Apocalypse Cow Productions is a team of three composers (with the occasional collaborator) who work collectively towards creating inventive music, whether it is for film, television or artists. The two brothers (Jeffrey and Dan Jeremy Brooks) and Jeffrey’s wife (Theresa Brooks) have been writing songs or involved in music since childhood. They founded Apocalypse Cow in 1999, since then they have created music videos, scored films, produced charting rock albums, mixed film
audio and written music for network television, feature films, arcade games, DVD releases, music libraries and more. Apocalypse Cow also houses a full recording studio so musicians can easily be recorded live when needed. (See complete credits at end of interview).
An interview with Jeffrey and Theresa Brooks of Apocalypse Cow
JR: JULIUS ROBINSON, MUSICSUPERVISOR.COM
JB: JEFFREY BROOKS, APOCOLYPSE COW
TB: THERESA BROOKS, APOCOLYPSE COW
JR: Did you know that “Flashbulbs” replaced Madonna’s “Vogue” in the Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2?
JB: That’s fantastic.
JR: So can you tell me about “Flashbulbs?”
TB: It was started from a hook in my head. The idea of flashbulbs, actually the song “Paparazzi” was newish at the time. I just went with the flow and used a lot of Kelly Clarkson-type ideas. We have a singer we’ve worked with who’s 20-ish and in college and so I had her voice in mind as I was writing the song. Her name is Apocalypse Cow ; Jeffrey , Dan Jeremy Brooks and Theresa Brooks Courtney Jurick, but she goes by Courtney Jay.
JB: She’s been on MTV’s “Made” and performs in Chicago.
JR: So did you cut it there in your studio in Chicago?
JB: Yeah, we write and record everything right here.
JR: Tell me about the process; once Theresa had the song then what do you go through to get that sounding so good?
TB: We write out the basics to the song, bounce ideas back and forth.
JR: What’s going on with that there? Are there clubs that are featuring Chicago music, or artists out of there that you know about who you recorded?
JB: Well “Bloodshot Records” are out of Chicago, a part of a bigger resurgent country thing, and I think it’s pretty hip. And blues of course is constant in Chicago.
TB: Yeah Buddy Guy did a bunch of shows in January.
JB: Buddy Guy, he’s a legend of blues, and always a cornerstone of Chicago.
JR: So – Apocalypse Cow — are you guys Francis Ford-Coppola fans?
JB: I am a Coppola fan. It’s heavily debated how to say his last name isn’t’ it?
JR: Is it Cappola or Coppola?
JB: Who knows, it seems like every three years there’s a new pronunciation for his name!
JR: And he’s a vintner now, he’s got the wine company. I’ve had a lot of his wine it’s very good, but I like his movies better.
JB: Yeah I’m a Dracula fan.
JR: So obviously that play on words was part of your thinking when you came up with your name for the production company “Apocalypse Cow?”
JB: Yeah, that’s a funny story. My brother and I were in high school and he’s a little younger than me. So I was doing a creative writing paper and the teacher said we could submit it as a video instead. I just got this new video camera, which was a big thrill. We did this really bad video, and it had a little character generator on the camera and so we decided we needed a production company, and one of us decided Apocalypse Cow without really thinking about it. Again we’d seen a lot of Coppola films, so we just punched it in and the name kind of stuck. I of course know that I came up with the name, but my brother is under the
delusion that he came up with it, so to this day it’s unresolved, who came up with the name
JR: That’s hilarious, and what’s your brother’s name again?
JB: Dan Jeremy.
JR: So there’s the debate as to who is the creator of this amazing pun. Use a pun,
go to prison! In fact, actually you might laugh at this, we’ve been debating the past couple of months about how to roll out the marketing on a whole new level of service and websites and other things we’re offering. We’re creating a platform for us to build other websites that service other segments of the music business, and it’s an open API for anyone who wants to use it. Right now, after this MIDEM show we picked up another 200,000 tracks so we’re going to be up over 300,000 and I believe that puts us at the number 1 independent catalogue in the U.S. So we’re just talking about how we’re going to do all this stuff. I’m a songwriter and screenwriter and Barry, our founder is a producer working with Steve
Tyrell for many years in Hollywood and we all come from a music background and are continuing the pursuit of our dreams and not giving them up. The pun when I was thinking about with Apocalypse Cow, I said this is going to be my headline ‘Triumph of the “Heard” — Apocalypse Cow places ‘Flashbulbs’ in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Talk about a Zoo”. He loved the idea of “the heard” so we’re going to “join the heard” and make it a catch phrase along with “we get music.” Our deep brand name will be WEGET — that’s our brand behind MusicSupervisor.com. We’re
going to have IndieSafari.com, which will be a indie band fan exploration site and a whole bunch of cool ideas we’re working on now to really make all of this work not only for licensing but for actually being a real spectacular part of hopefully the music business or whatever’s left of it. So what do you think?
