Hi, guys! What are you up to in LA?
Philip: Having a martini by the pool in my leopard skin thong.
Sam: I’m panhandling on the corner of Crescent and Sunset Heights.
P: He’s just touching people’s pans. He likes to handle them.
S: I’m just begging. It’s up and down – that’s showbiz.
Sounds rough. So, what were the early days of The Blanks like?
S: One of our first gigs was for Philip’s grandmother’s 80th birthday party in Las Vegas, and we said we could provide the entertainment.
P: My grandmother is an inveterate gambler and boozer, by the way.
S: Hence Vegas. So at that point we still hadn’t agreed on a name, and thought we should make Philip the lead guy as it was his grandma’s birthday. So we said we’ll be ‘Phil and the Blanks’…geddit? And after the gig was over, we took the first part out.
I read that Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence fell in love with you after watching you perform at the annual Christmas party…
S: Yeah, and then he married us.
P: He wanted to have us, but he could only have us in the show.
S: He wanted children but it just wasn’t the right time. We didn’t want to be tied down.
P: We were young actors in Hollywood, it wasn’t the right time to have children.
S: I regret it now, but at the time it seemed like the right decision.
Did you expect the band’s sky rocketing success as a result of the show?
P: It really was like we strapped in and rocketed to the A List parties. One minute we were sitting around in our underwear singing harmonies, panhandling on corners, staring up forlornly at the Hollywood sign from Beachwood Canyon, and the next minute, we were at the Oscars, on the red carpet, partying with Steve Carrell, Angelina Jolie…
What was the best part about being involved with the show?
Sam: Free food! Free food!
Anything about the band at all, or was it just the food and the girls?
Sam: How did you know about the girls?!
I just guessed.
S: Well that was a good guess. That’s what it became all about with us, and then George developed a substance problem, which often happens in these stories, and he was in and out of rehab.
So there’s a very rock and roll side to The Blanks, then?
P: Every week at the end of shooting, we’d get this giant chocolate fountain brought in to the set. We would take off our clothes and stomp around in it – it was amazing.
S: We were out of control. Bill Lawrence had to give us a talk and make sure we straightened it out. He threatened to remove us completely in spite of the fact that without The Blanks, Scrubs really didn’t have much going for it. But we straightened up and got out of the fountain, and things were fine after that.
How does it feel to be taking the show to the Fringe?
S: I’m very excited because I’ve had friends over the years who have done the Fringe festival and told me what a great experience it was. When it presented itself to us, we really jumped at it.
Have you got any plans to sample the Scottish culture?
P: Big plans.
S: Girls wearing kilts, eating haggis, and playing golf. Did we just insult everyone in Scotland?!
P: Listen, I’m part Scottish.
S: I’ve got some Scottish in me.
You can’t use Scottishness as a defence!
P: I dated a Scotsperson once so I can say whatever I want.
S: My grandmother was a full blooded Scotsperson.
P: That’s the person I dated!
Back to the music – do you think you’ve changed much as a band over the years?
S: Any hugely successful band has its problems, like George’s substance abuse – he was addicted to chocolate. And Philip got involved with this woman who got into all kinds of trouble and tried to take the band over.
P: It’s hard, because how do you tell Sam’s grandmother that she can’t organise things anymore?
S: That’s right, you were with my grandmother. I forgot that part.
P: When it’s family, it’s hard to say something.
How did you all meet?
P: Are you on it?
Not right now…
S: Well, if you ever want to date an a cappella group, we’re very romantic, we’re good looking, we have stable jobs, we’re wildly rich…
P: And if you stand on a balcony, we’ll serenade you with candles in our hands
Do you ever call each other up and say: ‘I need to woo my significant other tonight, can you come round so we can sing a few harmonies?’
P: We did that once and Paul ended up spending the weekend with my girlfriend. It was bad. It’s a very incestuous thing we do. And not in the good sense either.
What do you think would make the average Fringe-goer want to see your show?
S: If they want a little sing, a little dance, a little seltzer down their pants, they will enjoy our show.
P: If you like the idea of cavorting naked in a chocolate fountain, you’ll like our show.
S: That’ll bring people in by the dozen.
This article was originally published in Fest magazine on pages 38-39 here