Awesome; I fuckin' talked to the Beasties!

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The Beastie Boys' new concert film Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! opens today, March 31, in the Bay Area, so here's more of my interview with them at the Austin, Texas, Hilton at SXSW a few weeks ago. Why? Well, because you can't get enough of them, and I didn't have enough space to include much of the talk in the paper this week. Perhaps some things are best left unblogged, but here you go.

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Mike D., ne Diamond, gets a few pointers from the fans in a scene
from Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!

I kind of love this movie, by the way -- not the least because the sample of the Dead Boys' song "Sonic Reducer" recurs so often (in To the 5 Boroughs's "An Open Letter to NYC"). Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The premise of Awesome: Beastie Boy Adam Yauch comes up with the idea of giving a slew of cameras to fans in order to shoot the group's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden during the 2004 To the 5 Boroughs tour. The upshot: Yauch, directing and producing under the pseud Nathaniel Hornblower, ends up spending the next year editing down the footage from 50-plus shooters. Ouch, Yauch. The super-shaky cinema verite handheld camera ack-shun threatened to have yours truly illin', in a bad way -- reminded me of early NYPD Blue -- but it's hard to beat the loud 5.1 mix, and Yauch ended up cutting loose impressively with the effects as the film, and concert, progresses.

Bay Guardian: So what's with that Clear Channel and Scientology connection you made at the SXSW press conference -- is there any reality to that?

Adam Horovitz: No, not at all. I was heavily misinformed by myself.

Mike Diamond: Y'know, Adam, some people would call it delusional.

BG: What were a few of the challenges you encountered making the film?

Adam Yauch: It's actually harder sometimes having more options. When you have 61 angles to choose from, in a lot of ways it's harder than if you just had one take or three takes or five takes, and you can exhaust them pretty quick, and you're like, "OK, that’s the best part of this." But it's kind of insane having that many choices.

BG: How much input did the rest of you have?

AH: I didn’t want to get involved.

MD: I actually begged Yauch to take out the scene, the explicit scene of me dancing with the young lady, and … he wouldn’t. He left it in. He didn’t listen to either of us.

[At one point in Awesome, a camera person captures a woman in the audience executing the exact same dance move as Diamond onstage; Yauch then literally flips it and reverses it, superimposing the lady's image alongside Diamond's as if the two are dancing together.]

AY: Adam wanted me to take the pee out. [Awesome includes a clip of one of the shooters going to the men's room and taking a leak.] I went back and said, "C'mon."

AH: He pulled a Mario C. [Caldato, longtime B Boys producer and collaborator]

MD: Literally, he was like, "You know you love that part."

AH: "Y'know," he said, "I've talked to a lot of people, and a lot of my people are saying they really like that part."

AY: But didn't I start off my speech by saying, "I'm going to pull a Mario C on you right now"? It's like when you invent this big background, like maybe one or two people told you something, but you act like it's 50.

AH: I appreciated the bathroom scene, but I didn’t need to see the guy peeing. That’s all I’m saying.

BG: Too much information?

AH: A little much.

AY: That was Tamra’s [Davis, filmmaker and Diamond’s wife] favorite part of the movie.

MD: The girl dancing?

AY: No, the peeing.

MD: The people overall, when I showed it in my personal screening room. To my test audience…

AH: He does have a screening room.

MD: …Everyone in my audience actually really liked the bathroom thing, but they thought the girl dancing part was their favorite part, too. [Davis] liked it a lot. I was not reprimanded, not once. Rightfully so…because I had nothing to do…

AH: Mike does get reprimanded. Often. That’s a whole other thing.

MD: …That was some digital tomfoolery.

AY: No! That was me exploring you and that woman’s fantasy! Just showing what was going on in your head at that moment.

AH: Hey, you’re married but you’re not dead, Mike. Y’know what I’m saying? Ya can dance.

I gotta give a shout out to my friend Tammy Rae -- just had a kid, Rydell. Any shoutouts for SF?

MD: Mixmaster Mike is from the Bay Area.

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Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, a.k.a., Nathaniel Hornblower, gets shot.
From Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!

BG: What about that digital tomfoolery in the movie – did you have to cool it after a while? Were there any limits?

AY: I think there’s a limit to it. I think there was times when I think we went too far with some of the effects. And then we pulled back and tried to find where it was most effective and where it worked with the music and the show overall. There were some strobe effects that went too far.

BG: So will there be completely remixed version of the concert film on DVD?

AY [looking stunned]: There will probably be some outtakes.

AH: Would there be some way, Adam, on the DVD that you could have on the full screen, all the angles, and you could somehow click on that one and it opens up and you could watch the whole video.

AY: That would not be possible.

AH: Even if you had it on a DivX file, a really small file?

AY: You can only have nine alternate angles. That is the cap.

AH: You’re gonna have to change the science on that, Adam.

AY: We could make a CD-ROM or a DVD-ROM, but in DVD technology you can’t do that, that I know of.

AH: Fill that ROM shit up.

MD: Yeah, I’ll get ROM-steen right on that shit!

AY: What we could do is have the whole grid going from beginning to end and people could just zoom in on a part.

AH: That’s what I’m wondering, can you magnify that spot?

AY: Somebody could.

AH: How?

AY: Some fool could just like blow it up to that camera. They’d have to have some software to do it.

AH: We should have applications and software and stuff on the DVD.

AY: That would be cool -- editing software.

MD: I like that idea.

AH: Talk to our people.

[BG babbles something about how this project dovetails with hip-hop aesthetics and the creative interchange between fans and artists. Beastie Boys wonder what the question is. An embarrassing silence ensues.]

AH: Why can’t anybody just be happy with what they got right now? You got to see the video -- you gotta remix it. You go see The Godfather -- you gotta remix it. You listen to Crosby, Stills, and Nash -- you gotta remix it. Y’know what I’m saying?

MD: That’s what I’m gonna say next time somebody asks me, ‘Have you heard this new record by so-and-so?” I’m gonna be like, “Ahh, you should check my remix!”

AH: “Google me, muthafucka!” [Laughs] I’m on the fence about…

AY: Just a minute ago you were telling people to put software on the DVD, and now you’re against the whole thing!

AH: It is a contradiction. It’s exciting that you can do all this weird shit. But at the same time…

MD: Can’t you leave it alone?

AH: Everything is a mash-up, remix. Sprite remix, Taco Bell remix.

MD: But some of those Sprite mixes are kinda hot. I’m telling you.

AH: I saw an ad for the new Blondie greatest hits, featuring the outtakes and featuring the new Blondie/Doors mash-up, and they’re playing “Call Me” mixed with “Riders on the Storm.”

MD: Adam, this is not…

AH: No, no, Kathleen saw this, too. I’m serious. What’s wrong with people? You can’t just listen to “Hanging on the Phone” and be happy with that?

BG: So has the movie changed your artistic outlook?

AY: Like the tension between us? We’ve been having trouble getting along?

AH: Made me watch that man peeing, I’m not happy about.

MD: I’m scarred and I’m hurt.