The clique of skateboarders with an eye for design that is OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) is headed by Tyler, the Creator, a nice gentleman/self-described goblin who's been getting giant taste-making high-fives from Spin, Pitchfork, and the music community in general and is all of 21 years old, can now add "Adult Swim TV show co-creator" to his title. Loiter Squad is the new TV effort of the Odd Future franchise, headed by Tyler, highlighting the "non-musical" members, and backed by Dickhouse Entertainment.
The show is being billed as this generation's Jackass: Pranks! Goofin' around! Boys being boys! And it is like Jackass in that a lot of its appeal will simply be spending time with a group of unimpeachably hip, radiantly photogenic bad boys. But the sensibility of the show is far from the spiked hair and gleeful self destruction of Johnny Knoxville's crew. Clips of the show display purposefully stilted editing, awkward costumes, and a style that's equal parts post-modern video comedy and guerrilla skateboard video, establishing a taste level that resonates more with Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job than Jackass. So yeah, picture Tim & Eric as if they were super young, hot millionaires living in the stylized, hyper-color world of an Enjoi skateboard deck, and throw in some very silly pranks. And somehow I got the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with them that, through a comedy of errors, became a one-on-one chat with Tyler and then Lionel.
THE CONFERENCE CALL BEGINS: At first, we only had access ("we" being me and presumably a sea of press on the conference line) through a chain of tenuously linked phones and exhausted handlers.
PRESS: How did Loiter Squad come about?
ONE OF THE SQUAD, NOT TYLER: We tend to hang out and loiter so we thought we should—
At this point the phone makes a sound like a fox trying to play a harp with its bushy tail.
PRESS: I notice this is a venture that features the non-musical members of Odd Future, is that deliberate or will the musical members be involved at some point in the future?
ONE OF THE SQUAD: Maybe one day, not right now though... it's Tyler's fault—
We hear a sound like a rain stick being twirled like a baton.
LS: Hi this is Lily Sparks from TV.com, can you guys hear me?
ONE OF THE SQUAD: (distantly) Yeah.
LS: What are your comedic influences and your design influences?
TYLER: Probably Dave Chapelle, well no—not probably. Dave Chappelle and like, white people. I don't know.
LS: Have you guys watched Tim and Eric at all? Some of the editing seems like kissing cousins.
TYLER: Yeah Tim and Eric is cool.
There is a sound like a giant swan beating its wings through a beaded curtain as the squad laughs amongst themselves.
A publicist interjects to Tyler:
PUBLICIST: Be sure to say who it is before answering the question, just so they know—
TYLER: How do they NOT know my voice? I sound like a 50-year-old—this is stupid—
Tyler notoriously has a very low-pitched, grumbly voice, and also notoriously hates interviews. The phone sounds like it is floating aloft in a wind tunnel filled with moaning ghosts. One publicist is telling another publicist the Pop-Up shop is about to open, the guys have to go, they have money to make, fans about to make massive purchases. And it does look like it got noisy, check out this fan video:
Apologies are made. The interview is not happening. And then a couple hours later I get a call—if I can hop on my phone real quick, I can talk to Tyler one on one. You kidding me? I am there, honeybear.
Let me state for the record that there is no way to control the direction of an interview in this setting. The tone reminds me of nothing so much as the warm, breezy last weeks of senior year, when once in a while the cutest troublemaker in the classroom would sit up on his desk and take control of the class. Frankly everyone in the class, teacher included, was more interested in spending the period listening to him talk about whatever than following the lesson plan. So keep that tone in mind.
LS: The first thing I kind of touched on before—I've seen the Tumblr for the show and it's so specific and fresh and young—you really have a handle on exactly what you want to do, and I want to hear more about your influences.
TYLER: The main—the whole aesthetic of our personalities lie in the youth, and the culture of methamphetamines. What people don't understand is that. Once you grasp that you can't let go.
LS: [laughing] Of methamphetamines?
LS: Okay. How about your pranks? Are they silly and joyful or a little more mean-spirited and edgy?
TYLER: Well, one of our pranks, we went to this lady's house, like we were, what do you call them, the people who drop off the water—like Sparkles or Arrowhead or so—
A listening voice, one of the squad, offers "watermen."
—The watermen, whatever. We went inside and she had two kids, a 12-year-old and a 6 year-old. We knew the 12-year-old, so we switched out the baby, the 6-year-old, and we made it seem like we socked the baby in the face. And the mom was pissed, crying, trying to call the police, and we're like, "We're just playing! Its not a real baby!" So yeah. (pause) We punched a baby in the face.
