Previously on Lost is a “recap rock” band that deals exclusively with ABC’s “Lost” founded by Adam Schatz and Jeff Curtin. Adam and Jeff also work on videos featured on Pitchfork.tv including the popular “Juan’s Basement” series.
Epilogue: How did “Previously on Lost” start?
Adam: Well I’d like to think we’ve been doing it all our lives but we just didn’t know it yet.
February of 08 was the beginning of Season Four, and leading up to that we’d sort of been talking about doing something musical related to “Lost.” We both played in a few bands with each other. It’s what we do, we play in bands. We thought it would be a cool approach to try and do a project that already had a built-in fan base, where we could really just say, “If we make this great enough, there’s a ton of people that will want to hear it immediately.” And it’s like, well, this is going to be funny, but still, we can make it awesome all around doing a song every week about the show.
From the first week, through the end of Season Four, we’d do each song in a day, the episodes would air on Thursday nights and we’d get together on Sunday, at like one o’clock, and by five in the morning the song was written, recorded, produced, and on MySpace. We e-mailed it to a bunch of people and word spread. People wanted to hear it. People were definitely looking for a ridiculous band that did songs about “Lost,” and people were checking every week to see if we were able to top the week before, and we did. We topped it through 13 episodes. Now we have this whole album, “The Tale of Season Four and the Oceanic Six” and we’re doing a live show also, which is like a seven-piece, Flaming Lips meets Zappa meets cardboard airplanes assault, and people really have fun at the shows. And I think the band sounds awesome.
Jeff: People are always concerned with what’s going on in “Lost”. They’re so confused all the time, but to us it became simple to explain what’s going on by writing it into a three-minute song. They give you everything you need to know, so rather than pondering over implications over what different flashpoints and things mean, we decided to tell it exactly like it happens.
Adam: We tell it how it was. And the real situation is that it’s a lot easier to understand “Lost” if you imagine everyone on the island being friends who went there on purpose to party. Duh.
How different thematically are the songs?
Adam: Season Five we didn’t do a song every episode, partly because I was amazed that we did Season Four so well, and by the end it was challenging because we had written all these different types of songs. We didn’t want any one song to sound like the other. And, you know, there was just a lot of stuff happening, but we did these 13 songs and felt like, OK, this was done really well, and it’s a finished piece. We can’t just do it forever, there’s two more seasons, and doing every episode things are going to slack off, you don’t want to taint your product that way and just have too much of it.
Then on to the “Fringe” recap band?
Adam: Then the “Star Trek” opera we’re writing.
We decided only to do the episodes we thought deserved a recap for this season, and it actually worked out great because last season there was more episode-to-episode change, and this season there were like four in a row where all that really happened was that they kept traveling though time, and it was cool to watch in the grand scheme, like if you watched the season as a whole I think it would work really well.
I feel like this season will hold up a lot better watching it straight through on the DVDs.
A: Without a doubt.
J: And the best way to enjoy the songs is to listen to them immediately after seeing the episode, and that’s why people that were following along with it when it was going on every week want to keep up with us. Three days later, after they watch “Lost,” all the fresh little nuances that the writers put into the episode were in all of the songs. You know, even we sometimes, saying the lyrics, forget exactly what we were singing about, some of the minor details, and if we hadn’t written them into lyrics, we probably would’ve forgotten a lot of these things even happened. Sometimes we’ll take a little detail of an episode, and consider that the theme for the song. The writing last season worked in our favor because, more so than this season, like Adam was saying the first five episodes had to do with them jumping around time, but last season they were very focused on a theme for every episode. And they seemed to be writing it for us, actually. Or maybe this had something to do with the strike.
A: We had a lot of different ways of approaching the songs, but a lot of it was chronological, so it’s hard to do when it’s traveling through time. And one of the songs we did this season has time warps built into the song. I was thrilled with how that came out because we were still able to embody the episode. Our most recent venture was doing a song that tells all of “Lost” until now in two minutes. And that’s probably the greatest thing that’s ever done, ever, by anyone. But it was definitely tough to do, and at the same time, almost too easy to sum up everything that’s happened up until this finale. We are doing a song for a finale.
We’re pretty set on, when the show’s over, we’re going to write “Lost: The Musical.” And that will probably have like, five John Lockes singing a song together in harmony. I think that would probably be the funniest thing ever. Similar to the William Shatner “Rocketman.”
Do you have a favorite episode or song?
A: It’s more about what the public deems their favorite. It’s sort of hard. I feel blessed, and this is also the part of the magic in terms of us writing the songs, the only way to write a great song is to be convinced as you’re writing it that this is the greatest song of all time. When you’re cooped up in a room together for a day straight, it’s basically like we’re going to work on this song, and we do the lyrics before we do the song for the most part…the basic attitude it, we’re going to work on this concept until this is the best song ever. And once we get that in our heads, it’s a breeze.
