IiiIIiiiIiih! That's my exited scream. Diehard battery and Y&R Chicago powered up 24 cars, lights, a keyboard and added one bad-ass looking Gary Numan to the mix. He promptly plays "Cars". Yum.
Y&R Chicago and DieHard batteries partnered with Zoo Films’ director James Frost, (of OK GO and Radiohead music video fame) and LA technology collective Syyn Labs. Together they created a keyboard made of cars, for Numan to perform, well, we’ll let you guess his choice of song.
Zoo Film director James Frost on Diehard Battery vs. Gary Numan:
When I received the first round of creative, I got on the phone with Todd Taber, Jamie Overkamp and Luke Rzewnicki at Y&R and we bounced some ideas back and forth. We wanted to create a bigger idea with the three original concepts, something that was visual, musical and something that pushed the battery to a limit of some kind. One weekend I was watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and while watching I had this idea about making banks of cars react to a keyboard with sound and light, so I rang Adam Sadowsky of Syyn labs who I'd recently worked with on OK Go. We met one lunchtime and bounced a bunch of ideas and theories around - whether it was seemingly possible to achieve it etc. It was from this conversation that the car piano was born. So I went back to Y&R and said we felt confident that we could pull it off. They liked the idea, so we began the process of researching and putting the project together.
Logistically we had to work out how to control each cars headlight and horn with a single key on a keyboard. It's not possible to tune each car horn, so instead we got our own horns and tuned them to a pitch that was controlled via a keyboard. This way we could actually re-create two octaves on a keyboard using cars. Everything had to be wired up together but still allow the car to operate. The guys at Syyn labs worked ferociously up until the last minute to make sure everything worked - most notably Eric Gradman who seemed to be in multiple places at once.
I want to also say that Jason Hamilton my production designer and his crew worked so incredibly hard to make sure everything was in place to allow the Syyn Labs guys to come in and do the wiring, they had to position all the cars, set them up all in the middle of nowhere in blazing heat and the occasional 35mph dust storm. Jason & I also designed the Frost/Hamilton DHK1 keyboard, which is a fully functioning double stack keyboard - it looks and sounds great folks ;-)
Then about a month before we were due to shoot I woke up in the middle of the night and said, "What about Gary Numan playing Cars on Cars?" The next morning I emailed the guys at Y&R immediately and they loved the idea, they told me to go ahead and approach him to see if he would even be remotely interested. I contacted his booking agent here in the states and from there the conversations started.
Working with Gary, well what can I say, one of my earliest memories of a song having a big impact on me was "Are Friends Electric" by Tubeway Army (of which Gary Numan was the lead singer), so it was obviously an honor to meet him in the first place, being English and everything, but I have to say the conditions of this shoot were not easy, we shot overnight deep in the Mojave desert some three hours outside of LA and Gary flew from London the night before and then had to sit in a car for five hours to get to location (LA Traffic) and stayed with us until about 3-4AM, when he left and drove back to catch a plane back to London. He was nothing short of a gentleman, who was really I think quite intrigued and amused by the idea of himself playing Cars on Cars.