To celebrate the March 17 premiere of their new web series, Rockville CA, creator Josh Schwartz (dashingly pictured) and music supervisor/Chop Shop Records founder Alexandra Patsavas threw themselves a SXSW day party on Saturday, and as is to be expected from such esteemed tastemakers, the lineup was excellent: perennially sunny popsters The Little Ones; sultry songstress Anya Marina, who brought a lovely cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”; and the much-hyped stage antics of Janelle Monae, whose resemblance to one-half of “Mirror Image” from Sarah Jessica Parker’s seminal 1985 dance masterpiece Girls Just Want To Have Fun I find somewhat distracting.
Beneath the trees of Austin’s Brush Square park, and with the merry vibes of good music and good free Shiner swirling around us, I grabbed a couple minutes with Mr. Schwartz — who would make a fun guest blogger, don’t you think, PopWatchers? — to talk Rockville, awesome bands, Chuck, potential impending maturity, and get one super!juicy!scoop!exclusive! on the Gossip Girl spinoff. Read on, after the jump!
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EW: Hey! So, Rockville, California, is your new —
Schwartz: It’s not really called “Rockville, California.”
What’s it called?
Well, it’s called “Rockville,” but then “Rockville CA,” I guess, for legal purposes. You can just call it “Rockville.” That’s what the kids are calling it.
What are the legal purposes?
There’s something called “Rockville.”
What is it?
I don’t know. [pause] It’s a town in Maryland.
True. Okay, be honest with me. How much of this was inspired by the Peach Pit on 90210?
Have you forgotten about the Bait Shop?
Honestly, I seem to have totally blocked that out.
I blame Mischa Barton.
Coming to you soon! Um, it was kind of [inspired]-ish. The Bait Shop was an all ages Newport Beach venue that booked such bands as The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie. This is very much directly inspired by the venue where we actually shot this, which is the Echo, in Echo Park [a neighborhood in L.A.]. The bands all played live, which is cool.
Are you done shooting?
Yeah, we’re done. We rocked all 20 episodes.
Does the state of the music industry make it easier to do something like this? Are bands just desperate for marketing opportunities?
Yeah, that was something we discovered while doing The O.C., that bands were becoming increasingly more open to having their music on the show. Album sales spiked due to being on the show, so people started to realize there’s not a lot out there. Radio has gotten really consolidated, MTV doesn’t play videos. This was designed to be an experiment for me in doing a web series, and seeing what that was all about, as well as something that would hopefully be new and different for the music industry as well. Maybe fill that void a little bit.
Did you enjoy the medium?
Yeah, I loved it. Cause first of all, five minutes, that’s about my attention span. So to get to page 5 and write “fade out,” that’s amazing. Like, “I just wrote an episode.”
And I know you don’t like to do that.
What, write? I don’t. Who likes writing? And editing? So that’s very much my attention span these days. Um. Total creative freedom. Got to cast whoever we wanted. Get whatever bands we wanted.
Who are the bands?
Are you going to make me list all 20 bands?
No, but I would like to know who is gonna get a real break off the show.
I think the White Lies. Passion Pit. Anya Marina. [He scans the giant poster for the show that’s hanging behind him.] That’s a real sloppy joint hanging out of that character’s mouth.
You have joints on the show?
We do. It’s online. We swear. We didn’t go crazy, though.
You’re not squeaky clean anymore!
I’ve never been that squeaky clean. I mean, I am personally, but that’s not reflected in my work.
Did you call Ben Gibbard and say, Dude, you owe me, get your ass on my web series?
I didn’t. But we got Phantom Planet. By the way, their last performance as a band, I think, will be on Rockville. Because they broke up shortly thereafter. Which is too bad, because their new record was really fun.
Did you see any warning signs that day?
I sensed no tension. But people can watch the show and look for subtext in their performance.
Love it. Um, and….
I love that you’re just making up these questions as we go along.
I am totally making them up. You don’t mind, do you?
Did you see anybody this weekend that you want Alex to track down and get on one of your shows?
Okkervil River. They were amazing last night. I’ve always liked the record but I’d never seen them live before, and they played at like 1 a.m. last night. We’d already had our minds blown from going from Metallica to Devo in one day, and to close out the night with that was incredible.
Tell me something about the Gossip Girl spinoff that nobody else knows.
Um… Okay. Jane Fonda’s workout — remember her VCR workout tapes?
They play a very prominent role in one of the scenes. You’ll get to see Jane in her spandex glory.
Does Jane know about this?
She may not know.
That’s something Ausiello doesn’t have.
How’s our boy Chuck? Have you heard anything about it coming back?
Other than your doomsday prognostications, I have not. But the last six episodes are really really good, so.
Are they going to run all six in a row?
Six in a row, starting Monday. Chevy Chase, Scott Bakula, Tricia Helfer, Jordana Brewster. Whatever it takes. They’re really good, though. I’m hopeful, but we’ll see. It’s gonna be hard. As you’ve pointed out. The competition is brutal.
The six in a row is gonna help, though, cause you keep getting shafted.
We keep getting bumped, yeah. Obama shafted us a little bit. Though he gave Gossip Girl a shout-out, did you see that the other day? That was kind of amazing.
Then I guess my biggest question for you, Josh Schwartz, is: Given that your shows about teens are succeeding…
Rockville is about twentysomethings. Does that count?
Yeah. Okay, so your shows about younger people are succeeding. And then Chuck, about people who are trying to be adults, is struggling… Is this the future? Do we all have to deal with entertainment centered around the 25 and under set for the rest of our lives?
As I get older, my inclination is to start writing more about what I’m going through now. The Gossip Girl spinoff is obviously high school set, but the thing about high school-set things is that everyone’s been to high school. People that are in it are fascinated with it, people that lived through it want to relive it. Not everybody wants to relive the mid-period of their lives.
Their lonely and tragic 30s?
Yeah. But I definitely want to start aging up a little bit. I’m gonna try to grow up. Eventually.
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