Interview with Paul Shaffer


On his band going on tour: "We'll be hot. We'll be hot as pistols."


Paul Shaffer spent 33 years as the television sidekick to David Letterman, all the while performing with some of the best and the brightest musical guests -- both with all the flavors-of-the-month to the musical legends. While he was doing so, he was working nightly with a sharp group of top-notch players; The CBS Orchestra, as they were called while on that network, or The World's Most Dangerous Band, as they were dubbed in the earlier NBC years.


On Jenny Lewis: "Everybody loves Jenny Lewis. She is the hottest chick going now on the indie scene."


Now free from a nightly TV gig, Shaffer reunited his Letterman band for an album and tour. The album, also named The World's Most Dangerous Band, features rotating vocalists including Shaffer, bassist Will Lee, and guitarist Felica Collins--all from Shaffer's band--and a diverse mix of guests like Jenny Lewis, Shaggy, Dion, Darius Rucker (of Hootie & The Blowfish fame), and Valerie Simpson (known for her writing and recording collaboration with her late husband as Ashford & Simpson).


On his approach to music: "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you're supposed to have consistency on an album and make sure it all goes together. I don't know. I love all kinds of music, and I just think there's good in ALL of it."


Shaffer also called on an old friend to take the lead vocals for a song: Bill Murray, with whom Shaffer has worked from the National Lampoon Radio Hour and Saturday Night Live in the 1970s to the Netflix holiday special A Very Murray Christmas in 2015.


On "Happy Street" from his new album: "Doesn't Bill [Murray] sound great on that song? He sings for comedy purposes but he really sings this one. He worked hard on the vocal and got a nice, relixed kind of a Dean Martin feeling."


Shaffer and WYEP's Mike Sauter discuss the new album, Shaffer's approach to music, and working with people like Jenny Lewis, Will Lee, and Bill Murray.


On "Kung Fu Christmas," the song he collaborated with Bill Murray on for The National Lampoon Radio Hour: "At the time in the early '70s, every R&B record was about kung fu. So we thought, 'What about a kung fu Christmas record?' And Billy helped write it with his brother Brian. Gilda Radner was in on the writing, and Chris Guest, his brilliant genius, and me. All of us wrote it together, and Billy sang it on the Radio Hour."


On being part of the Saturday Night Live house band: "There were so many great things. Billy Preston, on the very first show. I sneaked around and looked at how he had his organ set up, looked at some of the settings. And I've been using those settings ever since."

On A Very Murray Christmas: "Miley Cyrus sang a live 'Silent Night' just at the last minute, 'cause somebody dropped out. She said, 'Yeah, I'll do an extra song.' She sang it live and, boy, chick can wail, as we used to say."


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