Philadelphia's spacey, electro rockers City Rain have been really reorganizing Rocks Off's brains lately. Their music is so far all over the synthetic landscape that we don't have any real idea where to pin down the little bastards. They aren't as poppy as Hyperbubble, or as dark as Asmodeus X, or as funky as Chromeo.
Instead, there's almost something... folky... about their beeps and boops. Like maybe if Tom Petty really got into Kraftwerk at some point. Whatever it is, City Rain is definitely not treading the common ground.
Their publicist, knowing Rocks Off's love of interesting music videos, sent over the YouTube link to City Love's "I'm Gone." On the surface, it's not much, just two guys messing around in the back of a pickup truck. Here in Houston, we call that being 17.
However, once you really let yourself be drawn into the video, the song becomes hypnotic. The footage itself has been sped up several times the rate of normal fourth-dimensional strolling, yet inexplicably, the band sings in perfect time with their droning ballad. As the landscape behind them speeds away into the nothingness of rural Pennsylvania, the message of escape that they are singing so succinctly about tugs you right through.
Maybe it's just that as we get further and further from our 30th birthday everything seems to speed up, and we feel the world gutterball through space just a little bit more keenly. [Wait until 35 - Ed.] Don't think that "I'm Gone" is some depressing ode to mortality, though. It's not. City Rain definitely puts the grin in chagrin, and their tune is suitable for normal folks and sad bastards alike.
Don't take our word for it, though. See for yourself.
Rocks Off sat down with City Rain's Ben Runyan and Jarrett Zerrer (via the Internet) for a little chat about their song. Visit Page 2 to read.
Rocks Off: OK, we give up: How the hell do you sync everything up so that it looks like you're moving really fast, but that you're still singing in time with the music?
Jarrett Zerrer: Well we slowed the song down to about 1/4 speed, and we lip-synced to that. So when you play it back in full time, we are at normal speed but everything else is faster.
Ben Runyan: It's funny, because it was kind of awkward at the time. The music that WE were listening to was this acid tripped out cacophony of noise with the lyrics and melodies barely discernible. The song is about 3:30, but the song we were listening to was about 15 minutes.
Often in the video you can see Jarrett and I looking at each other, probably because we were wondering what the heck was going on with the song. But it's cool because that vibe we were giving off went along with the feel of the song. So it worked out.
RO: Is there anything significant about the roads you chose to travel down while filming? Do they have any significance in relation to the escapist tone of the song?
Ben: It's actually a little bizarre. I had initially thought of the area because of its natural beauty and significance to me as a kid when my parents would take me there to visit. Chadds Ford, Pa., is really beautiful town with a park called Longwood Gardens that has tons of beautiful flowers and plants.
Anyway.... the fact is (and I noticed this afterwards) that this was where my ex lived [who] a lot of the song was about (for me). So I wonder if she sees this if she would be a little put off. That aside, the fact that the video starts out in the city and ends in the country lends to the "I'm Gone" nature of the song.
Jarrett: A lot of the music that we write is about Philadelphia and escaping our homes, so we naturally gravitated towards places just outside. To us the song was very reflective and for us to go to the country it really fit the theme and feel of the song. Pretty much it gave us the freedom to act like ourselves (goofy as hell!)
RO: Were there any interesting reactions from people you passed, or in one case made a business transaction with, during the filming of the video?
Jarrett: Yeah, you can see at the end of the video we were on a major road and got so many hilarious looks. We thought we'd wave to everyone. The McDonalds part was a lot of fun, the girls that took our money were really having a riot. AND we got a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets and two large sodas (which you can see us drinking and dumping, right around the time Ben falls out of the truck) for like $5.99.
BR: As a bit of a showman, myself, I enjoyed the attention immensely. I love freaking people out and this was a prime opportunity to brighten up some people's day that weren't expecting it. Jarrett had the idea to bring some of the props and you can see me wearing the sombrero, which was a lot of fun.
And yes, the McDonalds part was probably the most fun. I am sure those girls did not see that coming. But, man, were those fake chicken McNuggets tasty. I sure as hell look forward to more stunts like this.
RO: Is this what the song looked like visually in your head while writing and recording it, or did you have something totally different in mind?
Both: You know... At first we had this whole stiff hipster thing in mind considering the nature of the song. The video turns out to be a great reflection of our goofy selves, so it provides in an interesting contrast. We could have gotten in the car and looked all serious and emo, but that just isn't us.
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We convinced ourselves to just act natural. Can you imagine how lame this video would have been if we just pretended to be some emerging hipster-rock band? Yeah... me neither... I'll pass...
City Rain releases the I'm Gone EP October 11.