Monday, October 22, 2012

Steve Royall and This Indie Thing (Part II) - Comedy

Meet the men behind This Indie Thing (clockwise): M. Devon Dunlap, Joshua Kwak, Steve Royall and Sacaar Williams.

You mentioned in a previous interview that a lot of the jokes in your show come from your own life.

I still draw a few episode story lines were from my own personal experiences. The cookie commercial episode was one. I did a fast food commercial once and the lady handling the food had a sinus infection and she kept coughing on what I had to eat.

Can you tell me about something else that happened to you in real life that ended up in Season 3?

In season 3 there’s a scene where this girl shows up for a kissing scene, and she has a herpes sore on her lip. That actually happened to me. One of my friends even asked me why I didn’t just kiss around it. We had a big laugh. At the time I didn’t have This Indie Thing put together yet, but it was funny so I saved it.
That’s actually happened to me at least three times, where girls show up for a kissing scene with a herpes sore on their lip. All three of the times they have had this attitude like it’s no big deal. And I’m like, no, if the role was reversed you’d better believe that you’d never do this scene. It’s hilarious that some of these actresses act like kissing them is so great that it’s worth the risk.

Were there ever times when you were tempted to use something that happened to you, but decided not to for fear of offending someone?

No. If I think it’s funny I use it no matter what.

Compared to season 3, what will season 4 be like?

Season 4 is going to be about giving up. So many people come to L.A. to try to make it and it doesn’t seem to happen for them. A lot of people finally just go back home. That will be the overall theme.

There’s still going to be a lot of improvisation. I know where it’s all going to go. I’ve already written the next season. In the previous seasons I’d give the actors the script a week before and we’d just shoot it and do improv. But afterwards I’d always think, “I should have said this, I should have said that.”

Now we’re going to meet two days before the shoot to talk about the script everything beforehand. We’re also going to rehearse the scenes more so that people have a stronger knowledge of the original material. I've already told the cast what to expect.

If you could totally start over and write and film it all again, how else would you approach the project? 

I would still do a lot of improv, but I would also have the actors rehearse the scenes a lot more. When I work on this project, there’s a lot to think about. I’m the camera operator, the director, the writer, the actor, the sound guy…everything. I certainly learned a lot since I first started. I really wish we had done a lot more rehearsals before now, but at the time I had my mind on a lot of other aspects of the show.

Now, for the next season you've mentioned how you are going to use a full crew instead of just doing it all by yourself. Will working with a big crew like that crimp your previous style?

The crew and I have a history from previous projects. They know how I work, so it’s not like they are going to impose their own shooting style upon me. That's part of the reason why we need the money to film it. Many of our actors are also union now, so that costs money, too.

Are these characters going to make it? Let’s face it, the industry is gruesome and a lot of would-be directors and actors drop out of the game and go home. Are some of your characters going to give up, too?

You will just have to see. This is what I will confirm. At least one of the characters will quit, and the one who does is not the one people will expect.

Have you hinted at which character it will be?

It might come across as a surprise.

Can you tell me about a scene, character or plot element that you tried to use, but it just didn’t work out?

Yes. There was supposed to be an episode where my character has an older neighbor who was an actress that didn’t make it. She was kind of like a cougar who was trying to seduce my character by saying she was an up-and-coming director. We shot the scene, but it felt like I was just throwing something together. It wasn’t funny so I just dropped it.
I understand what you mean. Editing is just as important as writing. A lot of other shows on the Internet seem like they are all style and no substance. They have pretty graphics and all that, but once people start talking the quality drops.

When I shot This Indie Thing, I was always focused on the writing more than the look. One of the things I’ve noticed with some other shows on the Internet is that they tend to focus too much on the surface appearance. When they don’t put the same effort into their writing, you can tell. It's not funny. The lines sound stiff…something is missing.

I have to admit that in the earlier seasons, there seemed to be a lot going on. Now the writing is much more austere.

Anything that doesn’t work will get cut. I’m going to film exactly what I need. I wrote season 4 a while ago, so I already know what I need to do.

As scathing and serious as This Indie Thing can get, will the next season still be as funny?

Yes, very much so. It still is going to be a comedy. I don’t want it to be too biting. There’s going to be a lot of social commentary in the next season, but it will always be funny.

But for that, you need the funds.

We really need more money if we’re going to shoot this season. I’d really like to finish the story.

I’m sure your fans want to see it, too.

If you'd like to help Mr. Royall finish This Indie Thing, check out this link.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Montage One's New Album: 10.6.3 OGX - Music

If boring, sold-out rap is an enemy that must be destroyed, Montage One has declared war with 10.6.3 OGX, an album straight from the hip-hop underground that is not the same ol‘ banal dross you’ve heard on the radio too many times before. Produced by MasterKraftsmen, Alchemist and others, Montage One’s latest full-length (release date: Sept. 25) features more than two dozen high-caliber artists including Phil The Agony, Planet Asia, Krondon and Madlib, making the work an instant collector’s item for the fan who wants it all.

Montage One’s talent as a decorated lyrical veteran of the Likwit Crew and Gold Chain Military is on full display here, with songs like “Beat2Def,” a roaring blitzkrieg of a single full of groovy ’70s funk organ tones and wicked scratches that knock you down with the rhymes and out with the beats. Track “Return of the Assassin” also delivers with ominous opening acoustics, thunderous bass and that violent gangster-style you know you love.

