Sam Lloyd isn't a lawyer, he just plays one on TV. He is, however, a singer. If you're familiar with the TV sitcom “Scrubs,” you know Lloyd as the character Ted who frequently appears with his a cappella quartet, known as “The Worthless Peons” or just “Ted's Band.” Off camera, Lloyd, along with fellow singers Philip McNiven, George Miserlis and Paul F. Perry are a real group called The Blanks, and they're singing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 in the PAC Concert Hall.
After returning to their respective L.A. homes after their whirlwind Philadelphia tour, The Blanks joined a conference call with The AS Review.
ASR: How did you all meet each other and form the group?
Philip: George, Sam, Paul and myself were all involved in the theater in LA and became fast friends and all had an interest in music, and started singing goofy stuff like the “Trio Bel Canto” just for the fun of it.
Sam: George met Phillip doing improv at Second City [a comedy club in Los Angeles].
George: And it was Sam that recommended that I go to Second City…and I met Phillip there. I was in [the musical comedy] “Forever Plaid” at the time, which is about four dead guys and they sing four-part harmony…I was able to get some gigs together on the side for us to make money and I brought Phillip in on it.
Sam: We did one or two gigs and then just for the fun of it kept singing together. After that I got onto “Scrubs” and had the guys sing for the Christmas party and the producer said, “That's just too funny,” and they wrote us into the show.
ASR: Do any of you play instruments as well?
Philip: I play the piano.
Sam: We all play piano. Paul and I are also in a Beatles cover band, and Phillip and George can't say that.
George: I play the drums on TV, and quite well, I might add.
Sam: What episode was that?
Paul: “My Best Friend's Wedding.”
Sam: On the season finale, Carla and Turk were getting married and their band left, so Ted's band gets up and says “oh, we don't know how to play but we'll try,” and then we launch into a rockin' version of “Eight Days a Week.” The instrumental recording we played to was done by Paul and my Beatles band, so George pretended to play drums and Phillip pretended to play guitar.
Paul: They did very well, they both did. People write in all the time to ask if that's really them playing.
George: That's acting!
ASR: How did being on “Scrubs” change your career as a band?
Sam: Basically there wouldn't be a band if it wasn't for “Scrubs.” That's how it changed our careers.
Paul: We were doing stuff before…we all knew each other and had performed together before.
Sam: We knew one birthday song, so we sang it for every one of our birthdays and for our parents' birthdays.
George: One version is an insulting version and the other version is a clean version.
Sam: We sing either one depending on how close we are to the person. Really, the only song we knew that wasn't a “Forever Plaid” song was the Superman march, and it took us like six months to learn that song. When “Scrubs” came along, that forced us to learn songs and it forced Paul to arrange songs…so really it's because of “Scrubs” that we're talking now.
Philip: Paul likes to take an incredibly difficult piece like an orchestral piece and arrange it so one of us can sing the piccolo trill at one point, so it does take us six months to learn a piece.
Sam: There was something very fun about learning the John Williams “Superman” theme with original lyrics by Paul…it was just ridiculous. And that's basically all we did was ridiculous things that nobody would want to hear except for us.
ASR: How did you settle on the name “The Blanks?”
Paul: Our first road trip—I don't know if it was our first gig or not—we went out to Las Vegas which is where the McNiven family has their family reunion, and it was Phillip's grandmother's 80th birthday.
Philip: My grandmother's a degenerate gambler.
Paul: Since Phillip was the star, the idea came up—it's a pun, get ready—“Phil ‘n' The Blanks.” Pause for laughter.
Sam: Still funny to this day.
Paul: But then we decided to keep using it.
Philip: But they took me out!
Sam: We took the “fillin'” out.
ASR: So let's talk about the props and costumes that you bring along for your live show.
Paul: Well, we have two talking toys that sing a fifth part, but they don't have to get paid. But we do have to carry them on and off the stage.
Sam: And we have a dancing Mrs. Claus.
Philip: Sam had this really annoying talking pumpkin that he brought to a rehearsal that went “Happy Halloween,” and he kept doing it to interrupt the rehearsal, and finally Paul and Sam wrote a song to go with this annoying talking toy. And now instead of being annoying it brings delight to people of all ages.
ASR: So what do you sing when you perform live? Do you sing stuff from “Scrubs?”
Paul: Yeah, most of the stuff we sing is from Scrubs, then we do a couple originals, and our talking toys numbers which are originals. It's a pretty eclectic collection of songs.
Sam: We do the four greatest songs ever written, the five greatest rock songs, and we also do the two greatest Christmas carols in history. Right? I think that covers it. Oh, we also do…you know those old solid gold party rock ads, where they promote their compilation album and have all those little song fragments? We do an actual ad in the exact time…
Sam: Under two minutes.
Paul: Twenty three songs in under two minutes.
George: No other a cappella group in the world can do that. Not even Rockapella can do that.
ASR: Are those guys still around?
George: Who knows?
ASR: Are there any other antics besides singing?
Sam: Well, our show is full of antics, but we'd be giving away the show if we told you.
Tickets for the show are $13 for WWU students with ID and $17 general.