Danny Jacob is the man behind the music of Disney Channel’s hit show Phineas and Ferb, and now you love him already. I’m sure he gets that a lot.
Jacob has performed on a number of award-winning projects (we’re talking Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy!) and is a three-time Emmy nominee as a composer. Some of his popular television works include the main title songs for shows Lilo and Stitch, The Emperor’s New School, and Jackie Chan’s Adventures.
Mom, Danny Jacob is performing the song for a title sequence.
Sorry about that.
I recently spoke with Danny Jacob over a pretty poor phone connection (curse you, spotty cell phone coverage!) and discussed the music of Phineas and Ferb as well as his own influences… Hey, where’s the interview?
Oh, here it is.
Whit: What influences do you rely on when composing songs for Phineas and Ferb?
Danny Jacob: When I’m doing songs I rely on all of the tools that I have acquired over my years as a composer and guitar player. I am, and always have been, a professional guitar player. I have toured with big stars and have been a part of the L.A. studio scene, and through all that I have learned a lot about what makes a record a hit record.
When I get a Phineas tune, which a little bit of the time I’ll co-write, but mostly I arrange and produce the tunes with Dan and Swampy (Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh), the creators, I think about where it needs to go. If it is a hard rock song I’ll think about all of my favorite hard rock bands like Van Halen or Def Leppard, or if it’s a show tune I might think of Aladdin, or study some of the other great Disney stuff. Then I go into my own place and I make it my own.
W: So they give you the songs and say…
DJ: They usually say, this is a rocker, or this is a show tune. (laughs)
W: What about the underscore?
DJ: Each episode is broken into two 11 minute parts and the songs are only a minute each. There is a lot of underscore, sometimes they’ll (Povenmire and Marsh) take their favorite music, like music from Jaws, Die Hard or Alien, and it will be there from the original composer and I’ll know the direction that they want. If it’s Jaws I’ll jokingly say, “Thanks a lot, how am I supposed to top John Williams?”
But we trust each other and a lot of the time they say, just do a good chase scene or a good fight scene. If it’s Perry the Platypus I know we’re in the world of James Bond or The Incredibles, and if it’s Candice I kind of have this Wizard of Oz homage, so if she’s busting the boys, there’s a formula, you know. They all have themes.
W: The music on the show is popular with both kids and adults, is that something you put a lot of thought and effort into, or is that even considered?
DJ: I like that question. I’ve been asked that before and I like the answer. No, we don’t play down to the kids. As far as my job, and I think Dan and Swampy would say the same thing about the way they created the show, is that we play up to kids. You know, when I’m scoring Perry the Platypus I’m taking him very seriously as a James Bond character, the same way you would if you saw a movie, and when there is an action scene I try to score it cinematically, like they are in serious trouble, not funny — now there is so much humor and jokes that sometimes you stay out for the joke, but the answer is no, we don’t play down to the kids.
W: I love that. I do a lot of writing for parenting sites and I must say that parents really like Phineas and Ferb. Very often a discussion happens where parents don’t let their kids watch this show for one reason, or that show for another, but as soon as someone brings up Phineas and Ferb they all agree that it is awesome. You guys should be very proud.
DJ: Thank you, I am. And I know that the show’s creators are.
W: Do you have a favorite song from the show?
DJ: You know, we do so many that it changes, but I would say that “Come Home, Perry” which was nominated for an Emmy is a favorite.
And I love the Slash song — I got to write it with him and Swampy, and then work with Slash in the studio. That’s one of my faves because I’m a rocker at heart.
W: Speaking of rockers, any chance of a Love Handle album?
DJ: (laughs) Well, Love Handle is a fictitious band fronted by a singer from a real band, Jaret Reddick from Bowling for Soup, who sings our main title. Love Handle makes a lot of appearances and we like bringing them back. They’re great. They’re like this 80s band that broke up over creative differences which is so typical.
W: That’s totally my era, and now all of those bands are back together playing at casinos.
And then we talked about Van Halen for a while.
DJ: I’m going to speak very diplomatic, but as a guitar player, I don’t that anyone has come along since Eddie Van Halen who has left a mark like him. There are those who have refined it after him, but as far as a true innovator of rock guitar I don’t know of anyone that has come after Eddie Van Halen that you can say has left a mark on rock guitar and rock music like that. When he came out it was an explosion…
W: Or, an eruption, if you will.
DJ: Right, eruption, exactly, very well put.
W: Eddie Van Halen still plays as great as ever.
DJ: I’m glad to see that rock and roll is still alive.
W: Speaking of still alive, what’s next for the show?
DJ: We are wrapping the third season, and then we’ve got a fourth season.
W: I hope there’s more!
DJ: Me too! You know, there is no end in sight. There are a lot of great new episodes coming up, all kinds of surprises in the fourth season, and, I’m not even sure what I can say, but another movie direct-to-video, and they’re talking about a feature. So it’s going to be a long life for Phineas and Ferb.
W: Fantastic. Thanks a lot, Danny, for taking the time to speak with me today.
DJ: It was a pleasure, Whit. I appreciate your time and energy.
W: Any parting words for the fans?
DJ: I would just like to say thank you to everyone, so much, for being loyal fans. We wouldn’t have a show without them.
Isn’t that photo courtesy of Danny Jacob? Yes. Yes, it is.