We got to know Kerry Beyer, the acclaimed horror film director of Spirit Camp and co-founder of the Splatterfest Horror Festival went we were sent deep into the bowels of geekdom earlier this year when we were sent to cover the three days of Comicpalooza. His work in the realm of gore is amazing, truly a young visionary with the skills to pull of top rate work at the independent level.
Which is why we were surprised to find he was also a musician. What's more, Beyer breaks the mold by being involved with the horror industry and not being in a punk or horror band. More than breaking the mold, we're pretty sure that's actually illegal.
Instead of power chords and a voice that sounds as if he gargles with broken glass, Beyer's work is surprising soft and melodic. His vocals alone are some of the clearest and most musical we've ever heard out of a local artist. Seriously, he has the dulcet tones of a well-cast bell.
We ran across a video for his song "American Dream," and for someone we've known to mount massive productions it's a grand departure. The video is just Beyer and his music, with little movement, and it relies simply on his own presence and the strength of the music.
We'd be lying if we said that "American Dream" is some kind of unheralded masterpiece. We're fairly certain that Beyer is using the same chord progression as Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," and some of his lyrics could use some poet dust on them to cover up a slight lack of imagination. He's certainly not going to replace Shellee Coley as our favorite acoustic performer anytime soon.
Yet despite that, it is impossible to miss the truth and sad sincerity of "American Dream," and it's ode to the betrayal felt in the country. They teach us that all you have to do is work hard and you'll be rewarded, and yet millions who do just that toil 80 hours a week and reap nothing but chaff. That someone with the talent and work ethic of Beyer should not be rolling around in a pile of Benjamins and accolades saddens us, and his ballad simple pain can't be argued with since it is so obviously real.
And yet... this is not a dirge to the grand experiment. At the last, Beyer reminds us of the unity we share in the communal belief in eventual exceptionalism through our collective dream. It's not Bob Dylan, but hell, Bob Dylan isn't even Bob Dylan any more. Beyer's song lays bear the heart of the nation, awkwardly perhaps, but he gets the job done in the end. Check it out below.
We got a chance to talk to Beyer about "American Dream." Continue to page 2 for our interview.
Rocks Off: For someone who's a pretty accomplished film guy, your music video is very stark and minimalist. Why?
Kerry Beyer: The video is very minimalist because I set the camera on a tripod and shot it myself. I didn't want to turn it into a full production with crew and locations and scheduling - I just wanted to shoot it and put it on YouTube and iTunes and see what the response would be.
One of the difficult things about creating content is that it's very hard to monetize, so I have to balance how much of my resources to put into a particular project based on what will come back. So, I figured I'd start small and see where it goes.
RO: For the most part the song is fairly bleak. Only at the end is there any hope shown. What kind of hope do you have for the country?
KB: I think we are living in pretty bleak times - but then again, each generation has had it's own challenges to face. I think we can overcome these challenges, but the amount of economic and political unrest around the globe is concerning. People and governments tend to lash out when they are backed into a corner. Just read the headlines.
My hope for the country is that we can come together as a nation, strengthen our economy, and remain a beacon of freedom - and that we don't let our freedoms get compromised. When times seem darkest, Americans have always pulled together. Though the song does start out bleak, it is ultimately a message of hope.
RO: Would you consider this a political song?
KB: I think it's a song that people can relate to no matter what your political affiliation. I didn't want to write a song that was divisive or took sides - we are divided enough right now. But I think we are all frustrated with politicians and bureaucracy and the double speak. Maybe I'll run for president and use this as my campaign song, lol.
We all want to succeed and live the "American Dream." Even in this economy, people are out there doing it. And that is what is great about this country... if you pursue your dream with enough passion, determination, and business savvy, you can be successful. Anything can happen. I hope that in 100 years from now... 500 years from now... people are still living the "American Dream."
RO: How do you balance music and filmmaking?
KB: I'm shooting another feature film now, plus handling my daily photography clients, and I also shoot commercials and corporate video, so it can be a little challenging to find time to write, record, and promote music - hence another reason for my minimalist music video. But, my mantra has been "don't over think it - just do it!"
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I'm trying to have fun and not stress about it - I've been playing guitar since I was 12 in various bands, and never released any of our songs. It's easy to get into the perfectionist mindset, constantly tweaking, re-working, or waiting till you have a better version to release... but honestly; it's never going to be perfect.
I've learned from filmmaking that some people are going to love what you do, and some people are going to hate it. So, it's best to just do something that speaks to you, put it out there, then move on to the next project - and hopefully people will respond.
RO: Will we be seeing more music videos?
KB: Yes, I'm having fun with it, and the response has been great, so I'm shooting for one song a month.