I hath been smitten with a fucking short film this past week. Ghost of Old Highways, featuring a score from the bearded band LOVETT, is a fucking mindFuck if I've ever experienced one through my adorably perfect ears and hazel bloodshot eyes.
LOVETT went from just a band I had heard about, to a band I'm planning on stalking in the near future. Combining eerie aesthetic with good old fashioned Fuck yes, you can almost hear the footsteps tromping through the hillsides while men load weapons that are just as dangerous to fire as they are to be fire at with.
It feels like music written to distract from the fact that the priest ate the milkmaid and everyone has that creepy unspoken understanding that shit's fucked up, but we're not a people to hide under our hand stitched covers.
I love the imagery, the short film and the fucking song, and you'd be a complete fucking shitFuck if you passed on at least watching it once. I promise it's awesome, and I also promise that if you don't at least enjoy it, you're kind of a dick and should keep your opinions to yourself anyway.
Dick. (See what I did there?)
LOVETT INTERVIEW GO:
SYFFAL: So Ghost of Old Highways, it's as beautiful as it is completely fucking creepy in an unwashed long underwear sort of way. Is there any truth to the idea that Americans trust bearded men with guns more than Americans fear men with guns who lack facial follicles?
LOVETT: Funny you should say that, since Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to rock a beard. Coincidentally he was president during the time period we're borrowing from in this film. They were certainly common among the minutemen militias and Sons of Liberty back during the Revolutionary War. I suppose if you want to get really psychoanalytical about it, one might suggest beards and guns are inexplicably tied to the birth of America. I'm not really an advocate for either though.
SYFFAL: How did you get a grip of talented people to film a short film using your music? I'm not insinuating you blew anyone for this opportunity, but seriously, how the hell did you pull this off?
LOVETT: It's about creating the right kind of motivation for people. If in fact Money is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions, the answer to your question is perhaps the one that's left. You'd be surprised what people will put themselves through to make art. Our crew was all volunteers, people who get paid to do this sort of thing every day on commercial productions. Those gigs require hard work but not always an end result to write home about. Creative people ultimately require creative satisfaction, and don't often call up their friends to tell them about a car commercial or reality tv show they worked on.
Sometimes you're lucky and the right folks come together at the right time with a common goal of making something spectacular in order to realign themselves with why they enjoy doing this sort of work in the first place. "Ghost Of Old Highways" got a heroic effort by a lot of people who could have decided they had better things to do than hike up a mountain for a week to make a piece of art. We owe the success of all this to them entirely.
SYFFAL: Well, give all of those people a reach around for me, I fucking loved it. The tension throughout the film is something you can't escape, and imagining myself running from an entire fucking cavalry during the Civil War isn't something I'm completely comfortable with, but I will have you know my normal axe swing is eerily similar to the wedding scene. Where do you rank the jumping axe strike in Ghost of Old Highways among the great surprise attacks of cinema's past? I can't help but imagining the sword fight in the most recent Muppets motion picture.
LOVETT: I'm not the best sample audience for surprise because I always know what's coming next. It does seem to be pretty effective though. The most interesting part of that scene for me has always been the designed intent to suddenly turn the tables on the audience. We open on a guy with a gun to his head - as the viewer we tend to automatically side with the underdog - he escapes and runs for his life, chased and outnumbered, and we identify him as the hero. Then without warning our hero runs up a hill and brutally murders someone right in front of us and suddenly you have this small paradox - "wait, shit, am I rooting for the wrong guy?" The film sort of manipulates the cinematic myth of the hero throughout, despite our potential conflict to his actions we still want our man to succeed.
SYFFAL: The last time I sent a bible down a creek was before the war (after taxes), but whatever, I'd like to comment that the scene right at 7:13 is probably one of my favorite images in recent memory. How did the environment where the film was being created influence the songwriting process for the soundtrack? Please use the word "petticoats" at least once in your response.
LOVETT: The environment influenced everything in the film on some level. That particular location was extremely challenging to shoot in... 40 people hiking professional camera equipment 7,000 feet up a mountain is no walk in the park.... but it was absolutely essential to making the modern world disappear without a budget. A lot of actual Civil War battles were fought up around there and it still pretty much looks like it did then. As far as its influence on the music I can only assume it was subconscious and hard to quantify. There's a lot of open space, wide vistas, you get a sense that the landscape of the film is tremendous and unforgiving, and I think we probably gravitated towards sounds that attempted to reinforce that. Also, we recorded the score wearing nothing but petticoats.
SYFFAL: Excellent. Is LOVETT going to keep making these addictingly creepy and emotionally exhausting mini-movies in order to explore more and more aspects of musical creation AND to get to wear awesome motherfucking period piece costumes among gorgeously haunting locales?
LOVETT: Sure, what's to stop us?
SYFFAL: I hear the Libyans are cracking down bro. BUT. AWESOME fucking WORK.
SYFFAL: DO IT AGAIN.
LOVETT: Already one step ahead of you...
Peep the trailer - then go peep the film: Ghost of Old Highways.