Wayne Coyne gets interviewed by adorable children and their Nintendo plushies.
This comes at you courtesy of @indielawyer, better known as Josh Welch, Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney and personal friend of Wayne Coyne. Welch’s kids apparently have an ongoing YouTube series involving their Mario and Luigi dolls, and in this episode, they’re lucky enough to get to interview The Wayne.
What I love about this is how earnest and silly Coyne is with these two boys, and that behavior isn’t even slightly different from any other interview I’ve ever seen him in. Watch for yourself:
It’s felt up, as the Muppets prime for a comeback.
Anticipation is high for “The Muppets,” Disney’s reboot of the Jim Henson crew, opening just in time for Thanksgiving. Its star and screenwriter, Jason Segel, is much too busy to talk to outlets like lil’ ol’ us, so the Mouse House sent a canned interview to me. Rather than be a corporate puppet and run it as is, I thought it’d be more fun to change the questions, but leave Segel’s answers intact, so I feel like I actually contributed.
Personally, I think it makes for a better read. The studio should be paying me. Enjoy.
R&R: Jason — if I may call you Jason — can you please discuss the inception of this film, but using a phrase that a woman might use to let others know that she’s pregnant?
Segel: The Muppets were my first comic influence and I was in love with puppetry. I just thought it was an amazing art form. We ended “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” with a lavish puppet musical, and The Jim Henson Company designed the puppets. Something started growing in my belly, and Nick (Stoller) and I came up with this idea and pitched it to Disney. Disney liked the idea, so we wrote the script.
R&R: “Belly,” good one! I also would’ve accepted “I was craving raw meat” and “Oops, I missed my period.” Now, whenever you tell anyone about taking on characters as beloved as these Muppets, what is their response? Scratch that: What are two of their responses?
Segel: Whenever I tell anyone, the response is always twofold: “Oh my God, that's awesome.” And then, “You better not mess it up.”
R&R: How about that Amy Adams? She seems super-sweet and super-innocent, and with credits like “Enchanted,” she seems just perfect for this role. You really lucked out.
Segel: Amy Adams is super-sweet and super-innocent, and with credits like “Enchanted,” she was just perfect for this role. We really lucked out.
R&R: If you could compare Kermit to ... oh, I don’t know, say an iconic Gregory Peck character, who would he be?
Segel: Kermit's the everyman. He's like Atticus Finch. He just wants to be an upright citizen and be kind. It’s all about laughter and love and doing what's right.
R&R: Let’s cut to the chase. Miss Piggy: She’s a diva, am I right?
Segel: Miss Piggy is the ultimate diva.
R&R: Do you think you could talk about Animal while making a Shakespeare reference that no one but English-lit majors will get? Bonus points for a Freud reference, too. You realize that if you pull this off, the academic world may stop thinking of you simply as the guy who wiggled his wang around in “Sarah Marshall.”
Segel: Animal is the part of all of us that is unhinged. Animal is like our Id. He's like Caliban from “The Tempest.”
Before the renowned mash-up DJ’s most compacted show in years, he talked about the music that spins his gears.
Somehow, Opolis remains.
It’s a surprise the cat paintings are still there, let alone the building itself. Although I imagine it had to be squeegeed clean of puddles of sweat and sticky confetti after the massive, writhing rave that thrived inside for more than two hours Saturday night.
It was the typical Girl Talk fare: One second, it felt like a ’90s grunge video, with flood lamps and the chorus from Nirvana’s “Lithium”; the next, Pimp C or Notorious B.I.G. or some other long-gone rapper had returned from the dead, accompanied by that part from the pop song that sticks in your brain like an adhesive mouse trap. The swelling synths of M83’s “Midnight City” inspired euphoria, and Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson’s vocals were isolated, and injected with teenage angst by gnarled, aggressive guitar riffage from Trent Reznor.
