Interview: Voice actor Jon Bailey from Honest Trailers at MomoCon 2015 pt 1

Chances are you know who Jon Bailey is, but just don’t realize it. Not only has Bailey been doing voice over and voice acting work in movie trailers, video games (most notably as the Council Spokesperson in the XCOM franchise), and animation for several years, he is well known as the “Epic Voice” of Honest Trailers on YouTube.

At MomoCon 2015, Bailey took time out of his day to sit with TAM and talk about Honest Trailers, his own YouTube channel, and his career in voice acting.

This is a two-part interview! To read part two, click here.

Jon Bailey poses with XCOM cosplayer Brian Mead at MomoCon 2015

Jon Bailey poses with XCOM cosplayer Brian Mead at MomoCon 2015


How has MomoCon been for you?

So far it has been good! Nobody crazy that tried to get hair follicles to clone me or anything like that.

So, you seem to have a pretty sizable fan-base now. Has your popularity because of the Honest Trailers been a surprise to you?

YES! It really was. Honestly, I thought the job was just another YouTube request, because I had my own YouTube channel and people would contact me when they would find me and say “You’re really good with this… could you help me with that…” I usually, if I had the time would say “yeah, sure.” When Screen Junkies contacted me, I thought it was the same thing. To be honest, I didn’t even look at the views to see how popular they were, and they were already pretty popular back then. In the millions of views. To me that was pretty good. Now, the views are insane! I think the Frozen one has like 24 million plus. They get like three million a week and just continue to grow. It just continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger… now we have our own official San Diego Comic Con panel this year!

I always thought, if I did get on a Comic Con panel, which I’d always wanted to do, it would be on a voice actor panel. I’ve been doing this stuff for six years, and I’m already on a Comic Con panel. I mean, the size of the crowd in that Honest Trailers MomoCon panel that we just did shocked me. I thought, “It’s Sunday morning… it’s 11 a.m… people are hungover and were up all night…” but yet, they packed the room! It was freaking amazing!

When you do your work with the Honest Trailers team(s), do you have a contract with them?

No, it’s just job to job. We fly by the seat of our pants… kind of a “bro code.”

 

As a voice over artist, are you a part of the Screen Actor’s Guild?

Yes.

Do you need to be a part of guild in order to do what you do?

For YouTube? No, because it’s basically a collaboration. The way I kind of do it, because I improvise a bit, it’s kind of like helping write with the script. I have my YouTube channel, they have their channel, so they link to me in video descriptions, and they’ve annotated me before, so it helps grow my own channel on the side. So, it’s like a back and forth kind of thing. If it was an “official voice-over” job, they probably wouldn’t want to do it because it would be too expensive.

It’s weird with the multimedia stuff because they are still working on how to work out residuals and is it technically voice over work or is it on camera work? I don’t know all the legalities and all the issues of how that works. It’s not something I auditioned for because it was just like “oh, this guy seems to be cool, let’s work with him and make videos together.”

Now, for real trailers, those jobs go through the Screen Actor’s Guild. If you’re doing non-union trailers then A) you’re probably getting ripped off and B) someone is doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. The only downside to doing movie trailers, there are no residuals in that type of work, whereas in animation and even in most commercials, as long as it’s running you get paid some kind of residual. So, yeah, those are the kind of jobs you want to get, the kind that continue to pay. I’ve only got a handful of residual jobs. I did one for Jimmy Kimmel and every time someone decides to download that episode or anytime that episode re-airs over breaks, I get paid a little money. But, the longer it’s on the air, the smaller those checks will get. A lot of the biggest voice actors live off of the residuals if they’re not currently working.

There was a movie that came out a couple of years ago about trailer voice-over actors called In a World. What was your opinion of it? Was it an accurate representation of the business?