LS: It sounds like there was a lot of set-up involved, that’s a very elaborate prank.
TYLER: It was so funny. With the editing it looks like we socked a baby in the face.
LS: So are we ever going to see Earl Sweatshirt on the show?
TYLER: Excuse me?!!?
Earl Sweatshirt is something of an 18-year-old prodigy who, on the eve of Odd Future’s success, got shipped off to military school in Samoa and had to watch his friends become critical darlings and celebrities and live out the American teenage dream in his absence. He's recently returned to the States and started making the rounds with the rest of the OF crew.
LS: Are we ever going to see Earl Sweatshirt on the show?
TYLER: Yes, he makes an appearance.
LS: Okay, very cool.
TYLER: He makes an appearance as a tree.
There is giddy laughter in the room around Tyler after this statement.
LS: So you have a TV show, you've obviously been a presence in music for a while, what's next, do you want to branch into art galleries or film—
A voice shouts happily: We're going to Jack in the Box!
TYLER: I'm doing porn. (beat) No, I'm just fucking with you. But I am talking to GM Motors about creating stoves, desks, toaster ovens, shit like that.
LS: So product design? I can see that.
TYLER: No, appliances.
LS: I was looking through the Tumblr—
TYLER: Wait, there's a Tumblr for Loiter Squad? Who the f-ck—
Now it sounds like a rake being dragged across a beach of glass, sounds like someone's saying "handles these," there's a general conversation in the room on Tyler's end of the line and I hear someone say "They told me—"
TYLER: I didn't even know there was a Tumblr—
LS: I think it’s a promotional thing, it's just little clips and screen grabs. It really struck me—
TYLER: You ever get so hungry that you eat the nasty-ass dark chocolate the hotel gives you?
LS: I don't get chocolate from hotels, that sounds really cool.
TYLER: I'm doing it right now and this shit is nasty.
LS: Is it cocoa nib fair trade no sugar?
TYLER: Yeah! It's like I just want to eat. And I—don't talk to me like that, I'm just playing, you crazy. I've got long legs. I don't know how dudes sit with their legs crossed. It's just uncomfortable. I'm talking about how girls sit when they have skirts and they don't want anyone to see nah-nah jah-jah? I don't see how dudes sit like that.
I can sense at this point I've lost the attention of a guy whose time is precious. The phone gets handed to Lionel.
LIONEL: Hi, I'm going to talk because this guy's an idiot. This is Lionel now.
LS: I did want to ask you guys about your comedic influences. Who makes you laugh, where your sense of humor comes from?
LIONEL: We like Chappelle's Show, The Office, Full House, Family Matters—you know, the great sitcoms of the early '90s? You know Moesha is a big influence. Seinfeld, My Brother and Me—stuff like that.
Ssomeone, I think Tyler, interjects with, "Matthew McConaughey—and Matthew McConaughey films. Matthew McConaughey, every film he's ever done."
LS: Yeah he's got crazy eyes, he looks crazy.
LIONEL: He does. (general laughter)
LS: Are you guys going to have any celebrity appearances or comedians coming in for Loiter Squad?
LIONEL: I think you'll just have to wait and see for that one. Maybe, you'll see.
LS: Would you ever do Craigslist casting like Tim and Eric does?
LIONEL: Oh yeah, yeah I heard that they do that. I don't know, I wouldn't want to get like attacked by somebody I hired off of Craigslist, there's no telling with those people. So I don't think I'd do that.
LS: Okay, so, last question: where do you see yourselves in ten years?
LIONEL: Ten years? We always talk about this. In ten years' time I intend to be a pastor somewhere, wear a suit every day, bald, and I'll probably be strung out on sherm.
I honestly can't think of a better response.
– Will you watch Loiter Squad when it premieres this Sunday on Adult Swim?
– Does Loiter Squad seem more like a thematic successor to Tim & Eric or to Jackass or something else?
– Do you like Odd Future?
– Do you respect celebrities more when they obfuscate their image and create a mystique or when they go on Oprah and over-share a bunch about their break-ups?
– Do you think Loiter Squad/Odd Future captures the youth culture? If not, then what does?
Also, here's an exclusive-to-TV.com Loiter Squad clip! It's called "Sandwich Punch."