Scene screen: Q&A with Brendan Boogie of Boston indie flick ‘The Mayor Of Rock And Roll’
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e all know Simon Saint. We all know Astrid Eliot. They don’t actually exist, and yet they’re all over Boston’s music scene. Saint and Eliot are fictional characters in Brendan Boogie’s upcoming feature film, The Mayor Of Rock And Roll, a story set against the backdrop of our city’s music scene, described as portraying “musicians at various levels of success wrestling with what it means to ‘make it’ and how their rock and roll lives conflict with the real ‘adult’ lives they (often reluctantly) have to live.”
In the film, Saint is the well-known “big fish in the small pond” who takes Eliot (revealed recently to be played by Nicole Dessingue formerly of Stereo Telescope) under his wing. As they flirt with success and navigate the real world, the usual tensions arise: disgruntled lovers question their drive, past relationships never seem to go away, and the competitive nature of a music scene eats from within. Plus, there’s that whole deal with becoming an adult, and aspiring to do things like pay rent and bills, as well as shoot-for-the-moon goals like being able to eat and sleep on a mattress, all while trying to make it in the often-unforgiving music business.
The Mayor Of Rock And Roll — directed by Mark Phinney (Fat) and written by Boogie, the Broken Gates frontman formerly of power-pop gents Scamper and current bassist in Parlour Bells — will feature a host of scensters and familiar faces in familiar spaces, all soundtracked by our city’s music. But it’s all still in its early stages, in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign that runs until July 29, asking supporters to help contribute $7,000 to the making of the film. The project is more than halfway to its goal on the backs of 76 contributors, and earlier today, Boogie unveiled the first band signed on to perform live in the flick, Muy Cansado, with more announcements coming over the next few weeks.
With the action picking up and the Kickstarter hurdling toward success, Vanyaland caught up with Boogie last week to chat about all things mayoral, and get the dirt on his cinematic vision.
Michael Marotta: So right at the top, The Mayor of Rock And Roll has nothing to do with Tom Menino, right?
Brendan Boogie: Correct, although if His Honor wants to audition for a part, he should have his people call my people.
MM: He’s going to have some free time pretty soon.
BB: Good. That will give me a little time to get some “people.”
MM: If Menino got involved in the Boston rock scene, what kind of band would he be in?
BB: He strikes me as a blues rock guy. I could imagine him as a harmonica player in Ernie and the Automatics.
MM: I just heard him say “Come On Down” in my head over and over. It was one word, Comondon, which sounds like a shitty Rhode Island town.
BB: As opposed to all the NON-shitty Rhode Island towns. (I kid, Rhode Island.)
MM: I’ll assume none of this has to do with the Mayor of Rock and Roll, so let’s re-start this: Tell me about The Mayor of Rock And Roll
BB: Sure. The Mayor of Rock and Roll is a full-length feature film we are making that takes place against the backdrop of the Boston music scene. Among other things, it’s the story of that moment that musicians face at a certain age of whether to stay local or “go for it.” And if there’s even an “it” to go for anymore. It’s also got laughs and romance and tons of live musical performances.
MM: Was this based on any one particular band, or a combination of many over the years?
BB: Personally, I’ve been through both sides of it. When I was a bit younger, I was in a band called Scamper that certainly got a taste of the whole “Wow – let’s see how far we can take this thing” mentality.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more OK with keeping it local but I always question – am I fooling myself into being ok with it because it’s my only option? Sort of a “I never wanted to be a part of your stupid club anyway!” type of thing. It’s certainly not an uncommon experience when I talk to other musicians.
MM: Is this film intended to reflect a side of bands and musicians that not many people get to see? Like a look at the “real life” aspect to playing rock and roll and living that so-called dream?
BB: Hopefully, the story is universal in a sense that as we get older our priorities change and we have to wrestle with whether we’re OK with that. I think it’s particularly noticeable in the arts, but I’m sure I could make a similar movie about someone coming to terms with the fact that they’re not going to play in the NFL or whatever. Of course, if I did that I couldn’t play the lead because of my total lack of muscle tone.
MM: And there would be a surprise murder twist!
BB: I don’t know that it would be a surprise. I hear they’re making “likelihood of murder” as a category in NFL rookie scouting now. “Great hands, 3 foot vertical leap, and only a 30-percent chance of gangland style murder. Draft that kid!”
MM: Speaking of shootings — was Mayor filmed around town? Would we recognize the spots?
BB: Yes, most of the story takes place in the rock clubs in the area. We’re finalizing locations now, but there will be lots of places you recognize and/or have gotten drunk in.
MM: Where are we at in the entire process?
BB: We are finishing up casting and crew assembling, nailing down locations, rehearsing, and (most importantly) fundraising. The Kickstarter ends on July 29.
MM: How’s the Kickstarter coming along? What’s the most ridiculous thing contributors can get?
BB: We just hit the midpoint which means that I have to shave my beard into something ridiculous. There are many rewards for every pocketbook. For $40, I will write a personalized dirty limerick about you. For $45 I will break up with your significant other for you. (I will be kind, but firm.) For $80, I will write a song about the romance or karate fight between you and the celebrity of your choice. For $150, I will call you and say positive, validating things for 15 straight minutes. Something for everyone.
MM: All of those are a pretty great deal. Can someone pay a certain amount to become the Mayor of Rock and Roll? I heard it worked for the Strokes in NYC a decade ago.
BB: That is a title that is earned, my friend. It is not for sale.