Monday, September 04, 2006

A Cougar In The Desert?!

Umlaut's old friend John Marshall fought The Metal Wars from the trenches... AND he was stalked by a cougar in the desert! All in the name of M-E-T-A-L....

Metal Church - 'Badlands' video (1989)

Added 9/12/06

Behind The Making Of The Video
by John Marshall

We shot the 'Badlands' video after the fourth gig of the Blessing In Disguise tour. After playing The Roxy in LA, we took the tour bus overnight to the desert outside of Palmdale, waking up on the bus in the middle of a dry lake bed-- nothing around for miles. It had been a late, fun night (as gigs in L.A. usually are), and it was already hot when we started filming at about 10 that morning. Ugh. Nothing worse than hot weather combined with a hangover.

The big cat had arrived in a cage in the back of a pickup truck, along with
a small menagerie of other animals. In the video you can see a snake on Mike's arm, and a lizard on the cross behind the drum kit, just hanging out. Nothing like live animals to add an air of realism to your video! We spent some downtime feeding the cat raw chicken, bones and all. Fun! Just don't put your fingers in the cage......

The big event of the morning happened even before we started filming. At some point while setting up, the keeper of the animals decided to move his truck. He fired it up and promptly rolled it, cat and all, right over the $15K audio/video synced playback machine. Luckily the cameras were not involved, but that meant that we had to "lip sync" to..... a cheap boombox sitting on the desert floor. Now, the drums had rubber pads on them to keep them quiet, but even the "thwack" of those pads essentially drowned out the little 1 speaker boombox. To make matters worse, the boombox had to sit more than 20 feet away from us so that it wouldn't be in the shot. But we were professionals, and we rose above it in true rock and roll fashion: we would listen to a couple of bars to get the tempo, then start "playing" while the cameras rolled.

Sometime in the afternoon we got back on the bus and headed to San Pedro to
film the night shots. When we arrived, the setup was the polar opposite of the morning's festivities-- under a freeway out near the oil refineries, was a full on movie set! There was catering, a full sound system for playback, crew people scurrying around, lights and more lights, even a make-up trailer. It was great fun to feel like a movie star for a few hours (although it would suck to do it for a living)! The filming was awesome: full volume playback, amp stacks and fire pits in the background, and the director shouting at us to bang harder! Way Cool. After the filming was done we did a photo shoot, and at about midnight our day had come to and end. We hopped back on the bus and promptly crashed out for a ride to Tucson for a gig the next night.

A few things I remember when seeing this video-- It was a really cool time
for me because I had joined a band on a major label, recorded an album, and was on the road as a musician-- not a roadie (ahem, excuse me, guitar technician). I also remember the song 'Badlands' with some trepidation... because of some crappy meaningless internal band politics, I never played on the original recording. Not one note. Fucking Bullshit. But hey, I'm not bitter! Last: I miss that black Les Paul Standard. It was a guitar that my friend Dan Watson had owned when we were in high school. I'll get it back someday.

Good Times.