'Dancing With the Stars': Getting to know Mike Catherwood

mike-catherwood-dwts-headshot-body.jpg"Dancing With the Stars" fans unfamiliar with Season 12 underdog Mike Catherwood won't be in the dark for much longer. With the Mar. 21 premiere, Catherwood gets his first big dose of primetime television exposure.

Since we're already fans -- the campaign for him to replace Regis is still on -- Zap2it caught up with the radio personality to get his perspective on how this all came to be.

And it starts with Tenacious D.

"My dream when I was kid, when I really wanted to get into music, was to be like Tenacious D," Catherwood tells Zap2it of comedy rock duo Jack Black and Kyle Gass. "Those were the guys I wanted to be like more than anything. The debut album in 2001 is one of the reasons I had a long talk with my parents that I was going to give up on a traditional career and go into entertainment. I wanted to combine music and comedy the way they did."

That was around the time Catherwood left the East Coast for his hometown of Los Angeles, where he landed a job at KROQ -- though not as an on-air personality.

"I got started in radio kind of by accident," he says. "I needed a job a straight gig, so I got a job at KROQ, the flagship station I still work for here in LA. I figured if I was going to be doing manual labor, it'd be better to work there, lifting boxes, than hanging drywall somewhere else. Through a series of weird, unexplainable experiences I ended up being a broadcaster."

Catherwood stuck it out as a promotions assistant for about a year and half before eventually becoming an assistant producer for "The Kevin & Bean Show." His sense of humor soon provided a forum for his voice.  "I started developing character voices, doing prank phone calls and stupid stuff like that," he says. "It unfolded into a really weird, very cool career that I'm incredibly grateful for."

In 2010, he parlayed his work on "Kevin & Bean" into a co-hosting spot for Dr. Drew Pinsky's nationally syndicated radio show "Loveline." It's a bit far off from the musical career he originally envisioned, but Catherwood seems happy with where things are headed.

"The things you plan on doing when you're 19, that's not the way they end up being when you're 30," he says. "And that's fine. I'm laser-focused on being the best I can be as a broadcaster and in a hosting capacity both on the radio and, hopefully, television too."

If TV is what he wants, he's clearly taking a step in the right direction.

Catherwood sounds off on the "DWTS" courting process, partner Lacey Schwimmer and the most challenging part of the whole experience in the second part of our interview, right after after this gratuitous photo from a recent rehearsal...

mike-catherwood-lacey-schwimmer.jpg Did you have any idea you were in consideration for this season?

No, I had no idea. I'm assuming it's because other people turned it down and they were scrambling. But when I found out, it came as a complete and utter shock.

At the announcement, you told us you signed two or three weeks ahead of time. That's not last minute in the "DWTS"-verse.

Yeah, I don't know how they work things over there, but you'd think the show is so big they'd have people in line that they've been planning. I do know that they actually added some people really last minute, so maybe they were thinking about me -- which is flattering.

How have rehearsals been going?

Actually, really well. It's hard to tell if Lacey is lying to me or not, but she tells me that I'm improving, that I'm way better than she thought I'd be and that things are going really well. So if I'm going to base it off anything, I'm going to base it off that. In the last couple days, I really do feel like I've made strides to become a better dancer. I know my routine, and that's comforting.

How is Lacey treating you?

Really awesome. On top of being a good dancer and really, really, really attractive, she is, most importantly, very patient. And that's useful when you're teaching someone who's new to dancing how to dance. When you're getting a a crash course in something really difficult, it's nice to have someone who's not easily frustrated, who's going to be patient, who's going to be understand that this stuff is pretty difficult. She's been so accommodating and so helpful .I'm really thankful to have her as a partner.

You mentioned you have the opening routine down.

As far as me knowing it, I do -- back and forth. As far as me making it look good, that's a whole other story. We'll see.

The show is very shy to reveal details about dances a head of time, but what can you tell us about your first performance?

My first dance is my only exposure to dance, so I have no point of reference. From what Lacey tells me, it's much more formal and casual tempo than a lot of the other dances.

What's your week like leading up to the premiere?

A lot of press. A lot of weird stuff I thought I'd never do. A lot of interviews, like right now. You always hear former contestants talk about how hard it is to do "DWTS." It's not really that physically demanding -- and maybe that's me coming into it being in better shape -- but, for me, it's so emotionally and mentally taxing. It's nonstop and it consumes your whole life. You're doing interview after interview, taking picture after picture and it catches up to you. Also? It's very draining to do something you're not good at. To spend six or seven hour a day dancing, if you're not a dancer, is like golfing. It's not physically taxing, but it can be mind-numbingly frustrating because its so difficult. I don't golf either, so I hope that's a good analogy.

See if he has what it takes when Season 12 of "DWTS" bows Monday, Mar. 21, at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.
Photo/Video credit: ABC