Jarrod Alonge is a 23-year-old YouTuber from Chattanooga, Tennessee who does music and comedy videos. He is mostly known for creating fictional bands that parody various genres in the alternative music scene. He garnered enough of a reputation to be invited to perform at last year’s Vans Warped Tour. “Friendville”, a full-length album under the Sunrise Skater Kids moniker, will release on April 1, 2016. It can be purchased through iTunes and Google Play digitally and Killer Merch for a physical CD.
Seeds Entertainment: You’re from Tennessee, which is widely known for its country music scene. How does that affect you since your content is based around the alternative music?
Jarrod Alonge: Musical genres are more evenly dispersed throughout the US than you would think. Living near Nashville definitely gives us a link to country music, but we still have a fairly strong alternative music scene. However, you can’t deny that some of the bands here do have a Southern influence. If Tennessee affects my content in any sort of way, it’s that I have more exposure to Southern stereotypes (Bible thumpers, rednecks, Trump supporters, etc.) and can satirize them more efficiently.
SE: What is the process like for you when creating music that parodies genres?
JA: It’s hard to say, since my songs can be so different from each other. I’ve yet to make a formula out of comedic songwriting. I usually find myself taking a core joke and just building a song around it. For example, I have a pop punk song called “Love Me Back”. The core joke is that some of the generic, song-about-a-girl style songs can be interpreted as creepy and stalker-ish. To be honest, I’m still in the stage of making things up as I go when it comes to the realm of creativity.
SE: Who are your biggest influences when it comes to your comedy?
JA: I couldn’t name all of them, but some include comedians like Larry David, Louis CK, Jerry Seinfeld, Demetri Martin and Bo Burnham. Burnham would have to be the newest on the list, but his recent acts have been brilliant. I pull inspiration from The Onion on occasion. I also shouldn’t forget about the generic (and sometimes terrible) bands that give me unlimited material.
SE: You started off making comedy sketch videos on YouTube and now you’ve released an album with another release coming up very soon. Describe the growth of your career.
JA: As I stated earlier, I’m just making things up as I go. Saying yes to opportunities as they present themselves, and doing my best to keep things fresh. If anything has changed, it’s that I have a bigger audience. It’s true that I did start out making sketches almost exclusively, and I have definitely leaned more into the side of music comedy.
SE: You’ve created many fictitious bands that parody entire genres. Amidst the Grave’s Demons is your metalcore band and Sunrise Skater Kids is your pop punk band. Which band are you the most proud of and why?
JA: Sunrise Skater Kids for sure. I think they have the best songs and they seem to do well with my audience. I’m not sure why I’m referring to them in the third person.
SE: Making YouTube videos means you’re a very small fish in a very large sea. How were you able to differentiate yourself initially?
JA: In my opinion, most of what I’ve created has already been done countless times by others and nothing I do is all that special. However, I enjoy doing what I do and try to not focus too hard on competing to be “the best YouTuber.” However, in the realm of alternative music, I think I’m one of the first to offer this type of comedy. I simply found an empty void and filled it.
SE: Many YouTube celebrities often struggle to make a return from their videos. Can you explain how your business model works?
JA: I pull money from multiple places. I have YouTube ad revenue (which really isn’t that much), merchandise sales, music sales, Patreon support and contract work (like when I went on Warped Tour for Fearless Records). When I take on a big project, I usually get it funded through Indiegogo since I could never afford to fund the entire things myself. In addition to that, the only reason why I’m able to do YouTube full-time is because I’m very frugal and live well below my means. Unless you have a million subscribers, this line of work isn’t too glamorous. I work 60-80 hours a week, and I have an apartment, a car, some furniture, my work equipment, and my cats. That’s about it.
SE: What was the experience networking with musicians that you’re a fan of?
JA: For the first three minutes, it’s pretty surreal. After that, the stigma wears off pretty quickly and they only exist to you as a normal human, with the same problems that any other human would have. By the end of Warped Tour, I had become good friends with August Burns Red, among other bands. When I first picked up guitar in middle school, I would learn their songs because they were one of my all-time favorite metal bands. Now we just harass each other and send inappropriate text messages. It’s pretty weird, I’ll admit.
SE: If YouTube didn’t exist, what would you be doing?
JA: To everyone’s surprise, I actually have a degree in biology with a health sciences concentration. I was lined up to go to medical school, so I guess I would be doing something like that (not to say that I wouldn’t come back to it in the future). This gig, however, is much more fun.
SE: In your Indiegogo fundraiser, one of the perks costed $1 billion and that would enable you to overthrow a government of a small country. How did you envision that panning out if a very generous donor was able to provide that kind of money?
JA: I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking this through. First I would need to establish myself in the country and win over the hearts of the people to prevent a future uprising, possibly by providing jobs and medical aid. I might even get some people in the government on my payroll. From there, I would just play the waiting game and wait for the opportunity to stage a coup d’état. With the money I raised, I could contract some mercenaries (possibly ex-military) to make sure things transitioned smoothly. We wouldn’t resort to violence too often, but I would definitely use my power as the new dictator to execute anyone that questioned my intentions or stood up against me. I see myself as a good leader.
SE: Aside from comedy sketches, you have two successful video series: “Every Vocalist” and “Misheard Lyrics”. Are there any other series that you have in the works or ideas you want to explore?
JA: I have a new series called “Jarrod Knows Everything” that I’ve been putting together. I’m not sure what it will be just yet, but it will basically just be vlog-based episodes that focus on a certain topic. Could be Internet piracy, could be a character from Star Wars. Who knows. Aside from that, it would be cool to one day direct a legit web series.
SE: How far can you throw a regulation-size baseball?
JA: As far as my poor little arms could manage. I’m not very good at coordinated physical activities.