Tuesday, January 12, 2021



Have a watch, then learn about the mayhem, below. 

As I recall, the video shoot lasted from about 3 p.m. until 5 a.m. We got Chinese takeout somewhere in the middle. It was warm in November (2019). It rained. By the morning, it was much cooler. The script called for the official Joy on Fire cat, Funz, to participate at the very end. The fabulous director, Damien Davis, asked us a famous question: “Will Funz cooperate?” (You’ll have to watch the entire video to find out.) Damien and Chris work together; it was Chris who recruited Damien for the video and the results speak for themselves. “Thunderdome” debuted on NPR’s All Songs Considered, hosted by Bob Boilen, Nov. 17, 2020.

Everything took place in John and Anna’s living room, in Trenton. We assembled a collage. (Can you identify my two additions, Paul Celan and Clarice Lispector?) I did my best work as a purveyor of Air Bass. All of us wore sunglasses, except Anna, until the song’s final sequence, when she appears (movie magic!) in shades. The music in “Thunderdome” never stops walloping. To the best of my ability, I’d describe the lyrics as equal parts interpersonal and societal outcry. “We Are Full of Anger and Decency.” Hasn’t that been obvious, lately?

The final still photo is just a gratuitous pancakes image. It was taken after Joy on Fire played a week earlier at Silvana, in Harlem. We wound up later at the Seinfeld diner. So I did what anybody would do under those circumstances. Sensibly, I ordered the blueberry flapjacks. Thanks for having a look, if you’ve had a look, and thanks for any thumbs-ups, if you’ve given us any thumbs-ups. It is our dream that Tina Turner will come across our video and have herself a fine little chuckle. What’s love, but a second-hand emoticon?

key to the still photos, in order: damien davis; chris olsen; john paul carillo, anna meadors, and chris; john; the wall collage; anna, john, and chris; me and funz; chris; damien, anna, and chris; me and pancakes.

this post is part of a double-issue focused on joy on fire music videos. for a look at our anti-gun protest video “uh huh” click [here].



Have a watch then learn about the mayhem below. 

John kept playing combinations of “dinn-dinn-dunn” on the bass and I kept saying “uh huh” after every iteration. This was 2018, when he and I first started adding words to music, in my old apartment up the hill, in Adams Morgan, D.C., where you could see the Washington Monument from the living room windows. The amp was thumping; the neighbors must’ve been going crazy. Were there bottles of stout? Why, yes there were. “dunn-dinn-dunn!” // “uh huh!”

I said “uh huh” because I dug the bass line, but it became a regular part of the song’s opening cycle, and eventually the title, too. A change in the lyrics would appear after one of the song’s thumping, electrified transformations. There, the words would speculate on the unknowable: the songs not for the dead but of the dead. Ultimately, “Uh Huh” is an anti-gun anthem. In it, we challenge murderers to atone, by returning the bodies (of those they murdered) to the earth.


Importantly, other hands touched the song. Chris Olsen would add the metrical necessity of drums. Anna Meadors added both dirgeful and enraged saxophones; she also devised the refrain (the little loop of singing) at the outro; she engineered the entire recording. In the fullness of time, Mark Isaac and Gabriela Bulisova interpreted the song visually, through a combination of thermal, rippling water, video game, marching, and corporeal imagery. It seems quite accurate.

Even as Covid-19 has prevented us from performing, the video has been gaining traction at several international film festivals. A special thanks to our friends at the Oregon Short Film Festival, London Rocks Film Festival, L.A. Rocks Film Festival, Brussels Independent Film Festival, Hollywood Verge Film Awards, and Rome Independent Prisma Awards. Yo! With a dozen more submissions yet to go! We didn’t have ginormous resources for a big push, thus the level of interest has been especially surprising.

If you are inclined, travel to YouTube and give us a thumb’s up. Give us an “uh huh.” Thanks.

this post is part of a double-issue focused on joy on fire music videos. for behind the scenes at the “thunderdome” video shoot, click [here].