If you've been to shows around the NYC area--particularly at The Acheron or Saint Vitus Bar, both in Brooklyn--then chances are you've seen Frank Huang. More often than not, he's armed with at least one video camera to capture that night's show for everyone else's viewing pleasure. After noticing him time after time at gigs, we finally caught up with the man himself about his work, his life and music in general. If you haven't already, be sure to check out his blog Pit Full of Shit.
For those who may not be familiar, tell us a little bit about Pit Full of Shit. How did the idea come about? When did you you first get started and what was the first show you shot? I started shooting live video when I was back in Taiwan around 2007. It began with a school project I made for my friends' band called Horsemen. I was trying to shoot a short documentary on them. At the time, there was this series of shows called "Metal Monster", and the band was one of the organizers of the show. So I went in and shot the second show of the series in which Chthonic played. I believe it was the peak of the series. After the show, I found I really liked filming bands and the music, and I felt that since I knew how to shoot video, these bands deserved to be documented. Plus, I could also show our scene to the world (aka the Internet). After that, I kind of just fell into this abyss and never got to get out. I got some really good experience when I was over there, not only shooting local bands but also bands like Abigail, Unholy Grave, Misery Index, Exodus and Death Angel. I’m still good friends with some of the people in those bands, and that really helped me start up when I first moved to States.
Pit Full of Shit didn’t start until I moved to NYC in 2011. I met Frank Godla from Metal Injection and Meek Is Murder at Revocation’s Chaos of Forms record release show at The Studio at Webster Hall. We were both shooting the show, and he suggested that we edit our footage together and post it on Metal Injection. After that project, they offered me a channel on Metal Injection, and that’s how Pit Full of Shit came about. But two years later, MI decided to change its server and all of my videos were gone, and that was when I started the blog. Right now I still post videos both on my blog and Metal Injection, but the source is from my own YouTube channel instead of MI’s server.
Most of your live footage is from shows in and around NYC -- how long have you lived around here? What's your favorite local venue to see a show and to shoot a show? I moved to NYC from Taiwan in the summer of 2011 for grad school, so it’s been around three years now. If you look into the videos I’ve shot, you will find that in terms of venues, Saint Vitus Bar and The Acheron are the two places I shoot at the most. I can’t really pick just one from those two. Both of places took care of me pretty well when I first started in NYC, are very, very friendly, and believe and are very supportive of the things I do, which means a lot to me personally.
Taking another step back, tell us about some of your formative music experiences -- in particular, when and how did you first get into the more extreme side of things? Well this sounds really corny, but I started listening to Marilyn Manson when I was in junior high school which led me to Slipknot. (This is Taiwan we are talking about, I didn’t really get to find that much information on extreme music, not to mention the Internet wasn’t that cool at that time. Hell, I even liked Limp Bizkit. But it’s 2014, it’s way much easier to find underground music now.) But I always felt like I wanted something heavier. When I got into college, my friends showed me bands like Chthonic and Arch Enemy, and that was when I started digging more extreme music. Bands like Dark Funeral and Naglfar were my favorites at the time, and shooting shows exposed me to a lot of other music too.
There’s a group in Taiwan called Raw Noise Attack. They were the ones that got Abigail and Unholy Grave to play in Taiwan, and they also introduced me to bands like Electric Wizard, Church of Misery and so many other thrash or grind bands that shaped a lot of my musical tastes nowadays.
How many shows a month do you think you shoot? What's been a favorite recent show you've been able to share with everyone? All time? I would say I shoot about 10 to 15 shows a month, but it really depends on what’s going on. Sometimes I shoot five or six nights a week, sometimes one night in two weeks. It really depends. I would say my favorite recent show was Eyehategod with Iron Reagan and Strong Intention at The Acheron. All time for now I would give it to Gorguts at Saint Vitus Bar--that set completely blew my mind.
Can you tell us more about the equipment you use to shoot shows and the process more generally? For cameras, I mainly use my Canon 60D. If I'm doing a multicam shoot, I have a Sony VG10 and a GoPro. Soundwise, I use a Sony PCM-D50, which is a really old sound recorder I’ve been using since the beginning but it’s still amazing and a Zoom H4n for board sound. And for editing I use Adobe Premiere Pro and PluralEyes for sound syncing (it’s life saver). Sometimes I try to do different things too, like I shot Eyehategod in Super 8mm film earlier this year.
What are some of your other videography/filmmaking endeavors (music videos, documentaries, etc)? I've actually done music videos for bands like Phobia (and here), White Widows Pact, Bezoar, Call of The Void, Rituals, Noisear, Skelptarsis and Scattered Purgatory from Taiwan. The latest music video I made was for Phoenix's Funerary, which premiered on Noisey.
Do you ever feel that you're missing out on the "live experience” by being behind the camera instead of in the crowd? Do you try and mix it up and not shoot every show you go to? Yes I do, haha, but if you see me at a show with my camera, you would most likely see me headbanging to songs all of the time, so I’m not missing out that much. And sometimes when I do a multicam shoot, I will be at the front of the stage, which to be honest can be really annoying sometimes.
I actually tried going to shows without my camera, but I found I would feel very uncomfortable, and normally after the show I would be like “Fuck, I should’ve shot that show.” So normally I shoot every show I go to, unless there are special reasons like the venue charges a ridiculous amount of money just to bring in a camera, which is totally stupid and greedy in my opinion.
What do you otherwise like to do when you're not going to shows? Movies. I’m a film school graduate and it gets me excited that NYC has so much to offer in terms of movies. Especially places like the IFC Center, Lincoln Center and BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music], which always come up with some of the best programs on indie, classic or even cult movies.
For those who haven't had a chance to go there, what's so special about Saint Vitus? Saint Vitus Bar is a place for everyone who loves metal--you can’t really go wrong when you have a King Diamond portrait in the middle of the bar. They play all good songs in the bar, the drinks are very nice and don’t miss out on their buns!
And to me it feels like home. The people who work there know about the music, they are involved in the scene and most of them play in metal bands too. So they actually understand what is like being a metalhead. And they also book some of the best shows in Brooklyn. But don’t be an asshole and ruin other people’s good time, they will be total jerks to you if you do so. But just in general in life, DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE.
What are some tunes you've been spinning recently? 2014 has been an awesome year in terms of new releases. I’ve been obsessed with the new Gridlink, Indian, Eyehategod, Coffinworm and Triptykon records. But I’ve been going back to SubRosa’s More Constant Than the Gods for the past week.
Anything else you'd like to add? Be nice and respectful to all the videographers and photographers you see at any show.