FADE IN - Hot December - 1997
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Alex Ebert - Tall Skinny Blue (eyes). He steps out of the old Liberace warehouse-turned apartment building - Bright white daytime - Zoom zap up on his face and electric shakes through his body and we are told - by some inside voice we have - that this is the one - the savior - our hero for the next bit of whiles.
CUT TO - UNIVERSAL CITY HILLS - 4:OO AM, 2 MONTHS EARLIER
"I just want to let you know, right here, right now, that I'm in this strictly for the money."
Timmy the Terror - His Eyes Like Big Ignorant Stars. Alex recognizes him immediately as a genius of the naive variety, and so disregards the remark, turning his attention once again to the sound of the crickets, who were dazzling a magical symphony upon them. Heads nodding in unison, they were to become the best of friends.
CUT TO - KOREA TOWN - 12:45 AM - SOUNDS OF LAUGHTER
"I'm bleeding?!" Alex said, like he thought himself incapable of such mortality. ( Uncontrollable Laughs from Timmy the Terror )
"I'm a pig?!" Timmy said, just before doubling over from the weight of humor he had just created for himself. Alex was now on the floor, catching up to his breath, which had left him for delirium...still, from the floor, he attempted to eek out yet another 'hilarious' phrase ?
"I'm a robot?!" - Pause...and then - Laughter of the large kind filled the building and threatened respiratory meltdown. Through the hallways one might have been able to hear that phrase as they desperately repeated it through heaving gasps - "IMA ROBOT?!" They had landed upon something that would come to haunt them for the rest of their lives - a phrase they could not stop repeating from that day forth (nor could they remember what was so damn funny about it) - a phrase that came to have great meaning for them - ima robot.
ima robot was to become the name of their new band, and they had much work ahead of them.
Timmy, at the urging of Alex, took up the guitar again - an instrument he had long since abandoned for his MPC beat machine. As it turned out, his sabbatical from the rock n' roll world of electric guitar provided him with a fresh approach to the instrument. Alex, who was formerly strictly an MC, felt the need to sing, and so it began, and an original style was born...but they needed more help...
CUT TO - BIG MARBLE HALLWAY IN SPACE - SIX MONTHS LATER
Light falls on the head of Young Oligee. Eyes squinty, head cocked to the right, he hunches and, through a cloud of his own whooshing cigarette fumes, he sizzles our way his best DeNiro. 'May we present you with your MPC60, sir.' The beautifully breasted Brazilians said all wearing only white gloves and leaving the rest open for slapping and palpation. With one final puff, and a lasting gaze into our eyes, he flicks the butt off into the blackness and, shoulders hunched, he shuffles over to the MPC 60. A hush through the invisible crowd. Then, as if about to masturbate for the world, he presents us all his two hands - in exquisite shape indeed! But before the crowd has a chance to applaud his nature he hits us - BOOM BOOM BUH BOOM BOOM - KLACK! We're all thrown back and we crumble under the mastery of his electric touch!
'Touch me!' shouts the Jupiter 6 keyboard loud and jealous. Young Oligee teases it with a quick glance.
'TOUCH ME YOU COCKSUCKER!' Young Oligee shoots a searing look and, without proper warning, he pounces his right hand upon the keys while his left still does play the beat that was nailing us so - his fingers moving with a celerity reserved for the anxious wings of moths!
Oh how they cheered and filled the galactic hallways with their excitement!
'Young Oligee has done it again!' they shouted...
CUT TO - (A frustrated voice through a speakerphone)
'Oligee...Oli!...Wake up you lazy bastard, you're late for rehearsal again!...OLIGEE!!!'
Young Oligee scratches his sleepy eyes on the couch of his valley apartment. He was the next addition to the band - prodigious on any instrument and a self-taught primadonna - Alex and Timmy saw in him the power to create a potential for Ima Robot that otherwise might not have existed. They saw him as a necessary piece of the puzzle, and so they wrestled him in.
CUT TO - SIX MONTHS LATER - The Joint - A one-room bar with a large stage
No room to breath. Girls like wet candy stuck to the front of the stage. Young Oligee - his Jupiter 6 creating a soundscape for Timmy the Terror to lead his jerking, wild Firebird through. Faces and jaws dropped throughout like little kids watching porno. Alex Ebert - pushing through the crowd and past the girls and jumping onto the stage. The crowd erupts.
Not since Jane's Addiction had an unsigned LA band inspired such crowds. They had become something to know about. There were the posters and their infamous graffiti and girls and big shows and hotel rooms (and other things) and yet - no record deal.
