“Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony,” a recording of a full-length, two-act screwball musical comedy, will be released on July 15, 2016. The album is about friendship, adventure and the orchestra, complete with fast and zany repartee. All the leading characters, including opera superstars Isabel Leonard and Nathan Gunn, boast over-the-top dramatic ranges coupled with vocal skills that convey what singing with resonance and projection sounds like at its best. The performance’s plot--which is in the same style as “Monty Python”--is backed up by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kyle Wiley Pickett.
“Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony” resonates with both adults and children because it includes a compelling storyline and a character-driven plot. People of all ages will find themselves engaged in a dramatic and mysterious tale of friendship, love, commitment and self-improvement. Over the course of the album, Phineas McBoof learns that the real purpose of striving for great art is to share dreams, emotions and special moments with friends.
Creator Cory Cullinan made sure to embed valuable information about music history, orchestration and instrumentation into "Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony." Hence topics such as sonata form, Beethoven and popular song structure are illustrated through this richly detailed musical composition. Recently Cullinan--whose alter ego is “Dr. Noize”--spoke to AXS about his experiences working as a musician and his hopes for the future:
AXS: How and when did you decide to become a musician?
Cory Cullinan (C.C.): That is a long and interesting story in and of itself but the short version is this: When I was a sophomore and junior in high school, my brother and father both died. I had always admired that my brother, who was a very skilled computer programmer but died of cancer at 17, had something he was truly passionate about, something he could share with the world. For him, that was programming games and things. For me — and particularly after my brother’s death — I found music to be the expressive creative outlet I was really passionate about. It was a very purposeful thing for me to do while I sorted out all the emotional things that had happened around me with their deaths, and I decided very quickly music is what I wanted to do with my life. I haven’t changed my mind since then.
AXS: Growing up, what kinds of music of art interested you?
C.C.: Like most kids, I loved rock and pop music. I LOVED the Beatles, even though they were before my time, because they were so clearly adventurous and creative. They tried all sorts of genres and styles and means of expression. They could be witty and fun, or serious and profound. Toward the end of high school, I had listened to so much rock and pop music, and played in so many rock bands, that I was looking for something even more musically adventurous. Don’t get me wrong — I still loved rock music. But I was looking for something more adventurous than the standard popular song patterns that almost every song on the radio follows. I started getting interested in classical and orchestral music, and by the time I reached Stanford, that was my main interest and my major. It struck me that the great orchestral composers were approaching music with even more of the adventurousness and sophistication that had first made the Beatles stand apart to me in the rock world several years earlier, so I felt like I’d found my home.
AXS: How would you describe your music and what inspires it?
C.C.: My music is awful. Horrible. The worst. I would describe it as putrid. Okay, actually, I don’t think that’s true and certainly hope it's not. I’ve already discussed a bit of this above, but the main adjective I would use to describe my music is adventurous. I like to tell narrative musical stories in music. I do this in both the pop Doctor Noize albums and the new symphony album. I am interested in colorful characters, scenes and stories told in music.
AXS: How did you get interested in children’s music?
C.C.: I had children. I wrote them songs. They liked them. I wrote some more! Basically, almost everything I’ve done since my first child was born has been about trying to have fun with my kids and make the world an adventurous place for them. It’s so much fun being the second-most important person in your own life. Everyone should try it. You realize how much less important you are than you thought you were, and you are surprised to find that makes your life much more enjoyable — there’s far less pressure!
AXS: How did you come up with your alter ego "Dr. Noize”?
C.C.: Dr. Silence was taken.
AXS: How did you go about finding places to perform?
C.C.: Hmm…I don’t really know! Anywhere that seems interesting to perform at, I contact them or they contact me! I am still waiting for Bieber to call me to go on tour with him. I wait by the phone every single day, just staring at it, waiting for Bieber’s call. That is a lie.
AXS: Out of all your music, do you have a favorite song? What is your favorite song, period?
C.C.: My favorite and most successful song ever is called “Something (For Janette).” I wrote and performed it live for an audience of one, along with three jazz musicians. The song ends with a marriage proposal. She said yes. She didn’t know the whole thing was being recorded, and I placed it on an album a long time ago. She is the best, and she made me the best kids in the world. So in my unbiased opinion, that is the Best Song In The History Of The World--at least as far as I’m concerned.
AXS: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your musical career?
C.C.: That I have been lucky enough to have a musical career. Many creative people are not so lucky. I have been, and I never take it for granted.
AXS: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a musician, especially for the children’s entertainment industry?
C.C.: Learn computer programming or accounting. They generally pay more. Oh wait, you wanted a serious and wise answer? Okay: Learn computer programming or accounting. They generally pay more.
AXS: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
C.C.: Yes! I have “Phineas McBoof Crashes The Symphony” record release shows in the Denver area on July 12, San Jose on July 14, and Palo Alto on July 16. See the Showz on my wesbite for details! I also have a work of musical theatre — “The Ballad Of Phineas McBoof”— commissioned by the City Of Palo Alto that premieres at the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre this fall. I hope to see everyone there!