Despite his newfound career as the frontman of a punk rock band, David Liebe Hart needs a second to think of his favorite punk band.
"What's the one that has the bunny rabbit on it?" he asks whoever else is packed into his touring van. "182 is my favorite one." That person quickly corrects him. "Blink 182."
Clearly Hart is new to the punk scene, but he isn't to the spotlight. He spent years as the host of L.A.'s The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program public access show before becoming the resident puppeteer of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the bizarro Cartoon Network sketch show created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Now he can be spotted on Adult Swim as a frequent guest on Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly's Tim and Eric spinoff).
That's his professional life. In his personal life, Hart is a fervent Christian Scientist, name-dropping the church at every possible moment during his interview with the City Paper. He's also very public about the time he was abducted by aliens, specifically, the Korendians. They're his favorite extraterrestrial race.
Now Hart fronts the David Liebe Hart Band, traveling across the country in a van with the much younger members of his act and other special guests. With so many people crammed into one vehicle, there wasn't much room for Hart's puppet companions. He could only bring one: the terrifying Orangey the Kitty Cat, a nightmarish reject from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Others, like Albert Hermann, were left behind.
"This has been a big-ass trip, long trip, longer than the other ones I've had before," Hart says. "I just hope my apartment's OK when I get back."
Hart lends his dramatic voice, typically used for the Country Western tunes of his past TV performances and albums, to his current musical project. He writes the lyrics, while fellow public access regular Adam Papagan (The Del Talk Show, Blessed Conversations) writes the music and plays guitar at the live shows. They've put out four records together.
"They're talented guys in my corner, but sometimes they get moody," Hart says of his bandmates. "We love each other but sometimes we have our ups and downs." But that's OK. As the guys from Three Dog Night told him (they're all Christian Scientists, according to Hart), when bands tour too much, they do get frustrated with each other. The Monkee's Davy Jones told Hart the same thing before he died. And he's heard that Blink 182 travel in separate vehicles to prevent infighting.
The David Liebe Hart Band's set includes odes to Reba McEntire, Korendian greetings, and, of course, Christian Science lessons. "I have three religious songs in there that teach positive thinking and constructive thinking and teaches people to persevere and to think positive and work hard and believe in their goals," Hart says. The shows, performed across the country, give him the opportunity to attract the youth of America back into the religious fold by speaking to kids in a language they understand. "I just wish the Christian Science Church would let me see over the youth program," he says, "because I have a huge following of young people — you can see on my Facebook — and I can help the church grow more."
It's unknown how many spiritual converts Hart has won over on tour, but he says that his T-shirts have been selling fast, and his fans have been welcoming. If only his family and church members were equally supportive. Hart has a history of being stood up, he complains, by members of the Christian Science church, his cousins Janet and Joy Joy, and even some of his more extraterrestrial pals. He recently spent three hours in a Christian Science reading room waiting for a guy who never showed up.
Touring has certainly been a challenge, but Hart knows it's worth it. "I'm getting very tired, but I'm happy to make the kids happy."