Zebras in Public recently released the video for the song "John Doe" off their album Paradise Leg. The making of the video took jumping many hurdles but after it all came together is truly a work of art.
We sat down with the band to discuss the making of the video, love for Cincinnati and what is next for Zebras in Public.
Tell us about the making of the video, "John Doe”…
Chris Himes (Drummer): The making of John Doe was probably the most intricate and time consuming project we've ever worked on. You don't walk into a 7 min long video and wing it, there needed to be thought and intention behind every door. We probably had 5 Pre-Production meetings between working out the treatment (narrative concept), scouting locations, and casting. Starting off we worked with our old DP (Director of Photography) Tony Deemer, and his crew. We worked with them on the video for Propaganda as well, and since everyone got along during that shoot we decided to bring them back for a second time. So we had our concept we had our cast, and we had our crew. But after 6 months of shooting and nearly 80+ hours of editing I felt we were still missing something. So I decided to start looking for another editor/DP, and after sifting through names in online groups our friend and editor from the music video "Blown Away", Robb Webb, finally introduced me to an editor and filmmaker by the name of Ken Maxwell.
Ken and I met up a few times and I could almost instantly tell, this was the guy I had been looking for. After reviewing all of the footage together it was finally decided that we had to do some re-shoots. The original vision just wasn't working, so after another month or so of rewrites we were able to go out and get all of the shots from Downtown, Zeb singing, and Ian's Massive guitar solo in only two short nights. Which was great because we were still using all of the shots from the Alley, the introduction, and the "at home" shots between our two stars, that Tony had shot.
But once again we would run into delays. Ken was in the process of moving so while he had the footage ready to go, his personal life was taking up all of his time to edit. So after a few weeks he graciously apologized and helped us find an up and coming editor here in Cincinnati by the name of Brendan Jeffrey.
Brendan and I met up at Highlands Coffee in Clifton to set the ball in motion for what has been a great working relationship. And after a few short weeks working out of his apartment, we were able to combine the footage from Tony and Ken, along with some extra post production magic, into the final version of John Doe you see today.
So as I said at the beginning, this was the most intricate project we've ever had the pleasure to work on, but it was a team effort of many coming together that made it all possible.
The lyrics of “John Doe” are powerful, what do they mean to the band? Zebediah Williams (Lead Singer): The concept for John Doe came to me some years ago when Ian and I where putting our first few songs together. I wanted to write about a real topic. The fact that I have had friends that I have lost to senseless murder made me want to turn my thoughts on the matter into song. As I was writing the lyrics i started to think about the fact that there are allot of people who are murdered and cant even be identified. There are families whose family members have disappeared and they have no idea what happened to them. They just vanish. Imagine how difficult that would be to lose someone you love and never know what happen, or be a detective and find a body that you have no way to identify. Closure is so important for a family to have peace in a time of loss. To have a family member be identified is the least a family can ask for when dealing with the death of someone they love.
I'm a long time fan of reggae music and I felt like it would be cool if I could write a song that had a reggae vibe to it. Knowing that Ian and I could add a rock and roll sound to it, I knew that it would be a very cool sound if we could merge the 2 genres together. Everything just came together perfect. The song had a great vibe, and yet still had a very powerful message. You can groove to it, and still be mentally stimulated by the deep message of the song. Senseless killing is a problem we need to deal with, and this song is a great way to provoke conversations about the issues in our communities.
What does the band love about Cincinnati?
What is there not to love about this city? The city has been growing and changing in many positive ways. The renovations to OTR and the riverfront have helped revitalize downtown. Shows progress in our city which we had not seen in many years. This city also offers a great variety of music. There is something here for everyone to enjoy. With events such as Midpoint Music Festival, Bunbury, 3CDC events held at Fountain Square and Party in the Park held at Sawyer Point as well as the hundreds of shows occurring weekly around the city in venues and bars it allows the people to be exposed to a wide variety of music and great experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime. The amount of support local musicians receive also goes a long way as well. Without the support from local radio stations, Cincymusic.com and the many other outlets throughout the city the exposure for local artist to be discovered would be slim. I would have to say one of my favorite things about this city is coming down the cut in the hill in Kentucky and seeing the amazing Cincinnati skyline. Such an amazing view that anyone can appreciate.
What is next for Zebras in Public?
We have allot of exciting things in the works. Zebras in Public will be releasing a kickstarter video within the next couple of weeks to help us fund our next project. Our next project will include getting back into the studio to record the news songs we have been writing when we have not been out recording music videos or playing shows. Once the final tracks are mixed and mastered we will begin working on another music video to help us promote the new album. We find that visuals really help get across the message of our songs. You will find that Zebras in Public will be playing more out of town shows as we plan to branch out and grow our fan base and spread our message of positivity and unity through our music. We plan to reach out to cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Nashville to book the majority of our future shows.