2020 has been a year we'll never forget but will try like hell to. Artists of all media have been scrambling to not only stay relevant without live audiences but find a way to take the live experience and transform it into engaging video content that competes with more traditional at-home media.
One of the best, and most ground-breaking, will hit the very day we start anew in 2021. Instead of putting the camera in front of the stage, Alicia Taylor and Cherry Bombs take the audience into the experience utilizing visual storytelling more in line with Terrance Malick films or like-minded such as 'Under the Skin' or 'Melancholia' in their new performance piece 'MACABARÉT' which broadcasts January 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 2021 with two start times per day - 12pm & 6pm PT/ 3pm & 9pm ET/ 8pm & 2am GMT/ 9pm & 3am CET - tickets available HERE.
Freakishly sexy and fucking cool, stylish and artistic down to the very last detail, Taylor and Cherry Bombs throw everything they have (which includes whips, poles, aerials, intense fire play and more set to a ragingly diverse curation of rock) into this innovative performance that blurs the line of expansive visual album, musical, motion picture and live performance - all of which includes a surprisingly interactive drinking game.
'MACABARÉT' transcends the typical at home streaming event with a storyline that drags you through unleashed karma filled with explosive performances that diligently explore and perfect every element of this hyper-intensive thrill ride. The performances aren't just performances, but are used to evoke the storyline instead of traditional tellings.
It's amazing that this grew organically from an originally intended 5-7 minute trailer hoping to tease the style and vibe of their upcoming live-show into this cutting edge film thanks to the continuing shutdown from Covid-19.
Knotfest sat down with Alicia Taylor ahead of Cherry Bombs' game-changer to flesh out the details of erecting this epic achievement.
This is a major undertaking from the story through the production and execution, most of which you’re apart of as writer, director, producer, choreography, and star - walk us through a little of the process that made this a reality.
I wrote this story two years ago, back when (husband) Corey (Taylor) was in studio recording Slipknot's 'We Are Not Your Kind'. I was at the Airbnb in LA and would just write write write.
I knew the next evolution in Cherry Bombs would be a headlining live show. I was thinking - how can I make it interesting? The last thing I would want is for it to look like a regular rock dance show. So I thought - what if I took the audience down this storyline, nothing too challenging, not super artsy fartsy, but something visually engaging and exciting with music where they could find something they would really dig.
It started with this legend in Hawaii; I went to college there and my first apartment was on old Pali Road, a street locals would say is super haunted with the story of Pele – an old woman ghost hitchhiker that would appear on the side of the road. If you stopped for her, she would get into your car and then at some point she’d disappear. BUT if you don’t pick her up, your car will crash or breakdown. I was drawn to it because it's a story of helping everyone out. So I wanted to take that legend and expand on it, grow it as a horror story. That was the starting bones of it.
That's where the White Dog Saloon comes from as well. The warning in the tale is you'll see a white dog before she appears on the side of the road. The storyline lent itself to creating all these easter eggs if you look closely. (Make sure to explore the ticket site and vignettes for more) .
When I wrote the storyline, I started to figure out what songs I wanted in each piece. I'd list them out with the idea and the song so it would look like this: Pole Dancing – Chris Isaak "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing". Some songs fit literal with the story and some are more obscure where I can have a little more fun going off the beaten path. Like I've always wanted to do something to the Sneaker Pimps "Spin Spin Sugar" so that's in there but generally the storyline drove the music choices.
Next we went through creating all the characters which included demons and more, and explored what they were wearing allowing us to up the game of our masks and wigs. The storyline was able to give character freedoms and we were able to execute a lot of creative different opportunities, especially with 11-12 performers.
I then brought the concept to Nathan (Mowery) at Kind Punk. We're so familiar by now. We were on same page with the standard of quality and vision. He's just incredible, I want to work with him on everything. I had to go through the story a few times since it was so far out there but we got there. We then listed out the shots and acts. It all came together oddly smoothly.
There’s so many different settings, vibes, varied choreography, acts - all freshly cohesive to the storyline. How were you able to dive into all these layers? How did the filming process allow you more diversity and freedom than a live-show experience?
It was a much more controlled environment which makes everything a thousand times easier. We were able to stop, as there were a lot of wardrobe malfunctions. It also allows us to see what's happening, allowing us to look at what's going to be used and see if it's working or difficult to pull off – where we can make adjustments that will fit the (upcoming) live show.
We were also able to go all out on production using REAL PYRO – beyond what we’re able to do on stage. We worked with Pyrotech, with the special effects in their warehouse. We had full lighting, which can help convey so many more emotions, something that's so much more difficult to showcase in the live show... essentially just full control. With live shows we have to rig in different places at different venues which can be tough, but here we're able to let the story dictate this.
Mostly, it allowed us to go balls out and really push this as far as we can go with production and storyline in its own environment. Let's take the audience into the White Dog Saloon instead of filming in front of a stage. Which I'm really glad we were able to bring the audience into each setting. We’re actually shooting in a saloon in Vegas allowing us to dive deep into the physical White Dog Saloon or allowing us to transport the audience into another dimension - that in itself allowed so much freedom creatively. It was a blast to do.