It was very, very close to the truth. I mean, obviously they put a lot of movie elements in it to make it a romantic comedy story instead of a straight up reflection of the business, but it’s absolutely true. There are very few women in promo work. You might hear women voice overs on Oxygen or Lifetime or some of the kid’s stuff like in the movie, but yeah it’s actually 100% true. It’s not fair at all. In any part of the business, there’s so much more work for men than for women.

One of the other voice actor MomoCon guests and I were talking about that last night. She said that for every 20 male roles, there’s like two or three for the women. It seems like the handful that are getting hired are from one little group, so the others, who aren’t a part of that group have to work three times as hard to book anything.

The cool thing about that movie is that I know a few of those people, and they actually are playing who they are in real life. Marc Graue is in a scene where there is a big party. He’s the guy with the glasses and a ponytail. He’s actually a voice actor and director and he works out of Marc Graue Studio in Los Angeles. The voice of CBS, Joe Cipriano was in that group, playing himself. Fred Melamed, the guy who plays the retiring voice actor, really is a voice actor in real life. They used a lot of voice actors for the film, which is cool I think.

In terms of vocal work, what has been the most difficult job that you have ever done?

Oh boy. When I worked on the very first XCOM game. There was a character called The Elder, the final boss at the end. His voice required two separate voices to record. I had to literally read all of his lines twice in two different voices. I had just left a convention in Dallas and my voice was in really bad shape.  All I had was that one Sunday to go from Dallas to Los Angeles to rest and then we recorded on Monday.

Click the PLAY button below to hear the rest of Bailey’s answer to this question:

 

Are there specific tricks or exercises that you do to maintain your voice health?

Click the PLAY button below to hear Bailey’s answer to this question:


To read part two of the TAM interview with Jon Bailey, click here.

Interview: Voice actor Jon Bailey from Honest Trailers at MomoCon 2015 pt 2

This is a two-part interview! To read part one, click here.

Chances are you know who Jon Bailey is, but just don’t realize it. Not only has Bailey been doing voice over and voice acting work in movie trailers, video games (most notably as the Council Spokesperson in the XCOM franchise) and animation for several years, he is well known as the “Epic Voice” of Honest Trailers on YouTube.

At MomoCon 2015, Bailey took time out of his day to sit with TAM and talk about Honest Trailers, his own YouTube channel, and his career in voice acting.

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Do you ever worry that any of the satire videos you do might cost you work from the movie and gaming industries?

That was a concern, and I’ve tried very hard, and the bigger Honest Trailers gets, the harder it’s going to be to differentiate the Honest Trailers from my career. Honest Trailers is not part of my career. It’s part of my YouTube thing that I am trying to make into… maybe a backup job. You can make some good money from YouTube. Anybody that is averaging over a million views per video is going to make some decent money.

I have my own YouTube channel that I’m trying to grow where I do movie reviews in the movie trailer voice, because that makes perfect sense. I do this thing called imitation gaming where I talk like a character who is playing their own game, like John Madden playing Madden NFL. I thought those were unique concepts, because while I am not a great gamer, I can do voices, and it’s a funny excuse to do impressions. It’s entertaining, and that’s what the point of YouTube is: to be entertained. I mean, sometimes it’s informational, but mostly it’s entertainment. I do some voice over tips because people ask me a lot of questions and then I don’t have to worry about FAQ’s anymore. I just have them check out a playlist and their question is answered.

So, I saw the Honest Trailers as a way to grow my channel. Right now I only have 74,000 subscribers, and while most people think that’s really good, Honest Trailers has 5 million. I don’t compare myself to those guys, but that’s the direction I need to go. So, anytime I can collaborate with any other YouTube channels to grow my own channel, I consider that not a part of my voice over career, even if it is voice related. It’s really me trying to grow my YouTube channel as a source of income. It’s still fun for me though, and hopefully it will remain that way.