JB: That’s fantastic; I think it’s hysterical
JR: Yeah well it’s guys like you that make it all happen. So let’s get back a little ways into history here, how did this all start? How did you begin Apocalypse Cow or even before it was called that? How did you get to this place?
JB: Well my brother, who unfortunately is still stranded in the snow, I don’t know if you heard Chicago got hit.
JR: Oh yeah our guy in Chicago sent me pictures of the streets it’s unbelievable.
JB: Yeah so my brother isn’t here today unfortunately, but he started pretty much when we could reach the piano. My dad PAs like church and school just as a hobby. My mom played some guitar so I was around music but wasn’t really a musician. Then I guess it made sense for me to start putting microphones in front of my brother and just started engineering that way. We got really into Plunderphonics music, so like John Oswald might be a good example of those people. You know we’re all
familiar with mash-ups and sampling now, but that’s kind of like if you took a car and another car and stacked them on top of each other. The way I think of sampling is like you take a spark plug from one car and a lug nut from another, really micro, parts and then piece together a bunch of stuff. It’s probably the slowest way to make music but if you know where all the samples came from you can contextualize some cool meaning and build up a whole song. Our thing is that we wrote songs
with lyrics, and it felt like pop songs when they were done which is definitely not the case for most of the other Plunderphonics people. But like I said, it’s like the slowest way we could possibly make music, so I said screw it, I’m going to buy a guitar like everyone else and just learn it. Around the same time I met Theresa and she was studying performance and music business at DePaul University, and also learning guitar and we were going to learn guitar together but instead we got married. So I guess that’s kind of how the whole thing started, my roommate in college
was a audio engineer, but we were doing computer science stuff so it was unrelated. I was already recording my brother’s stuff and his songs kept getting more elaborate and needed more and more gear. I needed advice from my roommate and at some point he was like “you pretty much have a recording studio why don’t you start taking bands in and do that too”. So I started recording bands and that was like 12 or 13 years ago. I simultaneously was writing because you know that’s where the passion is. When Theresa finished school it became…
TB: …three of us full time here whole different aesthetic from what we had before.
JR: I think there’s still an appreciation for filet mignon, well you’re a vegetarian so — pure delicious food as apposed to fast food. You can hear the difference. I tell members there’s a possibility your music can be played at full volume through Lucas Sound speakers in Cineplex’s all over the world — or soft in the background in the TV show and it doesn’t make a difference how it was recorded. Whatever that
range of possible outcomes though, it seems to me that you would want to make your music sound as great as you can. There are still people out there that want stuff that is recorded with vintage gear, with tube mics and live drummers and that great stuff.
JB: I hope so, because God knows we’ve invested in that stuff. I hope the studio and people want to license music that sounds like that. Not to say there’s no place for the other, but it’s a different thing.
JR: Ultimately. I think that over the long run, quality always wins out. I think your investment in that gear is good, I know people in the studio business that have seen a huge hit to their bookings and they’re not really doing the same kind of busi-
ness that they used to. People don’t really care and are willing to go to somebody’s
bedroom and use Pro Tools. But maybe we can draw more attention to guys like you
that are really trying to do something top quality. One of the comments I have to
tell you from the exec of Disney about “Flashbulbs” is “this track sounds great.” It
was up to par with Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ and that’s one of the reasons it got selected.
When this came along the producers were like “yeah that’s good.” I don’t know if it
could have been accomplished in just a bedroom.
JB/TB: Yeah really, very true. That’s nice to hear
JR: This is the irony of the whole thing — someone is going to listen to it that has
the ability to choose you to be in a movie, and they will be comparing you to theJB: Yeah so between the three of us somebody is writing all the time, and/or two
of us are, and someone is recording most of the time. It’s a pretty busy place!
