Steve Conte never expected to be releasing the six-minute ballad on his upcoming album, Bronx Cheer (Wicked Cool Records), out Nov. 5, as a single, much less making a video for the longer track.
Originally written in 1994 by the New York-based guitarist, singer, and songwriter, like many of the songs off Bronx Cheer, “Flying” was one story that was sitting around for nearly 30 years without a home. First playing in with a band he says was never meant to be with Brynn Arens of Flipp, Conte jammed on the song and later came up with the lyrics then shelved it indefinitely.
“I did a few demos of it over the years and it never left my consciousness,” Conte tells American Songwriter. “I always knew it was a winner, and when I played it to filmmaker Peter Perenyi, he fell in love with it and was dying to make an epic video for it.”
A slower pulse from many of the other Bronx Cheer tracks, “Flying” explores how in the face of adversity, disappointment, and trauma, says Conte, a person of strong will can continue moving toward their dreams. “Of course, in my case,” he says, “it could just be that I’m stubborn as hell and can’t do anything else.”
Working along with Perenyi, Conte also cast actress and dancer Sara Koviak, a member of The Brazen Giant Ensemble, a New York City-based acting group he’s part of, for the video.
“This song has been kicking around in my head since the 1990s and I always knew there was something special about it, but I never expected a reaction from a video director and producer like I got from the team who made this,” shares Conte, “They wrote the script, picked the locations and planned the shots… It’s always a bit risky when a musician acts in a video, but I felt like this script was as heartfelt as the song, so I went into it full force.”
Bronx Cheer, which features Blondie drummer Clem Burke, Jesse Malin, and Andy Rourke of The Smiths on select tracks, along with Conte’s brother and bassist John Conte (Southside Johnny & The Jukes, David Bowie, Ian Hunter) and drummer Charley Drayton (Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, The Replacements), is a collection of songs that have been with Conte, who has played with The New York Dolls and is part of the Michael Monroe band, for the long haul.
Director and executive producer Perenyi, who had already worked on the video for Bronx Cheer single “Gimme Gimme Rockaway,” jumped at working with Conte once again. “I remembered that Steve’s spirit is a lot of fun and freedom,” he says. “He is just one of those super modest, but hilarious rock dudes—100 percent real deal.”
He adds, “As soon as I heard ‘Flying,’ I was in love with it. I knew it immediately that it was destiny [and] began writing its images at once, because I felt the song was begging me to direct it.”
Perenyi, who shot the video along with executive producer and assistant director Sean Quinn over a five day period, calls the shoot “heaven” since the cast and crew seemed “spiritualized,” and weaved into footage of Conte playing, Koviak’s dancing, scenic shots around New York, and a church, which Quinn found for the video.
“When he played the song and we listened together, I found that I also loved the song, both musically and lyrically,” says Quinn. “The first thing I said when the song ended was, “‘I got the perfect church for this’—and that was it.”
He adds, “Steve wrote an absolutely beautiful song, and Peter’s vision and artistic touch captured something very deep hiding underneath these words that most people wouldn’t know existed until watching this ‘Flying’ video… I’m extremely grateful and happy for Steve. We are so excited people can experience listening to his song and at the same time see a story unfold.”