“CRC Live” music videos play weekly on RedEye site

The Kickback at CRC

Chicago Recording Company has launched “CRC Live,” a six-part series of archived music videos that were recorded in their big Studio 4 and post Tuesdays on RedEye Chicago and on CRC’s YouTube page.

The inaugural episode features Chicago-based band The Kickback performing “Rob Our House,” a song about a real-life home invasion described as “awesome” by CRC assistant audio engineer Michael Azzato. He directed and Matthew Boll, a CRC music producer, produced.

“You always hope to capture that amazing set,” Azzato says “Knowing that they’re playing live puts a little pressure on the band, but we haven’t hit too many roadblocks so far.”

Azzato and Boll came up with the idea for “CRC Live” in 2012 when they were interns and pitched it to general manager / executive producer Chris Shepard while working a festival on the road in CRC’s mobile recording truck

Michael Azzato“They did a couple of testers to prove the concept and they looked great,” Shepard said.

Their first video featured Boll, who plays bass for the Hudson Branch, performing a song from his solo project, American Vacation. The song, “Burning Sun,” has an Americana streak, in the vein of Wilco or Ryan Adams, and is about the tendency people have to return to the scene of the crime.

“It was pretty DIY,” he says. “The people who are playing the instruments are friends from CRC who I taught the songs to.”

Azzato and Boll continued recording and taping artists from a wide circle of friends and associates in the music scene, the media industry and the network of talent attached to CRC.

Along the way, they met Andrew Ladd, director of Tribune Publishing’s Research and Strategic Insight, who was “looking for collaborative efforts to happen across media,” says Boll. The conversation launched what become a RedEye and CRC partnership.

Matthew BollSince then, “CRC Live’s” production process has grown to include backdrops, synced-up lighting and a three-person production crew equipped with Cinema-lensed Canon C300s and an occasional Black Magic camera. But Azzato and Boll make sure that each video comes with a dose of DIY prescribed by the musicians themselves.

“The bands offer their input and usually we try to work off of that,” says Azzato. “We have a group, like four or five of us, sit down and hash out.”

“The whole idea is to find out what story we’re telling with the artist,” adds Boll. “We want to involve them as much as possible.”

This collaboration inspired a clear cut visual style when they shot Kickback’s “Rob Our House.” 

“The lyrics change every single time they perform it,” Azzato says. “We thought it would be really cool to shoot it in black and white.”

Azzato and Boll have chosen not to disclose the remaining artists and songs featured “CRC Live’s” first season so fans can enjoy a surprise every time they tune in.