You can stream the album over here.

Here it is on iTunes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Crocodiles - Music

The video for the song “Endless Flowers” by The Crocodiles is a nostalgia-drenched visual time trip into the teen idol hits of the ’50s. In the video Brandon Welchez, lead singer for the band, serenades a young girl who is absolutely insane over the attention with an infatuation that goes well beyond safe. Singing in the corner of her room, decked out in glossy black Ray Ban Wayfayers and a leather jacket, Welchez is the perfect, crooning heartthrob. Eventually the girl’s emotions take over and the wild waif gouges his eyes out in a bacchanalian display of violence and lust.

“The director had a pretty clear aesthetic that he worked off of. He was into a lot of work by John Waters, especially Cry-Baby, so it affected the look,” says Welchez, who certainly enjoyed being a part of the bloody, satirical look of the music video. “The director was pretty good at bringing out the dark and humorous side of things.”

Formed in 2008 by Welchez and fellow musician Charles Rowell, The Crocodiles are an indie pop band that can be compared to early groups like Gary Glitter or Tommy James & The Shondells, but are also similar to modern, post-punk-tinged acts with the same reverb fuzz flair like The Raveonettes or the Jesus and Mary Chain. But as much as the current influence is good, clean fun, Welchez points out that the band’s current sound is more of a phase than a permanent category.

“When you get into self-definition you are just creating walls for yourself,” he says. By that Welchez means the current sound that The Crocodiles are known for after three albums (which include 2009’s Summer of Hate and 2010’s Sleep Forever) is just temporary, and the groovy duo certainly intend to experiment with different genre’s in the future. With that in mind, why adopt a name that only compromises potential future creativity?

“When we first started, we had a vague concept of having a futuristic, garage-style sound,” Welchez says. Since it’s just Rowell and him calling the shots, it was easy to playing the music without conforming to any particular genre. “After a while we just kind experimented until we ended up where we are, now.” The one thing the two agreed on was that they wouldn’t be a part of any scene. “If Charles came up with a rap song, I’d sing it,” he says.

What’s next for The Crocodiles? “We are about to start our U.S. tour,” Welchez says. “We have a couple of weeks off after that and then we go back to Europe.” Will they still be able to find time to dream up a new album while they are on the road? The young singer’s response is a blend of realism and optimism. “Sure, we have to support the latest album, but we are already looking forward to going back into the studio. We have a shitload of half-formed ideas for a lot of songs, and we want to work on all of them.”

The Crocodiles with Soft Pack and the Heavy Hawaii at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802;; Fri., Oct. 19. 7pm. $12-$14.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hunx and His Punx - Music

There are many reasons why a young man in this modern era would decide to be the lead singer of a punk rock band. For Seth Bogart, the fabulous front man for Hunx and His Punx, the motivation is philosophical. “You’re born naked and you die naked, you’re born punk and you die punk,” he says. “I just love my friends and love music and love to be loud.”

The feeling is infectious because the group’s first complete studio album, Too Young To Be In Love, is a combination of pop and punk that has proven to be delectable to the critics who have taste. Dusted, Pitchfork and American Noise have heaped plenty of praises on the LP, which was recorded in New York City by Ivan Julian of the incomparable punk band Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

Bogart calls his style of music “young oldies.” “If I had to perform any other type of music, it would be pop,” he says. His previous bands, H.U.N.X. and Gravy Train, were both post-pop groups that allowed the artist to experiment with what worked and what didn’t. Years later, Too Young To Be In Love is the kind of album that gives you more every time you hear it, thanks to Bogart’s previous musical experiences.

There’s also a distinct ’50s vibe to the LP, similar to the Ramones or a garage band equivalent of The Raveonettes, but the darkness underneath all the glitter is deliciously modern, similar to the whimsical sound of The Dead Milkmen combined with the cynical savvy of The Dead Kennedys. Too Young To Be In Love is the kind of album that looks like it should be next to iconic punk records like Black Flag’s Everything Went Black, anything by the New York Dolls or Bad Music for Bad People by The Cramps.

When asked about what influences him, Bogart’s answer is revealing. “I believe everything influences everyone without anyone knowing it no matter what. The only [influence] I am totally aware of and am constantly trying to completely copy,” he says, “[is] Alvin and The Chipmunks.” Artistic influence aside, Hunx and His Punx are the perfect band for people who like sass in their songwriting. Bogart slings his lyrics with the petulant royalty of a drag queen, delivering vocals peppered with coy references to dirty, kinky, funny sex.

You know you are dealing with a pro when Bogart talks about the importance of punk music. “Punk is whatever you want it to be. I don’t believe in some bands being more punk than others. I think The Germs are as equally as punk as Britney Spears running into a budget hair salon and shaving her head bald and smashing a SUV with an umbrella.” Maybe that’s the secret of the unique genius of Hunx and His Punks. Whimsical nihilism has never sounded so sweet. “Just be yourself and do whatever the f@#k you wanna do,” he says, and his music means it.

The Glass House is the perfect place for any punk show, and Bogart is no stranger to the venue. “I performed there once with my old band Gravy Train,” he says. “I love that venue, and the kids in Pomona are amazing. I am so excited to be able to do my thing there.”