First, to set the foundation, it should be noted that the making of this video was a personal project, and it wasn’t produced on behalf of the band.
For the last 9 years, due to living in various random regions of the U.S., I’ve been mingling with friends / coworkers / acquaintances who don’t really know me from my past. Yeah, at some point or another, they heard me say I was in a touring band in the 2000’s, recorded albums, curated a boutique destination music festival, etc., but that doesn’t equate to much if a.) they’d never heard of the band or know much of the general live show-2 sets genre, b.) I usually don’t tell them the band name because of the previous point, c.) Most importantly, there’s no larger acknowledgments-evidence-follower-numbers to directly point to on the internet.
Sure, I’d give them the quick spiel:
“...did over a thousand shows between Hawaii and New York City between 2001 and 2010, and turned quite a few packed rooms upside down with excitement and sweat...”
And that receives an “Oh wow,” but far short of understanding what that statement really meant if one were to start unpacking the experiences of traversing around the western United States through the bar and club circuit for years, over and over again – every night a new adventure, challenge, accomplishment, break down, etc.
(I think) starting in 2017 the thought occurred that it sure would be nice if I could just show a quick montage video or something that would visually demonstrate that I’m not bullshitting (in fact, there were moments I had to ask myself, ‘I’m not making this up, right? I was in a touring band, right?’). But the reality was, especially for a band that existed on the front cusp of the digital device / social media explosion...
Flyer for first show: May 31, 2001 in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Second, there really isn’t a lot of good video out there in the Youtube world. And worst, the band did a terrible job (as in not at all) of collecting and archiving footage. In fact, even at the band’s end in 2010, I still didn’t really understand how Youtube worked, and I’m pretty sure I typed in Utube the first time I went looking. Add to that a (very) generalized observation that the world of selfies and online bill-boarding about how much fun you were having was just a twinkle in the eye of the 2000’s flip phone, carefully curated myspace and/or alias chat room culture.
It would’ve been a different video making process if there were a bunch of audience selfie videos showing how much sweat and smiles were all around them, versus a smattering of clips posted by well intentioned individuals who thought they were doing us a favor by videotaping our sound check – when “there’s no one around to interfere with this unadulterated view of you guys!” However, sometime in 2019…
Third, a good friend (an Uruguayan national living here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.) asked to hear more about that unpacked story behind living life on the musical road, and I often felt a cathartic release in telling some of these stories. This also included a couple late night moments on the couch when he'd be giving a TV Youtube tour of different South American bands, and then I’d say, “well, let me type in Blue Turtle Seduction, and let’s see what pops up.”
With low expectations, I began noticing that there actually were a few gems tucked in there on videos with 89 views or so, such as a quick shot when the camera panned and you see an audience going fucking nuts. This observation brought me back to the video montage idea, but set to a stand-alone montage audio track (versus what was on the video). It would still take another year and a half to finally get around to it, at which point…
Poster for 2007 NYE run at 12 Galaxies on Mission Street in San Francisco, California.
Fourth, it occurred to me that 2021 was the 20th anniversary of the launch of BTS – and with the already intentioned personal website – it seemed obvious that the time was nigh to make this idea happen. Over Christmas 2020, I started by digging out a spool of live CDs that the sound engineer, Armando Torbiner, compiled through the touring years. I popped the first CD into a computer that still has a CD drive, burned it down, and within 5 minutes realized that this would take ages to sift through these one track behemoths.
Then it hit me, ‘wait, isn’t there a live show database out there that people uploaded shows to?!’ It took more than a few minutes to dust off the memory cobwebs before going, ‘duh – it’s called Archive dot org.’ The fact that (good) shows were already on there and divided up by songs was the key to keeping this project going. I spent the next 2 days browsing through tracks, making notes, and honing in on the type of moments I was looking for. It was pretty surreal how quickly my mind went back to this world, and I had more than one twilight-zone moment, in which it was hard to remember that I was reviewing something that did not just happen last year, but occurred more than (sometimes) 15 years ago!
I then spent the next week or so creating the montage soundtrack, culminating in a four and half minute track. This then began the final part…
Poster for 2009 album release show at The Independent on Divisadero in San Francisco, California.
Fifth, putting video to the audio started with an acknowledgment that if I didn’t want to include grainy, poor conversion quality shots, then I wasn’t going to have anything more than 40 seconds. Like the audio, I spent several days perusing and taking notes. I then *cough* downloaded *cough* the videos and began the frankenstein montage process, working on and off again for several weeks.
I let the first version sit for a couple days and then came back to view, at which point I had to reluctantly admit that there just wasn’t enough good footage to stretch over 4:33 – and the video was too long. Thus, I had to go back to the audio and send several sections to the editing room floor. With a shorter track, the various video clips came together much nicer, and I felt my goal was accomplished.
In the end, it is my hunch that if you had an emotional connection to the band at some time or another, then the video will cause some mixed reactions…
On one hand, I’m certain some warm fuzzies, nostalgia, and/or melancholy for a time come and gone will stir during the viewing. On the other hand, I speculate some frustration as well. Does it do justice in telling the full story of this weird band and its dedicated fanbase, that caused such passionate responses, positive and negative, during a thriving bar and club music scene in the 2000’s? In my opinion, not even close.
However, I can finally show it to people and say, “hey, I wasn’t lying – I really was in a band.”
Poster for 2009 Las Tortugas, Dance of the Dead IV, nestled at the west side of Yosemite National Park.