What I found remarkable about Girl Talk’s (real name: Gregg Gillis) show was his ability to successfully reference points on every one of his records since “Night Ripper,” (one of his goals, as you’ll soon find out) while also remaining inventive and playful. Opening with the brash, dangerous Black Sabbath/Ludacris mashup that kicks “All Day” into gear, the mix transformed as suddenly as an 8-year-old with ADHD can change the subject. A late highlight from “Here’s the Thing” on “Feed the Animals” mashes “Jessie’s Girl” with a dizzying Chris Brown verse, an unexpected gem preserved for the live show. It’s a useful strategy, enabling him to toss newer music, previously unheard or live-only mixes in without confusing the audience.
Gillis really seemed to relish the small venue (kudos to Axe Body Spray for sponsoring his current college town tour), climbing up on his table above the audience to command his laptop from a Spider-Man-like position before swinging from the rafters and eventually hopping down in the crowd to dance with elated kids. It’s no surprise he’s one of the most consistently sought-after performers of the last half-decade or so. And as you’ll shortly find out, he probably hasn’t played a public show in a venue as intimate as Opolis in just as long.
OKS: Hi, Gregg. How’s the college tour going?
Gregg Gillis: It’s been incredible. We did Tuscaloosa; then we did Starkville, Miss.; then we did Fayetteville last night. The smaller venues have been crazy. We’ve worked really hard at the show to make it bigger, to make it accessible for the larger venues. That’s something I’ve enjoyed doing.
But there definitely is, absolutely, and it doesn’t matter what band you are, there’s something special about those intimate shows. I feel like every fan can relate to that; every musician can relate to that. I think when Axe hit us up and came at us with the opportunity for this tour, where we’d get to bring the whole crew and the whole production to the smaller venues, it was — for me — a no-brainer. I’ve been looking forward to this run of shows more so than any shows out of almost this entire year.
OKS: Save for a couple of stagehands with toilet paper-shooting leaf blowers, you’ve been your own hype man onstage most of your career. How has that gotten easier over the years? Doing your own hype and working the crowd?
Gillis: It’s the sort of thing where experience is everything. Getting in that mode and behaving that way is very different from my day-to-day personality. When I’m onstage, I’m definitely behaving in a way I don’t experience outside of the stage. So I feel really grateful for having six years of no one giving a shit about this project, y’know, touring around and playing for 30 people. Thirty people, 10 people, whatever, with no one caring.
Those years were really fun because there was no fear of failing; you’re touring with your friends and it was a blast. But you really kind of learn to wear a thick coat, you know what I mean? You learn to just deal with any situation. And back then, things could get really grim. People would wanna fight you or unplug you, and it would spiral out of control. So once the shows started to gain some success and momentum, it was a lot easier — way more fun. People were coming out to enjoy the show for the first time in six years, and it just created a whole different vibe.
I think about that a lot when I see young bands because the cycle’s getting kinda fast now, and so many bands just don’t get a chance to experience that — you know, shitty shows and years of being borderline-happy and borderline-miserable. So yeah, those years are really valuable to me.
As the bigger shows have gone on, I’ve been in a lot of different situations, like playing before Kanye West in Las Vegas to playing at a weird music festival in Europe where people don’t know who I am. I think all of those are helpful and you learn, and I feel like I’m better at it now than I was a year ago, and the year prior than that, and I feel at this point that no situation could truly shake me. I’m prepared for whatever the hell’s about to go down.
OKS: Do you ever come up with a really good idea for some mash in your head or on paper that just doesn’t comport when you sit down to work it out?
Gillis: That definitely happens. But most of the stuff I put together isn’t intuitive. Most things that come together are not ideas I had until I heard them together. There might be a new hip-hop song out there I like and I have an a capella of the verse, and I might have an idea of the tempo it’s at. So typically, with that tempo, I could run through a list of songs with that tempo that I’ve used on albums, and ones I haven’t used on albums.
I’d say the majority of things get made up on the spot, but there is the rare case that this sounds like this tempo matches up perfectly with this, and I sit down and I hash it out and it definitely fails. In general, I have more failures than successes, you know what I mean? The majority of stuff I try out does not see the light of day. There are different days of work for me. Some days are just spent isolating samples, and some days are trial and error.
And when it is like a trial-and-error day or week, I can have a bunch of ideas or even try out hundreds of combinations and only a couple stand out to me. At this point I’ve just become really difficult on myself and really critical on myself to raise the bar, always. I think people want to see that, you know? People want to see that growth. What I would allow now, on an album, is drastically different from what I would’ve allowed in 2006.
