Jay Edwards on Shout! Stomp! Scream! & ATHF

Jay Edwards on Shout! Stomp! Scream!

It must be fun being Jay Wade Edwards. Best known as the producer/editor of Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies, the man also has a deep and abiding passion for ‘60s B-movies, garage rock and the strangest Americana possible.

He and his pals incorporated these passions into a film entitled Shout! Stomp! Scream!. Originally released in 2005, S!S!S! has just been released on DVD. Just to sweeten the deal, he also gave some hints about the upcoming season of ATHF, which will debut in early December.

Hard at work on the new season of ATHF we got to talk to Jay in his office at Adult Swim. Here’s what he had to say:

Newsarama: I was checking your biography. There was a film you did called Y'all Come! The Hell Hole Swamp Festival. What was that?

Jay Wade Edwards: That was a documentary I did in the summer of 2001 with a producing buddy of mine here in Atlanta. We did it as kind of a pilot for Turner South back when that existed. It was going to be every week you go to a different town, profile it, and cover the festival that they run. So the first one they did was the Hell Hole Swamp Festival in a really small town in South Carolina.

About 70 people actually live in the town. Then when they put on this festival, 5,000 people show up. There’s grease pole climbing, arm wrestling, spitting contests AND a moonshine display. They have a lot of moonshiners up there. They also have a Miss Hell Hole Swamp Queen. They have one for every age. They start at infant and go all the way up to 18-20, whatever. Anyway, it never flew as a TV show. So we submitted it to film festivals, calling it a documentary short.

NRAMA: Now where is Shout! Stomp! Scream! set?

JWE: It’s supposed to be set in South Carolina or North Florida, along the coast over there. One of those barrier islands off Charlston.

NRAMA: If I remember my history of rock’n roll, there was a pretty hot beach scene over there.

JWE: Sure! There’s a great website called www.GaragePunk.com that I’m totally addicted to. There are a ton of pod casts you can get showing whatever garage punk bands from the area. One of the shows is all Florida.

NRAMA: You mean bands like the Nightcrawlers and such.

JWE: It’s supposed to be set in South Carolina/North Florida, but we actually shot half of it here in Atlanta, which is where the crew and I live. The beach scenes were shot in Bradenton, where I grew up. We shot “dusk for dawn” on the West Coast of Florida.

NRAMA: Would you say the film is a homage to Roger Corman?

JWE: He was a big influence, yeah. The monster part certainly comes from Roger Corman’s films of the 50s and early 60s. My favorite movie of his is It Conquered The World with Lee Van Cleef, the radish monster and in the end you get that great speech from Peter Graves. That’s where my speech at the end came from.

Jay Edwards on Shout! Stomp! Scream!
Jay Edwards on Shout! Stomp! Scream!
NRAMA: Who is the guy in the lead role again?

JWE: Jonathan Green.

NRAMA: Did you instruct him to go for that so-serious-it’s-funny thing?

JWE: When he came in to audition, he was cast on the spot. He just nailed it so perfectly. He had the kind of earnestness we wanted, but with some real emotion in there. I never had to direct him, I only had to bring him back a little bit. He initially played the role a little too stiff.

We had to recast the role of Tillis (Adrian Roberts), the friendly deputy. When he got a look at Jonathan, he couldn’t decide if Jonathan was the worst actor he’d ever seen, or the best. After a couple of days, he figured him out and said he was fantastic.

NRAMA: Where did you find the Violas?

JWE: The music is by an Atlanta band called Catfight! They’re friends of mine. I actually built the script around one of their older songs. They’d written “Syphilis” about five or six years before I’d written the script. When I showed them the script, they got so excited they wrote a bunch of original songs around it. They wrote the theme song, “Back Off My Baby” and did a cover song of “Go Go Gorilla,” which is an old 60s song I loved.

