Friday, April 25, 2008

Kudos to Jeremy

Hey everybody, I just wanted to say that I am extremely pleased and delighted to perform with the newest Slacks member, saxman Jeremy Valadez. He's really committed himself to learning a lot of horn lines on a lot of tunes in short order and he's excelled at the task. He's also been an able and willing participant in all things Slacks with a cheerful disposition and ready smile. Glad to have you on board, Jeremy!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hollywood Swingin'

Apologies to the folks who came out to see us this past Thursday at the Cantab and found us noticeably absent. It is the first Thursday we've missed in 127 weeks. But there was good reason! The band got a last minute casting call to appear in the Hollywood blockbuster (ahem) film "Bridal Wars" starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, and the shoot was Thursday. The Slacks were Kate's wedding band! Were on the set from 10:30am to 1am. Talk about a long gig! We hope your night wasn't totally ruined by our absence and we're sure Chris Waller and Candy's band put on a great show. We'll be back next week and every damn Thursday after that (barring any more calls from L.A.), and we'll see y'all on the big screen!

Bride Wars

Man what crazy work it is to make a real movie! The band got the call to appear in Bride Wars (starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway) on Sunday, with the shoot to take place Thursday night. By the time I got the band's OK and got the music to them, it was Monday night. Then they changed the shoot time from Thursday night to Thursday day! Needless to say we didn't have much time to prepare. But we're the Slacks, and we like a challenge.
We loaded in our gear to the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston at 10:30am Thursday, into the Venetian Room amid dozens of technical-looking men and women, some rushing around, some standing still looking bored. The place was completely decked out for a wedding, Hollywood-style. While we were setting up, some guy came over and covered up all the brand names on our instruments with tape. Apparently, if Fender wants their guitar in a movie, they have to pay for it.
After set-up, we were shuttled over to the "extras" holding area in the basement of Trinity Church, where 150 wedding extras were signing in, getting dressed, and standing in line for hair and makeup. I've never seen a more beautiful crowd (except for some Thursday nights at the Cantab).
About noontime, we were hustled back to the shoot and put in place on stage. They brought in the extras (wedding guests) onto the dancefloor and set up the shot. Eventually Kate and Anne and their leading men (didn't catch their names) showed up and got into position. Words like "cue playback" and "T-mark" and "Rolling" and "Action" started up and the Chicken Slacks officially began our acting careers.
The first thing I noticed was how incredibly slow the filming process takes. We were on the set for about 14 hours, and they must've shot about one minute of footage! I just kept thinking "Can't we just run this a few times and move on?" But of course I have no idea how it all works, I guess there's lighting and sound and foreground and background and all that cinematography stuff that needs to be considered. And this was just Bride Wars, can you imagine what filming Lord of the Rings must be like?
And acting it was! Did you know that all the music you hear in a movie is mimed? That's right, we set everything up as if we were about to play, and then mimed our way through the songs. Sound ridiculous, but I guess they have to do that in order for the microphones to pick up the actor's dialogue, although I hear 90% of that is overdubbed as well! I'm glad I spent all those hours when I was a little kid, before I had a drumset, sitting in my room playing air-drums to Rush and Van Halen. Who knew one day I would be paid so well for it!
They would have us play (or pretend to play) about 8 bars of the song. Then they'd take five minutes to adjust whatever they needed to adjust, and we'd do it again. At least Curtis and I got to sit down. The other guys had to stand, and the poor women on the dancefloor had to stand there in high heels for hours.
They had us work through lunch, and by the time we broke for dinner (about 7pm) they had shot about 30 seconds of footage. Curtis was pretty depressed because it was fairly obvious he did not get into any of the shots they took. By the end of the night he and his keyboards were surrounded by lighting equipment and baffles, so he was clearly out of the frame. We had fun teasing him about that. In the dinner line, the band broke out an impromptu acappella version of "Hollywood Swingin'". We were that desperate to play some real music.
But we had lots of fun. They had flown in a popular young singer named Ryan Shaw to be featured in the movie, so he sang (mimed) with the band as well.
By the end of the night the band was so anxious to just plug in and rip a few numbers for all these people - we all really needed it. But alas, they finally called it a wrap around midnight and we packed up our gear and headed home without ever even tuning up.
Not sure what will come of it, whether you'll even see us in the shots they took. But it was a great experience and they took care of us. I think the movie will come out at the end of the summer. We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Section J at the Subtab

Sounds like a scene from Star Wars, but "Section J at the Subtab" was exactly what the Slacks encountered this past Monday. Some fans of the band (and graduate students at the Harvard Business School) hired us to perform for them and their classmates at a private party this past Monday, at a venue we know so well: The Cantab. But the twist was that the party was in the basement, where Mickey Bliss hosts his Club Bohemia local-band-extravaganza every Friday and Saturday. Diamond D was quick to dub this intimate low-ceilinged concrete salon the "SubTab". It's got a wider stage than upstairs and the place almost has a NYC jazz club vibe, without the pretention.
As you may well know, Harvard Business School puts a lot of careful time and thoughtful, creative effort into naming the different classes of the school something inspirational and descriptive of their nature. Thus, the students we played for were from the "Section J" class. Section J. Almost makes you feel like you're part of a family.
Anyways, we had a blast. It was fun to play on the stage downstairs, much more room and the sound was pretty good down there. The party-goers were a fun bunch and those that left early for that "other party" missed a rockin' second set and some great disco dancing with a random barstool.
We were asked to do this gig at the last minute, and as a result we had to get subs for Mighty Slim (who went to the DIO reunion) and Rick Rosco (who was still in Aruba, lucky dog). But Mike Null and Lee Lundy, our go-to fill-ins, filled-in seamlessly and added a nice "abnormal" element to the Slacks that was refreshing for us. Man, Lee can slap those bass strings, and Mike is just spewing with gritty funk. Thank you Section J, we wish you the best success!

The Slacks take it to the River!

The Chicken Slacks made their way down to the Lighthouse Bar at Twin River Casino in Rhode Island recently and we had a fun time playing on their BIG stage! Folks, this is a nice place - the bar is right smack in the middle of a sea of slot machines, but the sound system there makes the ringing din of the slots fade away. Everyone there was really nice to us and made sure we had what we needed. And the crowd! Booties were shaking a la Cantab on the wide dance floor. Made us feel right at home! The night was a complete success as the casino folks booked us to appear there again on June 13th, so if you weren't one of the familiar faces we saw there last week, come on down to Twin River and check out the Slacks in June. Maybe you'll get lucky while you're there, too - in more ways than one!