Making The Video: On Set Interview With AM Taxi

AM Taxi “Fed Up”
Music Video Shoot – Chicago, IL
March 31, 2010


AM Taxi

With blessings from the perfect spring weather, AM Taxi relaxed inside dilapidated convent ready to shoot their first music video after being exclusively signed to Virgin Records. An exciting time for the Chicago-based band, AM Taxi had the chance to talk about their history in the Windy City as well as their current U.S. tour leading straight to their sets at this year’s Warped Tour.

Read the interview and see more photos from the set of AM Taxi’s new music video “Fed Up” after the jump…

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When you’re away from the city, is there anything you get homesick for?

Chris Smith (drums): The food, definitely. But when we’re touring we enjoy the regional foods as we’re traveling around, too.

Adam Krier (rhythm guitar, lead vocals): We’re lucky. As soon as we get on the road we’re done in a few weeks and then we’re back home again. It’s refreshing.

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What is the biggest obstacle on the road ahead?

CS: Oh, Warped Tour. It will be the longest tour we’ve ever done. We’re a little excited, a little scared.

AK: It’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work. If we can make it through this, I think we can pretty much handle anything.

Johnny Schmitt (lead guitar): I’m excited that there’s no set schedule for the longest time. It’s kind of like you show up, find out when you play. You won’t know until you get there.

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AM Taxi boomerangs back through Chicago during your current tour, playing at the Metro on May 22nd. What other venues have you rocked around town?

AK: We play Beat Kitchen a lot. We have also played at The Bottom lounge, Subterranean and the House of Blues.

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Have you found your favorite spot yet?

AK: Playing Lincoln Hall was great. The smaller venues are real special to us, but The Metro and Beat Kitchen were places we got our start.

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“Fed Up” is your major label debut music video. Did you get to choose the location, extras, etc.?

AK: It’s been great. There are certain things we don’t have much of a say in, but for the most part it’s been a lot of fun. They let us pick our director and collaborate on the video and even the casting.

CS: And we got to shoot out here in Chicago. Major plus.

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I did see a music video for another single (“The Mistake”) on your website. Was that shot locally as well?

JS: We shot a basic video, kind of an online thing at Double Door back in December. In the basement, it was real simple. It was a story about a guy and a girl kind of thing, black and white video. That was cool to shoot here locally. We started shopping for directors and everything. We told our managers that we really, really wanted to shoot this in Chicago. It’s really important for us. They immediately said, “No! You’re going to shoot in L.A. That’s where everyone does their videos! Then our director Nathan Cox said, “We have to shoot this in Illinois. It’s perfect.” And he shot straight to the top of the list.

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Do you have occasional hang out spots when you’re in the city?

CS: We’re kind of all over Naperville, a few other suburbs and the city.

JS: Yeah, if we’re in the city to hang out, we’re on the southern part of the north side. There’s a lot of really great places south of Fullerton in that area. A few cool places around North Lincoln Avenue and West Fullerton Avenue, too.

AK: You should try Delilah’s.

JS: We don’t discriminate too much, just as long as they have beer and scotch.

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Johnny, when did you and your brother Luke start jamming with AM Taxi?

JS: Right at the beginning before any shows were scheduled. Luke and I didn’t play on the first EP, but we were on the second EP. I mean, I have played every show with the band, Luke has missed maybe one show. This has been our lineup from the get-go.

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How long have you all been writing your debut record We Don’t Stand A Chance?

AK: Well, a lot of that music comes from the two EPs we’ve done. We got signed from basically what they heard us produce independently. This will just be the first national release. We worked most the songs from those and a few new ones were added. I guess it’s pretty much like the “best of” compilation of we have worked on for the last three years.

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Your motto for this last album was “If it ain’t broke, break it.” Were you trying to drastically change your recording methods?

AK: Not with the sound, but some of the arrangements are new and tightened up a little bit. Not to mention these songs we have been playing for a long time. It was nice to have the chance to re-record them. You know, try something a little different.

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How much “breaking” did you all do?

AK (laughs): It just means we try everything. Even if it was a song that we thought was pretty good and decent, what would it sound like if we did this part with a tambourine and acoustic guitar? We would still try it from every angle.

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Have you tried working acoustically before?

AK: We’ve actually been working on an acoustic set a few months. You know, for radio stations or different web videos. I enjoy it, it’s different. It feels a little strange to pull back our playing a little bit.

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You worked alongside a new producer, Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of the Dead, Patty Griffin). What triggered that collaboration?

AK: The reason we worked with Mike was because of the way he records. We all play live together and it gets recorded on tape. We talked to probably a dozen producers. Everyone else thought, “We’ll do the drums, and then we’ll use Pro Tools, and then we’ll add the guitar and the bass.” But Mike McCarthy said, “Let’s just play the set.” Everyone sets up and plays live on this tape machine.

CS: The cool thing about Mike too, is that when we first talked to him he complimented us so much on our first two EPs. He said, “I love your style of songwriting and what you’ve done already, but I just want to really get that live energy out of you.”

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So, really he was pretty liberal. He didn’t want to change much of anything?

AK: We tweaked a few things here and there, but his main thing was all of our influences. We recorded live in a room together to a tape machine and nobody does that anymore. It made perfect sense to record that way. To try and get what we sound like live, and mix it into a sort of classic timeless sound.

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It’s fitting that you fall into that same pattern, just like your own musical influences.

AK: We just found out that our record is coming out on vinyl, too! It’s pretty sweet. We’re all really excited about it.

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Chicago’s very own AM Taxi will be heading back through their hometown on May 22, opening for The Spill Canvas. AM Taxi plays at the Metro, one of the venues where the punk rockers first got their start. A limited number of tickets are still available for $18. Be sure to download their new single “Fed Up” and check out where the gang is heading next on EMI’s Tour Tracker.

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Written by: Blake Russell
Photographed by: Jennifer Boyer

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