But, back to the original question, I have to keep the YouTube and the voice-over work separate, because of my representation and the union. Also, I don’t want people to lump in Honest Trailers with my main career because I don’t want people to think that I’m not a real voice actor and that I just do the “fake” movie trailer voice. If you listen to my real work vs. my Honest Trailers work, you can hear the difference. The Honest Trailers voice has become his own character. He’s not just a narrator anymore. He’s this guy who has emotions and gets mad when the movie’s bad; he questions things in the movie and breaks character a lot.

My first manager thought that I should be branded as the Honest Trailers voice, but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want movie studios to see me as “oh, he’s THAT guy.” I mean, other than a comedy or two, that won’t work. It’s a gimmick, really. It’s funny, but it’s not the best way to sell a movie. The point of a real movie trailer is to get people to go see the film, so I have to convince people that it is the best movie ever made.

Knock on wood, the satire hasn’t affected my career. Most of the people I’ve worked with have known and thought it was really funny.

 

 

So, what projects do you have that you’re really excited about?

I’m so excited, but I can’t say a thing about them. All I can say is that if you do love to hate the council guy from XCOM, then keep an eye and ear out. (EDITORS NOTE – The day after this interview, the new XCOM trailer was released on to the internet, and you can hear Jon Bailey a couple of times throughout the trailer, but his big moment comes toward the end of the video above.)

Also, there is a new sequel video game that I contributed a lot to. Fingers crossed, it is supposed to be announced at E3.

(EDITORS NOTE: This interview took place before E3, so Bailey couldn’t tell us the specifics about this project. During our interview he never mentioned the name of the property. Make sure to follow Jon Bailey on Facebook for more updates on this upcoming project!”

I’m not the lead role, but being a part of it is definitely something to add to my resume. My character gets to interact with the players more than normal in games. Usually in games, with this kind of character you hear a little bit from them, but all the game you’ll be hearing from my character, which is really cool. For me, it was another chance to expand my acting chops and get to do some really fun work.

There is nothing more fun than getting killed by a bunch of stuff or getting attacked in the games. They call those “barks” and “efforts.” In “efforts” it’s grunts and strains, and in “barks,” you’re yelling things like “MEDIC” or “GRENADE!” Anything you have to yell is considered a “bark.” We rocked through about 130 of those. With the other lines, we would do three or four of those at a time, because all I have is a list of lines and I am relying on the director to tell me what’s going on to make it make sense and how I should say it or how I should act. With the “barks,” it’s easy… bad things are happening.

When we talked to Crispin Freeman (see our interview here), he mentioned that most times you don’t know anything about your character…

Nope. Not a clue. There’s usually not a picture or anything. And if we don’t know anything about the franchise, then it’s even more difficult. But, in this game, the guys really wanted believable, normal voices because it really helps the player adapt and get into it. With my character, they said my voice really matched the character and that while I didn’t know what he looked like, they knew what was going on and it was perfect. “Trust us.”

The one thing I have learned about games is that usually you have to speak in a slower speed because they have to time it with the subtitles. Most games have subtitles, which is why they talk at an unusual speed. They have to make sure the audio fits into the time it takes you to read the subtitles. This time they were cool about speaking at a normal human speed. They wanted it to be a little more believable so a little bit quicker was fine. Usually I get asked to slow down because I am so used to doing fifteen second trailers. They give me a minute’s worth of information to squeeze into fifteen seconds. That is very difficult to do and I end up sounding like the guy at the end of the car commercials thats reading all the legal jargon.


Follow John Bailey on Facebook and check out his YouTube channel!

Interview – Go Robo! Go! at Momocon 2015

Go Robo! Go! is a a self-described  “Nerd Rock” band from Atlanta. They are colorful, loud, fun and convention favorites. Last month, at MomoCon 2015, the band took the stage in the Hero room and put on their first concert in 8 months. It was a triumphant return for Go Robo! Go! and marked the third time that they have played at MomoCon.

