Jeremy Rose, the lead singer and guitarist for local indie-rock band Total War (with bassist Ory Petty and drummer Adam Woleslagle), grew up in Raleigh and went to college at Western Carolina University. And even though it’s his home town that makes sense as the locale to start a band, art has a way of happening on its own time. Rose and his friends from Sylva formed Total War in 2009 “about two weeks before our first show,” says the vocalist.
Which is also kind of the time frame they had for creating their video for “All We Have Tonight,” which won both best song and the audience choice award at this year’s Music Video Asheville. “Everything we do is very slipshod,” Rose quips. In fact, while both the band and the video may have come together on a whim, they’re also permeated with a lot of heart.
The video collages footage of the band performing its song (from the EP of the same name) with a story about two people, a guy and a girl. He wants to build a rocket, she likes looking at the cosmos through her telescope. Rose says that when Total War considered approaching the song literally, it lent itself to the same approach as their previous video for the song, “You’re Over It,” directed by Brian Wilson. While the band loved that end-product, and working with Wilson, they wanted to try something new.
Videographer Josh Hartigan was feeling ambitious, and, in a brain storming session, Petty (who, “when given a moment to brainstorm will naturally take everything to the most insane possible destination,” says Rose) came up with jet packs and rocket ships. “We wanted to make it silly and cute,” says Rose. “The song presents itself as kind of serious, but it’s not. It’s a trifle, a dalliance.” So, following Petty’s lead, they went for fun and fanciful.
“A light reflection on imagination and perception instead of a dark one,” as Rose puts it.
The video was directed and produced by Hartigan and Leah Thomas of Brave Sir Media; actors John Lossie and Tiana Boisseau played the roles of the rocket builder and the star gazer. And it was completed on a tiny budget. “We used professional skills to make it look like this was contrived by the world’s most determined eighth grader,” jokes Rose. There is a crafty, DIY aesthetic to the project — a look and style that surely resonates among Asheville’s do-it-yourselfers and crafters. It also projects an innocence and sense of joy which, ultimately, is what Total War is after.
Rose says that the band wouldn’t have actively pursued video-making on their own, “but someone volunteered, and it’s totally fun.” More good times: Total War has been selected to open for prog-rockers Moon Taxi at The Orange Peel on Wednesday, May 8. And then — though they’re playing it by ear, of course — “we need to work on getting new songs tight enough so people can really enjoy them,” says Rose. Total War writes slowly, says the musician. But they certainly know how to come through at the eleventh hour.