JR: What area of Chicago are you located in?
JB: We’re 30 miles west of Chicago Proper. So we’re at the end of the train if you
will, the last stop
JR: Well that sounds like LA, you’re basically 30 miles from anything here. I’m 30
miles from my wife and you know she’s in the next room! Anyway, as you can tell
I’m a comedy writer as well so I’m trying out some new material on you.
TB: We can take surveys at the end if you want!
JR: Seriously, though, it’s tough out there, but we’re really determined to find some
new income streams and we’re out into the retail store music space now. We have
700 stores so far and have generated 20 million spins like every 2 or 3 months. It’s
really amazing, if you have the Pro Account, if you ever want to look at that, you get
a one month free trial. Then if you want to continue its $9.99 a month. It gives you
really detailed reports on what’s going on in that division. Also, you can see The
Licensing Lounge where you can hear in real time what we’re pitching. You click on
the title of the songs and the player opens up and you see what the music super-
visor sees. And also your Twitter feed comes down, if someone wants to contact
you they can. We’re building the beginning of a community for our members so it’s
something you might want to check into. We want to get you heard and pump up
our artists and get them out there as part of the reinvention of the music business
JB: Yeah because something’s going to have to happen, clearly, there needs to be a
reinvention. We all feel it, even with the studio. I’ve definitely felt it here — people
generally don’t sell studio produced music on manufactured CDs — they just do it
on their Mac in their bedroom, and that’s good enough to sell at the show. It’s a best records ever made. So why wouldn’t you want to make the best record you
could possibly make? So anyway is there anything else you’d like to say to add to
TB: You should add that we also worked with other people in the Chicago area and
one of the co writers on the song for the lyrics is a friend of ours in St. Paul, Minne-
sota, Mike Beckman
JB: And another thing we do is a lot of collaboration with people we’ve met
through the years. For instance, Mike is a machine for writing lyrics and a heck of
a guitarist. I can be like, “Oh Mike I need gypsy guitar” and he’s one of our go-to
JR: Great, anything else about yourself, your studio, life?
JB: You just missed our annual Groundhogs day mailing. We’re serious!
JR: On our homepage for MusicSupervisor.com, we put our baby pictures up, we’ve
got tongue in cheek bios. We’re just writers and musicians, we’re not egotistical.
It’s part of our culture, so I really liked your attitude and the whole humor in Apoca-
lypse Cow really appeals to me. When I knew this placement was definite I knew I
wanted to do a feature on you.
JB: You were talking about photos and for the longest time we just had shots of
our feet on our site. Who cares what I look like? The baby pictures really made me
laugh when I saw that.
JR: Yeah if we put our real heads up there it would not be pretty. But seriously, it’s
been a lot of fun talking to you and hopefully we’ll get together if you’re ever in LA
or I’m in Chicago or somewhere in between we’ll try to hook up
JB: That’d be fantastic!
Films include: Beverly Hill Chihuahua 2, According to Dom, The Fixer, Dead of
Night, Proceed and Be Bold, Scorpion Bowl, Diabolical Tales III, A Role of Their
Own, Two Brothers, One Beer and the American Dream
Clients include: Naperville Television 17 – Scored several documentaries, Film
Pharm – scored a couple documentaries, Ford Motor Company and Ogilvy & Mather,
Robotic Amusements – Arcade Game, Joue Joue – “Tots Rock” exercise video,
Sunbeam/First Alert, Mountain Dew, Tub Ring – produced the charting album “Zoo
Places Cow music has been played: Stations ABC, CBS, MTV, MTV2, Style
Network/E! Entertainment, The History Channel, PBS TLC, National Geographic Ex-
plorer, Planet Green, The Travel Channel, Science Channel, Women’s Entertainment,
Sirius Radio, XM Radio, CMT (Country Music Television), Super Stations across the
Television Shows include: Let’s Make a Deal, Science of the Movies, Little
People, Toddlers and Tiaras, Renovation Nation, Man Made, Samantha Who, Cit-
ies of the Underground, Ace of Cakes, Rock the Cradle, American Idol: Rewind, Dr.
90210, Clean House Comes Clean, Property Ladder, My First Home, Running of the
Brides, Can you Duet, Beach Patrol: Honolulu, Lassie’s Pet Vet, Your Average Zombies Podcast.