In our recent profile of Dinosaur Jr., there’s a scene in which frontman J Mascis listens to instrumental mixes of I Bet on Sky single “Pierce the Morning Rain” in his living room with longtime friend and producer John Agnello. At the time, the song had the working title “Downtown,” but the scene itself — Mascis, very still, drinking in and considering the volume and textures of his own legendarily loud guitar work — was unforgettable. And when writer/director Scott Jacobson (The Daily Show, Bob’s Burgers) set out to write the visual treatment for that song’s video, he hoped to capture the physical and emotional magic to be found in Dinosaur’s songs.
“Volume is definitely a part of what they do, but [Dinosaur Jr.’s] songs are also really emotionally accessible,” Jacobson says. “And it’s not just the usual emotions you associate with pummeling rock music. They’ll write a song that sounds aggressive and angry but the lyrics are about, say, crippling self-doubt. So it seemed appropriate (to me, at least) to make a video that’s basically a sweet story about someone who finds release in loud music.”
That someone is television actor James Urbaniak (Homeland, The Good Wife), whose character, after attending attending a dB decibel drag racing event in Southern California, finds himself obsessing over car stereo equipment at the expense of his family. “I got to go to the 25th anniversary show for You’re Living All Over Me back in December,” Jacobson says. “And during soundcheck the band members’ kids were running around the venue wearing protective headphones. I’d already shot the video at that point, and seeing that gave me hope that the concept would be a good fit.”
It is. And though Urbaniak, whose wife is played by comedian Maria Bamford, encounters a combative special guest in his own catharsis (“I took away a new respect for Henry Rollins’ crisp professionalism,” he says of said guest. “His simulated punches and head butts always stopped short of my actual face”) the role presented far greater challenges. “I really only relate to the character in one way: those are my actual children in the video,” Urbaniak says. “Personally, I’m not particularly into maximum volume. My sonic method of escaping is to listen to 1950s-era jazz on Spotify while drinking red wine.”