CMJ 2012 band, and Brooklyn’s own, Apollo Run is releasing its debut full-length album, Here Be Dragons, Vol. III, on September 25. And today, Apollo Run is premiering the Animal Farm-inspired video for the single “The Inevitable Small Rebellions,” a classic-rock-reminiscent track with a wailing bass guitar (Fact: The album contains no electric guitars. According to the band, anything that sounds like electric guitars is actually Jeff Kerestes “altering his bass setup to have that lead guitar sound.”), brass, hyperactive piano and anthem-like, impassioned vocals that cry out lines like “Yesterday, you came for the hearts of our daughters/Today, today, today we come for you.” The theatrical nature of the song is intentional: Aside from being a track on the band’s LP, “The Inevitable Small Rebellions” is also the opening song in Here Be Dragons: The Musical, an Apollo Run original that was workshopped up in Maine at a performing arts camp this summer. The band is planning on bringing the musical to New York City early next year.
The video matches the song’s theatrics and features children, dressed up in colorful face paint and DIY costumes, acting out the symbolic George Orwell story of Russian communism’s history while the band members rock out in the background on cardboard instruments. Why the cardboard and the kids and the animal rebellion? Lead singer John McGrew elaborates below the video.
What’s the story of the song?
As I wrote the initial chord progression, I was imagining rich people dancing in a huge castle while the poor people outside burned down the gates. The song begins the moment after a man kills a king to begin a rebellion. He is escaping the castle to go home to join his wife. The word is spreading throughout the city, and the people begin to sing at the burning gates, “Listen as we sing with the hearts of our fathers, remembering all you put them through/Yesterday you came for the hearts of our daughters/Today, today, today we come for you!” As our hero is running home, he realizes that he has started a war, “As I’m running home I see I’m not alone/The clouds are clearing away as I hear the shots ring out.” I’ve always loved fairy tales and fantasy books, and as soon as Graham, our drummer, saw these lyrics he said, “Bro, you gotta read Game Of Thrones.”
How did you get from that point to Animal Farm? Who came up with the video concept?
When we released Here Be Dragons, Vol. I, we made a video for our track “Stars” with an incredibly smart and creative director named Alex Fischer. We knew we had to make another video with him and when Vol. III was complete, we gave him the pick of the litter. When I met up with Alex, he had chosen “The Inevitable Small Rebellions,” and he told me his concept for a video. I hadn’t mentioned anything regarding the story behind the lyrics but he said “I am thinking of revolutions and strife, overthrowing the man, that sort of thing—so let’s act out a loose adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm…with kids. Leslie Guyton can choreograph the whole thing, and Apollo Run can be the rats.” I was immediately in love with the idea.
Who are the kids, and what was it like working with them?
The kids were cast from various places. A few are students of [bassist] Jeff Kerestes’s. A few I teach at a performing arts summer camp up in Maine. A few were cast by Alex. Alex had worked with a few of them before on other projects. The amazing thing about working with kids is they are enthusiastic as hell. “First we are going to turn you into pigs and horses and birds.” “Oh sweeeet!” “Then we are going to have some pigs and some dogs kill you.” “Whoaaaaa. Awesome!!!”
How did it feel rocking out to cardboard instruments?
One of the best parts about this project was the amount of late-night preparation involved. We collaborated with ScrapKins creator Brian Yanish to make all of the masks, set pieces and instruments out of recycled materials. We spent long nights cutting up cardboard, egg cartons and plastic bottles. Jeff’s bass kept on going out of tune, but besides that, the instruments worked perfectly.