**WARNING!! The content of this Behind the Scenes feature took place at an event for participants ages 18 and above. As such the contents of this write-up are indented for mature readers only.**
I have had the opportunity to “work” (oh how loosely I must use that term) with Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and Dark Horse Comics on numerous occasions now. For those of you haven’t seen Gerard “on the clock” he is always terribly polite and takes great strides to be completely professional. The night of the “Professional Griefers” music video shoot was no different. Gerard waits for cues, then sets about dedicatedly executing them, no matter how tired he gets. Joel Zimmerman, aka the ever-fabulous deadmau5 is also quite professional no matter how many Coronas you might catch him with but in a completely different way. Joel Zimmerman professionally loves being Joel Zimmerman. He combines his killer attitude and focus together at all points. The Joel Zimmerman you see on his regular livefeeds is exactly the Joel Zimmerman you’ll get to see working on the clock should the occasion arise.
Now that we’ve gotten professionalism out of the way, many of you might be wondering what a “Griefer” is. A Griefer is a bit like a troll, which obviously is something deadmau5 knows a great deal about, but on the next level of annoyance. In the gaming world Griefers will do pretty much anything they can to grief you, right down to even hacking the game world itself just to fuck with you. Fun peeps, right?
When the lyrics first came out with that unfortunate leaked version of the Professional Griefers audio there were a lot of people interpreting them in all sorts of ways, depending on how they heard the lyrics and what they knew of the term or gentlemen behind the track. One of my favorite replies to all these reactions was on some random youtube video where one fan simply said “dude, you’re over-reacting. It’s a song about Minecraft”. Knowing the sort of situations both deadmau5 and Gerard Way find themselves dealing with in their own different scenes I’m guessing there may be a bit more to the depth of the song than that, but it’s obvious where it drew its original inspirations.
I arrived at the shoot around 11pm on May 20th, at the Sepulveda Dam. I walked down a long dirt road to the hill over-looking a glowing dome and searching spotlights shining out in the darkness. After I made my way down the hill I walked past the trailers and across the cement directly into the lights to take it all in.
The concept of the video became clear to me at once as the directors issued cues. We the audience were watching a “two men enter, one man leaves”, rock-em-sock-em robotic UFC fight. Can we dig it?!!! I definitely could.
As mentioned Gerard was super professional, and Joel clearly had a blast messing around with him. One of my favorite parts of their comradery was watching as they missed one fight cue and so instead opted to just gently hug it out instead, Gerard faux resting his head closed eyes on Joel’s shoulder while the audience laughed.
Gerard was fairly quiet in between his parts, sometimes getting into character for the next part, Joel however was as lively as his sparkly belt in the dome light. He jumped around, initiated conversations via megaphone, and even sang random bits of whatever went through his head. (My favorite bit of this was when he spotted an “Aperture Science” shirt and sang “–This was a triumph…” just seconds after I had done the same to my new friend who worked for Naughty Dog. Gamer-Pride, man.)
Some time after the directors had given us our first round of “Godzillia face” reaction cues to the giant robotic doom about to crush us, (thanks a lot, Meowingtons) Joel had a long chat with the audience. All night people would shout out questions like tweets at his feed and deadmau5 would answer them just the same. As mentioned before, the Joel Zimmerman you see online is the Joel Zimmerman you get live. So when Joel asked “So who wants to ask a stupid question??” the audience was more than ready.
deadmau5: *into megaphone* “So who wants to ask a stupid question??” “Are you going to play a set??” *laughs* “Maybe I should have just asked who wants to ask a question.”
random audience member: “PENIS!!”
deadmau5: “If MTV even plays it!” *in response to the Pauly D situation earlier in the week*
random audience member: “PENIS!!”
deadmau5: “Where’s Party Panda? I will be seriously bummed if Party Panda went home!”
random audience member: “PENIS!!”
deadmau5: *loudly into megaphone* “Penis!!”
deadmau5: “Can’t troll a troll, man!! Can’t troll a troll!!”
random audience member: “you should call Skrillex!”
random audience member: “Tell him ‘Penis!’ “
random audience member: “At 2am!”
deadmau5: “Hahaha!! I would, that’d be hilarious but no joke, his manager won’t let me have his new number. I could tweet it at him but he’s pretty much immune to my tweets by now.”
*collective awwws and laughs*
One of the things I love about Joel is his direct open door to his fans, not only were musicians and friends like Tommy Lee and Sofia Toufa there, but so were deep fan-friends like Tom Bostic and Chris James from The Veldt. James is a very funny guy by the way, with an obviously lovely singing voice which the audience insisted he use, and Tom was the dedicated fan that designed the awesome mau5head and backpack featured in the video. Tom had made the head and showed it to deadmau5 online who in typical Joel fashion loved it so much he flew out Tom and the head all the way out to coast just for the vid. (As he later on joked himself, Joel got plenty of head this shoot.)
On my own break from shooting I wandered over to get water and met two guys on bicycles who just happened to wander onto set completely stoned and in awe.
“What’s going on?” The first asked in that way only someone that high and in awe can, staring up at the dome and lights.
“Video shoot.” I replied, and gave them the rundown.
“Oh. We were just passing by on our bikes and were all, what is that? So we had to come down and check it out. Wow, so you say it’s a video shoot?”
“Yep. Why? Did you think it was aliens??” I asked, they laughed. “We were hoping!!”
The night ended and I hung around for a bit with Tom and RosAnne, his traveling companion I’d befriended in the crowd as things wound down.
Everyone stopped him to snap a photo with him and I finally broke down and got one too. Let’s face it, that head and pack were just too cool. End of the night I said goodbye to Gerard and headed off with RosAnne and Tom to meet my cousin Matt at Denny’s. (Good people.) The perfect concert-like ending to a perfect concert-like video shoot. Zimmerman has said that he doesn’t do videos very often, and Professional Griefers is historically the most expensive electronic music video ever, but I’m down for doing it again anytime. -N