Mysterious cypher boxes, Gothic locations and, of course, rock music are the puzzle pieces that interlock for Marquis of Vaudeville’s new music video for “The ENIGMA Men.”
The group is no stranger to large production music videos. From the Alice in Wonderland-inspired “We’re All Mad Here” to experimental animation in their video for “The Wild Lost,” the Marquis of Vaudeville challenge themselves to outdo their previous efforts with each new video. The work ethic has paid off, with “We’re All Mad Here” winning the award for Best Music Video at the Independent Shorts Award in Los Angeles in August.
The success of “We’re All Mad Here” was welcome, but it did raise the pressure for frontman Toby Lawhon when conceiving the next video.
“The only thing we knew is that we couldn’t come back with something below that level,” Lawhon says. “That was our goal ... we won all these awards, we did so much with this previous video, this one has to be above and beyond. We don’t want to take a step back.”
The same attention Marquis of Vaudeville put into the details of their lavishly decorated live shows is carried into each music video that the band produces. Top influences for the group vary from music videos like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight,” the cinematic quality My Chemical Romance brought to their singles such as “Black Parade,” to the visual iconography of filmmakers such as Terry Gilliam, Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Lawhon and bass player Geneva Arena estimate they shot at roughly 10 locations (one of which was the Munster Mansion in Waxahachie) in two states over the course of a year to create “The ENIGMA Men” video. The focus was to never sacrifice quality, and the group would painstakingly scout locations and buildings until they found the perfect look for their aesthetic. Even during a year that saw the band on a U.K. tour, the five members relentlessly searched for locations that embodied the Gothic beauty of a Victorian-era design.
“That was our goal ... we won all these awards, we did so much with this previous video, this one has to be above and beyond. We don’t want to take a step back.” — Toby Lawhon
“What we found out is, those houses that are Victorian looking and beautiful, that are in somewhat of a dilapidated state, most people, either they’re tearing them down, or they’re completely redoing them,” Lawhon says. “So a lot of the ones that we found online and we went to check out, they were already redone.”
As Arena observes, just because you find the perfect house, it doesn’t mean you can necessarily use it.
“And then once you do actually find something that you think will work, then you have to track down who owns it,” Arena says. “Then you have to get in touch with them, they have to get back to you, and you go, ‘Hey can you do this?’ It’s a whole big thing.”
For the moment, Marquis of Vaudeville will appreciate the final testament to a year’s worth of hard work both in front of and behind the camera. The idle appreciation will last only momentarily, as planning for the next video is already underway. No word on what to expect, or when to expect it, but it’s a safe bet that the next music video will carry the same level of elevated quality that pleases not only their fans, but their toughest critics: themselves.
“Everything is very saturated, but I think when I’m creating something, I just want to make it to where I’m happy with it,” Arena says. “So my goal is, ‘Hey, am I happy with this, do I like this, am I proud of this?’ and that’s all I can do.”