Originally published on January 16, 2015
I can’t express how much this post means to me. I’ve been waiting five years to write this.
Lauren Green (Follow that Bird!): This is a great way to start the interview.
It had been two years since Green saw Bankrupt and the Borrower’s music video for “I Love You Baby.”
The concept showed several bands from the East Cameron Collective, a friendly group of bands from the East Cameron neighborhood, to perform parts of the song as they traveled through the neighborhood. Blue Mongeon, from Bankrupt and the Borrowers and the music video’s director, didn’t want the actual band to appear in the video.
Blue Mongeon (Bankrupt and the Borrowers): The idea in Bankrupt was that any music video that we made, we didn’t want anybody to see what we looked like. I thought it would be a really funny idea to have different bands. Every video we made would be a different band, so any time you saw a video by this band that it’ll look totally different. It’ll be different people, which would hopefully cause a lot of confusion. I don’t know what the central goal of that was really, but I didn’t want anybody to know what we looked like.
It’s kind of the same philosophy the guys had with the nicknames they used to refer each other in public and in interviews.
BM: It seemed like a much better idea to ask our friends to do it and kind of all enjoy the moment together and join into something together we’re working towards.
Those friends included Hobomouth, Bridge Farmers, The Van Buren Boys, The Bread and Follow that Bird.
Blake Bernstein (Van Buren Boys): We actually never played with (Follow that Bird) before, I don’t know why you…
BM: Oh, I’ve done sound for them a bunch of time at Mohawk and just met them and thought they were really cool.
Mongeon hit up AJ Miranda, who was a regular fixture at Bankrupt and the Borrowers’ shows. Usually with a video camera in hand, Miranda filmed many of the band’s performances for his blog ‘Nites, which can be found on YouTube.
AJ Miranda (videographer): I showed up at their house and went drinking one day before a show. They pitched me the idea, and I was like ‘This is just crazy and stupid enough that it might actually work.’
On a Sunday in October 2008, everyone gathering at the Bankrupt house and started prepping for the video. All the musicians assembled at the house in the afternoon and they walked through the route that was mapped out beforehand.
BB: I remember when we were doing it, it was just a group of like 20-50 of us walking through the street listening to it.
LG: We were setting up in their neighbor’s yard hoping that they wouldn’t come out and just find a random drum set in their garden.
BM: (Lauren) was really sweet. She sat down with me and Jon (Pettis from Bankrupt and the Borrowers) and learned our guitar parts. Not that there’s a lot of them.
BB: We learned the song right before the video. We’re like 'How do you play that? Show me, so it looks kinda accurate.’
LG: I just remember we kept listening to it over and over and we didn’t mind because it’s such a good song.
BM: We’re the only ones that played the song wrong. Out of the whole video, everybody else was perfectly in sync doing their job great… And when it got to us, it was all off time. I had to sit with AJ and we edited that. Just that part a lot because it was all misconstrued.
The video takes the viewer through a brief stroll in the East Cameron neighborhood, ending at the Bankrupt and the Borrowers’ house. It was filmed in one take.
BM: It’s difficult to achieve, I think. I don’t know anything about film, but from what I understand, to have one continuous shot that follows along a sequence of events is difficult to coordinate.
AM: If something went wrong, we’ll be 'Ok, let’s go back and do it again’ or if it just doesn’t look quite right, it doesn’t look like what we want it to look, 'Ok let’s go back and do it again.’
BB: The one guy at the end kept messing it up, which is very inconvenient… All he had to say was 'You fucking whore’’ but he couldn’t remember that and he would like freak out and start screaming other shit.
BM: One of the funnier things to me was that Denis and Robert and Eric, they were the first band. They were the furthest away from the house and we didn’t want to get into any trouble with the law. I didn’t want to. So every time I went back over to say 'We need to do another take,’ their bass player Robert’d be like 'Can I have a fucking beer?’ I’d be 'No, no, not yet. Hang on, man. I don’t want us to get arrested for drinking on the street before we’re done filming. I don’t want us to get arrested at all.’
