Interview: Music Director/Drummer Todd Waetzig Discusses His Role In Blue Man Group Las Vegas
Since its inception in 1987, more than thirty-five million people have witnessed the imaginary, multi-sensory world of Blue Man Group, and it’s no surprise. The worldwide phenomenon combines an explosive arsenal of music, comedy and color that captivates audiences of all ages, languages and cultures.
Perhaps no venue offers more intimacy and spectacle than the specially designed Blue Man Theater at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, which features exclusive performance content that can’t be seen in any other Blue Man show.
Although the sight and sound is spectacular the heart of the show is the Blue Man character, which creates an immediate connection with the audience and a unique experience at each performance. The Blue Men do not speak but their band is considered their “tribe.” Contributing to the energetic and immersive sounds that BMG creates.
The Luxor band includes music director and drummer Todd Waetzig, who’s been with BMG for more than twenty years. I recently spoke with him about his role in Blue Man Group and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did you become involved in Blue Man Group?
Todd Waetzig: I was in Boston going to school at The Berklee College of Music and was in a rock band that played around town and wrote music. The guitarist in the band was also friends with one of the drummers from the Blue Man show in Boston and one night, he came to see us play at a local bar. He really liked the way I played. At the time, they were looking for a substitute drummer to fill in some shows and he invited me down for an audition. I went down and met some of the guys from the band and they asked me to do some crazy things on the drums to see if I could do it. Shortly after that they invited me to play drums with Blue Man.
Had you heard about Blue Man Group prior to being invited to audition?
TW: I knew a little about Blue Man but never knew exactly what it was. When I saw the show for the first time, I remember sitting there in the middle of the theater watching what was going on. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was overwhelming in a really cool way and I was completely blown away.
What can fans expect from seeing The Blue Man Group’s Las Vegas performance at The Luxor?
TW: That’s a difficult question to answer because everyone has a different take on it. I’ve known many people who’ve seen the show multiple times and still don’t really know how to describe it. The Blue Men don’t speak. Everything they do to communicate is done through facial expressions, body language and music. It’s left open to a lot of different interpretations. Although the Blue Men characters are alien in certain ways, the show is relatable to many different types of people. It’s not about description. It’s a visceral experience about feeling it out and taking it all in.
What do you enjoy most about the show?
TW: It’s simple. I love to play music with these people. We have an incredible amount of talent and some of the best musicians in the world playing in this show, but they’re also some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
You’ve performed so many BMG shows. How do you keep things fresh? Is there any room for improvisation?
TW: Definitely. The Blue Men interact quite a bit with the audience and the music is written in a way to be flexible and accommodate those changes. The show is constantly evolving and we’re always trying to make it even better. It’s about making sure you communicate with the other musicians on stage, feeling good about what you’re doing and then projecting that out to the audience.
Did you always know that a career in entertainment would be your calling?
TW: Always. Ever since I got my first KISS record I was obsessed with it. I was so young at the time and never gave it another thought. I never entertained the idea of becoming a professional athlete, lawyer or doctor. For me, it was always about music.
What do you think people can take away from the Blue Man Group’s Las Vegas experience?
TW: There’s no “message” to take with you but I think people leave the show with an energized feeling. It sounds kind of vague but I feel the energy when people walk out of the theater. If you come to see the Blue Man show you’re going to leave in a good mood. For me, this isn’t a job. It’s part of what I’ve been doing my whole life and what I share with the audiences I play for.