Back in May, Joey Ramone’s second (and presumably, final) posthumous solo album, Ya Know, was released. Selling albums when the artist is no longer among the living has its obvious challenges. But a new music video for the punk rock icon’s “New York City,” which features celebrities including 30 Rock cast members Scott Adsit, Jon Lutz and Kristen Schaal, chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain, rocker/motivational speaker Andrew WK and original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone, may bring some attention to Ya Know?.
The video, shot in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, took a month of planning. CBS Local spoke to photographer/filmmaker/artist Greg Jardin who directed the clip, which is actually a video flipbook: “The video is stop-motion, comprised of a little over 1,600 still photos, stitched together to create the illusion of movement. On the average, each person had about 15 photos taken of them, moving roughly 20 to 30 feet backwards between each shot.” Watch the video below.
Sam Shaber, a New York singer/songwriter who leads a local band called The Happy Problem appears in the video (at about 2:27) and told CBS Local what her experience was like: “Greg had a line of markers drawn in chalk on the sidewalk and took one picture of me on each marker in a very specific pose making a very specific shape with my mouth, so it would look like I was singing the song. He had this notebook with every single shot outlined and was also coordinating that with some information on his iPhone. It was highly scientific! We took about 40 shots and I was done.”
Jardin spent a lot of time preparing for the shoot: “The planning took about a month. That entailed coming up with all of the ideas, figuring out where they would go in the song, shooting video of myself singing/acting the whole thing out, syncing that video up to the song on my computer, numbering those images, and finally putting them on my phone to use as reference while we were shooting.”
He said that the concept came from the song itself, in which Ramone expressed his love for, and pride in, New York City. “I was trying to think of a simple way to showcase as much of the city as possible, as well as the diversity in its residents, whether they’ve been there for one month or thirty years. I thought it would be cool to make a video where one person is the ‘star,’ but then two seconds later, they turn into someone else, and it just happens rapid fire the entire time, so that by the end you’ve just seen a hundred people. The Ramones-esque leather jacket sort of tied them all together.”
The celebrity guest list, which also includes comedian Reggie Watts, Ramones producer Ed Stasium, Joey Ramone’s brother Mickey Leigh, members of New York punk rock legends The Dictators and indie rock duo Matt & Kim, came together pretty easily: “The cameos were arranged through a group effort between the record label (BMG), Joey’s management, and myself. Friends, and friends of friends, all came together and made a bunch of stuff happen.”
But much of the video was made up of non-famous New Yorkers, through a rather simple casting system: “About half of the people in the video were pulled off of the street right when we were shooting. We would just sort of look around for interesting looking people wherever we were, pitch them the idea, figure out what size leather jacket they wore, and then shoot them for 20 to 30 minutes. Everyone was pretty positive and excited to be doing it.”
(Scott Adsit of 30 Rock)
Jardin said that the project was a labor of love: “I’ve been a huge Ramones fan since I saw them in the movie Rock & Roll High School on TV. At the time, I thought that they were a fake band created for the movie, but I really liked their music. At that point in life, I wasn’t aware of any type of music that wasn’t played on top 40 radio! They ended up turning me on to punk rock and really other types of music in general. Joey, to me, Is the godfather of punk rock. It was an immense honor to get to share and create a small part of his story, and it was amazing meeting people that were close to him, and being welcomed and befriended by everyone.”
Ya Know? sports its own celebrity guest list, with contributions from Steven Van Zandt, Joan Jett, another former Ramones drummer Richie Ramone, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick and Dictators frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local