Yahoo News – How to Become a Rock Star

By JoCo February 17, 2008

Yahoo news has just posted a great little video piece about me – there’s some concert footage in there mixed with interviews, me walking around the hood, working in my studio. The whole thing is cleverly done as if I am an actual musician (they fell for it!). The fabulous “jumping in the air at the end of a concert” shot is my favorite. They also use the phrase “Godfather of Geek Rock,” which is pretty awesome, though really it might be more accurate to say I’m the “second cousin” or the “weird uncle.” At any rate, watch and enjoy, and thank you Yahoo News:


Shruti says

Haha, "to make matters worse, his wife had just given birth to their daughter."

Mark Gordon says

With all due respect, Al Yankovic has dibs on being the "Weird Uncle of Geek Rock".

Roman V says

Geek-folk-rock is a better label IMHO, but anyway congradulations on making it on Yahoo, I actually did not know this segment existed. Furthermore, the title seems to suggest there is a step by step guide. I can has?

Sean says

Y!news from the future:

His ego inflated, a wild-eyed JoCo makes his live audience "an offer they can't refuse."

In assuredly unrelated news, JoCo reports sales of t-shirts, CDs, and other assorted "merch" up 1986% in the past week.

Hepcat says

I'm pretty sure being the Godfather of any music form requires a rhinestone floor-length cloak and a pompadour. But I think that would be a good look for you!

Hepcat says

And let me add: cool video!

Mark Gordon says

Imagine finding a half-monkey, half-pony head in your bed.

I'd be thrilled!

selene says

that what really nice,
i'm tall and blonde, and im addictited to your music i guess that makes me your tall blonde grupie!

Trampas says

I want one of those half pony-half monkey monster plushes!!!!

Congrats on the yahoo recognition!

eliannrad says

Some things I have to say:

That was a cool video, even if you didn't make it, Mr. Jonathan Godfather of Geek Rock Coulton

You should mass-produce that squid-looking half pony-half monkey monster stuffed animal. I'd SO buy one for like, $5. (in New York dollars, that's $9.99)

I liked that shot when your forearm filled most of the screen, around 1:31. ;)

I am also blonde, and somewhat tall for my age!

And you must really like that pink/salmon colored shirt you always seem to be wearing!

Colleenky says

Brian Richardson? Do we know that guy from someplace? Hmmm.

Gina says

Yay! Great story! I like how it peeled back the layers and we got to see the REAL JoCo. AND the monkey-pony monster that I made him was in a shot, behind the cool horse head - monkey legged one. It's the monkey centaur, with a yellow pony body. Squee!

And I'm blonde; look for me wearing stilts at the next concert (Birchmere!).

Jeska says

That was really awesome. I think it's quite an honor to be declared the God Father of Geek Rock.
Haven't been around the site in a while, so it's nice to see the awesome updates. Continue being an internet rock star!

Cambiata says

No offense to JoCo, but I think They Might Be Giants are the Godfather's of Geek Rock.

Otherwise, good article!

James says

Godfather or not, shouldn't a pen protecter be part of the costume? It was a great video, like a mini Biography on the the Biography channel. I can just see your parents trying to sell your flame retardant footy pajama's on ebay.

Mark Gordon says

No offense to TMBG, but I'm not sure you can have two guys be the Godfathers of Geek Rock simultaneously.

Len says

I think that TMBG and Coulton ought to have a cage match to decide who is the real Godfather of Geek Rock.

Len says

Oh, great article, BTW!

JP says

I would feel kind of bad if all you see when you look out at your audience in Alexandria is guys that look like me.

I like to think of you as the weird uncle of rock that people talk about in hushed tones.

Like someone that parents use to frighten their childern.

"If you don't cut your hair and get a job, you will wind up like that Jonathan fellow."

and the kids secretly want to do just that.

Hey let me know when I can buy a half pony half monkey action doll. :)
and congratulations on the interview.

Nadine "CupcakeAndTea" O. says

I saw some portal playing :)

Demetrius says

"eliannrad Says:
You should mass-produce that squid-looking half pony-half monkey monster stuffed animal. I’d SO buy one for like, $5. (in New York dollars, that’s $9.99)"

You can *make* one for around $5. Actually, you can make 2. The "PonyPus" is the Danny DiVito twin to the "Ponkey" (Ahhnold twin). It's fun to do. And, it provides homes to some of those poor Beanie Babies languishing in thrift stores.

Gary says

Hey the accompanying article was written by Kevin Sites. From war zone, to JoCo. Awesome.

Joey Buzzsaw says

Oh, JoCo, this is fantabulous! When are you touring, because I wanna see you live!

SaintPeter says

Does anyone know which RE:Your Brains video they kept showing clips from? I don't think I've seen that one and it looked well done.

@Joey -
Shows Tab on this site:
I suggest you sign up for his mailing list on the shows site, since that was how I was able to actually get tickets to his show before it sold out.

Eventful Page:
You can demand a show in your area. He uses this site to determine where his next shows will be held.

Joel says


It is from DragCon I believe

spambrian says

# Colleenky Says:
# Brian Richardson? Do we know that guy from someplace? Hmmm.

Yeah, that's me ... the guy from Dragon*ConTV. No Joel ... not DragCon, you have fun at that convention without me :)

Folks from Dragon*ConTV ( ) shot the Re Your Brains video and the concert footage used in the piece. I'm really happy with how the video turned out (Robert Padavick & the production team at Yahoo! News did a fine job).