OKS: Other than the obvious “wanting to improve,” what motivations have raised that bar higher?
Gillis: It’s just a personal thing. And learning how to do it. When I was putting together “Night Ripper,” I thought, “This definitely relates to many things before it,” ranging from, like, “Paul’s Boutique” to N.W.A. records to John Oswald. It didn’t come out of thin air. But I did feel like it was a unique sound. That nobody has done this exact thing. So that was at the heart of that. And once it was established, it was like, “How do I grow from there?”
I feel like when people are critical of music, it’s more often the concepts that they’re critical about. I rarely read critical stuff like, ”Oh, that was a sour note in there,” or “Oh, that transition was horrible.” It’s almost never like that, it’s more focused on “Are you into the concept or are you out of the concept?”
And I understand. I don’t expect everybody to be into it on every level. So from there, I’ve been figuring out how to make everything better, how to make my production tighter, the transitions smoother, and I think in the earlier years, it was about smaller loops. It’s been a weird thing because the music’s gotten more accessible, but it’s also gotten more complicated. The way to make it more involved was to find bigger samples and grasp multiple connections for songs.
To me, a great example would be the beginning of the new record, that Ludacris with Black Sabbath. Luda’s there, you’ve got the Black Sabbath vocals and like four different guitar lines, then you come to the vocals in different ways. It’s way different from “Night Ripper,” where there’s like one loop, then you move on.
That was just a personal challenge to myself, of how I could make this more involved. The goal was to make a really complicated collage that’s also not a chore to listen to, that people can actually enjoy. In that regard, I’ve definitely been more critical of myself than anything I’ve ever read.
OKS: Do you feel the responsibility to represent types of music that are often under-represented by, like, the media?
Gillis: That’s weird, ’cause it’s hard for me to do that. There’s so many failures in [making] the music that I can’t ever really think, like, “Oh, this album should have this, or that,” you know what I mean? I can’t actively try to represent this band or that band because there’s so many options and things I can do on the albums that it ultimately comes down to what works best musically.
But I think where each song stands in pop culture definitely factors into the mixes. I don’t mind having a song that’s considered cheesy in the entire world of the mix, but I don’t want to have many of those right in a row. I don’t want to put MC Hammer next to Vanilla Ice, next to Baha Men. But I don’t mind using an element of something like that, if it’s next to something from the opposite end of the critical spectrum, like Aphex Twin or something like that. So that sort of thing has definitely factored in.
Or even songs like one-hit wonders that I think have been glossed over and I want to definitely use them. And that’s less like trying to get something out there to the audience and more like harnessing something powerful in those more obscure pop songs that people know and love and hear, but forget about. There’s a power to that and it’s something I try to use in all the albums. It’s a characteristic of, you know, 10 to 20 percent of samples, those forgotten pop songs that are absolutely great pop landmarks.
OKS: That’s interesting. I was kinda talking more about, like female emcees, for instance. Because I know I probably wouldn’t have ever actively sought out, say, Rye Rye if I hadn’t heard her on “All Day.”
Gillis: With that stuff, it’s just kinda like, that’s my personal taste, I love female emcees. On the record there’s that Rye Rye and Dominique Young Unique. Live, I always try to do a little Nicki Minaj. I really enjoy stuff ranging from like Gangsta Boo to M.I.A. to Lil’ Kim, all that stuff. That’s just kind of a personal thing, a taste thing that shows up on the album.
OKS: I imagine it probably even feels that much better to get stuff you especially like in there when it works with the arrangement. That’s like, the sweet spot.
Gillis: Right. It’s the same with some of the more obscure, older samples. It’s not the goal to get it out there to people, but it’s definitely fun to me and enjoyable when I’m playing a college in 2011 and I drop a Fugazi sample and all the girls are screaming. It’s comical, it’s cool. I love Fugazi. It wasn’t my goal to get them out to this audience, but it’s definitely cool to me that this crowd is recognizing the sample and getting down with it.
