Home“5 Questions With” - Barry Carl, On Singing Alongside Will Ferrell In “The Other Guys”

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Rockapella’s famed bass sings alongside Will Ferrell in “The Other Guys”

Barry Carl’s multifaceted a cappella career has reached us in a variety of media, from worldwide live stage performances to PBS game show theme songs to Folgers Coffee commercials. Most recently, he has transcended these genres and brought his talents to the big screen in Will Ferrell’s latest movie, “The Other Guys”. I spoke briefly with Barry about his involvement in this mainstream film, which I had the pleasure of seeing yesterday afternoon.

DF (1) – “How did this experience come about?”

BC – One of my session singer friends called me and asked me to send a clip of my singing with an Irish accent along with a headshot to a casting director.  I sent a candid shot, stubble and all, and I guess I looked dissolute enough to fit into an inebriated informal Irish a cappella group.

In the film, Barry is featured in a scene at an Irish pub, where he and a group of other middle-aged roughnecks solemnly sing some rather off-putting Irish folk songs. At first, we see them drinking and chanting unnoticeably in the background while Ferrell and his partner, Mark Wahlberg, crack jokes and peanuts at the bar. Without warning, a white-haired member of the Irish a cappella group pokes Ferrell on the shoulder, almost like a wrestler tapping in his partner to take over the fight. Ferrell excuses himself, clears his throat, and begins singing the solo to a crude-humored Irish folk melody.

DF (2)
– “'I’ve heard Will Ferrell sing before in other movies. He sounds pretty good. Is that post-production audio trickery, or is he actually a talented live performer?”

BC – There's no post wizardry I'm aware of. The song was pitched in a comfortable key for Will so he sang in his speaking range. I think that he is a very talented performer and a nice guy to boot.

Ferrell’s character, detective Allen Gamble, is the same way: mild-mannered, good at his job (at least behind the desk), and kind to everyone he encounters, perhaps even too kind. Luckily, his partner, Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg), picks up the slack, taking every opportunity to be the tough-guy in this good cop/bad cop scenario. After the resident all-star duo of the NYPD (Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock) has a high fall from grace, the “other guys” must compete with a variety of NYPD bullies and international bank embezzlers to earn their street cred. Unfortunately, Hoits and Gamble rarely see eye-to-eye, so their ascension to competency hits every roadblock imaginable and unimaginable, including a senseless dabbling into the Irish pub scene. Much of the dialogue in Will Ferrell movies is comprised of this improvisational, witty banter, so I asked Barry what it was like to sing on the other side of this fourth wall.

DF (3) – “Tell us a little about your involvement behind-the-scenes: how much time did you spend on the set, what were the major actors like, perhaps a favorite anecdote?”

BC - We spent a day in the recording studio and a day on the set.  Will came in and sang in the studio, and we did lots of live takes during the shoot.  The first time all the extras on the set heard the tune there was a lot of laughter. We had to sing it through a few times so they could get over it.  It was fun to watch the improv dialogue takes with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.  Since I haven't seen the film yet, I don't know what ended up in the final cut.

What did end up in the final cut was a profound sampling of Barry Carl, both physically and musically. I’ve met Barry before, and I’m a tall guy, so rarely do I crane my neck upwards to greet someone. He is easily the largest member of the Irish a cappella group, and he appears even larger when placed in the foreground, standing closest to an equally large Farrell, in both shot angles. Barry’s bass frequencies ring true throughout the mix, which was largely unedited to maintain the live nature of drinking songs. Despite the prevalence of parallel fifths, I thought I sensed some contemporary a cappella influences in the music too, for most Irish drinking songs do not feature add 9’s in the cadences of their arrangements.

DF (4) – “Was anyone else from the a cappella community that we might know involved in this production?”

BC – No.

Perhaps that fits well with the theme of this film, which is that its best enjoyed if one does not read too much into its ridiculous tone: laugh simply for the sake of sarcastic spoof. I would give the film 3.5 stars out of 5, but if you like Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, or Barry Carl, definitely spend the money to be entertained for 100 minutes of hilarious situational comedy. Barry’s scene occurs about halfway through the film and transpires faster than an a cappella enthusiast would hope. Therefore, I asked Barry when we could expect to hear from him next.

DF (5) – “In addition to ‘The Other Guys,’ what else are you currently working on?”

BC – I'm currently working on a film project with an independent media company.  I can't say much about it other than it has a lot of motorcycles in it, and the mother of all chase scenes at the end.  I'm also working with the same media group in the development of 'reality' programming material.  I'm getting close to the finish line with a book I've been working on for a few years, singing on sound tracks and jingles, doing occasional voice-overs, and I'm midway through my training as a psychotherapist.  I mentor couples with my wife, Liz, and we're starting a support/process group in NYC for people in the arts.  I have also been known to occasionally eat and sleep.

You can check out Barry’s latest announcements at his website, http://www.barrycarl.com and you can watch a trailer for “The Other Guys” at http://www.theotherguys-movie.com

About the author:
Doug Friedman is attending NYU in the fall to pursue a Masters of Music Business with an expected concentration in Music Technology. He just graduated from Brandeis University last May, where he received a B.A. in Theatre Arts. For his senior thesis, he wrote, composed, and directed an original musical: “Super Mario Brothers, The Musical!” At Brandeis, Doug was the President of Brandeis VoiceMale, which he loves and misses very much. This summer, he sang as an intern for the semi-professional group, Overboard, and would very much like to continue singing at that level in New York City (anybody know of groups that are auditioning?). Doug can be reached at 317-402-6023, dfresh@nyu.edu, or through his website, www.difmusic.com.


I may go see this movie just

I may go see this movie just for this scene.  Kind of like The Break-up.

Shane C ArdellGT Nothin' but Treble Alum '07 - http://www.nothinbuttreble.com http://www.acaspot.com/news

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