My friend Brian is a nomad — a citizen of the world. When he isn’t breathlessly bopping around the globe, he is likely either sequestered in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar, nestled in one of the quiet villages of northern Thailand, or relaxing in the house in Ireland he shares with his siblings. Right now he is enjoying the southern California sun at his brother’s house located on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park. Occasionally, he finds himself in New York. Not the city—although he comes to visit now and then—but rather the rolling hills upstate.
A little over a month ago, he invited me there to help him realize his vision.
Although the band he and I used to be in together is ancient history, Brian has been keeping the faith in many ways. Most recently by writing and recording an album’s worth of material.
He wanted me to help him make a video for one of his songs. “The way we used to," he said.
What he meant by “the way we used to” was, “let’s fly by the seat of our pants and make something cool without spending any money.”
“Yes!” I said.
The video wasn’t made with "no budget" exactly, but the only significant expense was a couple of wigs and some makeup from the Halloween store. I told him next time, instead of shooting the video a week before Halloween, he should wait until the week after. Although doing it the week before meant the costume stores were well stocked, the prices would be considerably discounted afterward. Oh well, you have to strike when the inspiration hits.
A friend of Brian gave us access to a big barn, which the friend uses as a painting studio. “If he shows up, be sure to tell him you love his paintings,” Brian said.
I looked around and didn’t see any paintings to comment on either way. Just a bunch of canvases that appeared to have been sitting around for years — dusty un-stretched panels, smudged with paint here or there.
“No, dude, those are his paintings. He’s really insecure about them.”
I shrugged and got to work setting up lights.
When his friend did finally arrive, I didn’t have a chance to say anything about his paintings one way or the other. “You guys have no idea how lucky you are,” he said. “I never let anyone use my studio. This is my fucking sanctuary. This is my domain. No one gets to work here but me. You guys are lucky.”
After making sure we understood and appreciated his generosity, he finally left us alone.
“The weather was just right for the apples this year,” said Brian as we took a break and walked the property, randomly picking apples and tasting them. Trees of assorted varieties dotted the property. One of them had produced so many apples that the tree fell over under the weight of them all. “You don’t have to eat the whole thing,” said Brian, as he tossed a core into the surrounding wood. “If you don’t like this kind, try a different one.”
We walked to another tree, and then another, tasting and tossing half eaten fruit until we were sick of apples. “You have to remember to take some home with you.”
I forgot, of course.
The apples wound up playing an essential role in the video. In one part, Brian, as a blue Indian god-like being, releases two apples that float upwards and out of frame. We rigged them up with fishing line. Brian drilled a hole through the core of each apple with a cordless drill. I laughed.
"Do you think this is going to be cheesy?" He asked.
"Probably, but that's not why I'm laughing. Music videos are always cheesy—it comes with the territory. I'm laughing because you are drilling a hole through an apple with a power drill."
Brian caught me laughing a lot. He'd ask, "Why are you laughing? Is it silly?"
I had to keep reassuring him, "No dude, I'm laughing because I'm having fun."
If anyone is interested, Brian's website is now up: blood on the microphone