Los Angeles quintet, Wires in the Walls, concoct jangly folk pop with joy and optimism that defies the times. Their true to form DIY approach must be their secret. The band’s debut LP, “New Symmetry” dropped in October, with this nostalgic ditty “YSA,” featuring Warren Sroka on vocals/guitar, Nick Tracz on bass/vocals, Bryan King on drums/horns, Dave Irelan on guitar/vocals, and multi-instrumentalist Dave Sicher cementing their presence in west coast Americana.
“A few years back, Warren played me this song on the guitar in his living room and I thought it was excellent,” director Brent Willis recalls. “For me it brought up all this really powerful nostalgic teenage imagery.”
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Now, years later when the band asked Willis to direct the video he didn’t hesitate. But the director admits, “When I pitched the concept, the band was like, ‘huh?’ And yet, they trusted me enough to give me full reign to do whatever.” The video was shot with the Red One, Willis details, “By the very creative DP, Andy Bryant and he and I worked closely from very early on. I also had the pleasure of working with AD, Joe Saroufim, Producer, Sean French, and Pros And Cons Studios. And all the while, knowing that in post I’d have the luxury of colorist, Andrew Francis’ attention to detail, I was given the room to maneuver freely in any direction.”
The collaboration was a success for DIY craft and passion. “So the lesson here is this, working with a really trusting band, and a tight-knit team on a perfect little love letter to nostalgia can be pretty awesome,” Willis concludes. “Yeah…I highly recommend it.”
Filmmaker Chris Olness and editor Erin Nordstrom (Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”) also shot a documentary about Wires in the Walls, which you can watch here.
Are you digging Wires in the Walls sound? Are they reminiscent of anyone to you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!
Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.
Posted by Luke McKinney on Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television
The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.
Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.
1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.
2. IKEA Heights
IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.
When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.
Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.
5. Too Many Cooks
Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.
6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.
7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV
Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.
8. Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…
9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.
10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.
11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)
Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.
And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”
12. Acorn Antiques
First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.
13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show
In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)
14. The Spoils of Babylon
Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.
15. All My Children Finale, SNL
SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.
If Primus wanted to go for the obvious, the band’s new clip for “Tragedy’s a’ Comin'” — their first video in eleven years — could have featured any number of post apocalyptic scenarios or personal tragedies. But then they wouldn’t be Primus, and we wouldn’t have a lobster lament on our hands.
“Musically, it’s upbeat,” singer/bassist Les Claypool told IFC. “But lyrically, the song is all about impending doom. This last year has been a trying time in my world, with my mother fading away, my brother’s baby boy getting diagnosed with leukaemia, and other people having various ailments. So the song is about a storm coming, the rain must fall. But to depict that would have been the cliché thing to do, so we’ve got lobsters.”
As a lobster sits in his tank, he’s forced to watch all his friends get plucked out and served up to socialites one by one, and all he can do is wait and fantasize about being on a beach, where his larger-than-life self is played by Claypool.
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“I spent so many years dodging goofball bullets from doing the ‘Wynona’s Got A Big Brown Beaver’ video that I don’t resist it anymore,” Claypool said. “I got to put on a giant lobster suit, and that doesn’t happen every day.”
Claypool famously directed the “Wynona” video himself — and went on to helm several more before the band’s lengthy hiatus. To get back in the groove with “Tragedy,” he tried a combo of taking on some directing duties himself, but sharing the title with Mark Kohr, who lensed “Tommy the Cat” and “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” for the band in the early ’90s.
“I wrote the treatment, and I directed him when he was in it, but he’s officially the director of the video,” Claypool said. “Mark is one of the unsung heroes of the video world. His contemporaries are Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze, and he would have been just as massive as they are at this point in time, if an unfortunate illness in his family hadn’t caused him to fall out of the film world for a bit. We’re just excited to get him back in the saddle.”
Kohr plays the maître d’ at a restaurant who is about to serve up the unfortunate lobster. “People think it’s Steve Jobs when they see him, but we made this video before he passed,” Claypool noted.
