, but it’s kind of School of Rock meets Juno; there’s just as much of the other stuff in it, too, the girls and the relationships.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 12th, 2009

 

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive Photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Summit Entertainment

 

 

 

 

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