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My Grammys: Weird Al, David Sedaris and More Remember the Big Night

Margaret Cho, Nate Ruess, Mastodon and Giorgio Moroder share stories from backstage

Grammy Awards

Grammy Awards

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With the 57th annual Grammy Awards just days away, Rolling Stone asked a handful of past winners and nominees about their favorite memories of Grammys past. Our group of comedians, authors and musicians responded with tales of getting dressed down by Pink, wearing the nomination medallion to the dinner table and possibly eskimo-kissing Paul McCartney.

Mastodon

Bill Kelliher, Brann Dailor, Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders of Mastodon, nominees Best Metal Performance for "Colony of Birchmen" (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)

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Mastodon’s Brann Dailor

Three Nominations: Best Metal Performance (2007, 2015); Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance (2012)

When we got nominated in 2007, we were on tour in Europe with Tool. I had to do an interview with Rolling Stone after we found out. I had the flu, so I was super sick. I was in my bunk and they handed me the phone. So it was like, "How do you feel about being nominated?" And I felt like shit. That first one was the biggest shocker for us. We thought it was totally outside the realm of possibility for a band like us. It was confusing because we're not in that world. We thought they made a mistake. 

We've gone to the ceremony every time. I bring my wife with me. Everybody brings their wives or girlfriends. I like parties. We never expect to win.

That first year, I think we were on tour. We had to fly in and I remember getting changed into a suit. They said I looked like a narc or something. I remember changing in the bathroom in a stall at LAX. Then we got into the limo early in the morning. My wife had been up all night with her band the night before. It was kind of a whirlwind. There was a big gift basket from Jada Pinkett Smith with a note of congratulations waiting for us. 

The red carpet was really bizarre. Chris Isaak interviewed us for the Today Show or something. I don't think most people knew who the hell we were. We had a publicist with us saying, "This is Mastodon." And people would be like, "Who?" "They're a heavy metal band." "Oh yeah, I guess we'll talk to you." We got there early before any of the real stars got there. We were kinda shadowing Peter Frampton, so that was cool.

I have some friends who are like, "I won't go to that bullshit." Why not? It's different and weird and bizarre. It's some of the best people-watching you can do. We went to some party and probably stayed too late. Then it goes back to reality of playing in the middle of nowhere in some club.

The second one [in 2012], I think we were coming from Europe. We missed the red carpet, but the Warner Bros. party was cool. I remember Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney came into the room where everybody was, and they were dancing together. [Vocalist and guitarist Brent Hinds] had taken all of the flowers out of some big vase and put them up through his shirt so that they were coming out around his neck. He looked like a total crazy person and went over there and started dancing with them. I swear I looked over and saw him and Paul McCartney Eskimo kissing. All of a sudden Paul and Elvis were whisked away. My wife and I were like, "It's probably not going to get any better than that, so we might as well leave."

Margaret Cho

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Margaret Cho

One Nomination: Best Comedy Album (2011)

It was really exciting, you know? It's always really thrilling to be in any — I love that kind of big music show because you can see these performers up close. That one was really good because Dylan performed with Mumford and this array of Americana guys and that was really incredible. Jennifer Lopez was standing in this silver dress — I can't even do the facial expression, it was so stupid. Why are you giving Bob Dylan a fuck face? It was this crazy weird fuck face, and I'm like, don't give Bob Dylan. . .He wrote "Blood on the Tracks." You need to just love him.

I sat in between Kathy Griffin and Arcade Fire; and Arcade Fire were so elated, they had won album of the year. It was so thrilling because I love them, but it was like, oh, finally an indie band! They were so excited to win. Kathy and I were pissed for not winning. She tried so hard to break the gender gap, to win the Grammy for that category. 

Basement Jaxx

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Basement Jaxx’s Felix Buxton

One Win: Best Electronic/Dance Album (2005)

I thought, "If we're getting a Grammy, we definitely want to be there." We were trying to find out before if we were going to get it, but they didn't let us know. So we had to go there and wait for hours while they gave Best Polka award, best whatever and whatever. But for us, it was great. You see all the cartoon characters, and Beyoncé and Snoop Dogg all rubbing shoulders with each other. It's quite entertaining, and to see what a business it is, particularly the big American acts, to see how much their PR agents were involved.