J: What’s most fun about it is building the album from last season track-by -rack knowing that we weren’t going to rearrange the track order at the end. Episode 1 was the first track no question and so on. We wanted to keep every song different, but deciding on what style of music to work with…if we just did a real rocker, the next one will be a slow military ballad, or something. You know, the next one might be a love song. The season premiere song we got a chance to do…
A: Like a Man Man, Rage Against the Machine…
J: Irish ballad, mixed with a little Pink Floyd at the end there. We get to separate the songs and make all the sections a different style. A few episodes in we did one that was more of a political call to arms country song, which was the first time we ever tried that. It’s whatever the episode calls for. That song’s all about Locke going around trying to round up the troops to go to the island, so it just seemed like a nice fit.
A: In terms of favorites, it sort of lines up with what people thought the best episodes were.
J: Sayid, the break-dance fighting.
A: Sayid, no one could get enough of it.
J: Penny and Desmond making out, “The Constant,” the reunion…
A: The return of Michael, Kevin Johnson. Episodes 3, 5, and 8. Those are the top three.
What other kinds of music do you listen to?
A: When I’m not working with Jeff I’m listening to things that Jeff has done with music.
J: We do follow new indie bands, because, we like new music, it’s our job, and that’s kind of the exposure we get day-to-day doing sound things with Pitchfork TV.
A: It’s interesting because we get to hear what people are being told to listen to and then we get to bicker about how bad we think it is and we get to talk about how cool we think it is, that a great band is getting attention. We all have our staples that we like to listen to. I love the Flaming Lips, and Elvis Costello, and the Pixies, the shit I’m supposed to love as a young adult male.
J: And I love Disney musicals.
So where are you on like, Wavves?
A: They’re fine. Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of bands that are cool and you’re like, yes they’re cool. I think there’s a lot cool shit out there to find. There’s trends, and people go with trends, and that’s the way it works. I don’t know. I don’t really care either way.
J: But we do care. And that’s our motto, “caring is cool…” We learned about caring mostly from Carl Sagan.
A: And Oscar the Grouch.
What’s the live show like?
A: It’s really fun. The live show, it’s the most fun show I’ve been a part of just because we wrote such complicated parts, not just the fact that they’re tricky, but more that each song has like, six keyboard parts. How do we realize these live? Really we have the sickest band behind us that we could ever have. A lot of the parts on the recordings were improvised as we played them, so getting people in the band to learn those is sometimes funny…cuz I’m not going to play them again!
J: At the same time, juggling all the props we have, fruit mostly…the stage show has fake fruit, a lot of kazoos, hula girls, stuffed polar bears, stuffed pandas, tons of fake guns, we like using fake fruit as guns. So, navigating all of that stuff while trying to remember all the lyrics is enough work to do on stage. And we crash a huge cardboard airplane at the start of every show. The audience helps us tear it apart.
A: This show on Wednesday is going to be especially huge because the website BrooklynBased.net is helping put it on. Basically, anything we’ve asked, they’re pretty down to do, and they have some great surprises of their own. So we’re doing black cotton candy, “Smoke Monster” candy, Dharma beer, they’re going to re-label a ton of beer as Dharma beer, there’s gonna be a bunch of Dharma logo cupcakes…you’re gonna get the show of a lifetime.
J: I bought wind chimes for this show so a lot of the magical moments of the season are really going to come to life this time.
A: Chimes are this year’s gong.
J: Chimes are the new gong.
Has anyone from the show reached out to you guys?
J: Yes. We’ve been sworn to secrecy.
What’s the response like at the live show? Any crazy letters from obsessive fans?
J: For some people I can see, in the crowd, this kind of confusion about the spin we’re putting on the sci-fi soap opera that they’ve become so obsessed with it in it’s TV form, the way that ABC presents it. So, I can see finding it hard to go into our interpretation of the show, but really, we think our interpretation is pretty true to the show.
A: We haven’t had any too obsessive responses. It’s always great. The crowds are always great. It’s sort of that extra dimension these days that’s needed at a rock show, where for some reason, no one’s gonna dance or for some reason no one’s going to get close to the stage anymore…if you can create a show where you’re walking into this new environment, and nothing else is going to be like this ever again, you’re going to have a really great time. Feel free to dance and sing along, and that’s the best when strangers know the words. We lead them at the end in a big chorus of “I once was found but now I’m lost and, all my friends are dead.”
Previously On Lost Interview