Your rockin’ writer has been invited to music video shoots previously (and even actually worked in a few TV shows and motion pictures). Unfortunately, up until recently, it’s been impossible to attend any band’s video shoot . . . until now. On Sunday, August 25, 2013 The Paper Crowns shot music videos for a special DVD at Studio 9 in Ontario, California.
For those of you not up on your indie artist The Paper Crowns currently consist of: Spiro Nicolopoulos (vocals, guitar, banjo, stomp drums and loops), Nicole Pond (vocals, guitar, harmonica, stomp tambourine and stomp drums) and Dan Hazard (standup bass and “the occasional shout”). This was as Hazard put it “not a concert like normal. But a closed set shoot under semi-controlled conditions” and those in attendance would be confined with the band “for three straight hours, just like extras on a TV show”.
Arriving on time at 3:30 p.m. when the doors opened, your crusty chronicler and his femme “photog” Miss Sparks were slightly surprised to discover a humble but effective recording studio space—complete with pictures of The Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughn and other artists for inspiration-- set up in unassuming Ontario. Yours truly and his sexy sidekick were to be part of an intimate audience of 25 assorted adults observing (and at times) participating in the shoot. After some casual conversation over turkey roll sandwiches, salads, soda and booze, everyone settled into their seats as The Paper Crowns prepped for production.
The filming began some time after 4:00 p.m. as the tuneful trio opened with an original song titled “Rain Cones” which had their usual “new grass” touch to it. Initially it may have been unclear how to behave since there was no one to direct the audience but Pond made things crystal clear: We did provide alcohol . . . for your inspiration” she said smiling.
Cheering was encouraged, of course, but beer bottle-flinging was not due to the fact that the band had somehow forgotten to hang chicken wire prior to the shoot. The shoot would include a lot of between bits banter typical of the tuneful trio—some of which would fall under the heading “guess, you had to be there”. The second selection for the DVD documentation was their titular track off their debut disc “See You Tonight”.
It was followed by their cover of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson”. Naturally, this also included their trademark song-break banter during which Pond pounced on future hubby Nicolopoulos before finishing the song. This time the poke pertained to his consumption of party provisions a.k.a. turkey rolls.
Much like their live performances, the band switched things up a bit by throwing in yet another original tune. This time it was “Long Time Coming”. After which they would do another of their own numbers "Tehachapi". Both a “radio edit” and ‘full-strength’ version were recorded.
The group slowed things down a bit with a cover of a modern wedding standard. Specifically, they played their version of Allison Krauss’ country hit "When You Say Nothing at All" which was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. They soon shifted gears, however, with their own evocative, literary-laced, song-story “O Death Where Is Thy Sting” which lovingly lifts lyrics from the immortal bard William Shakespeare.
They also included their acoustic, folk-influenced version of the Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” as well as a song so new they had yet to name it. Its working title is simply “New Banjo Song”. This was the first time they played the completed work before an audience and a treat for those present.
Broken strings and bathroom breaks, technical talk and multiple takes made the event perhaps pretty much what some may have imagined it to be. Most music videos are not shot in one take and it can be work both for the group and the extras. Additionally, if this project is anything like the TV and motion pictures your performing penman has appeared in then it will be interesting to see how different the DVD music videos appear from what participants actually witnessed on location.
Once the shoot was concluded (some time well after 7:00 p.m.) the band continued to play for their select audience of fans and special guests who remained. Overall, it was an interesting undertaking that for some people shed a little light on the behind-the-scenes business in the music industry. Inspired by a comment made by Nicolopoulos’ father, your rascally reviewer would have to conclude that he simply cannot recall the last time someone bought him dinner and drinks and showed him a good time without demanding he disrobe.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.
(Please note: The music videos included in this article were shot prior to the video shoot discussed in the above story.)