Conversations With Enemies sings songs of love torn apart by death, zombies and deals with the devil. Pairing Philly charisma with charming harmonies and rousing sing-a-longs, this playful five-piece dishes out soft-serve on fire with sprinkles. They’ve been called a “shaggy, Dr. Dog-like, West-Philly-to-Fishtown quintet that makes easy, breezy, summery pop with a rough-and-tumble feel.”
Earlier this summer, Conversations with Enemies filmed a music video to accompany “Night of the Living,” a song off their 2010 release Nowhere OK. Lovers of album accoutrement take heed: this conceptual, full-length album was released with a comic book. They are releasing the music video on August 11, 2011, at 8 pm at World Café Live with The New Connection, Big Terrible and City Rain. Tickets are $13 day-of, $11 if purchased at World Café Live in advance of the show or $10 straight from the band. Download the song for free here.
I talked to Josh Craft and Jess McKay over the phone—for fear of zombie attack.
Katie Feeney: The song “Night of the Living Dead” is pretty upbeat. Besides the obvious connection with the lyrics, what made Conversations with Enemies go full frontal zombies for the music video?
Jess McKay: Well, we released the first album with a comic book that had mostly a zombie western storyline. Some songs for that album were written specifically about zombies, so when we were doing the theme for the music video it was pretty…
KF: Pretty easy.
KF: I read it took over 13 hours to film, what was that like?
JM: Actually it took us over 20 hours to film it. It was split over two days. It was really amazing. The production team, Steve Perrong, John Applebaum, Kevin Howley—those guys were amazing. They were so energetic and comfortable and really worked with all our ideas for the video.
Josh Craft: A lot of our friends helped out with the make-up and we just invited everyone out to be zombies with us! Basically the whole film is a “how-to” avoid becoming a zombie. So in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you’d know what NOT to do. In the end of the music video, we eventually become zombies and end up at a warehouse party where we are the band playing. We got over 100 people dressed up like zombies. We’re at a party where we’re playing this show as zombies. It was a lot of fun. We filmed a lot of funny scenes and we had a great production staff, which helped.
JM: The first day we filmed noon until 1:00 or 2:00 am and by the time it was midnight we were all going a little crazy. I guess that adds to the zombie theme.
KF: What was the craziest thing that happened during those long hours when you were filming?
JM: Somebody rubbed a live cow heart all over his face and put it in his mouth….
KF: …………….Wait, what?
JM: A cow heart.
JC: Yeah, someone brought an actual pig brain and put it in their mouth too. But that wasn’t filmed. Because we specifically told her, “We’re not going to be held liable for you putting that thing in your mouth.” But she did it anyways, so, yeah…
KF: Jay Purdy from The Extraordinaires is in the video. Are there any other cameos from local artists?
JC: Hmm. Well, Jess and I run Rock to the Future, which is a free music and educational after-school program for kids that gives them homework help and musical instruction. So there are some scenes with zombie children attacking the members of the band. The best part of working with kids is that they’ll do anything. You tell them to act like a zombie and they are all for it. They were all wearing fake blood, throwing blood at us… There were so many other random people.
KF: Wait, so a lot of people you didn’t know showed up just to dress up as zombies?
JC: That’s right!
JM: I would say half, or even 75 percent of the people who came out to film had never come out to any of our shows before–they just saw an ad asking them if they wanted to be zombies in a music video and were like, “Yeah.”
KF: Can we expect a zombie apocalypse or any other surprises on August 11th?
JC: Well, we are working on a new album that’s going to be a prequel to this album in the same way as the comic book. We’re planning to release a new comic book that’s also a prequel to the first. It’s more about werewolves, pirates and vampires. So we’re going to play a ton of the new songs on the 11th. Maybe put some of the early drawings from the next comic book on a projector, I don’t know. We’ll see. There will definitely be surprises.
KF: Very cool. Josh, you double as a promoter with Cloud Entertainment Philly. You guys have been popping up everywhere. How’s that going?
JC: It’s good. It’s been blowing up recently with more people getting behind the events. The idea that I had behind all of this is making a show more than a show by adding art or DJs or a theme to make it more inventive, so that people want to be a part of what’s going on. It’s also about supporting local musicians and a local scene. Helping local bands out is a give-and-take thing; you help someone else out and they support you in the future. That way you can just build and grow things into something bigger than you could originally imagine.
JM: And a lot of Josh does with Cloud is focused on booking with art galleries or cool but legitimate venues like Bookspace and giving bands an opportunity to play at these legit places.
JC: Even with the filming of the zombie music video, for example: I had a show that night, so while people are getting dressed up and filming the music video with us these bands are playing and that gives them some extra exposure. It’s just something different. And it helps everyone out.
KF: So what is next for Conversations With Enemies after the music video premiere?
JC: Basically after the World Café Live show on August 11th we’re going to the studio to start recording again with Joe Reinhart, who recorded our last album and my previous band’s album. He does a great job; he knows what we’re going for and always delivers a great product. Once we get that together, we’re going to release another comic book album and do some more touring, playing out a lot. It will be fun.
JM: Yes, so this is our last show in the Philadelphia area until at least October. If we get invited to play the Spectrum we might take it, but … we wanna get the album done.
JC: Last time we had like four people working on the comic book, but we want to expand that to six or so and collaborate with more artists.
KF: So show up or grow up on the 11th?
JC: Exactly. Some of the other bands who are playing are really cool. The New Connection is playing. City Rain, I’m not sure if you’ve heard before, but they’re cool electro-pop…
JM: Their live performance is so energetic, it makes me wanna just smile. I dunno.
JC: Also Big Terrible are really cool, they’re like a throwback Led Zeppelin kind of sound. We’ll release the video before we play. We’re also gonna release a reel of… well… filming this video we had over 20 hours so there’s a lot of different takes: zombies on rollerblades, dancing zombies, making-out zombies, beer bong zombies, keg stand zombies. Any ideas we had that we thought were funny we filmed. This one scene is really Scooby Doo-ish…
KF: So you’re telling me there are zombie bloopers?
JC: Yes. We’re excited.
Watch the music video trailer here.