We Used To Be Friends Video Shoot

Warning: If most of you havenít figured out by now, I am not the best writer of pieces that are long on fact and short on wandering commentary. So, forgive the style of this piece.

With the approach of Welcome To The Monkey House this summer, it has come time to start preparing singles for release. In Monkey Houseís case, this means choosing the first three singles (We Used To Be Friends, The Last High, and (speculatively) I Am A Scientist) and filming videos for them. The planning of the videos has been in the works for months by Courtney Taylor, who is also directing them, and the time has come to shoot them, seeing as how the first single is out in about 2 months (May 5th). This is how I became an extra in the video for We Used To Be Friends.

Last week, posted on the official webpage of the band, along with a message on the Dandysrule2 mailing list, was the announcement that the band was looking for a few hundred extras for filming of the music video, for what would basically be a concert scene. Knowing that it was my moral imperative to be in this video, I made the appropriate arrangements, which consisted of the daunting task of just going down to the production company (Food Chain Films, who has worked with the band before) and signing up. So far, so good. Of course, there was recently-common worry that I wouldnít fit the part and make a fool of myself. At first, this was leveled out by reading on the flyer handed out that contained the information needed to get to the shoot, which said to bring clothes that would make you just appear to be like someone going to a concert. I could do that, since I had been to hundreds of concerts in my past, and I felt O.K. But, then my heart sank when I called to find out the right time to show up for the shoot, where they suggested that you look as ďsexy, freaky and cross-dressy as you can. Borrow your mothers dress if you have to.Ē Now, due to issues that go back a few years now, I gained a significant amount of weight a while back (went from 130 to 185 or so in a year) and havenít ever lost it. And, since I have been a recluse in that same time, I havenít adjusted to my changed body, clothes-wise or other, so I really didnít have anything that looked too freaky and didnít have any cross-dressing clothes around. Now, if this had been years ago, when I was with my ex-girlfriend, this wouldnít have been a problem, and I could have cross-dressed with the best of them, but that isnít related to this. I had thought of dying my hair, but decided against it, as I didnít want to stand out too much, and I would have had to do it the night before the taping. And, knowing it was to be a crowd scene, I didnít want my sweat to make it run down my back, since it would have been so recently dyed. So, I picked out a few things, such as a shirt that says ďEasy Like Sunday Morning,Ē one that says ďI Came On EileenĒ and an ugly purple-and-grey-striped shirt. I also took along a large heavy womanís housecoat, but didnít wear it, thankfully, as it got damn hot.

So, I get to the shoot and am dropped off, only to find them say that you have to pick an outfit and leave everything else in your car. So, I call my ride back (which was my mom. Glad she was available!) and leave everything in the car except the striped shirt. Getting back in line, I get checked in and wait around for an hour or so before they let us into The Odditorium, which is where it was being filmed. Looking around, I sure didnít feel that good about myself, since I was surrounded by quite a few very sexy people. But, anyone who knows the band knows that they bring out the sexy people, so this wasnít a surprise. Overall, there were about 150 people thereÖ I would say 125 of these were sexy, 1 was cross-dressing and another 20 were freaky-looking. I was part of the 4th group, which was justÖ people.

Anyway, after some comments by the Assistant Director, David Palmer (I think his name was David. Maybe Brian?), the band comes on the stage and the biggest shock of the night comes when Courtney comes out with his hair cut into a virtual Mohawk. Iím trying to dig up pictures of this haircut, but so far I have had no luck. Plenty of people brought cameras along though, so they should appear somewhere (It is also apparently in the latest issue of Filter Magazine). But, until then, Iíll try to describe it. As noted last summer, on the European tour, Courtney has grown his hair out a fair amount, and he has continued doing that, but with one small change: the sides of his head are shaved completely, giving him a Mohawk down the middle of his head. Donít misconstrue this too much though. It isnít a thin, spiked one. It is like 3 or 4 inches wide Ė probably over half the width of his head. And, behind the ears, it is much wider, so that basically in the back, it is normal. Essentially, just the sides are shaved. Beyond him, fatheads hair looks a little smaller (but I could be wrong. It is still huge) and Zia has her partially dyed red. Peter was just Peter Ė not that there is anything wrong with that.

So, we are all herded into the studio and Courtney talks about the studio while waiting for the crew to finish some more prep work with the camera. The first few tries were pretty bad, as there was no real excitement by the crowd yet, and they didnít know how to act. This would improve a fair amount over the next 6 hours. And, just to make life harder on us, Courtney wanted synchronized clapping in a few specific parts, which took some people quite a while to get the hang of. In the end though, I think it was a nice touch. Weíll have to wait to see.

Some other random items:
A couple guys in particular really went all-out for their clothing choices. One was a fairly large guy wearing all blank (no, not Gothman), black face paint and a black vinyl wrestling mask. But the other one was classic. At the start of the set, one man was wearing this bright dress, with a bow on his bald head. But, after the first break, he came back in a full wedding gown. Very cool.
On two occasions, a couple people walked through the crowd with a little kid on top of a plastic pony, which got a good response from the crowd as well. I think the kid had a cowboy hat on as well.
About 2/3 of the way through the shoot, Peter cut a finger on his right hand. I canít remember if it was his thumb or index finger, but he missed most of one whole shot getting it taped/bandaged up. When the video comes out, look to see if it changes from being on his finger to not being on his finger. The not-on-finger shots happened first.
Cameron Elder, the hula hoop guy from Godless and Boho, showed up again for this one, though it never really came off that well, so it might get cut. The worse part about the attempt of involving him was his entrance, where they tried to make him part the crowd on his way to the stage, hoops above his head. When he got to the stage, Courtney wanted to reach down and kinda pull him onto the stage with one hand, while still singing his part. What made this bad? It looked like a freaking Mentos commercial!
Courtney played a Moog keyboard during the song, basically indicating he does a lot of the more effects-required keyboarding, rather than Zia.

The end of the shoot came when the crowd left the studio, presumably to do some camera work that didnít need the extras, but knowing that they needed the crowd for only one more shot. So, everyone sat in the tent for probably another hour and a half or so, until they said that the shoot was over, due to some technical problems inside. What a waste of an hour and a half. So, everyone went off, and I headed down to a bar to wait for my ride to once again. The studio was still open, so Iím sure I could have gone back in, but I didnít really feel like it, so I went home.

Now, as to the song itself. I was overly-impressed with it. This song has the chance to end up being really big, I think. The sound was great, it was upbeat in tempo and the lyrics, while some might find contrived, really worked for me. The lyrics for this song can be found on the We Used To Be Friends page of this site, and I have also made available a rough copy of the song, taken at the show. The quality is really bad, but it gives you an idea of what the song sounds like.

Overall, the whole day was a blast, though I could have done without some of the longer breaks. But, thatís what I signed up for, so Iím OK with that.
Justin McGrotty