The Beastie Boys singer directs the concert documentary
When you grow up a short, fat, Jewish kid in the 80's, there aren't too many things you can latch onto to call them your own. That is, until a little band came out in 1984 called the Beastie Boys; they had a very distinct sound and flare. And the song 'Fight for your Right' made every top ten list, was an instant hit, and gave me hope to believe.
For the first time, being Jewish was cool - Mike D (Mike Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) made that all possible. And for the last 20 years, they've been making some of the best rap/hip hop music in the business.
Back in 2004, the band decided it wanted to give back to the fans who made them who they are. The band thought of an idea to let their concert goers shoot them on stage and then they'll make a movie out of it.
It sounded easy enough, so when the Boys went back home to New York to perform at Madison Square Garden, they hand selected 50 fans to give mini-DV cameras to shoot the show. There was only one rule - when the lights go down, hit record; and don't hit stop until the lights go up.
Adam Yauch, whos alias is Nathanial Hornblower, directed the film - and he called it Awesome: I F*ckin Shot That cause why not - one of the first lines in the doc is backstage with all the fans. While the head of the project is explaining the rules to them, he says, 'One day, you'll be watching the DVD and say 'Awesome, I f*ckin shot that!''
When we asked Adam about the directing experience, he told us "I came up with the concept, so that was my job. It's something I enjoy doing; I do it all the time for the music videos."
As far as where the concept of this came up, "I had seen a clip from this kid who had shot a portion of the concert on his camera phone and I thought it looked really cool; he uploaded it on the internet. There was something to it, it had a certain grain to it, and a certain style, the guy was obviously jumping up and down; there was such an energy to it. We got a bunch of low res cameras to shoot it."
Of the 50 cameras, they used footage from all the people who shot it. One guy even goes to the bathroom with the camera. "I kind of expected it, but there's actually four different trips to the bathroom. The trip that's in there is a compilation of the four different trips."
And how can you have a concert film without a soundtrack! Adam told us he'd like to get one done, but there are so many legal ties to it with the background music used. "Our DJ (Mix Master Mike) was playing all kinds of music, and we're trying to get clearance. I think it would be a great live album."
Throughout the concert, the Boys go back and forth from old song to new song; they even incorporate their video screens to coincide with the different songs. For example, with the song 'Whatcha want,' the music video is projected on the screens and the guy who was controlling the video turned the image from negative to reflect the video. But he would switch from negative to positive, so if we were positive the screens were negative. And then, he would switch back to put the screens positive and the audience negative. I like the way that came out!"
It's of course been over 20 years since the trio have been touring. After that amount of time, we wanted to know what it's like to get up on stage every night and entertain the crowd. "I don't know, sometimes things click; there's definitely amazing moments. Especially when you're playing with a DJ like Mike cause you don't know what he's going to do and in the majority of times it works. We always love to play at The Garden cause we kind of grew up in that place; that's probably my favorite place to play."
And I wanted to know what song really gets Adam going; is there one song that really sparks and lets him get freaky. "There are definitely favorite songs to perform, but it's really getting surprised of being on stage and getting surprised by Mike dropping a beat that really gets us going of a beat that he's never dropped that beat. But, I really like the element of surprise.
Right now, the Beastie Boys are taking a break from recording music. Adam is working on another documentary about his alias Nathanial Hornblower, starring David Cross. "He's amazing, he's such an incredible comedian."
Adam says the hardest part of putting the movie together was syncing everything up; they had 50 hand held cameras, plus 2 of their own studio cameras. "When we got back to the studio, we had 4 edit stations with all the footage; once we managed to get it synced, we gave three editors 20 cameras each. We spent a year editing the full piece."
The concert goes for about an hour and a half; of the hundreds of songs the Beastie Boys have in their collection, three songs kind of stood out to me that were missing - Fight for your Right, Girls, and one that Adam wishes was there No Sleep Till Brooklyn. "I really missed that; it seems like a real mistake that we missed that one. We try to switch it up; we don't play the same set list every night. When we're picking the set list, we try to pick a few songs from each album."
The film is rated R, but Adam points out "The title certainly does that. Maybe if we wouldn't have used the word 'f*ck' in the title, we wouldn't have gotten that rating."
Awesome: I F*ckin Shot That opens in theaters March 31st.