The three members of Brooklyn-based rock band Slim Wray were sitting outside, knocking back beers and brainstorming their next music video, when a U-Haul truck drove by and jarred their creative juices.
“This was a merger of ideas,” vocalist Ryan Houser explained. “We’d been thinking of this ‘thrash and dash’ idea. Like, you storm into a deli, start playing and before they even know what’s going on, you’re packing up and leaving.
“(Drummer Chris Moran) had this idea for a U-Haul thing for a while, so we put both ideas together and decided to ‘thrash and dash’ from the U-Haul.”
Slim Wray took its act to the New York City streets on July 11 with a U-Haul 15-foot moving truck as its mobile stage and the back door as its concert curtain. Houser, Moran and bass player Brian Lawlor loaded their gear in the iconic orange-clad truck and went from neighborhood to neighborhood, filming the video for their new single “Take It Or Leave It.”
The video received more than 16,300 hits in its first four weeks on YouTube.
“We see U-Haul trucks everywhere,” Moran said. “We thought, ‘Why not make this into a moveable concert around the city?’ Everybody loves those flash-mob things and everybody loves an opportunity to see a show.”
From the lengthy B-roll footage showcasing the U-Haul truck against New York’s backdrop to the highly trafficked areas where the band stopped to play, each moment was mapped out and carefully considered.
“We timed it right so that Brian would throw open the back as Chris was counting in the drums and we started playing,” Houser said. “We also had some friends and camera people waiting nonchalantly in the crowd for that to happen and they would come out and start filming.”
As the day went by, Slim Wray’s experiment built up steam. Onlookers followed the band from the East Village to Chinatown while tweets and photos were shared.
The weather was ideal and people were on the streets enjoying their weekend, so when live rock ‘n’ roll suddenly began blaring from the back of a U-Haul truck, people embraced it.
“We thought we were going to annoy everybody and then jump in the truck and drive off,” Houser laughingly suggested. “We were thinking we would have to watch out so we wouldn’t get in trouble for making a disturbance or something, but it was exactly the opposite.
“They took it as one of those cool things you see only in New York. People would gather around the truck and they really had fun with it. By the end of it, we had more and more people showing up. It was cool the way it developed naturally.”
While the project was a huge success, it wasn’t the first time U-Haul and Slim Wray crossed paths. And it’s certain not to be the last.
“We did a Midwest tour about a year and a half ago where we used U-Haul to get to all the shows,” Moran explained. “U-Haul is affordable and we could put all the stuff in the back instead of having to get a trailer. We took one from Brooklyn and went all the way to Chicago and back. It was super convenient for us.”
Whatever the future holds for Slim Wray and U-Haul, one thing is for sure: the leader in do-it-yourself moving and self-storage is a Big Apple sensation in thrashing and dashing.
“There are good things on both sides,” Houser said. “It draws attention to the band and what we’re doing. Especially in this internet age, I think everyone needs an angle to make the event something special. Then from U-Haul’s point of view, there’s a fun story and a new angle on the brand.”
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