Go Robo! Go! is made up of Sarah Rose (Guitar and Vocals), Joe Dolan (Bass, Banjo, Keyboards), Shilo Dangerous (Guitar) and Chris Preziotti (Drums).  Their music styling is hard to define, but has the all the elements of punk, pop, and energy that make for a fun listening experience. The band’s Bandcamp catalog is filled with great, well produced tunes that both pull you in and make you want to know more about the band at the same time.  Go Robo! Go!’s latest EP, Survival Songs was released last year, and their newest music video for “Sins/Sacrifice” can be watched below!

TAM took the opportunity to sit down with Go Robo! Go! during MomoCon and get to know more about the band, it’s musical style, the Atlanta music scene, and their take on independent music publishing.

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Go Robo! Go!: (L to R) Chris Preziotti, Joe Dolan, Sara Rose, Shiloh Dangerous

Tell us a bit about who Go Robo! Go! is and how you came to be a band.

Sara Rose (SR): We started about 8 years ago. I was working at a music store right outside of Atlanta, and Joe and our old guitarist, Blake, were working there way before I started. I had heard through the grapevine at work that they had this band, and had been in a few bands before that and they had some demos on MySpace, which should show you how old the band is. I went and I listened to the songs on MySpace, downloaded them and thought they were awesome. But, they were like these eight, nine minute long songs…

Joe Dolan (JD): Far too long. Just terrible prog songs.

SR: So, being the dork I was, I decided that I was going to chop these songs up on my home recording software and make them into 3-minute pop songs. I didn’t tell them I was doing any of this and I went up to Joe, told him “Hey, I so I kinda made your songs shorter and wrote some verses to them. Can I come jam with you guys?”

JD: So, Rose shows up to practice and Blake was like “This is our new singer!” But, she came to practice and things went pretty well and we’re listening to the demos and trying to learn them, and Rose said “By the way, I booked some studio time next week…” and we were like… “Ok? Why?” So, we ended up recording our first little EP in 2007 and still play one of the songs.

SR: One of the songs, “American Poet,” off of that EP is still the fourth most popular song on Spotify for us. So, a lot of the songs have had weird staying power for how quickly they came together.

JD: It’s so interesting to me, because we’ve gone through so many different formulations of the band and we’ve had so many different ideas of what we wanted to be. It’s amazing to me that we can still find people who share our vision and may have even more of an idea of what our vision is than even we do. We’re just really happy and proud that we’ve been able to keep this passion project of ours going for as long as it has been.

You describe yourself as “Nerd Rock,” but what exactly does that mean?

JD: That’s because we’re dorks who play Rock and Roll.

SR: We love nerd culture. That’s the best way to explain it. It’s always been really receptive to our band. We always say MomoCon is our favorite place to play. It seems that every year we play at MomoCon, it’s like a big family reunion of all the people who like our band.

JD: We picked a dorky name… we picked some random throw away thing that we thought was really funny. But, it’s been really good for our identity.

SR: It wasn’t our own doing, but when we started playing shows, people would draw the robot that we picked for ourselves. They would come up with stories and ideas and fan art. There’s really a whole canon around it. If you listen to the records, it was unintentional, but there is sort of a little myth arc around the lyrics. There are references to old songs in new songs and different characters that sort of popped up. It’s become its own little universe.

 

As a local band, based out of Atlanta, how do you feel about the music scene here?

JD: We love Atlanta. We love the fact that we started playing these shows when we were teenagers, so didn’t have much of a chance to play some of the bigger venues. We’ve been really embraced by a lot of the people, and some of the larger local venues like The Masquerade and Drunken Unicorn.

SR: Places where you would never have expected a band like us to play. We’ve sort of carved our own niche, and I guess it’s kind of weird because we’ve always sort of seen ourselves as the black sheep of our little scene. We don’t have a lot of good connections or networks with a lot of the more typical pop/punk or hardcore bands. We just don’t do it… not to disparage it. They’ve always sort of looked at us like we’re weird because we sing about gay sex and robots and the apocalypse.

