Our Music or The Making of Kazoo Hero

From the very start of Skeeter Bite’s videos, a huge focus has always been on the music that drives the videos along. Whether it’s the farcical tones of House Brew’s “Giraffe” on the Day In Hot Springs, or the pounding beats of “Down with the Sickness” over our mock fight scenes, there has always been a place for tunes in our vids.

In fact, one of our earliest videos was a music video for Weird Al Yankovic’s epic “Hardware Store,” which was designed and shot for a project for a computer class. The video took several hours of shooting at the local ACE Hardware store, tracking down as many of the items in the gigantic verse toward the end of the song as possible.

In 2007, Brad Paisley started a contest on YouTube in which whoever made the best video to his then-newest single, “Online,” would be flown out to a concert and the video screened for the fans. Tater and Gaus loved the idea and outlined a script that had Tater transforming into Jake Pannill upon going “online” and spoofing the Matrix, as well as making some good-natured cracks at ourselves. The video fell through, however, after Jake was injured while shooting the first “Matrix” scene. What remains of the footage that was shot was pieced together in 2009 by the Gaus and can be seen on our YouTube channel. Also in 2009, the “creepiest” clips from our videos were pieced together to the song “Somebody’s Watching Me,” by Mysto and Pizzi, as a Halloween treat.

But when the scripts for the Adventures In Hot Springs shorts were being written, the Gaus took the music concept to a totally new level: far from acting out the lyrics of a song or dancing along with a track, Justin suggested that Skeeter Bite actually produce some real music, with real members singing real songs in their real voices. The immediate reaction was “are you shitting us?” Thankfully, the secondary reaction was “Well, maybe we can do this.”

The first video was entitled “MilkGump Blues,” which took its name from the Elvis Presley song “Milkcow Blues Boogie,” which, post-credits, Jesse would sing a short parody of. This version was then changed to a slow blues number with lyrics that went like this:

“I woke up this morning/Bout
quarter to nine/My father done
told me/Get some milk son, and
all will be fine/But there
wasn’t no milk/No, no milk at
the grocery store/Now I done and
went and got myself
grounded/Sitting all round the
house being bored.”

After filming the main portion of the video, the song was dropped, and Jesse was thankful. But he wasn’t in the clear yet. The video that Justin knew had the potential to be one of the most funny things they had ever shot was scripted as a sequel to the video where Jesse met Death, portayed by Theo Tolkmitt. In it, Jesse and Death would duel for Jesse’s soul just as the legendary battle took place between Johnny and the Devil, only in the Skeeter Bite version, the instrument of choice would not be fiddle or electric guitar, but the kazoo.

One evening, over the course of about fifteen minutes, Justin had Googled the lyrics to Devil Went Down To Georgia, copied and pasted them into a word document, and had rewritten them to fit the needs of the Kazoo Hero script. A couple days later, he found an instrumental version of the song, and recorded a demo of the song with a kazoo that Jesse and Hunter had jokingly bought him for his birthday. Prior to the demo, the other members of Skeeter Bite were uneasy about the idea of Kazoo Hero, thinking it wouldn’t work, but the demo more than eased the tension, and quickly, the video became the favorite script of many.

However, Theo Tolkmitt had been a foreign exchange student when they shot the first Death video, so Justin and Jesse had to recast the role. They wrote “old Death” out of the script and wrote “new Death” in, the manner in which the scythe is passed a tribute to the movie “The Santa Clause.” Hunter Cutchin, a longtime friend of Jesse and Justin’s had not yet appeared in any Skeeter Bite videos, and he was up for the challenge. Unfortunately, it began to look as though scheduling conflicts would once again reign supreme over the video-making process.

But n Hunter’s 21st birthday, the song was premiered at his birthday bash at the Flat Iron in Hot Springs, before a single frame had been shot or the master recorded. The song was rehearsed thrice before performing, and then was performed for a crowd of about 20 people. The response gave Skeeter Bite just enough hope to go out and film the video during a one-day shoot.

The video was finally filmed in late summer 2009, which also happened to be on the same day that they recorded the master version of the recording, with Justin rerecording the narration lines, and Hunter and Jesse each reciting their respective lyrics. Jesse performed his own kazoo solos, but Hunter couldn’t keep the melody and the rhythm together while staying on pitch AND humming, so at the last moment, while piecing together all the various takes, Justin picked up the kazoo, and in one take improvised Death’s solo. The only part that remains of Hunter’s recording in the final version is the last crescendo and descent at the end of Death’s solo, which, if listened to carefully, is noticeably higher-pitched than the rest of the solo. Justin was credited in the video as a “Stunt Kazoo” person. The video was eventually completed and turned out to be a great personal success for the major players, who all really enjoyed it.

No one is sure what will be the next musical video for Skeeter Bite Productions. There have been rumors that a wee bit longer short film may be in the planning stages, but there hasn’t been any official confirmation. But we hope you enjoy our music videos as they stand now.

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