OKS: It’s been just over a year since “All Day” came out and I understand that you’re constantly working and reworking your music. What songs have come out since then that you’ve been working with? Or wanting to work with?
Gillis: Yeah, usually once the album or song comes out, I start working. People expect that at shows. At recent shows in the last year I have a mix — I’ve been doing various versions of it — of [Chris Brown’s] “Look at Me Now,” the Busta Rhymes verse, with a highly detailed, cut-up version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which I did use bits of on “Feed the Animals,” but this is, like, one of the more involved things. I wish it were on the last record, which is a thought I have a lot. It’s definitely of that caliber. I like it as much as, if not more so, than the majority of the record.
There’s that, Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain,” stuff off the new Jay-Z/Kanye record. I’ve been doing various mixes of Katy Perry’s “T.G.I.F.” It’s been a good year for pop, which is always the case. A hit comes out, then another one comes out two months later and I’m like, “Ah, I wish it were on the record.”
I definitely think I could do an entire show with new material, but there’s always finding that balance of referencing the old material. I know some people like “Night Ripper” more than “Feed the Animals,” and everyone has their favorite mixes, so I try to definitely reference all the albums. But now, a year later, at least over half the set is completely new material from “All Day.”
OKS: That’s nuts. I was listening to “All Day” this morning and the Drake sample on “Steady Shock” — I think it’s the song “Over,” the verse about Jada Pinkett — got me curious to know if you’d listened to his new record, and if you were gonna mine anything from it. I thought that might be an interesting challenge for how sparse and minimal it is.
Gillis: I bought it, and I haven’t listened to it yet. I went on a shopping spree the other day and bought a ton of records. I’ve heard the singles and, uh, Drake to me is really interesting because he makes great pop songs without being that exciting of a character, to me. There are so many other rappers I find more fascinating, but he definitely has this potential to be the next-level superstar.
He can sing and rap and act, and he’s smooth, and one thing I’ve always been impressed with is that he’s kinda pegged as the “emotional rapper.” A lot of his critics label him as too soft, but he’s able to have a verse or the hook on DJ Khaled songs and hold it down next to Rick Ross and Lil’ Wayne, and I’ve always thought that was cool, that he could step into that role and go next to heavyweight-hard rappers and not seem out of place.
But yeah, I haven’t heard the whole record yet. I did like the last one. I thought it was mellow, and yeah, he’s definitely carving out his own sound right now.
OKS: Definitely. I imagine it would probably be really difficult to translate into a Girl Talk mashup.
Gillis: Yeah, I haven’t tried anything off it yet, but is the single “Headlines” on it?
Gillis: That song, that’s a weird one. I like the song, that’s one I hear and it’s like, “I can’t believe this was the beat they chose for the single.” It’s minimal, it doesn’t stand out that much, but I applaud them for choosing it. It’s not what I would do; it’s a surprising pick. It’s definitely something where the first time I heard it, I was underwhelmed, but that beat’s totally grown on me. I really enjoy the song right now.
In which OKSee receives a brief comment from a real, live All-American Reject.
I was but an impressionable teenager (not impressionable enough to buy clothing from Hot Topic, I ought to point out) in middle school when I bought All-American Rejects’ self-titled 2003 debut.
At that time, actually talking to the power-poppers, even via a medium as anonymous and impersonal as the Internet, never seemed much of a possibility, so getting a couple of questions answered by guitarist Nick Wheeler is quite a career highlight, even if my tastes in music have progressed a little ways beyond mall-pop nearly 10 years later.
That said, the first single from AAR’s forthcoming “Kids in the Street” (release date TBA) is “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” which is pretty much only available on that old-fashioned medium, radio. Stay tuned to Oklahoma Gazette for a future story on the album.
OKSee: What was the biggest obstacle in recording "Kids in the Street"?
Wheeler: We always try to step outside of our comfort zone, not only in the studio, but in the writing process, too. If we don't uproot ourselves completely and really push ourselves to play a different instrument, or say something we haven't said before, the art would simply repeat itself.
On "Kids in the Street," our producer, Greg Wells, really guided us into some new territory, and keeping with a less-is-more approach, we tried to made every part count. Probably, one of the hardest things to do is put a song away and say that it's "done.”
But probably the biggest challenge while making "Kids in the Street" was letting the imperfections, caused by our most spontaneous approach to record making yet, live on the final master. There's something honest and beautiful about letting the blemishes show sometimes.
OKS: What do you think is the optimal situation for playing "Beekeeper's Daughter”? International fashion show? Saturday-night house party? Sexy photo shoot? Other?
Wheeler: D: Other.
Just kidding. I think our music is always a great listen while driving. I listened to "Kids in the Street" a lot during the mixing process by taking my dog on long walks, leaving my phone at home, and just losing myself in it. Our music has always been a great escape for us, as well as our fans. "Beekeeper's Daughter" has a lot of good sing-along moments, and can really be turned up in any setting, but, like a lot of songs on this record, has a groovy sex appeal to it.
The singer for new Altus band The Typist chats about keeping up with music culture in southwest Oklahoma.
It’s tough work doing everything yourself.
Living in Altus, the post-pop-punkers known as The Typist do a lot of music-related things themselves (read on for more about that), and that includes purchasing and operating their own recording equipment. Turns out, they did that quite well.
There’s a lot of enthusiasm in “Midwestern High Life”’s 10 tracks — specifically, the big-rock keyboard melodies, but also in the earnest, aggressively sung and shouted lyrics that mourn busted-up relationships and reconcile the future against the prospect of leaving where you grew up and fell in love (see: “Midwest”).
Singer Matt Moran was nice enough to answer a few questions about the birth of his band and what it’s like recording music in a place like Altus. Read on, and be sure to give “Midwestern High Life” a listen, below.
The Typist plays The Conservatory tomorrow night with Frank Smith and O Fidelis.
OKS: How did you guys set up this show with Frank Smith and O Fidelis?
Matt Moran: We’ve got a little bit of a history playing The Conservatory with old bands. I was also in a band that played with O Fidelis at the benefit for the UCO Jazz Lab a little while back. That’s how we got that going.
OKS: What other bands have you guys played in?
Moran: Our bassist, Patrick [Bellamy], and I were in You’d Prefer an Astronaut, which was a post-rock band that was in the vein of This Will Destroy You-type music. I’ve been in a few older punk bands from a waaaaay that played Conservatory. It was a pretty youth-punk-type deal.
How did The Typist come to be?
Moran: I’d been in and out of bands, and I started doing stuff on my own. I’d been doing it for a while and I decided, "Y’know, I should probably start recording and playing new songs for people." So I recorded a short little EP — five songs, acoustic — but I realized that I was just meant to do the band thing. I got help from my friends Justin [Strickland, drummer] and Patrick, we started playing the songs and then decided we needed to write songs as a band, and get everybody involved. We came up with an album’s worth of material, so we decided to record it.
We were like, “Well, we can go to a studio and lay this down,” but we decided that we wanted to take the time we wanted to take and not be limited by studio money. So we threw all our money together, bought some recording gear and spent the last two and a half months recording it, day in and day out.
We didn’t even actually add our keyboard player — who’s my brother, Daniel [Moran] — until last month. He came in and laid down a lot of keyboard parts, and as soon as he was finished, we just looked at him and said, “You’ve got no option; you have to be in this band. You just completed it. You made everything sound twice as good.”
OKS: What did Daniel bring with his keyboard? Was he playing a lot of riff-type stuff, or what?
Moran: He was doing a lot of Hammond organ stuff. I happen to be a religious follower of Charles Gillingham of the Counting Crows, and my brother came in and did that type of thing. He nailed it.
OKS: Do you guys all live in Altus?
Moran: Yes, except for Daniel. He lives an hour north, in Elk City.
OKS: What are some of the challenges of living and recording down in the southwest?
Moran: I guess the biggest challenge is just playing as much as you can. Down here — most people don’t know this — we actually have a pretty good music scene. It has a very DIY aesthetic about it. Everything we do, living in Altus, we have to do everything ourselves. If we want to get a show together, it’s the old DIY thing of finding a place, renting it out, getting a sound system, getting everything together yourself, promoting it as much as you can, and trying to do all that.
