On the Couch with Eric Wareheim at the Los Angeles Music Video Festival
By Matthew Burnside on May 10, 2012
This past Friday, I spent my night enjoying the second-ever Los Angeles Music Video Festival at the Downtown Independent Theater. The name says it all — the evnt celebrated the art of music videos. Friday’s program honored comedic videos and featured a panel hosted by Eric Wareheim, half of Tim and Eric.
I had a chance to sit down with Eric (on a quite comfy couch, incidentally) before his panel for a quick chat. I’ll get to that soon, but for now, more about the couch. It was covered in throw pillows. There were too many for us to handle, so we moved them out of the way. This made room for some major cushion action. Naturally, things rapidly accelerated to a solid slouch with a leg cross and our comfort levels were maxed out. It was at this point that I cracked my knuckles and got into some real, dirty investigative journalism. ”You’ve directed a bunch of music videos,” I said. “Who would you like to make a video for the most?”
“I’m trying to think of… There’s a couple of bands that I would like… Man, there’s a bunch that I can’t think of. This is embarrassing.” Sweat probably dripped from his brow as Eric looked to his producer, Clark. “Can you read my mind, Clark?” Of course, Clark isn’t a magician, or perhaps he’s a terrible one, so he was no help. “I can’t think of any right now.” Boom. Journalism.
I continued, “Music videos helped define the eighties and nineties. Yet in the aughts, they began to take a backseat thanks to shows like TRL, who would only play thirty seconds of the video with picture in picture of screaming girls. Now the Internet has taken over, and music videos capture a large number of YouTube hits. Do you think you’d be making music videos if the Internet didn’t exist?”
“I grew up on music videos and MTV. They were my favorite thing — watching old Poison videos and all the old rock stuff. That was my inspiration for doing it.” That’s when Wareheim got real. “I actually don’t like that the Internet is so popular. It kills music video budgets and people watch it with all these other distractions.” Then he changed direction: “The Internet was really good for Tim and Eric.”
We got onto the subject of our love of early Internet videos before YouTube made video sharing so easy. We laughed as we pulled old websites from our memories, as well as tributes to the web of lesser years, such as Hulu’s April Fools Day design that looked like an old GeoCities X-Files fan page. Suddenly, as if it was a party, I sucked the fun out.
“Ummm, MCA died,” I blurted out like an idiot. (As I’m sure you know, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away Friday morning) I’ve always believed comedy and music share many qualities, creatively. The Beastie Boys, especially Yauch, tied both together through their timeless music videos. “In high school, we were obsessed with them,” said Eric, “their… I hate to say ‘fuck you’ attitude.” He revealed their videos didn’t influence him as much as their music did. It was their essence that ultimately provided the greatest influence.
That actually segued well into my last question. I asked Eric for any advice he had for aspiring music video directors. “Do your own thing. Don’t watch too many other people’s shit. Do your deep down desires and hopefully it will stand out.”
Later, Eric was joined on stage by his regular collaborators, editors Doug Lussenhop and Ben Berman, and producer Clark Reinking. They screened some of their videos as well as showed off a few that inspired them, including one from the Jacuzzi Boys that I will not link to on here. It involves dressing up some lady reproductive organs and making them sing. Pretty fantastic.
The night was a blast, and I encourage Angelenos to check it out next year. Fans of Eric Wareheim should remember that Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is out now on DVD and blu-ray. Buy it, capisci?
Follow Matthew on Twitter and all your problems will disappear. Possibly.