Atticus Shaffer talks about Season 6 of “The Middle”

Photo credit: Vince Trupsin

Atticus Shaffer plays the role of the quirky yet loveable Brick on ABC’s hit sitcom “The Middle”. The series also stars actress Patricia Heaton and actor Neil Flynn and was recently picked up for a seventh season. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Atticus prior to the season 6 finale where he discussed his involvement with the show since its original pilot, his thoughts on the Heck Families changing dynamics and what he does to keep himself busy outside of the show.

Adam Lawton: What has it been like for you having been involved with the show since the original series and now going into the finale of season 6?
Atticus Shaffer: Even though this is the finale of season 6 going back to that first original pilot I have been with the show now around 7 or 8 years. This was one of those projects that from the very start I wanted to work out. I have hoped for the best from the very start. Even after the first pilot didn’t get picked up there was this lingering that it wasn’t over. After sometime a second pilot was put together and we got it that time. There was this energy on set where everyone where we were looking forward to the next episode and subsequently the next season. We always just kept moving forward. Now with season 6 over we are past the point of syndication so we were all thinking that this could potentially be it. To find out we got picked up for another season is a huge blessing. I am really excited not only for what the writers have in store for Brick but for the show as a whole.

AL: Having played the Brick character for so long now what type of things do you do to still challenge yourself as an actor in that role?
AS: You always hear about people getting stuck in a certain character and being unable to break away from that. It’s something that is very true. When you are playing a character eight months out of the year things almost start to become robotic. Some days you might be shooting scenes where you don’t have a lot going on so you’re just sort of going through the motions and then you go home. It’s great when the writers throw me a bone because I completely dedicate myself to what they have done. It’s me just focusing on portraying the character the best I can. Something that I think has helped from the very beginning is my voice over work which I do outside of the show. I love animation and fortunately a lot of those studios are in close proximity to where we shoot “The Middle”. I often will get done working on the series and then go down the street and get to do some voice over work.  For the first three years of the show I was also doing voice work on “Frankenweenie” at the same time. Starting during season two I was also doing “Fish Hooks” as well. I have what I like to call my “pallet cleansers” which keeps me fresh. I have done a lot of cool voice roles which has helped me during my in between times on the series. I just found out recently that I will be doing voice work for one of the main five characters on a new Disney series which will be announced in the near future. It’s a really great opportunity that I am very excited about. I have my live action series family and now I have my voice over series family. It’s really great to be a part of both.

AL: How has Brick in season 6 compared to the Brick we have seen in previous season?
AS: This season Brick has matured quite a lot both emotionally and mentally. Instead of being the eye in the storm character whose very matter of fact he puts more work into things now. It’s cool to be able to see Brick mature and now he of course has a girlfriend. Brick is now finding the people who understand him. While his family still of course understands him he has been able to explain to them more about his thoughts and feelings. But again Brick is also finding social circle to where he can talk about the same types of things outside his home. It’s interesting to see him mature but at the same time he’s still classic Brick.

AL: With Axl and Sue both being out of the house now going into season 7 how do you feel the family dynamics will change in the Heck household?
AS: With both of those characters out of the house I had been thinking of what that would mean for Brick and how the writers would approach things. This can be sort of a blessing and a curse. It certainly can open up the door for a number of different story lines however the family might not be as close of a unit with less people now so that can certain impact things. I think it would be cool if Brick continues to mature and keeps finding people he can relate to which ultimately helps him develop a really tight knit friend group that he can be with when he is not at home.

AL: Are you able to bring these types of ideas to the writers for consideration?
AS: In the very beginning the writers had specific story lines that they wanted the characters to follow. Around season 4 most of those lines had been used and they start looking for different ideas and input. Every year I sit down with the creators of the show and talk about the plans for the character. I like to be aware of what’s going on with Brick so we talk about some of the episodes and then I give my ideas of what I think might be a cool way to go with

things. Most of the time they may not use the ideas but every once in awhile they give me something and I get really excited. It’s one of those things that can be tough but at the same time its fun to see what they come up with.

AL: Where do you feel fans will be left at the close of season 6?
AS: I think it’s one of those thing where if we hadn’t been officially picked up for a 7th season it would be very easy for people to panic thinking we left them on a cliff hanger. From here on out I think the episodes will include everything but the kitchen sink. I think the end of this season will certainly leave people with questions however they can sort of breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there is more to come next season.

 

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Korn’s Ray Luzier and James “Munky” Shaffer talk about touring with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

The heavy metal group Korn is out on the road this summer as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The group recently released a tour version of their 2013 album “The Paradigm Shift” exclusively through Best Buy which features several new tracks along with some exclusive live tracks as well. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with drummer Ray Luzier and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer during the tours recent stop in Scranton, PA about the release and how they connect with the different crowds they perform for each night.

Adam Lawton: When you are out on a tour like the Mayhem Festival is there any one thing that is the same from day to day?
Ray Luzier: We hear the same bands every day. (Laughs) What’s really great is that we get to play to diverse crowds every show. There are people who have seen us 27 times and there are people who are just seeing us that day for the first time. I’m not sure about constants but I try to stay in a similar routine from day to day.

AL: With the band playing all over the world how do you go about connecting with each of the crowds you perform for?
James “Munky” Shaffer: Every audience is different and that’s really the beauty of it. Like Ray said before you get people who have seen you a lot and you get people who have never seen you before. We are playing the same songs night after night so we try and keep that thought in our heads so we go out and put on a great show every night. We want them to really enjoy the show and to come and see us again.
RL: We may be super tired from traveling or whatever before we hit the stage but once we are up there we are energized bythe crowd. We are fans of music ourselves and still go out and see a lot of bands and buy their merchandise and what not. This is Korn’s 20th year as a band and I have been touring myself just as long. It never gets old. We are still excited to play every time we go up there.

AL: Have you guys seen any bands on this tour that you have really become fans of?
JS: Trivium is a band that has really impressed me. Their songs and how they engage the audience has really impressed me. Those guys are super tight professionally which is really inspiring. I know they have been around a few years but to see that level of commitment is really awesome. I was a mess at that stage of the game. (Laughs) I still am a mess but I have gotten a little better over time.
RL: I go out and check out the side stages from time to time and there are a lot of bands on this tour that have really impressed me. I watch bands like Mushroomhead and Miss May I and you can see just how hungry they are. They all have their own thing going for them which is really great to see.

AL: Can you give us some info on the tour version of your most recent album “The Paradigm Shift”?
JS: We initially released that album last year and after it was out for a couple months there were some songs that never got finished that we wanted to still work on. Jonathan went back in and wrote lyrics for these songs that we didn’t get to finish because we just ran out of time. They came out pretty good and we also decided to add some live tracks on the new release as well. When we are out on the road we like to have something in stores for people to buy that is fresh.

AL: Ray, how do you go about balancing your time in Korn and working with your newest project KXM?
RL: We all have side projects that we work on when we aren’t working on Korn. We just have a tremendous amount of music inside of us. I think these side projects are important for each of us to do as they help us remain creative. KXM is something that George, Doug and I have been talking about doing for years. The idea goes all the way back to my son’s first birthday party when we all were talking about jamming together. Scheduling is always the hard part as Korn is very busy but we hope to get some shows set up before the end of the year. Right now we are just working on videos and such.