We like to come up and play in the city as much as we can, because we feel like it’s one of the really good places to be. For so many reasons, we remain here, but we try to make the best of what we got. I think it instills a good work ethic into us.
OKS: What sorts of venues do you guys play in for shows in Altus?
Moran: We’ve done all sorts of shit. We usually rent empty halls out and put it on, but we’ve done house shows. I’ve done a show in a storage shed, which was actually a pretty fun time. We packed about 50 people into it.
OKS: That’s impressive. Do you guys have something like a record store down there?
Moran: We don’t have a record store, but we have a really awesome music store that’s actually helped us out a bunch. Our drummer works there, and they’ve really helped us out and backed us up.
OKS: How do you stay up with new music?
Moran: Largely the Internet. We’ve got friends who are way more into that than we are. I go to Size Records every time I’m in the city, but otherwise, we’ve got to keep up with it online.
OKS: Through the Internet, you’ve got just as much access as me at my desk or somebody in New York or whatever. Do you feel it’s a big enabler for you guys, like you have the same opportunity as anybody else?
Moran: Yes, definitely. That hits the nail on the head. It’s kind of an equalizer for us. It’s not like we can go up and socialize with people as much as we want to, or go to the places we want to go on a regular basis. We have to socialize and keep up with music online, then make the trip when we can.
OKS: What are the biggest limitations in being physically removed from the music scene in OKC, where you’d like to be more involved?
Moran: Mainly, it puts a limit on the camaraderie you can have. It’s a small social network that we have, and you don’t get to connect with people as much as you like to. When you can’t have that regular connection, it makes it difficult.
OKS: How does that frustration factor into you guys’ music?
Moran: Because of the tighter circle, we all know each other — musically — really well. You’ve got limited resources and limited people to make things happen with, so you really get to know each other. You grow to be a family.
Our drummer, he’s an incredible drummer. When he tells me something, I know exactly where he’s coming from, what he’s talking about. There’s nothing that ever gets lost in translation from instrument to instrument, player to player, or whatever.
OKS: If you had to sit down and talk it out as a band, what band would you say informed your music directly?
Moran: Like our biggest influence? I’d have to say probably a band like Manchester Orchestra. Very direct rock ’n’ roll with Southern sound and a distinct keyboard.
OKS: Who wrote the lyrics? You?
Moran: Yeah, that was me. It was an interesting feeling to write all the lyrics for a record.
OKS: Had you never done that before?
Moran: I had, just mostly for my personal music before. Never with a band.
OKS: So were you apprehensive going into it?
Moran: It honestly did, because these other guys are really great musicians. I didn’t want to do them a disservice. I didn’t want them to walk away thinking, “This should change, that should change.”
OKS: Did anybody else in the band try to offer advice on the lyric-writing, or do they understand it to be your thing?
Moran: They leave it to me, but they’re very free with the advice on the vocal melodies.
Listen to The Typist’s first album, “Midwestern High Life,” below. You can download it for $5.
If you thought TV's 'The Walking Dead' was slow ...
Horror Rod Lott
Recently, I bought an issue of a UK film magazine whose cover story counted down the 66 best zombie movies ever
made. Perched at No. 31 was Howard and Jonathan Ford's "The Dead" — a
damned strong showing for two Brit brothers whose previous pair of
pictures didn’t even make a blip.
Making the zombie film ‘The Dead’ almost turned the two men into zombies themselves.
For their latest project, UK filmmaking brothers Howard J. and Jonathan Ford shared scripting and directorial duties, which is a good thing, considering the experience nearly killed them (and others). The end result is not-so-ironically titled “The Dead,” a zombie epic set in South Africa that’s been called one of the genre’s best in recent years. It hits home video on Valentine’s Day, so share it with the one you love. Until then, here’s our interview with both sibs about making the horror film.
R&R: With so many zombie projects these days, why another one?
Howard Ford: For us, it's our first. We felt it would be different. We hadn't seen a living dead movie in Africa before, and in a way, we were slightly taking the living dead legend back to its roots in Haiti, French-speaking West Africa as well, where we shot the movie. That was very, very difficult to do, but we wanted a journey movie, and it felt different for that reason. It was a film that could hopefully work for people who just wanted to be entertained by the zombie situations and also to find deeper meaning as well.
Jonathan Ford: I felt like this genre of movie had passed without this particular type of movie having being made. An era had passed without all the boxes checked.
Howard Ford: And going back to the classics, as well. We first saw [George A.] Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” when I was 11 and that blew us away. It took horror into the light. And we've seen a few films since then that have been a little more disappointing. There's a formula now: People end up cooped up in a building and zombies try to get in. We said, “No, let's just take people on a journey so they're never in the same location for a few minutes.” That was something we personally wanted to see.
R&R: Shooting in regions that have been described as "life-threatening," what were you thinking?
Howard Ford: Funny, "What were we thinking?" is the opening line of my book I just finished this morning, I kid you not. It comes out in March, but that’s another story. What the hell were we thinking? A movie by British filmmakers in French-speaking West Africa ...
Jonathan Ford: ... with a Canadian vegan lead!
Howard Ford: The whole thing is crazy on paper and it was crazy. I was mugged by knife point on day one in the city and they took everything: my cards, my cash, my driver's license. The police tried to put me in jail for driving without the license taken from me in the mugging. The lead actor, Rob Freeman, nearly died of malaria.
Jonathan Ford: I got malaria, too. Horrific food poisoning. Every meal was like Russian roulette, and that's when you could find a meal. What the hell were we thinking?
Howard Ford: We were often digging for a toilet. There's no facilities there. You dig a whole in the ground and good luck to you. We kind of wanted to have this organic feeling and it became a life-threatening journey.
R&R:How long of a shoot was it?
Howard Ford: Well, it was supposed to be six weeks, but it took us five weeks to get our equipment out of the port.
Jonathan Ford: We were out there for about three months.
Howard Ford: When we did get going after five weeks of waiting on our equipment and paying God knows what every day at the ports, then Rob collapsed with cerebral malaria, convulsing, spent the night on a table covered in his own shit because there was no hospital bed.
Jonathan Ford: Then the doctor said, "He may not pull through. He's going to die in the next two or three days." And then he was on a trip for two weeks, so that's seven weeks down, and we haven't even done anything yet!
Howard Ford: And there's police pointing guns us for money all the time. It was just a living hell.
R&R: The film has been pretty well-received, yet it hasn't been given a large theatrical release in North America? I imagine that has to be frustrating after all that you went through --
Jonathan Ford: Yes!
Howard Ford: We're proud of what we've done, given the circumstances under which we did it, but it got a theatrical release, which is what we wanted, in 20 cities across the U.S.
Jonathan Ford: Unless you've got a big name in your movie, you ain't gonna get a large theatrical release. We accept that's the way the business works. It's not about how good or bad your movie is. It's down to the name thing, and we didn't have a name.
Howard Ford: We didn't have Paris Hilton in it, which is probably a shame …
Jonathan Ford: Steven Seagal.
Howard Ford: We'd love to see it more on the big screen. Audience reactions are really, really good.
Jonathan Ford: Certainly after the heart and soul and pain, and blood and sweat and tears — a lot of blood, sweat and tears — yeah, obviously, you want it to get the biggest exposure you can.
Howard Ford: We didn't shoot digital, so after lugging a 35mm camera across the Sahara Desert under such difficult circumstances — yes, it would've been nice to get it out there more. But hey, if people support the film on DVD and Blu-ray, and we're thoroughly appreciative of everyone who supports the movie by buying it …
Jonathan Ford: Hopefully it finds its audience there.
Howard Ford: ... we'll come back and do it all again.
R&R: You really would do a sequel? Do you have one in mind?
Howard Ford: We talked about the sequel even before the first one. But we had such a horrific experience making the film, which has made us very concerned about it, but yes. What it comes down to is, is there a demand for it? Do enough people buy the DVD and Blu-ray?
Jonathan Ford: It broke my heart, [but] some of my favorite sequences never made it into the film. We could easily pack another movie and hopefully make an ever better one next time.
Howard Ford: The U.S. release [of the Blu-ray and DVD] really has a bearing on all that.
Jonathan Ford: It's kind of hinging on that. It's all or nothing now! —Rod Lott