It's a circus, and it's great to kind of witness it. I remember afterwards Usher had some party, an afterparty that everyone wanted to go to, which it took me absolutely ages to plug into. There were hundreds of people outside all going, really stressed and wanting to get in there. Then I eventually managed to get us in, and it was just everyone pointing their phones, videoing Usher and Tarantino, and it was a rubbish party. [Laughs.] I thought, "How ridiculous?" It was really amazing to see the whole hype machine and the big bullshit factor — the people waiting outside and then getting in there to see that this is all there is. I feel like that was the same thing as the Grammys. You're seeing the whole red carpet thing and people beating themselves up and working out that it's a real industry. We came from a point of doing our music where it was like a scene. It was not to do with this big, corporate pop industry. For us, it was one of the first times seeing that.

Weird Al Yankovic

Al Yankovic arrives at the Staples Center for the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2012. AFP PHOTO Joe KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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“Weird Al” Yankovic

Three Wins: Best Comedy Recording (1985), Best Concept Music Video (1989), Best Comedy Album (2004)

It was surrealistic the first time [I was nominated]. I was just a couple years out of college — with a degree in architecture, no less — and all of a sudden, there I was in a rented tux at the Grammy awards! And I have to say, as mind-blowing as it was 30 years ago, it doesn't feel any less mind-blowing now. Being a Grammy nominee never gets old — I'm not jaded about it in the slightest.

The very first time I was nominated, I was up against Rodney Dangerfield and Richard Pryor, so, no, I wasn't expecting to win. When they called my name, I thought somebody had made a mistake! 

[In 2007] I remember Chamillionaire came up to me on the red carpet to tell me that "White & Nerdy" clinched his Grammy win because my parody made it "undeniable" that "Ridin'" was the Rap Song of the Year. 

[All of the ceremonies I've attended have] all been great and memorable, but my favorite was probably last time — three years ago — because I got to bring my 8-year-old daughter with me to the Grammys. She even got interviewed on the red carpet, and totally nailed it!

 

Giorgio Moroder

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Producer Paul Williams, recording artist Pharrell Williams, and musician Giorgio Moroder attend the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)

Michael Kovac/Getty

Giorgio Moroder

I remember I was sitting next to my wife and Pharrell and of course the [Daft Punk] guys when they said "And the winner is…"; and I see Taylor Swift jumping up because she had an album and I didn't really hear what they said. They didn't say Daft Punk, they said the name of the album. I was like "Oh!" And I was sitting and I saw them get up and I asked my wife, "Did we win?" And she said, "Yeah! Didn't you listen?" [Chuckles.] It was nice.

Slipknot Clown

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Slipknot Clown attends the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Steve Granitz/Getty

Slipknot’s Clown

I just sat there and smoked cigarettes outside, and was like, "You guys will figure it out." [Security] were just so fucking freaked out. Finally, they come up to me, and I'm like, "Here's the deal, I've won a fucking Grammy. It's so heartbreaking that it's so hard for you fucks to figure it out." After about 25 minutes at every door, they let me in everywhere. It's great walking down the red carpet, and having people go, "What is this thing?"

We've done this before. It's so funny listening to them talk. I like to ruin everyone's day. When they walk the red carpet, all of a sudden there's a clown in a $2,000 suit. We just want to let everyone know, "I don't know what you think of Slipknot. I don't really fucking care. But we aren't going anywhere. I'm right here, right now in your face, and you didn't think so. You're not safe."

When I was rolling through security, first you have these idiot punk fucks — moronic, scared, non-competent people. They were assholes. The kids and the lower security — people taking your ticket or whatever — everyone knew who I am and think it's badass. They're real fans and the real workers of the night. They're not getting awards, they're giving out Cokes. The high-up security people and the cops too. The real cops with the real guns would be like, "Aw, can't wait for the new album, man." As the enemy is all around, the secret society is right next to them.

The Grammys are nothing but achievement for me, man. It's hard to ignore the work of this little band from Iowa called Slipknot. You can't fuck with our work — you just can't. Who's doing it bigger and better? Sure, pop bands have millions of dollars in production, we don't need all that. We're a war onstage. I have gentlemen in tuxedos that are 70 years old coming to say congratulations. I have no idea who they are, but they're watching.

It's kind of a ridiculous thing. Best metal performance? Whatever that means. It's so funny, you got all these shitheels that play on tape there. Got their panties up their ass, and all these fucking fruitcakes doing whatever. Best metal performance? Whatever. It should be best band in the fucking solar system for us. I'm pretty sure that it's our time again this year. On our third record when we won it was the same thing. We worked our asses off. Whoever does win deserves it.

When we won in 2006, I lost my father three or four months prior. I was just in a zone. I feel like he had something to do with it. It was a nice way of ending any sort of ceremony. I pulled it in. It was just what I needed. My wife bought me a piano, and I keep my Grammy there. I'd like to think of a long line of great songwriters that achieved what their dream is, their art. I use that as an inspiration. It reminds me of hard work and digging in.

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