Also not intended is any sort of animal cruelty statement. Claypool is an avid fisherman — hence songs such as “Last Salmon Man” and “Salmon Men” on Primus’ new album “Green Naugahyde.” But he’s never pulled a lobster out of the water, nor does he think a lobster’s culinary end is necessarily inhumane, despite it being boiled alive.
“PETA would probably hate me for this,” Claypool said, “but I think it’s kind of like going to sleep in a hot tub. Or like having too much wine and going to sleep.”
Speaking of wine, the restaurant scenes feature vintages from the musician’s own winery, Claypool Cellars. “You couldn’t put any real alcohol in videos before, because MTV wouldn’t play them,” he said. “We thought, ‘What the hell? MTV’s not going to play this anyway!”
In 1966, after The Beach Boys masterwork, “Pet Sounds,” the band planned to follow up their success with an album called “Smile.” But as so often happens complications arose and somewhere during the many recording sessions between the spring of ’66 and the summer of ’67, the band fell apart. The master tapes were shelved, and the record was never released. Though the band was destined to release many more albums afterward, that album plagued by disputes and Brian Wilson’s breakdown in ’67, never saw a proper release. Wilson eventually released his own critically acclaimed solo version, but in the legendary songwriter’s own words, the original 1966-’67 “Smile Sessions” just finally released after 44 years is perhaps more “interesting.”
I talked with Wilson, whom I was told loved Broadway musicals more than anything, and though that proved not to be wholly accurate, he certainly loves Gershwin more than anything. We talked about his favorites, an upcoming Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic, and how the 1965 film “The Monkey’s Uncle” blew him out.
Was some of the material on “Smile” too cryptic for the rest of the band at the time, too complex?
Right, complex is the word, yeah.
How does this compare to the solo version you released a few years back?
Well, a little more interesting, I think. It’s the makings of “Smile.” Sort of like the background view of what we did back then [in the 60’s].
You were inspired by Gershwin, and did that great re-imagining of his songs last year, which I thought was pretty fantastic. How have Broadway musicals influenced your own writing?
You know what? There are hardly any, not really at all.
Really, you didn’t find them to be much of an influence, even back in the day?
No, Tony Hatch I liked a lot, but, you know. I didn’t really go to musicals, hardly at all.
But Gershwin certainly inspired your songwriting.
Well George Gershwin was my big hero. Of course, yeah. I first heard Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue when I was 3 years old. Our song “Heroes and Villains” [on “Smile”] had a lot of Gershwin in it. He was the greatest.
Have you ever thought of film composing?
No, I haven’t. I can write songs, I’ve had songs in movies, but I can’t compose film scores, you know?
Were you happy with how your Disney album came out?
Yeah, we just finished it up, songs “In the key of Disney.” It had 12 songs on it, and I produced it and sang the leads. My background band played the instruments and sang background. It took us about 2 months to make it, it’s a great album. “When you Wish Upon a Star,” “Stay, Stay Awake Baby of Mine.” There’s so many beautiful tunes on there.
So not even that, those were all really film songs, that hasn’t sparked your interest in composing music for film?
Well, no, not really [laughs].
What’s your usual reaction to hearing the Beach Boys in a movie?
Well in “The Monkey’s Uncle?” It blew me out! I was so proud to be part of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon too, you know? I never really met Frankie Avalon, well I might have, but I can’t remember [laughter].
I hear there’s a film about you coming out, is that true?
That’s true. We don’t know when. We don’t know when but it’s in the makings now. We’re trying to get the script so it’s accurate and doesn’t, you know, say things that I didn’t do, you know. You know what I mean?
So you’re involved, kind of approving things?
Yeah, we’ve been doing that off and on for a couple of months now. As soon as the script’s done they’ll go ahead with the movie.
Is it going to be a broad Brian Wilson biopic or focus in on a particular time of The Beach Boys?
If you could inhabit a Gershwin tune, which would it be?
Oh, well, “Love Is Here to Stay.” And “I Loves You, Porgy,” “Summertime”, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Those 5 are my favorite.
I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!