Skip to content

Static Sessions at Drowning Fish: Uncut Punk.

February 19, 2014

dfs_jumping_lrText by Beth Ann Downey. Images by Timothy Becker.

“Red is better than yellow but green might be best,” videographer Nic Justice says to his brother, engineer/producer C.J. Blair.

The duo are setting up for their next Static Session, a project they started to showcase local Philly punk and hardcore bands through uncut, live performance videos shot in the studio Blair manages and co-owns, Drowning Fish.

It’s a few minutes after quirky post-hardcore band Quiet Arcs dragged their gear up the rickety metal staircase and through the maze of warehouse studio space that Drowning Fish occupies on the edge of Port Richmond.

Red is a bright color for the microphone cord that Justice is hoping not to catch in the frame while filming the band’s set. It’s better than yellow, though. Green – already plugged in and adding to the rainbow of color that feed back to Blair’s recording equipment in the adjacent room – is no longer an option.

Justice then settles on a blue cord and tests the camera view. His tripod sits on top of a rolling rig fashioned out of white piping and skateboard wheels, then stabilized by huge clamps fastened to the large floor rug.

“We only have one camera angle,” Blair says while still tinkering with cords and gear. “We could have more if we wanted to. That’s not the hard part – finding other people who would be interested in filming. But it’s like, these are live, raw, in-studio sessions, and the idea of one camera angle is because when you go see a band, and you’re two feet in front of them, that’s the way you view the band.

“So that’s what I think is cool and really valuable about what we do for bands so it’s like, for people who haven’t seen these bands. It’s a way for people to check them out before they actually go to the venue.”

Justice and Blair are originally from Reno, Nev., and moved to Philly after Justice was through hopping from New York to Los Angeles with various film crews. Blair moved here after he was laid off from a commercial recording gig in Nashville.

“We’ve been here a couple years but we’re still pretty new to the area,” Blair says. “The punk and hardcore community is normally kids who grew up together and really tight-knit and stuff like that, so it’s still a building process.”

This aside, Philly has been welcoming to these brothers. They call it a very “manageable” city with no shortage of good punk bands. They recorded their first Static Session this past April to better showcase this local talent. They book most bands through word of mouth from friends or through other bands who come in.

“There’s, I think, a lot of people doing the indie music kind of singer-songwriter video stuff,” Justice says. “Those are great and we listen to that stuff plenty, too. But bands like this, I don’t think really get the outlet. This is definitely the stuff we grew up on and it’s kind of an under-serviced thing. It’s a scene that we totally believe in.”

And the bands are grateful, especially because Justice and Blair do all of their Static Session work pro-bono.

“They’re taking time out of their schedule to allow us to do this,” Larry Wiechecki, vocalist for Quiet Arcs, says of Blair and Justice. “It’s a piece of media that we typically wouldn’t have available to us, so just that alone is incredible, to help out local bands and the local scene.”

“For better or worse, you can’t just write a good song and it gets noticed,” adds Justice. “It’s tough, definitely. But I also think videos help make music even more of a collaborative thing, more than it already has been.”

Justice and Blair try to make Static Sessions standout from other videos through stylistic differences. They blend black-and-white b-roll and  integrate soundbites from band members saying funny things to open their videos.

Outtakes from the session with Quiet Arcs will hopefully include extensive commentary on the ‘Goths vs. Juggalos’ debate, or Wiechecki accidently hitting himself in the face with the mic, cameras rolling.

For him at least, blue was definitely not best.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: