Black Lips don't exactly seem like the kind of band you want to give police badges and nightsticks to, but that's exactly what executive producer Rachelyn Remz-Porter and director Phil Pinto did in their new video for "Raw Meat." But don't worry—no one got hurt, and—as Black Lips' guitarist Cole Alexander attests—everyone had fun.
So Rachelyn and Phil, how did you guys get involved in this project?
Rachelyn: Phil did a video for Sleigh Bells "Infinity Guitars," and I worked on his set just to see what it was like, because I have a background in fashion. I wanted to do more videos, and had been talking to the Black Lips' manager, and when it came up that they were looking for a treatment, but I don't direct, so I asked Phil if he was interested and he was totally into it.
What was your inspiration for the whole 'crooked cops' idea?
Phil: My not-so-guilty pleasure is sort of '70s gritty crime movies, so I was really excited when Black Lips went for this concept. Big points of reference were classic gritty New York movies like Serpico, Bad Lieutenant (the Abel Ferrara one), The French Connection, Mean Streets. All huge classic movies for sure, but super influential in just that whole genre.
What did you guys like about playing cops?
Cole: You know, we've never been like, saints, and we're often at odds with the police, so it was cool to be able to play both worlds. And be our normal bad selves, but also be the law.
What did you think when you first looked in the mirror and saw yourself in the uniform?
Cole: I thought, 'Damn, I'd make a good cop.'
Where did you guys get the cop uniforms and the cop car?
Rachelyn: We had the most terrific producer, Oscar Boyson, and he knows a guy who has all these old cars, and he got the cop car from him, and the cop uniforms were pulled from a costume rental house. They were serious! They were official cop uniforms, and we had to have a cop on set, because it's illegal to impersonate a cop. I had to chase the band around and be like 'Don't leave the set! Don't leave the set!' And they had badges, they had nightsticks, and guns that fired blanks—but they were guns! We went all out with the costumes, and then we had to have a cop on set so they could wear them. When Phil did the "Infinity Guitars" video, we had a fire marshal on set because we exploded things. So, it's never easy!
What was the most fun about shooting the video?
Cole: I really enjoyed being in the vintage cop car. I've always been a fan of cop cars, and Crown Vics. I would actually like to own one, so us getting to ride around in one was pretty fun.
Who got to drive?
Cole: Joe did. I lost my license, and Ian's expired and Joe's like the best driver.
How did you guys end up casting people like Leo Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Thomas and Janell Shirtcliff in the video?
Rachelyn: Leo is good friends with the band's manager, and I know him because we have both been in New York a long time. We only had one night to shoot, but Leo still agreed to do it. He's like the sweetest person, and he came and gave it his all.
And Tennessee, she's friends with a bunch of my friends, and I had kind of known that I wanted her to be the 'sweet girl' in the video, and I basically Facebook messaged her and she said yes, and now I'm like addicted to her, I love her.
And then Janell Shirtcliff is a model, and she's only been in a Katy Perry video and a Rolling Stones video other than this. So it was magic.
Cole: So I didn't know much about him [Leo Fitzpatrick], I've seen Kids, but Jared is a huge fan of The Wire, so he was like freaking out. I was just watching Leo improvising some lines, and he was like brilliant at it. He was cracking me up so much, it was ridiculous. They would be like, 'Quiet on the set,' and I would be holding my laughter. It almost ruined me for scenes because he was affecting me so much that I was like "Brmmmpphhh."
What was the most fun about this shoot for you?
Phil: Coincidentally, we shot the video on the Friday night before Halloween, so everyone was in full force costume party mode on the streets. To everybody walking by, it just seemed like the band had the most teched out costumes—cop car and all. It's always a good omen when a drunk Freddy Krueger stumbles into your shot and is all like 'Whooooaaaaaa.'
There was also a good moment when the real cop we had on set—"Officer Chris"— was teaching Cole the right and wrong ways to use the police baton. It was enlightening. It also felt great to go to the Black Lips show at Webster Hall the next night and watch them kill it, while wearing their full on NYPD uniforms from the night before.