Monday, September 6, 2010

The Black Friday Formula

Black Friday Photoshoot

If there’s anything that Formula412 is known for other than our music and stage show is our ever-changing image and photos. We embrace the importance of promotion and marketing. For the Black Friday event, we were stepping out of our comfort zone, taking big risks to reinvent AND reintroduce ourselves to the public. For a while, Masai and I had toyed with the idea of us wearing suits, but never really pulled the trigger on the concept. It just wasn’t time--yet. Part of that theme was to promote us as “grown-ass men". We wanted to been seen as musicians with experience. To put it simply--a new-and- improved Formula412. We both really liked the idea of Quentin Tarantino’s Resevoir Dogs theme. I’ve always dug the class and sophistication of the black fitted suits with skinny ties. Perhaps that influence comes from the old jazz cats, Martin Luther King and even from the Beatles. Once we presented the theme to the band, everyone was on board and we went full steam ahead with the idea.
Armed with one of Pittsburgh’s top photographer, a great location, and our rented suits (skinny ties excluded!) we sought out to get some quality shots. No one really knew what the pictures were going to turn out like. With a looming sense of urgency surrounding the Black Friday concert we knew we only had one chance to make it hot and it had to be right.
It’s interesting when Formula412 gets together for these sort of things, because it really is like a band of brothers. We all felt the pressure and importance of getting good pictures and video—and sometimes that stress is eased by constant jokes and ripping contests. At any given moment any band member will be the blunt of harsh jokes, ridicule or rips as we call them. I always imagine if someone from outside of our circle heard some of the things that we say, that they would assume that we didn’t like each other much. It’s very much the opposite. I think the dry, rugged, sarcastic humor are part of the bond, fear, insecurities, communication, frustration, emotion, excitement, pressure, and our individual commitment to the band. The funny thing is if anyone else would say a single word about anyone of us, there would be a problem. A big problem.
Once we were there, we let the photographer work his magic. We had previously worked with him on some other projects so the tension was eased. Jeff Swenson is an extremely free and creative spirit, but most importantly an amazing photographer. Our goal was to get strong group pictures and equally supportive individual shots. We all were sort of adjusting (except for Dennis) to how the suits were fitted. They seemed a little loose, so there were fashion technical difficulties throughout the day. Buttons braking. Safety pins. Lack of tie-knotting skills. Tight collars. Bulky jackets. You name it. Still, we had to push through. If we had to hold a pair of pants up with yarn and some gum, we would have done it to make it work. This shoot and the concert that it was promoting was far too important to let clothing defects stops us.
We shot for several hours. One of the cool parts of the shoot was when Dennis was playing in this old, dirty abandoned room. I remember it being so loud and acoustically unsound. The dude already hits like Bam Bam on steroids so to have him jamming in this old cement room was almost sonically abrasive. To truly get the essence of a Dennis Garner you have to have him playing drums. No question about it. So Jeff and his assistant braved the harsh cymbals crashes, monstrous kick drum and ear-splitting snare for great pictures. Throughout the entire day we had a video team simultaneously filming behind-the-scenes footage to get a feel for what the shoot was like. We always felt like it was a great idea to include that sort of content. At the end of the day, we are all such hardcore music fans, and nerds that we get inspired by artists we appreciate. Masai, Akil and myself are definitely the music history documentary geeks and love the behind the scenes footage of the groups and artists that we admire. We try to apply that concept to Formula412.
After a long day, a few thousand pictures, video production, poses, rock throwing contests, and repeated walking shots, we were done. The Black Friday shoot was complete and to this day in my eyes, our best look yet. The video and the photos speaks for themselves.
Byron Nash