Wading through the endless sea of film projects vying for your attention at the Newport Beach Film Festival this year, sometimes all you have to go off of is the one sentence description that snags your attention like an appetizing dish at a Japanese restaurant. In the case of OC’s band Tokyo Lucky Hole’s epic video for “Mr. McQueen, the line “Three disco cowboy bandits are pursued by a group of ruthless assassins in an acid western landscape” ought to be enough to get your mouth watering for John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Quentin Tarantino.
Tonight, the video is getting it’s well-deserved closeup as an official selection for NBFF’s Music Video/Short Film Showcase at Triangle theater 6 in Costa Mesa alongside music videos for marquee bands like Fr. John Misty and Vampire Weekend.
Armed with the influences of some of film’s far-out, desert loving pioneers, director Blaine Fuller (brother to Tokyo Lucky Hole front main Craig Fuller) went on a quest to deliver a potent mix of psychedelic imagery, booze, bearded ladies and blood…lots and lots of blood.
The four minute short film is set to TLH’s mix swaggering, sunburnt surf-toned rock and Beatles-esque pop.
“I’ve always enjoyed songs that feel like there’s a total change in feeling or vibe from one minute to the next,” Clay says. “Songs like “Happiness is a Warm Gun” just feels so epic when you listen from beginning to end. That’s what I wanted our song to be like.”
Knowing his brother’s tastes as well as his own, Blaine decided to use a lingering TV show pilot script as the basis for TLH’s debut video–which he offered up as a birthday present for Clay. For Blaine, it’s a labor of love for not only his brother but the band he’s watched grow from their Yorba Linda roots since the beginning.
“I was actually in the band for about six months but I realized my passion lies in film making,” Blaine says. “I recognized that the band needed the video and I heard the song ‘Mr. McQueen’ and thought it sounded really cinematic and I’d written the video as a television pilot and I thought it would be a good birthday present to shoot it for my brothers band.”
The band filmed for five days in several desert locations including Randsburg and Barstow (as well as a nod to LA with a shot with some bearded ladies at Ye Old Rustic Inn). The disco cowboys of the band are featured in all their desert pimp glory, sporting fake mustaches shades and colorful bandito garb as they go traipsing through the desert encountering a slew of characters including a guy dressed like the pope with a suitcase full of LSD Legos.
“The scene where the pope puts the Lego on our bandmate’s tongue took so many takes,” Clays says. “The actor playing the pope must’ve done it like 20 times and I could tell our bandmate was getting annoyed but by the time we shot it things worked out perfect.”
You don’t make it through a week shooting in the desert without a few interesting stories, like the time the band filmed in front of some old western storefronts in Randsburg they thought were abandoned until they discovered a woman living inside who was lying on her deathbed.
“The cowboy storefront where we shot some scenes we brought neon signs out to the desert with us in Randsburg. The storefronts were actual storefronts during the 1800s when cowboys were mining there,” Blaine says. “But someone was living inside of that building and they were on their deathbed while we were filming. They saw us out there shooting and asked us for $50 to shoot there. A little bit later she realized that it was a bigger production than she thought and she sent out a boy to ask for more…two packs of Marlboro Reds.”
Though there were some other not-so-mellow encounters (like running into a crackhead to threatened them with a bat) the crew and the band made it out of the filming fairly unscathed with a product they can be proud of.
“It came out exactly the way I wanted and I’m more happy that the band is happy and I think it was a momentous occasion for them I think, Blaine says. “It was a good opportunity and I watched some of the other videos that were entered and I think I’m a contender to take home the prize for this one.”
In celebration of the screening of their video ant NBFF, the band is also playing an afterparty for the event at the Boathouse Collective in Costa Mesa at 10 p.m. tonight. Whether they win a prize in the category or not.
“It’s a huge honor to be up against some huge bands that I’m actually a fan of and to see that our video was selected floored us, we’re glad it’s been so well received,” Clay says.
Tokyo Lucky Hole’s video for “Mr. McQueen” screens tonight at Triangle theaters in Costa Mesa at 8:30 p.m., for full details click here. They are playing an afterparty at Boathouse Collective in Costa Mesa at 10 p.m., for details click here.