JD: I feel like whenever someone books us, they never know what to put us on. If they’re having a pop/punk night, ok “Go Robo! Go!.” If they’re having a hip hop or a metal show… “I don’t care, I don’t know… just… whatever, they’ll be fine.”

SR: Honestly, we’ve been embraced a lot more by the Atlanta Hip Hop community, sort of weirdly.

JD: There’s a hidden Go Robo! Go! EP that’s like a Rap/Rock thing that we’ve done that will NEVER get released.

SR: It was pretty bad. But, we’ve done some pretty crazy things. We’ve collaborated a lot with the Atlanta area rappers. If you dig hard enough through their mix tapes and stuff, you’ll see me doing vocals and them doing guest vocals on some of our stuff. I think Atlanta Hip Hop artists somehow understand how spastic we are.

JD: We just don’t take ourselves too seriously, and I feel like the same thing can be said about a lot of Atlanta Hip Hop. I think that’s really what music should be. I think if you get too caught up in what your genre is and what your persona or overall presentation is, then you lose a lot of the authenticity.

How do you feel about your MomoCon concert this year?

SR: We were all just talking about it. It’s in our probably top three favorite shows that we’ve ever played.

Chris Preziotti (CP): This is my first MomoCon experience. I have always supported Go Robo! Go!. Joe and I are childhood friends. I always played in bands as well, and we always jammed together, but never officially until I moved back from California and became Joe’s roommate. Their drummer went MIA and they needed a new one, so here I am.

JD: We were playing TimeGate and literally 48 hours beforehand, our drummer wasn’t responding, so I called up Chris and I asked if he wanted to be in the band.

CP: I said “That’s absolutely fine. Give me the set list and I will learn it.” I remember, I had just moved back from California, and I was going to the DMV tag office and I just had my earphones in, listening to Go Robo! Go! on loop. I dreamt about Sarah’s voice. I remember going to TimeGate and Joe was texting me while I was in my car. He comes out to find me, and I’m in the car practicing. This was my first show and I’m learning these nine songs and was playing live in 3 hours.

JD: It went phenomenally well!

As far as independent publishing, how is your approach to it?

SR: Streaming is an interesting thing. Our royalties from Spotify are minimal at best, but since we’ve been on Spotify and other streaming services, we’ve been available to a lot more people that wouldn’t have normally taken the time to listen to us. I can’t tell you how many times last night people were asking how they could listen to our music and within a few seconds they had pulled us up on their phone and favorited our album. Even 2 years ago they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

JD: The interesting part about it, especially with Spotify is that for a small independent artist, it can cost us $50-$100 a year just to have an album on there. So, it’s an expensive thing to do, but that’s something we’re more than happy to take on because we want people to enjoy our music for a long time. We do tell people that if they want to purchase our music, they can. Go to Bandcamp… we get more money that way. It’s going to cost the exact same, or you can pay what you want. People can consume it however they want. If they feel like supporting the band, they can. But, this is something that we’ve all put a lot of money into, and we’re happy to do it because it’s very much a passion project.

SR: We’re fortunate if 1,000, 2,000, 6,000 people own the album. That’s awesome to us. I think that we’re saying to people that if they like the album and really want to support us, you can buy a record and pay what you want for it. I think that with that prompt that we’ve given people, we’ve actually gotten a lot more revenue from kids that might not have bought it otherwise.

JD: We’ve never Kickstarted anything or asked for money. The independent publishing has always been something that we felt if we were going to do, we needed to take it on ourselves. We’ve had label offers before, but the control goes away when you take a record deal. These smaller labels are just not going to support our lifestyle in a way that we would want it to be supported. Once you sign that paperwork, that’s your job.

SR: That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be open to something besides Go Robo! Go! that wasn’t a passion project like this. I think for Go Robo! Go!, we’re so protective over creative control over this project; it would have to be a very specific set of circumstances for us to consider it.


Check out Go Robo! Go!’s BandCamp and Spotify pages, and follow them on Facebook.