Fresh tattoos, cigars and Hunter S. Thompson, at first seem like a recipe for disaster, but captured by singer-songwriter Bones Owens in a vintage style music video backed by a retro-inspired tune is one hell of a ride.
Owens’ new single “Lightning Strike” comes off his forthcoming debut record out via Black Ranch/Thirty Tigers, anticipated early 2021. The song was written alongside Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin and developed with a makeshift guitar crafted from a cigar box, with an experimental open tuning, giving the song its dance-hall, 50s rock ‘n’ roll sound.
“I started writing with the live show in mind,” Owens told American Songwriter. “I started writing songs that I thought would be a fun night in and night out, not just for the audience, but for myself. I released a few of the first of these songs as singles (‘Keep it Close’, ‘White Lines’, and ‘Bout Time’) independently, and when Thirty Tigers came knocking, I decided my first full length record with them would be a continuation down that rock and roll path I was on.”
The song introduces itself with clanky percussion and muted guitar riffs and sing-along ‘woo-hoo’s’ presenting an immediate dynamic between pop vocal melodies and down and dirty guitar work.
The video aligns with the later idea, featuring shots filmed at sleazy motels and cheap plaid suits form 70s disco era that’s you’d see in conjunction with shag carpets. The video’s theme was initially something completely different, building from ideas of vast amounts of people dancing, but the pandemic had different plans for the song’s visual counterpart.
“Obviously when the shutdown happened, we had to go back to the drawing board, because we weren’t going to get away with filming a room full of people,” Owens said. “We started messing around with concepts that would allow for the least number of people on set possible. Naturally, we decided it would be best if we structured it so I could play all of the characters.”
“The storyline of the ‘Lightning Strike’ video is sort of a day in the life of a guy who’s all alone at a roadside motel, losing his mind, and creating all of these different characters and personas to entertain and keep himself company,” Owens explained. “Most of the characters are loosely based on versions of myself over the years – the rest are nods to Hunter S. Thompson, Wes Anderson, and Guy Ritchie films.”
The video was shot completely at the Dive Motel in Nashville, directed by Keith J. Leman, a friend, collaborator and favored DP of Owens over the years. The location was a perfect fit for the style and because it was already shut down, enabling social distancing practices, plus the duo had full access to every room, providing them with the right amount of varied shots, due to each rooms individual 60s-70s decor, established by recent renovations a few years ago.
“It was already perfectly set up for the kind of video we wanted to shoot – something in the vein of Fear and Loathing meets Wes Anderson,” Owens said.
The last but founding principle for “Lightning Strike” was a lightning bolt tattoo Owens had got done a week before the video shoot and just before the local shutdowns. Owens actually did a tattoo promotion on Friday the 13, partnering with a couple tattoo shops all over the US. Fans were able to go into one of the locations and get the same design forever inked wherever they chose. Owens was thrilled by the effort and response, even seeing fans from as far as Germany and Finland get the tattoo.
But don’t worry you don’t have to get a tattoo to show your love to Owens- just take a listen to “Lightning Strike” instead and check out the video in a ride back to the 70s.