Five Things You Didn’t Know About Seth MacFarlane

The animated-comedy creator lends his pipes to the Pops’ season opener this month.

seth macfarlane

It’s no joke: Seth MacFarlane seriously loves swing music. / Photograph courtesy of Boston Symphony Orchestra

Family Guy fans already know that creator Seth MacFarlane has some serious songwriting chops, but they might not realize just how deep his musical roots go. On May 6, the Grammy-nominated singer will live out a childhood dream and join the Boston Pops onstage to croon classic swing tunes as they kick off their 2016 season. MacFarlane fills us in on his music-infused New England upbringing and its impact on his on-screen projects.

1. His parents influenced him musically—especially his dad, who was a folk singer in Massachusetts.

“They got me involved with local choirs, local musical-theater productions, that sort of thing. They just felt that music and singing was something that was a good thing for a kid to have in his life.”

2. He almost attended the Boston Conservatory.

“Before I came out to L.A. when I was 21, I had applied and been accepted to the Boston Conservatory and was going to go to be a part of their grad program for musical theater.”

3. Seeing Woody Allen’s movie Radio Days inspired him to get into jazz.

“It was through that I got interested in ’40s big-band music and eventually, as I kept exploring, I discovered ’50s jazz—which, to me, is the complete elevation of the art form. I think that the early ’50s to early ’60s is really when the best jazz and pop music was produced.”

4. The late Frank Sinatra Jr. gave him music advice.

“He’d say, ‘Check out the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, you’ll dig it.’ There aren’t a lot of people in my life who can direct me to new pieces of music within that [genre]. We’ll miss him for a bunch of reasons.”

5. He uses only live orchestras to score Family Guy.

“We may be one of the only shows other than The Simpsons that uses live orchestras on television. We started doing it because The Simpsons had set a precedent for it. It was something that really made it feel like a prime-time animated show as opposed to a kids’ cartoon.”