Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Darius Rucker And Billy Ray Cyrus To Guest Star On Nickelodeon's "Blaze And The Monster Machines"

Darius Rucker has a new cartoon alias.

Darius Rucker poses at The Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson produced by Blackbird Presents at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.; John Shearer/Getty Images for Essential Broadcast Media

In the midst of working on his new studio album and on the heels of a successful summer tour, the country star made some time to offer his recognizable voice for a character on Nickelodeon's hit CG-animated preschool series Blaze and the Monster Machines!

Voicing Thunderwing, a tough-talking falcon truck (see the image below), Rucker tells Billboard he was excited to be part of Blaze, not just because it's the No. 1 preschool show across all TV (year-to-date), but also because voicing characters in animation has actually been something he's always wanted to do. And even though he has much more experience singing, Rucker says the process isn't too far off from recording an album.

"The funny thing is it really is a lot [like making music]," he explains. "You really gotta get there, bring energy to it and try to bring a reality to it that is a lot like singing. When I'm singing a song, I'm in that song, and I'm thinking about what emotions I should bring to the song. Voicing a character was very similar. It was high energy, and I had to really think about the emotion of what was going on in the scene."

Darius Rucker as Thunderwing in 'Blaze and the Monster Machines'; Courtesy of Viacom

This actually isn't Rucker's first time voicing a character, as he was also part of the animated direct-to-video release Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery last year. His role there was a bit different -- he played a villain called The Destroyer -- but he says that's the beauty of voice-over work.

"It really brought out a side of me that I don't get to use a lot," Rucker says. He adds with a laugh, "[Thunderwing] was basically being me, just a little more loud and obnoxious."

If he gets the opportunity to do something like this again, Rucker says he'd love to be a Marvel character. But for now, it's back to the music.

"I'm not trying to change careers," he insists. "I'm just trying to have some fun."

Rucker's (voice) appearance on Blaze and the Monster Machines is part of a six-episode arc about animals called "Wild Wheels," which will air on Nickelodeon in 2017. Billy Ray Cyrus will also voice a character named Lazard in one of the episodes. Check out an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip of Cyrus' recording session below!:

In Blaze and the Monster Machines, the amazing monster truck Blaze and his eight-year-old driver AJ have adventures that explore the physics of how things move; tackle problems through scientific inquiry and mathematics; and discover the parts needed to make everyday technologies work. Each action-packed episode is filled with monster trucks, physical humor and upbeat original songs with lyrics that highlight a STEM concept such as adhesion, friction, force, trajectory and magnetism. Blaze and the Monster Machines is created by Jeff Borkin (Team Umizoomi head writer) and Ellen Martin (Bubble Guppies supervising producer). Darius and Billy follow recent guest appearances on the hit preschool series by NASCAR stars Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
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