LOS ANGELES — A rock band crashes the Justin and Christina tour, a gay pride parade and the BET Awards to play their new single? It might sound like an episode of "Jackass" or "PUNK'D," but it's not. It's the setup for Alien Ant Farm's next video.
"At first we didn't know where we wanted to go with it," guitarist Terry Corso remembered of the band's brainstorming sessions for "These Days," the first single from their forthcoming truANT.
But once the band tapped director Marc Klasfeld, who helmed Ant Farm's famously funny videos for "Smooth Criminal" and "Movies," the ideas started flowing like crazy. Immediately, Klasfeld and the band — Corso, bassist Tye Zamora, drummer Mike Cosgrove and singer Dryden Mitchell — started thinking in terms of guerilla maneuvers. "We were going to make some kind of stupid instruments that we carry on our backs and run into places like 24-Hour Fitness and restaurants and start jamming," Corso said.
"We were just sitting there cracking up and that usually tells us we're on the right track," he continued. "It was very similar to when we were sitting around and we were like, 'Mr. Miyagi runs out!' or 'Dryden jumps on the top of a car and the windows blow out of it!' Eventually, someone just said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we just went way over the top with this, and just sort of bombarded some events that were happening around town?' "
So late last week, the bandmembers piled their gear onto a flatbed truck and headed for the parking lot of the Los Angeles Staples Center as fans filed in to see Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. "We sent out scouts to take notice of security patterns," Corso said, laughing. "At a certain time the security guards go inside to take tickets. And there's still a ton of kids outside. And they're like, 5- to 15-year-old girls with their parents."
"It was so scary," Corso said of the moments leading up to their arrival. "I was in the back of the truck looking up and I could see the 'Staples Center' sign and I was like, 'Dude, I don't think anyone's ever done anything like this, have they?' "
As the truck parked, an Ant Farm agent planted in the crowd tore the fake "KAAF" radio station banner from the side and exposed the band, who ripped into "These Days."
"These kids looked like a UFO landed," Corso said. "I was trying to perform and watch people at the same time. I would see security guys on their radios. I'm almost positive that 80 percent of the security population — including the police — thought it was some kind of radio promotion that was supposed to happen. And we weren't supposed to be there at all! We finished the song, we waved, Dryden threw a microphone out, and then we [left]."
On Sunday, the band dressed the truck as a giant ant — complete with mandibles, antennae and legs — and entered it as a float in West Hollywood's Gay Pride Parade.
"We thought it would be funny to just go down the parade on a float, appreciating diversity and jamming on our instruments," Corso said. "And it was a really long parade, too. We did multiple takes of the song going down Santa Monica Boulevard."
And how did the crowd react? "It was wonderful! We didn't 'belong' there, but it was cool. There were a couple of like 'Blue Oyster Bar'-type biker boys on the side of the street, in full garb, like a couple of Rob Halfords. [They] threw me metal horns.
"The most negative response we got all day was [from] the [anti-gay] fanatics," he continued. "All those ignorant bastards were corralled in [one area] with megaphones, placards, everything. When we went by, we stopped playing and started gesturing at these people, if you know what I mean. They were gesturing back at us, and they were yelling. And all the people attending the parade were cheering for us."
Tuesday, Alien Ant Farm showed up on a rooftop overlooking the red carpet at the BET Awards (see "BET Awards Night Belongs To 50 Cent, B2K, Jacko And... Alien Ant Farm?"). "We're all into different types of hip-hop and R&B," Corso explained. "And we'll go play to whomever, just like the old days. When we were young we used to do a lot of guerilla type sh--."
Ant Farm had a chance to get in touch with their younger side a week before the video shoots as well while snapping photos for truANT — the group's first album since recovering from a tour bus accident overseas (see "Alien Ant Farm To Embark On First Tour Since Bus Tragedy") at a California high school. "It just so happened — total coincidence — that they were doing a 'Battle of the Bands' in the auditorium. We just kind of showed up and said, 'Hey, can we play?' We used one of the bands' gear, jammed on a couple of songs, said, 'Stay in school,' and left!"