Urge Overkill band back in music scene with new video

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Photographer/videographer Mike White

Urge Overkill is indelibly etched in pop culture history for two reasons. First, the band opened for Nirvana on their “Nevermind” tour, which kicked off 20 years ago this week.

Second, they recorded a haunting cover version of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” for Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” used in a key scene when Uma Thurman dances in her black wig and John Travolta’s beige overcoat, while the song plays omnisciently in the background.

Now, Chicago’s own Urge Overkill is sliding back into the music scene. In May, the band filmed a video for “Effigy,” the first single from their new album “Rock ‘n’ Roll Submarine.” Mike White  and James McKenzie directed.

Co-director James McKenzie of McKenzie Creative White is a Chicago-based photographer of recording artists, actors and models. McKenzie runs a Chicago-area video and animation house called McKenzie Creative.

White and McKenzie shot the 4-minute music video at the Bottom Lounge, from multiple angles, determined to make it look like one of Urge Overkill’s live concerts.

They focused on the drummer for one song, the guitar player for another, and had the band sing various songs from their catalog. Then they mixed the soundtrack in with the live shots. White said their goal was to make it look like they had 10 cameramen.

“We used a lot of production tricks to make everything look seamless. The only people that could pick up on it would be the band,” White said.

The directors shot with HD DSLR cameras. White used a Canon 5D Mark 2, and McKenzie used a Canon 7D Mark 2. “These cameras allow people with a TV budget to have access to video that was previously only available in Hollywood,” White said.

Chicago's Urge OverkillIt took 40 hours to edit the video. They alternated between White’s Chicago studio and McKenzie Creative’s Rockford studio. The band – Eddie “King” Roeser, Nash Kato, Mike “Hadji” Hodgkiss and Brian “Bonn” Quast – was to get the final cut, according to their contract. Luckily, White had shot Urge Overkill’s still photos, and after devoting half a day to that, he knew what camera angles the band preferred.

“So we submitted the video and waited for the band’s feedback,” White said. “Lo and behold, it appeared on Urge Overkill’s website (in June). So we got it right the first time.”

White shot a video for rapper Ironic, a photo client. 

White spent three weeks in August shooting a video for Chicago rapper, Ironic (real name: James Buford), for whom he previously shot stills. Singers who graduate from photo sessions to music videos under White’s direction can easily keep the same energy and vision.

“Photographers treat the medium as a set of sequential still images.” he said. “If you compose your frame like a photographer, you can capture the motion. And you are well ahead of those that are polished in the technical areas.”

Pleased with White’s still and video camera work, Urge Overkill asked him to join them on the road. White couldn’t commit to filming their European tour this fall, but he may be the DP on their next video — an acoustic song with a storyline.

Urge Overkill plays at Chicago’s Congress Theatre on October 9, along with Weezer.

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