I first became aware of Bay Area artist Brad Brooks back in 2012. It’s hard to get your brain around how much has changed since then in the world, but with his smoking new album God Save the City, out Oct. 23, Brooks is doing his best to keep up.
The album is all about fighting and overcoming fear – beginning, in Brooks’ case, with a bout with throat cancer, a diagnosis tailor-made to send a singer spiraling. But you’d never know from the edgy songs and recordings that emerged. The title track kicks off the album with a howl, and we’re pleased to premiere the video for “God Save the City” today.
It was upon Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent sad death that I first heard people saying “Rest in power.” According to Brooks, the artist who first inspired the video is also associated with the genesis of that phrase. The video took root when Brooks was looking for a storage locker and found one in a facility with a large graffiti mural that says ‘Oakland Wall Of Fame’ and features the word word ‘Dream.’ “It turns out,” Brooks explains, “that ‘Dream’ was for Mike ‘Dream’ Francisco who was a renowned graffiti artist in the ’90s and whose… [political art] often critiqued the United States government’s treatment of poor and marginalized people.
“If you’ve ever heard the term ‘Rest In Power’ it’s first attributed to him, as he was unfortunately killed by an armed assailant in 2000, but his legacy and impact lives. This football field-sized wall, all created and dedicated by his friends and artists from all over the world, was speaking to me not only to that time period but to NOW.”
Brooks envisioned that wall as part of the backdrop to the video for the song. The mural deals, he explains, “with much of the same topics in the song: racially motivated police oppression, gentrification, homelessness. I wanted to be very careful about appropriation of culture in shooting this, but also to tell the story of what I’ve seen between the dichotomy of wealth in San Francisco and how it’s affected Oakland. The artists on this wall (shout out to TDK), as well as all the muralists and graffiti artists that are currently exploding art all over downtown Oakland in wake of the George Floyd protests, are the real stars in this video and it is to them that I’m indebted for their creativity, bravery, activism, and inspiration.”
The mural also furnished the album cover. “When we started shooting with my friend and editing genius Chris Carlone at the helm, one particular piece we kept coming to was called ‘Aerosol Moses’ that I later found out was made by Caleb Aero, and it was this piece that became not only the centerpiece of the video but also the cover for the record. Thank you Caleb for its use and the inspiration!”
Directed by Brooks himself, the video was shot partly before and partly during the coronavirus pandemic. “God Save the City” now has more meaning than ever. And “now” is the operative word. Says Brooks, “Fast forward to the onset of COVID, and now all of these things within the song and video have become even more antagonized and exacerbated and it is in these insane times that we release ‘God Save the City’ to the world NOW!”
“This reckless number combines Diamond Dogs era David Bowie, Mott The Hoople, and touches of mid ’70s E-Street Band,” says Glide. Watch the video below, and then check out the already-released singles here and order the album here.