Former David Letterman musical director and sidekick Paul Shaffer reassembled the original World's Most Dangerous Band, with whom he played for 22 years on CBS, for his newly released album on Rhino Records. Guests include Bill Murray, Darius Rucker and Shaggy.
He's also touring on weekends and trying his best to appease his label by using Twitter. "And it obviously doesn't make any sense to me," Shaffer, 67, who led the Letterman band for 33 years until the host's retirement in 2015, told Billboard in Toronto.
"I've got a Twitter account, but I don't want to share. One's private life, what happened to that? I'm doing my best though and I'm posting."
He also made a promo video for Funny or Die.
"You know I was in that movie, This Is Spinal Tap. I had a small role," he said, as if it's some obscure film, not the quotable classic that is so comically close to reality. "Kick my ass," I say, so he knows I don't live under a rock.
"So I did that. I recreated it as if the guy, Artie Fufkin, was promoting my record and you can see it on Funny or Die, and my daughter, who's 24, plays the little fangirl in it and she's terrific.
"I'm trying all the social media and everything," he adds. "It's interesting. I can see what Nile Rodgers had for breakfast."
Shaffer mentions Rodgers because he had just finished hosting the Live Music Industry Awards at Canadian Music Week, where he got a bit of a surprise on stage when he was given The Global Creators Award, created by Rodgers.
"You have been an inspiration to myself, and millions of music and television fans throughout the world," Rodgers said in a video message. "When we think of David Letterman, we think of Paul Shaffer. Twenty-three years of entertainment and creativity on one of the top-rated TV shows in history."
"It's just a made-up award but it was very thoughtful of them," the self-deprecating Shaffer told Billboard in a hurried five-minute interview in a backstage corridor reminiscent of Spinal Tap's 'Hello Cleveland' bit.
The award has actually only been given to two people before, and they are not names pulled out of a hat: Tony Visconti and Spike Lee.
For his new album, Paul Shaffer & the World's Most Dangerous Band, released in April, the entire lineup from the CBS days came out to record: drummer Anton Fig, bassist/vocalist Will Lee, guitarist/vocalist Felicia Collins, guitarist Sid McGinnis, and horn players Tom Malone, Frank Greene on horns, and Aaron Heick.
"Everybody came back together and it was really natural," Shaffer says.
He also recruited guest singers Dion, Jenny Lewis, and Valerie Simpson. Shaffer, Lee and Collins also sing lead.
"The main thing for me was the main producer," says Shaffer. "I hired a guy whom I used to work for when I was a studio musician in the '70s. He would call me for dates. Richard Gottehrer is his name and he produced the Go-Go's back in the day and way before that, with his partners, he wrote 'My Boyfriend's Back,'" Shaffer says.
He doesn't mention that Gottehrer co-founded Sire Records with Seymour Stein, the man who encouraged Shaffer to make this record in the first place, and the label Artie Fufkin worked for. His last album was back in 1993, Paul Shaffer & The Party Boys of Rock 'n' Roll, on SBK/Capitol. His debut was 1988's Coast to Coast, also released on Capitol but just under his name.
Shaggy appears on the jazzy instrumental "Cast Your Fate to the Wind"; Lewis appears on The McCoys cover "Sorrow"; and Rucker and Don Was show up for the Timmy Thomas classic "Why Can't We Live Together."
Shaffer performs at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury, N.Y., Saturday and continues touring U.S. theaters through June.
"Luckily for an old guy like me, they made it easy. I go out and do two, three shows on the weekend and then go back," Shaffer says.