Prior to shooting you had described this as “a mix of 'From Dusk till Dawn' meets Dante’s ‘Inferno’, a little bit of 'Death Proof' and 'The Shining', if Rob Zombie directed it all.” After watching, I definitely feel all of that was achieved - what was it about these films that you felt fit the style and story of what you were trying to put together?
I'm a massive, MASSIVE Rob Zombie fan in general, his artistry - especially in his films. Also love Tarantino, and I wanted it to have that feel, that grainy raw, renegade style of shooting. Where nothing is too perfect or overproduced or super flawless - wanted it to have that shaky rough around the edges feel to it. Both Rob and Quentin do that really well so we went into this with those in mind for the style of how this was shot. I didn't tell Teri, who plays the hostess, to mimic Baby (Sheri Moon in 'House of 1,000 Corpses') but gave her Elizabeth Banks in 'The Hunger Games' as inspiration, a more creepy Elizebeth Banks. She came back with the performance you see and it was perfect, she was made for that role.
In the “Creeping Death” sequence, we see the use of a whip as you expertly knock roses from the mouth of skulls, all while incorporating a different Spanish taste that explores new ground adjacent to the hard rock/metal style dance we’re used to. What drew you to this style and what is it that makes you consistently expand what the Cherry Bombs can do?
I am Spanish and I used to take flamenco lessons when I was little. When Corey and I were last in Spain he took me to a flamenco show and it brought back all these memories and reminded me how challenging it was. I wanted to explore that challenge and knew that I wanted to do flamenco at some point. When I started writing this I wanted to do something different, I wanted to do a bull whip piece. Then it became - let's make it Zorro-esque. Which led me to start researching flamenco covers, thats when I stumbled across a guy who did a few different Metallica songs with "Creeping Death" really standing out, it was really beautiful.
Then I thought what if I really did this through traditional flamenco? I hired a flamenco choreographer from New York and really expanded on it. It was the most difficult piece I've ever done. I had to focus on counting beats on 10's and 12's instead of the traditional 4's and 8's. I did it with the intention to trash it if it didn't turn out. I spent hours in my studio, practicing targeting with the whip and the dance. It ended up working so we kept it. That's something I always want to do - keep expanding. Always questioning what we're doing, finding different ways we can challenge ourselves beyond our skills, always encouraging expanding.
The show is a creatively organic introduction to your first male performer - what made you decide it was time to add a male presence to the group and is that something that’s sticking around?
Previously we've been all female but I wanted the storyline to mix things up, something never seen before and a male character just fit in this particular storyline. I wanted it to be more of a surprise, more of a change up. Not sure if it's in the future for Cherry Bombs, but I'm not opposed to it. It was an insane performance that really highlighted his skills. It's something that if it adds to the shows and brings great entertainment - why not? He’s fabulous to work with it.
Gotta ask - “HWY 666” is the trailer song for the performance - any cameos you can tease that we should keep our eyes out for?
The male character is played by three different guys throughout the story, we shot it in this way so that we could insert or take out any guy because of availability with the chunk style shooting schedule. We can also change out the performer in a live setting if we need to. (Regarding cameos) There's this old tactic that when a band needed a woman for a music video they would grab one of the member's girlfriends, so I did that. We also played around with the billing of him. The media would always refer to me as Corey Taylor's wife, as that's my biggest achievement - so to take the piss out of the media we poked some fun at all that.
Though 2020 took out a lot of the live shows, you’ve stayed busy from the release of Girl Gang Season 2 to scene stealing performances in Corey Taylor’s "CMFT" music video and 'CMFT' album release live stream. What else has been going on behind the scenes and what, if anything, can you tease for 2021?
We shot our 2021 calendar, which was brought back after three years. We did "Rock Icons" where each month is dedicated to a force in rock music. It was super fun to shoot as each girl got to pick an icon and re-create a famous photo of their icon in their own way. (Calendars available HERE)
We've always been shooting 'Girl Gang' Season 3 which we hope to release in early Spring, maybe even Feb/March. Season 3 is all behind the scenes of 'MACABARÉT' itself, giving everyone an inside look where we shot it, what went into it and the mayhem of this production.
We're also perfecting this show for a live audience, we'll be adding different things in and going at it with only seven performers. Just getting it ready - whenever that might be...
Macaberét broadcasts January 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 2021 with two start times per day - 12pm & 6pm PT/ 3pm & 9pm ET/ 8pm & 2am GMT/ 9pm & 3am CET. Shows broadcast 'as live', with no post-event playback.
Early bird tickets and merch bundles are currently available at WhiteDogSaloon.com. Among the additional offerings includes exclusive Macaberét merch, the Cherry Bombs 2021 calendar, a director's cut of the virtual show, and meet & greet options.
Watch the tantalizing trailer for Macaberét from Cherry Bombs below.