Exclusive Interview: YouTube's Bonecage Makes Popular Parody Videos

YouTube is home to many talented artists and Jeff Dutton has found his creative niche as parody artist Bonecage. He creates clever parody songs for shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones. He also does songs about popular video games in a genre that can be compared to Weird Al. Yes, that Weird Al who is the parody king.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff AKA Bonecage and ask him a few questions about when and how he started writing songs. He has a loyal following of 17,000 but some of his videos have over 34,000 views.

We've included a few videos throughout the interview so you can get a feel for what Bonecage does and explore it all for yourself. It may be parody songs, but the lyrics in them take talent to write and sing.  Keep reading to see where he gets his inspirations and why he does it.

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TheThings (TH): Are you surprised by your success on YouTube? How long have you had your own channel?Bonecage (BC): I think I posted my first video in 2011, but I didn’t really start taking it seriously until maybe two or three years ago. I’m not really surprised by the degree of success I’ve had because I am surrounded by folks who are VASTLY more successful, and so my benchmark has moved. I suppose that’s life, but for me, YouTube is always going to just be reaching for the next goal. It’s hard to be satisfied there.

TH: What did you do before YouTube? Or what do you do besides YouTube?BC: I am a multimedia developer for a company that creates eLearning. Super boring, but it pays the bills! Before I started into YouTube, I spend maybe 10 years in a pop punk band, did some light touring, etc. I learned a lot of the foundation for what I do now then because we built a studio and started recording. The skills to be a one-man show (doing all my own writing/performing/mixing) I think came from the terrible stuff I did then.

TH: Where did the name Bonecage come from?BC: Ha, well, I have old-man brain now, so don’t fact check this, but I believe there used to be a spell in the original Diablo game called “Bone Cage” or “Cage of Bones” or something of the like. Anyways, I loved that game when I was a kid, and for some reason, Bonecage just popped into my head. Honestly, I spent a couple of years regretting it, but now I kinda like it.

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TH: What would you call that your favorite type of music? What genres of music do you like and like creating?BC: I grew up (and learned guitar) listening to AC/DC, and then I got into a bunch of different stuff like Green Day, Beck, Nirvana, etc. Also, I was SUPER into Weird Al when I was a kid (and still am). I get bored making the same style of music, so I tend to scattershot all over the place. One time it’s a dance thing (like the Thanos song), next it’ll be a punk rock song, then maybe a rap thing with a friend. Variety is where it’s at!

TH: Where did your love of music begin? Do you play any instruments?BC: When I was 15, my friends started a band and needed a bass player. I think I had already started learning guitar, but I wanted to be in a band, so I did that. Once you play a show in front of people, that’s it. Game over man. Oh, hey little kid who is kind of nervous around people, wanna have a bunch of people think you are awesome for 20 minutes? YEA SURE.Anyways, I play guitar/bass, and I hack my way around a keyboard. Also, I’ve been known to kazoo and knock around a little plastic egg filled with beans.

TH: As a pop culture junkie, what are some shows or movies you’re looking forward to parodying next?BC: I don’t know if I’ll do many more parodies honestly, but the shows I really like are Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Rick and Morty… lots of others but it’s early, my son gave me the plague, and I’m very tired.I will most likely write some original stuff at least about GoT and Rick & Morty though. R&M seems to be very much in line with my childish humor.

TH: How do you come up with your clever lyrics? Do you have a background in songwriting?BC: Hmm, I think I’m just a weirdo. Also, I’m not sure “crawl inside your butthole” would be considered clever, but thank you! I just start saying words and matching up syllable patterns and try to make myself laugh or feel something. To be honest, I don’t put a ton of thought into the why or how because then I get bored and started hating the song I’m working on.

TH: What are some of your personal favorite parodies?BC: Weird Al originals 4 life! However, if I had to pick some parodies, I’d say “A Complicated Song”, “The Saga Begins”, “Yoda”... Jeeze, it’d be easier to list the Weird Al song that I didn’t like.Also, I know I only listed Weird Al songs, but I know like 100 parody artists over at the FuMP that all do awesome stuff. Parody is a woefully neglected and misunderstood medium that doesn’t get enough love.

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TH: What’s next for you? How long do you think you’ll do your parody page?BC: I think I’ll keep plugging away at this until my self-esteem flies burning off a cliff, and then I will probably start making cabinets or something.

 TH: How do you pick who or what you write a parody for? Do you ever do fan requests?BC: I don’t usually take requests because I don’t feel like I earned it then. It’s probably a bad way to be creative, but I just kinda wait for inspiration to hit and then roll with it. As I said, I don’t/won’t be doing too many parodies moving forward, probably stick to more original stuff, but I’d imagine I’ll continue to jump back and forth between pop culture stuff and weird songs about cheese horses and my butt. The usual.

TH:  How long does each video usually take to make?BC: Song creation is usually the bigger time suck for me. A normal song might take me like 10-20 hours of actual work time to do start to finish. The videos I have done in the past don’t usually take that long, however recently, I’ve been offloading some video creation in an effort to maintain my sanity. Having an 18-month old and a full-time job makes this stuff challenging.

Thanks for talking to us Jeff! We hope that you continue making more songs and videos!

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