Art Brut’s ‘Lost Weekend’ Superhero Themed Music Video with Director Alex de Campi [Video]
When we last wrote about Art Brut back in March, the British indie rock outfit had just released the cover artwork for their new album, Brilliant! Tragic!, illustrated by ComicsAlliance favorite Jamie McKelvie (Phonogram: The Singles Club, Suburban Glamour). The band's comic book connections deepened this week with the debut of their latest music video, "Lost Weekend," which was directed by filmmaker and Eisner-nominated writer Alex de Campi (Smoke with Igor Kordey, Amanda Palmer's "Leeds United"). Naturally, the "Lost Weekend" video strays somewhat into superhero territory, featuring our own Bethany Fong as a costumed character.
ComicsAlliance spoke with Ms. de Campi about her collaboration with Art Brut and the band's fondness for comics material, and we also take a look at McKelvie's artwork for the "Lost Weekend" single.
ComicsAlliance: Tell us about your concept for "Lost Weekend," Alex. You've got a cast of costumed weirdos and a unicorn in this one.
Alex de Campi: It was all quite last minute! We only had one day to shoot the band, while they were over in New York doing a gig at Webster Hall, and everyone was up in the air as to what song we were doing it for until about a week before the video. So I basically burbled something about crazy sh*t that happens at 4am when you're wasted but because you're wasted seems weirdly normal. You know, the next morning you wake up and think, wait, where was I last night that there was a contortionist? The strange, distancing loneliness of late, late night... Then I was like, "and in the instrumental bit at the end Eddie goes and meets a unicorn and gets zapped up to the Earth, Wind & Fire plane." Because videos always have to have something fun happen at the end. Bless 'em, Art Brut thought that was a great idea.
AcD: The lens flares at the end weren't planned, either, but once it happened in an early take we knew we wanted the whole end bit to just dissolve into epic rock lens flare fuzz. Performance videos are a bit like that... You can plan them to some extent, but so much of it is reacting to what happens on the day, teasing out the good things and making them happen again and again. I love the intimacy and slight sadness of Eddie's performance, and we had fun egging on Jasper and Ian's guitar duels -- their energy, bouncing off each other. Plus Jasper readjusting his glasses, so kawaii. And Freddy's (Art Brut's female bassist) shy and beautiful smiles. The captured moment feels so good when you get it.
We have so much more footage we didn't use, because during the edit process MTV preferred the radio edit to the 60+ second longer album edit we had shot. Within the next week or so I'm going to do a Web-only cut of the video with all the unseen footage as it's too good to live on only in my Capture Scratch folder in Final Cut.
CA: The unicorn intrigues us.
AdC: The unicorn was actually a direct response to Joseph Kahn's video for Katy Perry, "Hot N Cold." Apparently Kahn waived his director's fee so Perry could show up with a zebra at the end. While that was cool, you know that video was directed by a straight guy because every chick knows that if you're going to go zebra, you might as well just go full unicorn. So, even though our budget was less than the cost of Katy Perry's makeup (they charge by the pound), we went full unicorn. Suck it, Perry.
CA: Art Brut really like comic books. They've hired you, an acclaimed comics writer and director of videos for noted comic book fan (and spouse of comics creator Neil Gaiman) Amanda Palmer; they've hired Jamie McKelvie to create their sleeve artwork; they have costumed characters in the video for "Lost Weekend"; and Argos has the Spoiler Alert! side project with three songs about DC Comics characters.
AdC: And they have a song called "DC Comics & Chocolate Milkshakes." And while Jamie McKelvie did the gorgeous cover for the new Brilliant! Tragic! album, the Art Brut vs Satan cover was done by Jeff Lemire. [Frontman] Eddie Argos loves comics. I also love comics. We agree that Giffen & DeMatteis' Justice League International run is one of the high points of Western civilization. We're also part of this whole mostly-London-based comics/indie music mafia that also incorporates Kieron Gillen, Mira Manga and Akira The Don... so we've all been in each other's pockets for a while. Eddie had seen my videos for Amanda Palmer and others, and had always said he wanted me to do a video for the band. So there was never a formal commissioning process... we just shot emails back and forth.
AdC: The superheroes in the video, like so much in it, were iterative. I was canvassing friends and fans to make cameos, basically saying I was doing video portraits and to tell me what their abiding love/hobby was, and bring something to reflect that. Bethany said she adored making superhero costumes, and another friend said she could dress up as a White Funk Superhero. So they were signed on immediately as my superfolk.
CA: That's right, you cast the video via Twitter, didn't you?
AdC: The awesome thing about working with unique acts like Amanda, the Puppinis, or Art Brut, is their fans are amazing people and often great artists in their own right. We put out a call and so, so many wonderful people offered up their time to come down and do mad and intimate things in front of our cameras.
CA: ComicsAlliance contributor Bethany Fong is a huge Art Brut fan and appears in the "Long Weekend" video in one of her trademarked cosplays. Please tell us about the experience of working with her. Did she behave dreadfully?
AdC: Oh yeah, Bethany. You know why she only is shown making a fist in the video? Because she was so trashed that's all she could do. We had two camera assistants propping her up, out of shot. The unicorn brought like a kilo of cheap blow and Bethany spent the whole time in the unicorn's trailer racking up rails on a remaindered copy of Watchmen and giggling "I'm Zack Snyder!" in a fake, high-pitched voice. Never work with unicorns. They're all raving drug fiends. Still, I bet Bethany could do a better job directing Superman.
CA: What's next for Alex de Campi?
AdC: Golly. Comixwise, episode 10 of my free web/iPhone/Android comic Valentine will come out in a couple weeks, and it will be the last for a while. I lost my job so can't afford to pay for the art anymore, and we've epically failed to get a publisher involved who can help finance it. I'm still hoping to get the printed edition of episodes 01-08 out via Image (who have been lovely and ever so patient), but at the moment I can't pay for the painted cover or the 40-page bonus story I wanted in it so that's on hold too. There were to be 24 episodes in all. I must get a Kickstarter going for it at some point, but I'm right in the middle of moving house and still recovering from the job loss, which hit me hard.
Futurecomix: I'm doing a work-for-hires series for Radical... they'll probably say something about that soon. Looking for other WFH stuff. And I'm on page 150 (of about 250, digest-size) of the Smoke 2 script. Again, no publisher. It's really, really hard to get intelligent genre work published in comics at the moment. If it ain't a superhero, a licensed property, or a black-and-white "literary" comic, you're kinda screwed. And I'm finding it very hard to self-publish around having a young baby and my film career.
I know, wah wah wah, but I just need some help producing my stuff, and it's nowhere to be found. I have this need to finish Smoke 2. Even if it just sits in a drawer it will give me great psychic pleasure to have it no longer sitting in my head. It's perhaps the best thing I've ever written, if a bit mad. Still an existential thriller. Doesn't try as hard to be liked as Smoke 1 did. Won't be Igor on art chores as now he is a French art star and booked up until Ragnarok. Will probably be shared between six or seven artists.
AdC: Other than that, Mrs Lincoln... I have a couple more music videos lined up, and am finally actually doing my stop-motion film of Neil Gaiman's ultrashort "Nicholas Was." Gothic Xmas horror. I may also be doing something with that Mr. Coates fellow for his soundtrack to Glen Duncan's upcoming novel The Last Werewolf.
For more on Alex de Campi, check out her website and Twitter feed. For more on Art Brut, check out their website. For more on Jamie McKelvie, check out his website and Twitter feed. For more on Bethany Fong, check out her ComicsAlliance posts, website and Twitter feed.