When San Antonio pop rockers Buttercup released their new collection of highly personal songs in March, songwriter and vocalist Erik Sanden said they were “pulling back the veil” to reveal the band’s personalities.
When Buttercup’s new video for the song “Practice Room,” debuts Thursday with a public screening at the Slab Cinema Arthouse, the veil will be dispensed with entirely, to offer a glimpse into the band’s history and inner workings.
In a tour de force of fading technology, San Antonio filmmaker Alejandro DeHoyos unearthed reams of documentation from the band’s 20 years of performance and practice, along with the aging equipment needed to view the images, videos, and other ephemera.
“I went through the gamut of all of our old archive of stuff,” DeHoyos said, then printed old photographs, made images of memorabilia, went through DVD files, then “went into storage and dug out the old mini-DVD cameras, DVD cameras, [and] VHS cameras,” even employing an eight-millimeter camera for film made in that 1960s-era movie format.
DeHoyos didn’t have far to search to locate the material memories included in his five-minute video. He’s been a resident of the selfsame Blue Star Arts Complex practice room that Buttercup uses, having “officed” with them since the start of the pandemic, DeHoyos said. He first met the band’s founding members Erik Sanden and bassist Odie in 2004 as participants in the San Antonio Underground Film Festival but got to know them even better when they shared space for months as the world shut down.
DeHoyos has worked previously with Sanden in Buttercup and Demitasse, a side project with Buttercup guitarist Joe Reyes, and Sanden said he’s excited to collaborate again with the filmmaker’s “dreamy vision. He’s a young man in love with light and slow motion.”
On Specks: An Autobiographical Record, “Practice Room” offers an audio glimpse inside the loopy bohemian chaos of the band’s intimate rehearsal space, where cold beer offsets the heat of summer and instrumentalists loosen up without the gaze of an audience to restrain them.
Sanden likened the space to the art studio of British painter Francis Bacon, whose angsty paintings were created amid a nearly inconceivable jumble of leaking paint tubes, splattered colors, fading photographs and random books and papers.
“There’s a level of chaos that just boggles your mind, but he was at peace with it,” Sanden said. “I love that idea, that through disorder you can cobble together some kind of beautiful order. And [“Practice Room”] is very, very ramshackle.”
Sanden and DeHoyos suggested that the room and the Blue Star complex itself will play roles in the video. After shooting footage inside the practice room, DeHoyos had the band set up inside the Slab Cinema Arthouse, then videoed them while projecting the footage onto their bodies and the movie screen behind them.
Sanden said he has no idea how the dizzying “psychedelic layering” will look, “but I bet it’s gonna be rad.”
Tickets for the Thursday 7 p.m. video premiere and performance are available through the Slab Cinema Arthouse website, priced at $15 each. A portion of the proceeds will go to the National Organization for Women.