Saturday, August 10, 2013

What'd he said

The year was 2001. Monkeys had taken over the world. No, wait, it was the sentient spaceship. Ah, crap. Something really important happened that year, why can't I think of it? It's almost as if I blocked it out of my mind.

The Troy Westfield Experience was a going concern. It had the shreddingest guitarist in New York City, the Chopping Penguin, since outed as Steve Donnelly. It had versatile drum stylings from Brent Popolizio, who oh by the way could rock the hell out of any room, and usually did. Andrew Stillufsen was holding down the bottom end and taunting the ladies with his new wedding ring under the alias Norse Force D. Phil Ristaino, then (and possibly now) operating under the nom de nom nom nom of the Post-Relevant Movement, was fronting like he was fly. And over in the corner, whenever the others failed to successfully keep the gig's location from him, was Troy, doing ... er, something. He was usually sort of low in the mix, it was hard to tell.

This wrecking crew of heartbreak was playing such places as Brownies (R.I.P.), the Village Underground, and Acme Underground every few weeks or so. Something like 200 had shown up for the record release party for Tantric Scrimshaw, undoubtedly lured by the offer of free beer. Discs were made up and occasionally even sold. Fun was had by many if not all. Discussions began on the topic of becoming a touring band. These were the first baby steps toward world domination.

And then Troy ruined it all. But before he did (or possibly after he did), Phil and Troy, like thieves in the night who just this once happened to be up to legitimate business, found a copy shop in the Village and funded a very short run of lyric booklets for Scrimshaw. Like, I think it was 3 copies. They were just for us, see. Phil and Troy and me. And who am I? Brother, you don't want to know.

These lyric books were works of art. And lyrics. That was pretty much what they were, lyrics superimposed on top of Phil's art. But o, what art! And what lyrics, for that matter. What ho! You should have seen them.

And now you can. The TWE will be posting videos for all of the songs on Scrimshaw featuring the original 2001 lyric book. Ever wondered what Phil meant in a certain song? We can't help you with that. I mean, not even Phil can. But we can tell you what he sang.

We start with Two Sources. It's one of the songs that most benefitted from Allen Towbin's brilliant remix/remaster work, and some of Phil's best lyrics as well. And if you ask him what it means, he might even tell you ...

Watch that shit right here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good Ache (the epic river version) part 1

Happy 2013! Congratulations, you've officially moved up to the next level. Just by showing up. You earned it.

 Have you heard that there is a new music video for Good Ache, our #1 song in Lichtenstein? Its over 16 minutes long and it looks just like this:

Ringing any bells? Well, you'll get to know it, if you happen to have 16 minutes to spare every day. I have a long story to tell about it, a "making of" tale that rivals the grandiosity of the video itself. But I don't think I'm going to completely bore you with it all right off the bat.

Who am I? I'm Phil, the guy who conceived of and directed (along with filmmaker Alistair Redman) the damn thing. Making 'the epic river version' was a journey, I tells ya. A journey! An effort in stick-to-it-tiveness. For reals. But that's was the M.O. for the entire TWE "Business on the Lanai/Tantric Scrimshaw 2012" production. Keep at it until its done, and then keep at it some more. Dig, slave! And when you're done with that hole, I've got a few 100 more for you fill. And hurry up, the tide's coming in....

Good Ache the epic river version was filmed in a few different locations:

1. Several parts of Vermont (please don't ask me the names of the towns, I don't care that much). But the locations of the shoot can be subsected into: a. The Young Ruffian's ski house (where much of the film American Epitaph was shot) b. The river near the ski house c. Logan's garage.

2. Brooklyn NY. Subsected into: a. The streets of Williamsburg and the river next to them b. the streets of Greenpoint c. Allen's Maze Studios, specifically the rooftop, the stairs and the elevator.

 I bring this up because I'm about to present some behind the scenes clips of the making of the video. Especially because Good Ache is a song about the behind the scenes of making a movie.  I figured I'd keep this feedback loop flowing by showing you entire takes of the shoot, in their raw form, because I find them at least fascinating if not entirely entertaining.

This is a great long take of the band on the rooftop of Allen's studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Mike on guitar, Allen on bass, Mr 3.50 on toy drums. I find cameraman Matt Kalman's movement around and amongst the band keeps this take interesting, and his mingling with the rabble sparked the band's hijinks. This take proved to be very useful, many pieces of it ended up in the final video.

I'll end this first post with a clip of the river shoot in VT. In this particular take, cameraman Justin Epifanio is floating backwards with a flip cam in one hand, co-director Al Redman is on the shore, playing the song with an ipod and a tiny pair of portable speakers and yelling directions at us. My feet and face are sticking up out of the river, while my hands are either paddling or 'running' along the river floor to keep my body afloat as I lip sync and the current drags us along. As you can see, we get about half way through the song before things go awry. This take, like the above rooftop one, proved to be very essential to the final cut of the video.

More to come, stay tuned, there are many stories worth telling. And let us know what you think of the video itself, ok? It pays off with many viewings....