Q&A with Bluey’s Dad – Bandit
By Cassie Hart, Editor - Kids in Perth 27 May 2021
The man behind the voice of Bandit Heeler, David McCormack, will be in Perth on June 26 & 27 as part of Supanova 2021. We caught up with him for a quick chat to find out what it’s like working on one of Australia’s favourite kids’ TV shows.
Q: The first question is tell us about your music background
A: So I grew up in Brissy and started playing around the Brissy scene in the late 80s. In about 1990 I started up a band with my friends called Custard, and then we had a good 10 years of releasing albums and doing gigs. The band stopped playing together around the year 2000 and then I did a bunch of other projects during the early 2000s. Custard started playing together again in about 2010 and then I started doing the voice of Bandit Heeler on Bluey about 2018. That’s the overview of my life to date.
Q: How did you transition into voice-over work?
A: People ask me what's it like to be a voiceover artist, and I'm not really coz I only do this one thing. Because I don't have to put on a voice or do any real acting, the transition was pretty easy.
So, someone just asked me could I do a demonstration of what my voice would be like if I were pretending to be a cartoon dog-parent, and so, I didn’t change my voice at all; I just kept it the same and they liked what they heard and now here we are doing heaps of episodes of this Bluey show and they love it. So my transition to voice artist was pretty much seamless because I feel like I haven’t really transitioned at all. I’m still exactly the same (laughs).
I don’t know where they were at with the show when they got me involved but we did a pilot, a standalone episode, and I thought it was going to be like a YouTube thing that people might like, but then they managed to do more and more episodes and people seemed to enjoy it more and more around the world, so I'm very lucky to be involved in it.
Q: Kids absolutely love the TV show Bluey why do you think it's so popular?
A: I think it's popular because it looks good. It's got its own style and the drawings are really cool. So I reckon that's got a lot to do with it and, as a parent, I find it funny. I think it's very well written. I think the jokes are good, and it's not like some kids shows that are just… you can tell they’re made for four-year-olds. This is made for four-year-olds and up. So yeah, it looks good and it’s funny. They are good things to be in life: look good and be funny.
Q: Describe your connection with your character Bandit
A: I grew up in Brisbane; the show is set in Brisbane. I've got two daughters; Bandit’s got two daughters. It's pretty relatable to my real life. So much so that my partner Lucy would often accuse me of leaking story ideas to the Bluey creators. She was convinced that I was feeding them plot lines. But it's just a universal thing that happens to parents. Parents and parenthood, there’s common themes through it all and the Bluey creators and writers have managed to really distil those core little things that happen. When we're doing the episodes, I'm laughing. I'm laughing because that's completely me. That's exactly my life. Maybe I've got a dual personality, or maybe they've installed cameras in my house and the recording everything (laughs).
Q: Do you have a favourite Bluey episode?
A: There’s one called ‘grandpa’ and it's when the mum Chilli brings the kids over the see her dad and the granddad’s supposed to be taking it easy, but he runs around and plays silly-buggers with the kids and hides from Mum and stuff. But, it's just the last scene is really sweet when the granddad’s sitting with Chilli and the granddad said, “I remember when you were that age Chilli and it doesn't seem that long ago”. And then it fades into instead of him with his hand around Chilli it’s him with his hand around the little kid version of Chili and it’s very sweet. It's a nice meditation on parenthood and generations and time. How we’re only here for a little time and we’ve got to be nice to each other. I read a lot into that last 10 seconds.
Q: Have your personal fatherhood experiences shaped and inspired your portrayal of Bandit?
A: It makes me very easy to understand the script and relate to the script. So, even though I'm not an actor I think it's very authentic for me when we're doing the episodes when these things happen - especially emotional things and some of the sadder bits. So if I wasn't a dad I don't reckon I could do the show ‘cause I have no idea. Because it is my life, I'm living it 24/7 so it just sort-of distils that into the voice that I do for Bandit.
Q: Has anyone you’ve come across in public recognised you as the voice of Bandit?
A: Only once in a shopping centre. A lady came with her kid and said, “You sound exactly like that dog on TV,” and I was like, “What dog? No I don’t!” And I pretended that I was outraged a bit and then she apologised a bit. But it was just fun. I was like, “I don’t sound like a dog! What?”
Q: Besides music and lending your voice to Bandit, what other secret talents would you like to be known for?
A: I’m quite a good whistler and I can burp on demand as well.
Q: If your spirit animal was a dog which breed of dog do you identify most with?
A: I think it’d be a bit of a bitser - a bit of a mongrel one. Because of all the dogs that I've had during my life, the purebred ones have been a touch more troublesome than the ones that are just a bitser. Maybe Dalmatian, Labrador and a little bit of Jack Russell in there. That would be my combo. Not very smart but pretty chilled.