Joel says

@spambrian -


DoubtingThomas says

With all due respect, I'm very skeptical that you are earning more than a software engineer from music sales. To be clear, I doubt you can sustain that sort of income *consistently* as a *net* profit. If I am wrong, and you are really able to do that, then more power to you, but I remain very skeptical!

Music ain't exactly the ticket to the rich house...unless maybe your name is Sting or Bono. ;-)

JeTmAn says

To DoubtingThomas: Just how much do you think software engineers make? I don't think it's all that farfetched that JoCo might be pulling down $60k-$70k a year from this wacky music thing.

Gary says

JoCo also doesn't just record music to post to this site. Besides touring and merch, consider the for hire work he gets, PopSci, he was on the Hodgman audiobook, Portal.

I'm not sure he ever stops working. He has to pay for his beard grooming.

Liz says

"At 36, he was bearing down on middle age — "
thanks, yahoonews, for making me feel shitty about my 38th birthday this past week.
I was really impressed that they managed to give a sense of all of the fan-generated awesomeness in a short piece.

Jake says

Cool little piece. I showed it to my wife so she wouldn't continue to say that I was digging a musician that was "made up".

"JoCo" doesn't sound like real name, after all...

Mr.Nobody says

Nice article. Never thought Yahoo News would ever be... good.

Mr.Nobody says


LOL @ Jake!

Radek says

Finally some great web TV content. well done.

Cody says

Nice one. It's nice to see you getting interviewed and brought to the masses more so they can see your awesomeness and individuality. Don't worry though, you will eventually subside to conformity like the rest of us. ^_^

Russ W says

Great little mini-bio, Jonathan. The Rock Star show-stopping jumps were great, and it's always interesting to burrow a little deeper into your psyche. When does your soul get released under CC for third-party experimentation and retooling? Finally, a brief shout out to the uncredited appearance of Paul (and Storm, mostly off camera). They folk rock. You folk rock. We all folk 'n rock.

Andrea says

@liz, don't feel bad, just quit your job and become a rock star!

@roman v, JoCo actually has posted a sort of step by step...

Neil says

Just caught that article (was coming here to leave a note about it, then saw this). Great article. And, given that I caught it at 6 am, towards the end (but not quite there) of a long night of writing code, the article was tres apropos. Where's my guitar?...... :-)

CarrieP says

Code monkey like M*A*S*H? Sweet.

Bob says

What a great story to read while sitting in my cube hating relational databases. I'm impressed with your balls to go do what you want. It's pretty inspirational and thanks for the boost maybe. I'm moving toward a goal of my own. Win or lose I'll have no regrets.


Demetrius says

The story's linked on Yahoo! News' main page with a nice picture! It's gotta be weird to click on the news and see yourself!

"No sex or drugs, but plenty of rock star success for former software engineer

Jonathan Coulton risked it all by quitting his job as just another "code monkey" to become the Godfather of "Geek Rock."

Demetrius says

...And, I don't know *where* they got the idea that there's no sex or drugs involved. Maybe they don't feel so fantastic on the first of May...

Dan Coulter says

Not only is your photo on the front page of Yahoo News, but your head is about 75x the size of John McCain's head (yes, I did the math).

Roman V says

@ Andrea, oh I am well aware, I just meant that the title at hand seemed to suggest there would be a guide, yet I saw nothing of a "how" from Yahoo...

Rob O'Keefe says

Rock on Johnathan ... !!!

Just saw your piece on Yahoo. All I can say is that I have great admiration for people like yourself with the courage to follow their dreams. Very inspirational ...


Jonnie Geetahr says

It's interesting to see how many haters there are commenting on the article on the Yahoo site - calling Jonathan a "flash in the pan" or a "skimmer off the masses". Why can't people just be happy for the man? I mean seriously. I can see arguing about whether he is the Godfather of Geek Rock, but just dissing his talent outright is pitiable.

The other major gripe you see in the comments there is the code monkeys of the world protesting the aspersions casted on their careers! Nice!

Demetrius says

So you want to be a Geek Rock star?
Just quit the job that provides your pay
Then get an acoustic guitar
Release a brand new song ev'ry seventh day

When each tune you upload
Makes your fame expode
You'll hit the Mother Lode

Then it's time to go on tour
Draw in ragin' fans with lyrics so obscure
You're your own record company
With volunteers who'll sell
JoCo wear

And when on Doctor D
You make the Funny Five
You'll know you're Still Alive

The songs we paid
for encoded as LAME
The one that closes that game
Just a little insane.

Yahoo! ...There's finally
Some public acclaim.
And, you know who you are!
You're a Geek Rock star!

( La lala lalala, la la lalala, la la lalaaala!)


Tad says

Bad enough I sang "Chiron Beta Prime" through the holidays... and "Tom Cruise Crazy" through January...

Now I've had to formally swear to my wife that I won't quit my job. (And she threatened a certain set of gonads if the words "Code Monkey like you" cross my lips again. :O

Lenny says

Love your stuff. But, as far as Godfathers of Geek Rock go, you're behind Weezer, They Might Be Giants, and maybe Weird Al. The guy who wrote that article was obviously not a music guy, but maybe a tech guy that they let write a music article. Keep Geek Rocking anyhow.

Sherilee says

I am just wondering where I can find your music? I just saw you on Yahoo news and love the music.

Darryl says

Anybody have an archive of this? Lame Yahoo has lost it, undoubtably due to one of its flailing reorgs. :-{