By Aaron Jenkins
Mike Baczor edits music videos just like he shoots off rapid-fire lyrics in his songs.
"Right there. Cut. Close up," he spatters. "Solo. Back to here. Crowd shift. Back to here. Girls dancing."
Try to keep up.
Then there's a pause. Not to catch a breath but so Baczor can heed the mish-mash of footage harboring in post-production. Then he goes at it again, but with even greater gusto and kinetic energy.
The 24-year-old Gilbertsville musician is armed with a mouse rather than his customary mic as he helms his PC and zips through his music video that he and his band, D-NAX, cut in mid November.
The video, filmed at Philly's Rotunda, is for the song "Hollow," a call to healing the emotional (and physical) scars of past and present that relationships have a way of disfiguring.
"A music video is meant to entertain people," Baczor says. "I definitely think that's what the video does-entertain people-guys and girls."
Since The Times met with Baczor last September, much has happened. For one, the original band decamped after members grew discontent with the direction the group was heading in musically. It blindsided Baczor, who was left in the dust with a double-take. Lack of communication, he said, was the reason underlying the split. And more than a year since the breakup, it still seems to haunt him.
But the breakup is the only gray-if you even want to regard it as that-in the past year of dizzying bright career inroads. Take, for example, how Baczor cut a song with Linkin Park, starred in a movie with Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear, and tightened his sound, now on the brink of mainstream awareness.
The latter can be attributed to rekindling his ties with Justin Rittle and Aaron Ohlong, the duo who were integral in laying the blueprint to Baczor's hybrid sound (rock, hip hop, metal, electronic-all of the above). Rittle's more of the low-profile studio wizard, according to Baczor, while Ohlong has been D-NAX's lead guitarist.
Then there is Jarrod Showers of Pottstown, who fleshes out the sound on rhythm guitar.
When you step foot into the Baczor household, you're automatically family. Mother Eileen Baczor is always quick with a hearty welcome and food (and a hug, if you're lucky). Father Walter Baczor sits down with you and asks about...you.
"It feels great that he's doing that," Walter says of his son's music career. "He's got the look. He's got the talent. He's got the line and bait in the water. He's just got to hook them."
Then there is Baczor's brother, Jeff, 20, who after filling in on drums during the days of the original D-NAX lineup, is gassing the bass pedal full time. "It's really cool," Jeff says of the band. "I always like to do stuff with my brother."
The Brothers Baczor, like most siblings, trade barbs at each other's expense. "I always wanted him to be my drummer," Baczor says, "so I can boss him around."
"Yeah, definitely," Jeff cracks dryly.
"I just keep them in line," Eileen says. "I couldn't ask for better sons. They're doing wonderful things."
Eileen says she has always wanted her sons to play music together. "It's a really special place in my heart to see them play together."
But what about the whole sink-or-swim music thing? "They're young. Let them try it," she says. "They have the rest of their lives to work."
It is this unconditional support that Baczor hopes to pay back tenfold. "I would like to make my parents proud," he says. "They just give me so much support. I don't want to let them down."
D-NAX, meet Linkin Park
It takes some finessing to get Baczor to spill the beans over his March encounter with Linkin Park, partly because it happened eight months ago.
But there's something more. In some ways, Baczor now looks at the hugely successful band as his peers.
"'What? Are you serious?'" he finally offers of his initial reaction when he heard about the meeting from his producer. "'What happens if I mess up?'"
Linkin Park got wind of D-NAX and invited Baczor to New York City to cut a track with him for his band. Holed up in a New York City studio for three days, it was all business, says Baczor. "When it comes to working, they get right down to it.
"When I got there, we just clicked," Baczor says. "Our styles just match up easily. We would collaborate and it worked out great."
Three days later, "Can't Hold Me Down," a track driven by the caustic collaborations of guitarist Brad Delson and turntable extraordinaire Joseph Hahn, is born.
"They're a big influence," Baczor says. "They have a unique sound, and I try to make my music unique. It's just pretty crazy.
"They're really cool guys," he adds. "They don't go out and party. Just really cool guys. It was just the coolest to have all of them there."
Baczor entertains the idea of some day going on tour with Linkin Park, an idea they implanted into him once he gets signed. "We would go perfect with them if we were to go on tour together."
"We have the ability to sell as many records as they do," Baczor says. "We like to keep a happy medium."
Hitting the Wahl(berg)
Then there are the side projects Baczor has been dabbling in, such as acting. So far, Baczor has starred in a handful of independent films and in September finished "Invincible," the story of Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), an average Joe from Philadelphia who tries out for the Eagles and earns a spot on the roster. The Walt Disney movie also stars Academy Award-nominee Greg Kinnear. Baczor plays a wide receiver.
So what's Dirk Diggler and the "Talk Soup" guy like?
"He was just cool, joking around and what not-really a nice guy," Baczor says of Wahlberg. So cool, in fact, that Baczor had to injure the actor's arm during one of the dozen gridiron scenes. Accidentally, of course. Wahlberg recovered.
Baczor had the chance to give Wahlberg a D-NAX demo, which he would listen to while warming up. "Every single day I would get paid to play football with Mark Wahlberg," he said. "It was kind of surreal."
Kinnear is more on the reserved side, according to Baczor. "He's more quiet. He only talks to people if he's talked to," he said.
The ultimate for Baczor is to have the D-NAX sound wallpaper his movies, which some of the indie flicks are considering.
Acting for Baczor has been a seamless shift, which he credits with his onstage experience-a study in contrast to his everyday chill demeanor. "You get to be something that you're not," he says. "It's kind of like a similar transition. I'm a pretty calm person.
"I just envision how I think they (film crew) want the character to be."
'Can't hold me down'
For the upcoming weeks, Baczor and D-NAX will play the waiting game. The "Hollow" video is teetering on completion, with a few more post-production Philly trips here and there. "That alone should single us out from all the other stuff," Baczor says of the video, which will soon be in the hands of record labels.
Once completed, D-NAX management will send the video to 75 major international record labels who recently showed signs of interest in the band. Of those 75, 50 are seriously considering D-NAX, Baczor says. He knows he has to give the appropriate time for the record labels to digest his sound.
Back at the PC console, Baczor has slipped into a more reticent posture-calm, cool, collected-meditative, as if he's charting the next course.
Baczor knows it's coming, be it sooner or later. It's on the brink. Then he offers what many musicians desire.
"I just want to be happy making music...to go on tour...and just get as many fans as possible."
What musician doesn't?
Then again, Baczor's DNA for success may not be like the others.
For more information on D-NAX, visit www.d-nax.com.