So we actually recorded those songs about six months before shooting. Then I actually cast actresses and Catfight! taught them how to play the instruments. I was actually shocked, amazed and thrilled that I could find an actress, Cynthia Evans, coordinated enough to look like she was playing the drums. She rocks them. If you look closely, you’ll see she’s not playing the drums with both her hands and feet at the same time. That’s a little editing, but you’ll have to look real close. Then again, I think their lip synching and playing was much better than those original 60s bands who did their own songs in those 60s beach party movies.

NRAMA: How did you get in touch with those other bands for the soundtrack?

JWE: I’m such a garage rock fanatic, once I decided that was the music I liked for the film I started making inquiries. It just opened up this rich mine of goodness. For instance, I’ve known the guys in the Woggles for years. They played my wedding. So they were happy to give me a song. I also knew Catfight! Those guys introduced me to other bands, mainly Atlanta-based surf bands. Basically, one band led to another, which lead to another.

I’ve been playing the Fleshtones for something like 20 years. Actually, the best story is I actually contacted Peter Zaremba (leader of the Fleshtones) through their website. What most people don’t know is he’s also a professional writer. He does travel writing and all kinds of other stuff. I basically contacted him to see if he’d do liner notes for the CD. He responded with an email asking why weren’t the Fleshtones in the soundtrack? So I thought, why the hell, indeed. So he sent me an instrumental song.

NRAMA: So are you happy with Stomp Shout?

JWE: Yeah. It’s essentially the movie I wanted to make. I wrote it in about nine months. About a year later I had raised enough money to shoot it. It took me about another year to finish. It premiered in October, 2005 and has been a regular on the film festival circle ever since.

NRAMA: I noticed Dana Snyder (aka Master Shake) did a cameo.

JWE: Dana was in Atlanta recording for the Aqua Teen movie. The Skunk Ape was Ned Hastings, best known for being “Your Host, Ned Hastings” on one of the Aqua Teen episodes. He’s an editor and producer on the series. He describes himself as the largest mammal you’ll know. He’s also a walking, talking movie encyclopedia. He was someone I was more than glad to have on the set for anything I needed to know. He kept me focussed and grounded.

NRAMA: So is there really such a thing as the Skunk Ape?

JWE: Yes. There is a legend of the Skunk Ape. Actually, to call him a legend is kind of an insult. There really is a Skunk Ape. He’s like the Jersey Devil, the Mo Mo Monster in Missouri, the Wookie in Louisiana and Sasquatch.

I used to go fishing in the Everglades as a kid. My dad used to scare me with tales of the Skunk Ape. In fact, that summer we shot, that was the summer that Florida had all those hurricanes. So there was a bunch of Bigfoot sightings all over Central Florida.

NRAMA: So is it safe to say you’re knee deep in another season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force?

JWE: We are. I just turned one into the animators today. That’s what I was doing at lunch.

There will be ten episodes. Four are already done. Two will premier on the DVD that comes out in December. They will actually come out before they air on Adult Swim. That’s our gimmick. The reason for that is we only had nine completed episodes for this latest DVD. So to make it more full, we added those episodes.

NRAMA: What about this promotion with Carl?

JWE: We are having a Carl lookalike audition. So you send in your audition tape, actually you should upload it to AdultSwim.com. Whoever is selected as the best Carl will appear in a live action Aqua Teen episode.

NRAMA: How are the submissions coming?

JWE: They’re coming a bit slow, so far, but it’s early. There was some technical trouble with the site. We’re getting that worked out. Now the promo on Adult Swim actually has some auditions from San Diego Comic Con that we did when we were there. That’s stuff like Dave (Willis) shaving the guy’s head. Those guys I thought were great. So I’m sure we’ll get something.

NRAMA: So you are actually going to do a live action Aqua Teen episode?

JWE: The last of the ten episodes this season will be live action. I’ll let Dave and Matt answer that question. There will be real actors playing Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad, but that’s all I’ll say.

NRAMA: Isn’t it amazing how Aqua Teen Hunger Force just refuses to die?

JWE: I don’t think the network will let it.

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