The word from the A/R community was that Ima Robot had no hit songs, and worse, that the members seemed unpredictable - a gamble no bill-paying A/R can take.
Despite early vision-less rejection, they knew themselves to be destined for greatness... CUT TO - ONE YEAR LATER - Real Foods Daily - 2:00 pm
Timmy the Terror - now a reasonably healthy, soy-sporting young man - stares into the depths of JUSTIN Meldal-Johnson's sky blues.
"So..." (a mouth full of cabbage and buckwheat) "Why don't you just come down and play with us...see what you think...and then join the band."
Justin (hereafter to be referred to as JMJ) thought perhaps this a good time to laugh, but withheld such response due to the finite chance that this na? young man was serious... A few seconds passed, and Timmy maintained his genuine stare. JMJ was astonished.
"Yeah...well, that's a nice thought...and of course I'm totally honored that you would ask me to join the band...but, to be honest, you can't afford me."
Timmy looked as though he hadn't heard the quelling words JMJ had just thrown, and, staring ever more intently into JMJ he said "Come by our rehearsal tomorrow...two o'clock...you belong in this band...you need to be in this band."
JMJ had been, for a handful of years, the bassist and right-hand man to Beck. He had also played on and produced many other well known albums and songs. He was older than the others by about eight years. He was a well put-together man who, when asked, would describe himself as 'smart and punctual'. Sitting across from him now, was a kid who, if you had asked him to classify himself, would use the word 'renegade'.
...Justin cogitated (something he loved to do)...for years he had wanted to have his own band... Something about Timmy's certainty and faith touched JMJ just then.
"Alright...I'll come down and uh...we'll see.'
...One month later, JMJ joined ima robot.
CUT TO - FOUR MONTHS LATER - Hollywood Rehearsals - 4:00 pm
ima robot's long-time manager and friend Mike Barzman had teamed up with another, more experienced manager - Missy Worth.
(Gruff and Aggressive)
"If you guys want to make it you have to take it up about forty notches...'
Silence in the musty lockout. She continued.
"I mean if you guys want to be an indie band that's fine...then you only have to take it up two notches...but you have to decide that - Do you want to be a Major band or an indie band."
She had long since left and the guys were still huffing and puffing about 'that bitch'.Never had ima robot focused on writing 'hits', but now it appeared that they were going to have to, or risk falling apart. Money was becoming an issue. Alex was thinking about moving to Germany to paint and write and begin his solo career. JMJ was becoming weary of his decision to abandon his comfort for the quicksilver fantasy of having his own band. Oligee was growing restless as well, and they were running through drummers like they were toilet paper. It was a crucial few days for our heroes, but, of course, they're collective belief in a single destiny prevailed.
That same night Alex Ebert went home and, though his skills on guitar were utterly barbaric, he wrote the basics of the song that would soon be known as 'Alive'. Later that week he wrote another song, this time on bass - an instrument he had never used - which would soon be known as 'Dynomite'.
Over the course of the next few weeks ima robot recorded what would be the first real 'demo' they had ever made in their five years as a band.
Two months later, after a few offers, ima robot signed their first record deal -to Virgin Records.
CUT TO - FOUR MONTHS LATER - Alex's Art Loft - the Old Liberace Warehouse Joey Waronker sits back nervous on a couch.
Voice - "What made you decide to join the band"
Joey gives one of his unprompted laughs.
"Oh, lets see, well, I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do, you know? I mean, why not? What's not to like?"
Joey, like Justin was a seasoned veteran and a highly sought-after session musician. He was a drummer of the truly magnificent kind, and, like JMJ, initially thought his involvement in ima robot would be nothing more than a month-long favor to the band. Joey had drummed for the best bands in the world and now, he too was abandoning it all for an unknown and renegade pop band called ima robot.
Two weeks earlier he had stepped into the lounge of producer Josh Abraham's studio - where the band was recording their debut album - and sheepishly mentioned to the guys "So...I'm in."
Alex jumped out of his seat and tackled Joey, pinning him against the wall. No more were they to run through drummers like they were Spinal Tap. The band was now, finally, complete.
CUT TO - CREEPY OUTDOOR SCENE SOMEWHERE - Dusk
A sea of uncountable young men, women and children - all individually gagged and blindfolded and tied to posts - are being guarded by the drippy goopy battalions of the Musichogs and the Suitepigs. Upon each post is a speakerphone, blasting out loads of Edgeless Rock n' Roll to each captured youth.
(A LARGE VOICE we can only attribute to God)
"And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls... Your captivity to the Repetitive and Dull is through! May I present to you - fashionably late and handsome and just over the horizon - IMA ROBOT!!!"
by Edward Sharpe.
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