Denis O'Donnell (The Bread): The best part was the Bridge Farmers’ couple of takes 'cause they had to run through the streets.
Garett Carr (Bridge Farmers): By like, what? The third or fourth fucking time we were doing it, I was like 'Oh my god.’ Like in track again or something.
BB: It wasn’t like you were wearing a poncho or anything. Oh wait.
AM: I felt bad at the end of the day… The afternoon sun is burning down on you. We’re having these guys running down two blocks every couple with a poncho. I kinda felt bad by the end of it, but everybody had fun.
BM: To me that was incredibly sweet 'cause these guys were allowing me to kinda direct how it was going. It’s intense walking outside and looking at all your friends that are stationed around your neighborhood just being like 'No, we gotta do it again.’ Everybody’s like 'nooooo.’
The last shot ends inside a room in the house where most of the Bankrupt and the Borrowers lived and practiced.
BB: That’s where Folkcore started.
BM: I do want to say the shot that went into our house, that’s our house. We didn’t like dress it up or put art on the wall for the video. That’s the way it was.
AM: You’d think that’s like set decoration or that was put there to make it look like a party had happened. No, a party had actually happened. That was all real… That’s just how their house looks on any given day. That’s kinda the endearing aspect of hanging out with those guys, you know.
Once the video was done, Bankrupt and the Borrowers had a show to celebrate the release.
AM: I don’t think the Mohawk will ever be that beer-stained again.
DO: We brought the Hole in the Wall to the Mohawk.
AM: The room was packed, but it was packed with everybody there knew each other.
It was common at a Bankrupt show for the crowd to put their arms around each other and sing along, especially with the song “Holden Caulfield at Age 35.”
AM: Everybody goes nuts and there’s just something about that song that really just brings out something in everybody. I don’t know what it is. I can’t explain it, but it just like touches your soul. Everybody goes nuts when that song plays, and when the trumpet part kicks in, everybody starts throwing beer and spitting beer.
One photo in particular from the night of video release shows Jake Van Buren from the Van Buren Boys crowd-surfing during Bankrupt and the Borrower’s set.
AM: That picture just encapsulates what that whole scene was about and what these guys are about. Just being with friends and getting drunk and living and just being happy regardless of what’s your financial situation or whatever you’re from. It’s just a very accepting group. That’s why I’m glad that my music video debut is with those guys. I’m glad we found each other 'cause it’s a really cool group of people. I think they have something good going. They should keep going for as long as they can.
Bankrupt and the Borrowers played their last performance during Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2009 after the unexpected death of their band member Pettis. Now, five years later, Mongeon, Carr, Bernstein and O'Donnell sat down with me to reflect on the video.
The majority of the musicians from the bands in the video are now a part of the East Cameron Folkcore, who performed on October 18 at Holy Mountain.
BM: Tonight we’re here to honor the memory of our friend, Jon Pettis, and we’re also here to celebrate East of Cameron becoming an official non-profit.
East of Cameron is a vocational school to teach 12- to 15-year-olds cosmetology, hospitality, automotive and carpentry to give them hands-on training and help them build resumes and confidence.
East Cameron Folkcore has traveled around the globe, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They’ve self-released three albums and were mentioned in various media outlets such as the New York Times, NPR and Austin Monthly.
BM: I think overall there’s a lot of celebration. I certainly do and I think we all miss Jon quite a bit… There’s a lot of positive great memories, but there will always be some sadness that goes along with a loss like that, but overall, I’m very proud and excited about how we all moved on and progressed and what we decided to do and what we built here in this town.
Interviews: A.J. Miranda, April 2009; Lauren Green formally from Follow that Bird!, now Mirror Travel, November 2013; Blue Mongeon formally from Bankrupt and the Borrowers, now East Cameron Folkcore, Blake Bernstein formally from Van Buren Boys, now East Cameron Folkcore, Garett Carr from Bridge Farmers, and Denis formally from The Bread, now East Cameron Folkcore, October 2014