F chats with Eric Cherney, a Chicago Blue Man
By Jordan Scrivner
Onstage the Blue Man Group act almost like a single entity. But offstage they are individuals just like you and me. I sat down with Eric Cherney to get some insight into what it’s like to be a Blue Man.
Jordan Scrivner: How long have you been with Blue Man Group?
Eric Cherney: About four years now.
JS: What makes the Chicago show unique compared to other shows in other cities.
EC: Different shows are different sizes. Like, New York has the smallest space which has about 300 seats. Boston is about the size of Chicago but it’s a different kind of space. Chicago’s is really long and Vegas has about 1200 seats.
JS: And how many seats is the Chicago show?
JS: How much of the show is original?
EC: It’s all original. Just three guys, you know, over the years have just created this beast.
JS: How much special training is required?
EC: It’s about an eight-week training process. It’s about three weeks of character, music, and technical training. Then there’s two weeks of on-stage training, then there’s three weeks of training when you’re in the show.
JS: All fun?
EC: All fun. It’s all great. Very difficult, but all fun.
JS: Where is your background?
EC: Theater. I was an actor living in Boston and I went to school for theater and I could play the guitar and stuff like that but…
JS: Any prior drumming experience?
EC: No. When I was hired into training they gave me drum lessons, and when my skill was up to standard they put me (in the show.) It took about two to four months of training on the drums.
JS: I was reading about how a lot of Blue Man Group’s sound was inspired by a Brazilian band from the eighties called Uakti. Care to comment?
EC: I’ve never heard of that. I mean, Blue Man Group is more influenced by styles of music. Tribal music and beats. Kodo (Japanese drumming) is a great example. Not so much specific groups or musicians but styles of music. (Since the beginning) we’ve grown and found our own thing.
JS: Were you a part of a tour before?
EC: No. I did my training in New York and then I was brought here.
JS: There seems to be a lot of statements in the show about the rise of modern technology, specifically in scenes like the internet cafe scene. What, if anything, is the Blue Man Group’s position as the world gets more connected and technology gets more and more prevalent?
EC: You know the good thing about Blue Man Group is a lot of it is open to interpretation. But I think people do get a sense of isolation and miscommunication and sensory overload… just trying to take in too much information too fast, trying to learn too fast… You know (Blue Man Group) is not just entertainment. It’s definitely social commentary and art commentary and cultural commentary and interaction. A big thing (with Bllue Man Group) is interaction. Interaction with ourselves, interaction with the audience. A connection, you know? That’s something that’s very prominent in all the shows. How we each influence each other.
JS: So you’re sticking with this for a while?
EC: Yeah! I’ve been doing it for four years and hopefully will be doing it for at least four more. I mean, I love this job. It’s fun.