Rubber Band Gun Visual Album Interview: Cashes Out is a Gritty Collage of Indecision

On his latest album, Cashes Out, prolific New Jersey singer-songwriter Kevin Basko, aka Rubber Band Gun, has enlisted the help of animator Ben Montez to craft a delightful mixed media work of art. At nearly a half hour of runtime, each of the visual album’s six tracks stand solidly on their own but are enjoyed even better as a whole.

Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video

“From the start of recording Cashes Out, I wanted a unique visual talent to accompany the sounds we were making,” explains Basko, in the album’s press release. “Ben Montez has an incredible eye and ear for collaboration, and he really brought the Vegas dream to life. With a combination of found stock footage, intimate practical shots, and absurd animation, he has built a neon world and story around the themes and characters explored in this record.”

Montez draws from the album’s underlying themes of indecision and the passage of time, to craft playful, exploratory worlds of hedonism, capitalism, and experimental tripped out terrains.

“To me, the first two tracks on the album paint a portrait of someone’s life slowly and pathetically slipping out of their hands, as time just passes by,” explains Montez. “That led me to land on the passage of time, and the helplessness that comes with it, as a general concept for the whole thing. I’d then lean on the images and scenes described in Basko’s lyrics to find a unique way of exploring that concept in each track.”

Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video

At times, Montez chose images which were extremely literal; a lady might appear on-screen in front of a slot machine just as Basko sings, “See that lady on the slot machine.” Other times, Montez took a much more symbolic or abstract approach, in an attempt to “stretch a single image from the lyrics to its limits.”

In the album opener, “My Time,” Montez explains that he “attempts to show how billions of years of evolution on Earth have just lead a fairly worthless existence in Vegas.” On “Be Together,” he explores how “despite drastic changes in communication over time, the language of love has stayed the same.”

Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video
Rubber Band Gun - Cashes Out Music Video

Even more influential was a lyric from “Fear,” where Basko sings that “fear is a room.” It provided the jump-off point for Montez to explore various metaphorical rooms, which was especially prevalent on the album’s two digital collage pieces, “Fear” and “Cash Out.”

“I’d conceptualize each ‘scene’ as a single room or location, think of what belonged in there, and then I’d spend weeks just gathering images from the internet that had elements that I thought could work,” Montez notes.

He then brought the collected images into Adobe Photoshop and constructed a scene around them. After that, each Photoshop file was imported into Adobe AfterEffects, where he painstakingly animated each layer individually.

“It got pretty gnarly,” Montez recalls. “‘Fear’ had hundreds of layers and took like 20 hours to export. I’m sure I was doing something wrong, but it all worked out.”

Humbly, Montez shares that he “leaned into a crude aesthetic for all the animation” because he is a “horrible animator.” The end product, strangely, doesn’t seem to reflect that.

Rubber Band Gun – Cashes Out Music Video Album

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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