The mysterious world of David Liebe Hart
“Salame” (pronounced soll-a-may) would be Korendian for “hello” or “goodbye” (in this case, the former). You might already know that if you’ve made contact with a Korendian. However, it’s more likely you’ve heard it from David Liebe Hart on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! as performed in his informative song “Salame.”
A singer, songwriter, stand-up comedian, ventriloquist, actor, painter, devout Christian Scientist and alien abductee, Hart is hard to keep up with. Though if you focus on just the music, you’ll probably come around to the rest of it.
Hart’s website says that he “owes his fame to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim,” and it’s via the comedy duo’s string of Adult Swim variety shows that Hart’s singular video performances reached a wide audience. His skits often involve him interacting with a large puppet sidekick (e.g., Jason the Cat with a giant bowtie in “Salame”) against a cheesy green-screen backdrop, and include him performing a song in his operatic/loungey, nearly cartoonish voice.
Hart began playing music in the 1970s as a pianist at church. As his skills grew, he began writing his own hymns and working with the church choir. He released his first of 17 or so albums (some solo, some with collaborator Adam Papagan), Christian Hymns and Songs of Praise, in 2004. Though his songwriting stems from the church, Hart’s songs and videos span a wide array of interests and experiences, including extraterrestrial ones.
“I have a deep love for trains and astrology and outer space,” Hart said during a recent telephone interview. “And I had experienced the UFO phenomenon, and I’m expressing it in my songs that it’s real and out there.”
A recurring theme in Hart’s work is his interest in the aforementioned Korendians, extraterrestrials hailing from the planet Korendor that people who believe in such things say have been visiting Earth throughout the last century.
“I’ll tell you something deep,” Hart said. “On my Caucasian side, I’m related to Orville and Wilbur Wright—they’re originally from Ohio—and my grandmother told me that the government had the Korendians working with [the Wright brothers] for the back engineer technology to make the airplane. Then she told me I’d meet a Korendian face to face, and right after she died in 1980, there was a beautiful woman who looked like Bettie Page, had milky white skin and gray eyes, and her pupil had a light in it. Then she took off her shoes—because I still didn’t believe that she was an extraterrestrial—[and] her main toe was in the middle instead of on the side like ours, and I knew I was dealing with something that’s not from this dimension.”
Hart’s newest album, Space Ranger, is a collaboration with Jonah “Th’Mole” Mociun, and combines Hart’s vocals and Mociun’s equally disconcerting synth beds. “Ghost Frog” sounds like a Halloween tale from the 1980s, one that details Hart’s experience with, well, a ghost frog.
“My dad and I shared a 300-gallon fish tank that was in my room,” Hart said. “We had tadpoles, frogs, blue gills mixed in with goldfish, and my sister did not feed my fish while I was away at Adventures Unlimited and they all died. I had to clean the fish tank out, and this image of a frog just stared at me making a frog sound and, lo and behold, I had a figure of a dead reptile staring me in the eyes. He haunted me. I’d do my homework, he’d be looking over me, and when I’d be in the living room listening to music, he’d be there staring at me, and I said, ‘Wow, now I’ve experienced a ghost frog.’ And as long as I lived in that house at 117 Westwood Drive, that frog haunted me and let me know it was pretty cold that I let him die.”
Hart will be performing selections from the new record, and potentially a little stand-up, at the Maltese on Nov. 17. The tour poster promises “songs, puppets, laughter, awkwardness, surprises,” and, with his varied canon of weirdness, Hart will have plenty to share.