The Ray Wall Band is no stranger to GEEK TO ME. When I last spoke with front man Ray Wall, the band had just finished producing a “rock opera” based on those uncanny mutant masters of melodrama, The X-Men. Now, after tackling characters from the DC Comics Universe, the self-proclaimed “originators of the Comic Book Rock genre” are taking a swing at everyone’s favorite wall crawler!
After a bit of back and forth via e-mail, Ray Wall and I got caught up to discuss his new animated music video titled “HE’S SPIDER-MAN!” He told me about what inspired the short; the talented animator he partnered with on it; the challenges surrounding production; the videos Easter eggs including a special cameo; and what he thinks makes Spider-Man such a popular character:
Geek To Me: How have things been? What have you guys been up to since the X-Men Opera?
Ray Wall: Hi Elliott, it’s good to be with “Geek To Me” again! Well, we have of course put out a few more singles since then like Watchmen, The Joker, and this Spidey track. During this time I have written quite a load of music which we hope to release and this HD animated music video marks a new point of departure after a relatively quiet period.
As you know, I started making this music as a rehabilitated comics fan after wanting to hear more direct comics driven music in the soundtracks of super-hero movies. As such, our roots are on the comics side but we have recently been talking with folks more strictly in the music industry who can appreciate this and help us assemble a production team for the next step.
Geek To Me: Where did the idea for an animated Spider-Man video come from?
Ray Wall: I have been thinking for a long time about a concept I call “musical comic books” and have come up with a number of things that I don’t believe have really been done in either comics or music. This music video is a first step toward those ideas I hope we can realize in the future.
The idea took off when I met my animation partner on this project, Shawn Sheehan, a motion design pro from the Detroit area. He’s a major talent, fanboy, and he liked my crazy song so we decided to team up to bring Spidey to life in a new fun way. I really like the sense of surprise and humor he put into this video.
On the music side, I wanted to attempt creating a new theme song for Spidey that would be as memorable and singable as the original Spider-Man tune from the ‘60s.
All of our work on this project is non-profit and is 100% for the fans. You can even get the mp3 song single as a free download from the Ray Wall Band Facebook page this summer.
Geek To Me: I love how you combined the feel of the cartoon from the 60's with the character designs of the movies. Who came up with that idea?
Ray Wall: This is one of those things where there were a lot of puzzle pieces on the table and we just had to execute.
I think that it started with the retro-pop musical style that I produced the song in. If we had made the song hard rock, or even hip hop for that matter, I think that Shawn might have gone in a different direction. So, very much, the character designs were his doing based on the music, his personal memories of the ‘60s show, and the fact that the Spider-Man 2 movie presented an additional layer of content that the project had to react to.
You know what’s kind of funny? Some people thought that three villains were too many for the new movie to have and yet our video has nine!
Hey, and don’t forget we even have Stan Lee. (Laughs)
Geek To Me: How long did the video take to produce?
Ray Wall: Well to tell the truth, Shawn and I began talking about doing this video shortly before the “Amazing Spider-Man” reboot two years ago. But if you want to go back even farther we can talk about the actual recording of the track a few years before then. That of course involved the full band in the studio environment and went pretty quickly.
The artwork and video, however, which looks like it could have taken a team of people a while to do, was actually done 100% by Shawn with my editorial input over an intense period of about three months. That was added to the work that we had rendered two years prior.
The time to produce it is one thing, but trying to work around professional schedules is very challenging. That’s especially true when every single day gets closer to the release date of a big movie like this. Your blood pressure goes up every day the project is not finished!
One really cool thing about this video is the level of detail that’s in it if you take the time to look. Several Easter eggs too! For example, I told Shawn that I did not want to have a huge flashing band name backboard behind the band while we were on stage in the video because the vibe is not supposed to be about us. But look carefully on top of the taxi that the Lizard throws and there it is – “The Ray Wall Band Now Playing!” – that’s about the tiny size of my ego in all this. (Laughs)
Geek to Me: What is it about Spider-Man that you think makes him so popular?
Ray Wall: I think that a lot rides on the division of dramatic weight between Peter Parker’s life and Spider-Man himself. I remember when I saw the second Toby Maguire movie with Doc Ock that I felt you could practically remove Spider-Man from the entire movie and still have kind of a great movie about Peter Parker and all of his issues alone. I wonder if that could be done with say, Bruce Banner or Clark Kent or whoever. You can often feel Peter’s nuanced issues when he is fighting as Spider-Man on screen or in the comics in a way that maybe we don’t as keenly feel Bruce Wayne’s personal issues when he is Batman.
In other words, the identity line between Peter and Spidey is very fluid and people respond to that in a personal way. But hey let’s get real, Spider-Man has the coolest powers going – just give me that dang webshooter! (Laughs)
Geek To Me: So what's next?
Ray Wall: A full CD is overdue from us and so in recent months we have been taking inventory of the many Comic Book Rock songs I have written and making demos of some of them. Alfred is in the Batcave helping us but we have no deadlines. The CD will have music representing a full spread of DC and Marvel characters and should encompass theme songs, long form rockers, story-telling, and even a super-hero love song. I am curious myself to see what we come up with.