This was a bit of an escalation of an idea. Wooden peg changer extraordinaire Claire Cressey made me some mini False Alarms with whom I immediately fell in love. Before taking a photo of us all, I felt Robin needed an ‘actual’ drum kit so I built one using some Fablon, toilet rolls, cocktail sticks and silver foil. I added some cymbals and a hi-hat, made of course from Ferrero Rocher wrappers.
Then I started to feel sorry for everyone else, so I made a bass rig for Tom and a guitar rig for Brad, and John was given a keyboard (I tried making a cornet but after several failed attempts I gave up). Brad, Tom and Ben were given pedal boards, Robin’s carpet was slipped under his kit, and guitar stand, towel and setlists were slung into position. All ready for the photo.
Then I thought it would be fun if they were actually on a stage of some sort so I made one out of a cardboard box and some old shelving. I then made a backdrop using a glittery shirt I had bought from a charity shop for our dear friend Liz Dando’s glitter party, shortly before she sadly passed away. I thought she’d be well up for being remembered in what I thought was going to be a fun band photo.
I then thought you can’t have a stage without mic stands, stage box, monitors and speakers so I made some using quadrant moulding, cocktail sticks, balsa wood, beads and various threads. The speaker fronts are sandpaper (60 grade FYI). So, all ready for the photo.
Then I thought I’d need some kind of lighting rig if I want it to look more realistic. So I set about building one using dowelling, more silver foil and TV aerial connectors. This was by far the most difficult and fiddly bit, and it took a couple of days, but I was happy that I was finally ready for the photo.
But then I thought, seeing as it had taken me so long to build the set, that it would be fun to actually try to make some kind of music video. So, with no real idea of how I was going to do it, I decided on Es Tut Mir Leid and asked Claire to make me a few more characters. She got to work and sent me the security guards, the card bearers, and the front row cast of mainly regular gig-goers.
I then ordered another 60 wooden pegs and spent the next few days painting audience members with a little help from my son Silas. Crowd barrier had to go in of course and I added a few beer bottles made from electrical connectors. They’re supposed to be Heineken but to be honest we can only usually afford Perlenbacher.
In the meantime, John Leonard, when he wasn’t busy with his main band Ferocious Dog, started to join us for gigs. I’d already built the mic stands and monitors and there’s no way I was making another, so, again with Claire’s help, he joined us on stage but without a mic. At a recent gig I’d noticed he’d always find his way onto someone else’s mic, so I was sure he wouldn’t mind. Even though the banjo is incredibly low in the mix on this track – some would argue ‘non-existent’ – I thought I’d let him join in.
Still with no idea of what I was going to do I bought some LED strip lights and in the style of an 80’s school disco made the stage flash just a little bit too much.
The only thing I could think of was to try my hand at stop motion animation, so I watched a few tutorials – practised with a little tale about my earplugs wandering off to see Benny while in bed with him at Roystonbury – and then blacked out the dining room and set to work for two weeks.
Moving each figure and each ‘cymbal’ a millimetre at a time I started the quite tremendous task of making us all move around. When I was roughly happy with the ‘movie’ I started the equally tremendous task of adding mouths to everyone and getting them chirping along, roughly in time.
Over 10,000 images later with aching arms and tired eyes, and England out of the World Cup, I felt I was pretty much there. A few finishing touches involved adding a smoke machine (obvs), some more lighting, a bit of feedback from Brad for the beginning, and an actual audience for the end. The latter was recorded at Middlezoy Arts Festival last night (14/07/18), thanks for clapping longer than you normally might.
As I type, the finished video is uploading and I’m feeling a little empty inside because I have just demolished the set (lighting rig being most painful), thrown most of it away and put the dining room back to normal. It’s been a big part of my life for the last couple of months and it not existing any more feels very strange.
So there you have it. An idea to take a simple band photo ended up being a mammoth work-it-out-as-you-go-along task making a music video.
I lost my mum, also a ‘Liz’ two months ago and she knew I was planning to one day do a music video for this song, which was one of her favourites. So, although I am quietly pleased with the final outcome, there’s more than a tinge of sadness that neither Liz ever got to see it.
Thanks for watching
Claire’s peg painting can be found HERE