Bodies hustle from the parlor, through the vestibule and into the iridescent dining room. I've just missed filming of the death scene; at least the lying-around part of it.
I see my beguiled gaze reflected in the full suit of armor. Shawn Knight nods at me, face as pale as a ghost, as he sits upon a throne.
The dinner scene is next and soon a live gun will be fired indoors.
The Briggs Mansion, with its thick dusty carpeting and cluttered Victorian décor, seems to simmer with a jittery excitement, leashed only by the pause needed to figure out the proper angles to fix this rather expensive RED® camera; even the suckling pig, glistening and ghastly, seems to wink that its ready for its close-up.
And yet, that scrawny, shaggy squad of weird-pop wielders, Prussia, whom, heretofore I've only seen swathed in bleached-out t-shirts, torn denim bottoms and waning moccasins, are now transcendently glamorized; their slicked hair combed neatly with ends curled like tight lower-case cursive letters, their sly smiles given the fuzzy glow of make-up that cakes under warm, pillowy lighting.
And, here, as they pass me one by one, dapper in their tuxedoes, each of them, Kasey Press (bass), Drew Spencer (drums), Adam Pressley (guitar) and Brenton Bober (keys) ask me sequentially:
"…have you seen Ryan, yet?"
"…She's not ready, yet…" Candace O'Leary, a producer, calls from the comparably shadowed hallway. For the next nine minutes, stirred curiosity of Ryan Spencer's reemergence from make-up and wardrobe puts in me an Eyre-y air, and I imagine him haunting the halls of this gothic manor like Bronte's villainess. I hunt for "her" through the labyrinthine hallways upstairs, getting lost through the interconnecting bedrooms and having choice between four bathrooms.
Descending the grand stairway (everything in this house looks and feels grand; you want to be careful not to touch anything, the shiny silver tea set, the countless vases framing gaping fireplaces and the celestial chandeliers hanging in every other room)…I then return to the dining room, feasting my eyes upon the effeminate Ryan, licking the reddened hoof of the pig.
His hair is bleached blonde and wrapped up like a flapper, with gaudy earrings dangling from his ears. The sleepless bags under his eyes and lipstick smeared beer can deceive his otherwise surreal baby-dollish appearance, complete with rosy circle stamped cheeks. It's almost creepier than the pig.
But, still, I admire the overwhelmingly ornate and appetizing spread, a majestic meal that fills the entire 12-meter table, meticulously prepared by the ambitious Solid Dudes, Derek Swanson and Dave Graw: the pig, roasted chickens, vine grapes, oysters, and sautéed vegetables, flanked with chalices retaining vulgar between-take splashes of PBR.
And all the fulsomely decorated faces and hair (tended to by Marcie Bolan) compliment the elegant costumes, particularly Ryan's pearl frilly gown and Tom Rowland (the host and murderous colluder) with his mutton-chopped stache and stately red sash.
But there's a lot of waiting.
There's excitement in the air, just as there's a bit of anxiety. This shit has got to go down just right…and not merely because there'll be live ammunition and broken glass, no, the tacit sentiment is, and has been all along, that the Four Films project is of Prussia as much as it is for Prussia.
Prussia's always sounded good. They've always made provocative pop music with a certain primal allure to its choppy percussion's vacillation from dubstep to disco to flamenco. They've always had a knack for indelible melodies fused with teases of garnishing feedback, warmly wrung with surfy guitars, glittered with orchestral accoutrements and bristled with throaty croons that strain the diaphragm, spouting blushing, blunting poetry. Buoyant grooves, graceful stomps, hard to resist.
But Prussia's never sounded as good as Poor English. Bongos, synthesizers, violins, organs and baby grande pianos, all flourishing in a sonic bouquet come to bloom under professional mixing and mastering (a first for them through four years and three prior albums).
So now, almost out of a kind of exasperation (or compassion) that the rest of the world hasn't heard (or noticed) yet, Single Barrel has set a staggering stage to help garner attention.
The camera's roll and the "actors" rise to this command performance. Drew sends a leery frown over at the hyena-faced host, Tom, laughing easy with bottomless pours of red wine, to the slight discomfort of the tender and timorous Brenton, observing guardedly.
The tension winds tighter as the guests unwind themselves, toasting their reverie whilst the creepy butler disembowels the pig and Adam slinks off, sloshed enough to have a heart-to-heart with the metal corpus of knight's armor in the parlor. Ryan (who, pre-production, had shaved his legs for this masquerade), loses himself in his character, flirting in flagrant bisexual coaxing as he rips open his gown to reveal his gaunt, lanky frame – just in time to be shot in the gullet.
Indeed, even the new guy, Kasey, is able to slide into the groove comfortably, dancing along with his mates while the ghoulish host, butler and somnambular piano player goad them into one last dance, before being picked-off, one-by-one, with a pistol, their innards spilling forth in tragically beautiful torrents of scattering doves and lilting flower pedals.
(And, yes, that's Andrew Remdonek on the piano, founding/former member and contributor to Poor English's songs).
And so it is, that even the sun wanted to shine just right upon the breathless bodies, splayed upon the oriental rug for the "morning after" shot; as there's just something idyllic about the certain glint to that particular morning's rays.
Hopefully tomorrow there's even more light to shine on this band… at least that's the goal of this project.
- Jeff Milo