A drinking composer with a music problem, Ali Spagnola is a polymath—she’s a musician, a song writer / composer / sound designer, an inventor, a dancer, a marathon runner, a figure skater, a graphics designer, a video game designer, an animator, and a painter. Her latest production: The Power Hour Album. A collection of 60 one-minute party songs, specifically created to play the power hour drinking game. How do you play? Just take a shot of beer every time the song changes. And to add to the fun, the album is in the form of a shot glass that Ali invented, herself.
It’s a party now, but in its beginning, The Power Hour Album ran into trouble when a man named Steve Roose came along, offering to help the album grow. He made big promises to have the album sold with big-name retailers, like Spencer’s Gifts and Amazon.com. But Steve really just wanted to have the album shut down, along with anyone else affiliated with the term ‘power hour’, thus eliminating his competition so that HIS power hour DVD would prevail and rule the power hour world once and for all… [insert evil laughter]
But that’s when Ali added another skill to her resume: ‘Court Case Contender’. She formed an alliance with those whom Steve also tormented, and ran a successful campaign to help fight the case and save The Power Hour Album. Three years and $30,000 later, Ali came out a winner, with a celabratory music video. The Power Hour Album took off, and it’s here to stay. Despite her amazingly busy schedule, Ali gladly took the time to have a Gonzo Fame chat.
Ali, you have so much on your plate: musician, song writer, composer, inventor, dancer, marathon runner, figure skater, graphics designer, video game designer, animator, painter—do you sleep??
[laughs] Yes, I do sleep. I’m human. [laughs]
What time did you wake up today?
I actually got up late today.
What’s late for you? 8:00AM?
[laughs] No, no, no—NOON! Actual late. Embarrasingly late!
Do you still work a day job?
I left my day job in February to pursue my music full time.
But the whole time you accomplished ALL these things—you worked a day job?
Yep. I was the lead artist at a video game company. And I still do my own web design, print, animation, video, whatever.
And you didn’t sleep till noon back then, huh?
[laughs] No, I was definitely getting up at normal hours. But my sleep and awake clothes were still surprisingly similar. [laughter]
How did you get your start in music?
I’ve always been a musician. I’ve played piano since I was in kindergarden. Music’s always been a part of my life. I studied music even though it wasn’t part of my degree. When I was in college, I would play shows, and that’s when Power Hour got started.
What styles of music influenced your sound for The Power Hour Album?
There’s a different genre for every song. The first song is punk rock—which gets the party started. But people who have only heard THAT song kind of assume I’m like some female Andrew W.K. But, there’s definitely a lot of pop influence—Britney Spears, Lady Gaga influence—electro pop tech, there’s a cabaret song, I have a salsa song in there… Gotta have different genres, otherwise if they all sounded the same, you wouldn’t know when the song changed, and then you’d miss your shot—and that would be terrible! [laughs]
So how do your parents feel about their daughter playing music that promotes drinking and partying?
[laughs] It’s kind of funny because my dad owns a beer distributor, so obviously he’s big on beer… And my mom is really supportive of anything I do.
Not the type of parents who wanted you to become a doctor or a lawyer?
[laughs] Nope, not like that. They’re certainly supportive in whatever I wanna do—my mom would rather see me PLAYING music than drinking to it. [laughs]
You are the inventor of the patented Shot Glass USB. What spawned this one-of-a-kind creation?
I mean, I was working really hard on this album—WHILE being in the court fight with Steve. And I wanted it to be bigger than just a regular album. The goal was to create a physical object that people would desire. And what better way to do it than to drink out of my album! So the Shot Glass USB was born!
A Power Hour party album connected to a shot glass—a college kid’s dream. Do you perform around the college circuit?
I’m working out the booking now. It’s actually tough to play colleges because apparently I’m “terrifying”! [laughs] And usually, colleges are looking for an alternative to drinking. They’re like, “Hey college students, here’s a concert you can go to INSTEAD of getting wasted!”
[moment of laughter]
Did you see that I’m banned from Michigan? Colleges are absolutely terrified of me—but I understand. There’d be some ANGRY parents if like, a LEGIT college booked a DRINKING GAME for the students.
So you got banned from Michigan—after driving ALL THE WAY TO MICHIGAN. Those ‘ass hats’!
[moment of laughter]
Never actually heard the term ‘ass hat’ until you came along. Is this another invention of yours? You even use an emoticon for it: (-:I3
Oh no no! ‘ass hat’ is DEFINITELY a thing! It’s people who have their head so far up their butt, they wear their ass as a hat! I could NOT claim that at all!
Maybe it’s an east coast thing…
They’ve had it on like, Fox News ‘n stuff!
Oh… [awkward silence]
Well…are television networks “terrified” of you as well?
The drinking aspect has definitely put up alotta road blocks—it’s been tough. I went through a few booking agents that changed their minds because of it. And sponsorships have been cut off…
People are really touchy about the subject and it’s easy for them to get scared off when I’m all about PARTY! [laughs] But I do my best to talk about responsibility:
A message from Ali: I promote GETTING stupid but don’t BE stuipd. Partying is cool but harming yourself is not.
A message from Binge Responsibly, LLC: Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and operate heavy machinery, dangerous equipment or tools. Don’t mix alcohol and medications. Don’t drink and perform any task which generally requires good judgment. The artist expressly disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of this product.
So no Power Hour parties with Leno or Letterman anytime soon?
[laughs] I’m working on it! I think Power Hour would be PERFECT for The Colbert Report!
Agreed. That would be great!
Aside from everything else, you’re also a painter. With a simple e-mail request, you paint anything the requester wants, and then you mail them the painting, for FREE. How did THAT come about?
This was actually one of my projects in art school—and I just never stopped. There are over 1,500 paintings on the waiting list.
And you paint one free painting every day—not even a day off??
Nope. One a day, every day.
What is the craziest / wackiest painting someone has ever requested?
Craziest / wackiest? [laughs] Umm…a lot of people will group things together, like, “Hey, I like otters, ninjas, and fruit! So make me something with otters, ninjas, and apples…”
But I think the biggest mess that I was once asked to paint was: Genie from Aladdin riding a stagecoach while four Yoda’s are chasing after a unicorn ridden by a knight in armor with a trail of rainbows behind them—and this whole scene is in space.
Jeez! [moment of laughter]
Yeah…so I had to tackle that…
You actually painted it??
[laughs] It was a good time. I’m not opposed to saying, “No”. I’ve just never been offended enough to do that.
You’re very nice to people. But someone named Steve Roose wasn’t very nice to you. He took you to court and tried to shut down The Power Hour Album. Was he another musician competitor?
Oh no, he’s not a musician, don’t flatter him with that! [laughs] He had a Power Hour DVD that was like…really crappy! And then he came after me and alotta other people who were making Power Hours.
You fought for our right to party and you won! Now you do Power Hour parties at birthdays, bachelor & bachelorette parties, weddings, divorce parties, galas, fundraisers, funerals—wait, you’ve actually performed at a funeral?
[laughs] No, that’s kind of a joke, but if someone asked me I’d be like, “Hell yeah!” [laughs]
I mean, I’ll do like, End-Of-The-World parties, and other absurd suggestions—like team-building exercises! If a company would hire me for their team-building functions, that would be AWESOME, but I doubt it would happen. [laughs]
If you could play your Power Hour game with any celebrity, who would it be?
I would say, Paul Rudd. He seems like he would be HILARIOUS when he’s drunk!
What else is in the future for Ali Spagnola?
I would LOVE to do 60 different videos for each song and make a DVD out of it, that way you can watch the Video Power Hour in addition to listening to the album at your parties. But being interesting…60 times—and making them all different, is actually a REALLY daunting task! [laughs]
You can make it happen, Ali, you’re great! This was awesome! Keep on rockin’!
Thanks a lot! Same to you!
Interviewed & Written by: DAVID GAVRI