Unless you don’t read or use the internet, you have been clued in to the existence of the popular YouTube clip “Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10” or, abridged, “Double Rainbow.” The rainbows themselves are somewhat astonishing, but double rainbow encounterer Paul “Yosemite Bear” Vasquez’s reaction to them is, in a word, excitable. You can see the clip embedded below. As of this morning, it’s been viewed in excess of 5.62 million times.
There have been 3.2 million viewers of what could be considered “Double Rainbow’s” musical counterpart, the “Double Rainbow Song,” which remixes Vasquez’s vocals using auto-tune and folded into a dance track. It goes for about 1:30, and is on sale on iTunes for $.99. Just before the weekend, the track showed up on the digital music retailer’s top-sellers pop chart, in the 70s.
The men (and one woman) behind the clip is Brooklyn band The Gregory Brothers, who you may recognize as the “Auto-Tune the News” masterminds. While there’s no exact numbers yet how many people have purchased “Double Rainbow Song,” the group hopes to make “a couple bucks” to share with Vasquez, who gave them permission to rework and sell the song. (Vasquez, who has described himself as “in poverty” in other recent interviews, has started selling double rainbow-themed t-shirts.)
Evan Gregory, one quarter of the Webby Award-winning group, spoke to HitFix this weekend about the phenomenon, “Auto-Tune” and making serious music when you’re better known for funny.
What did [Vasquez] think of your idea for the song?
He’s just very generous and sincere. We proposed splitting [the proceeds] out of the gate. We didn’t wanna offer it on iTunes if he wasn’t going to have a part in it… He had enjoyed the song, though at first he was skeptical of our motives. He’s just super nice guy and eventually saw the song we produced done in the celebratory fashion, with respect for the original intent of his posting it.
But isn’t part of people enjoying the video and the song out of making fun of the guy’s intensity?
Some of the viral explosion is surely due to ironic enjoyment, or speculating or commenters being like, “Is he under the influence?”. Over time, though, especially when you see his interviews, you understand that [he’s] really genuine and excitable. I can assure you what Paul meant and felt was that he was high on life.
Are you looking to remix other YouTube phenom?
We’re not looking aggressively to remix that kind of stuff. If there’s something that catches our eye, sure, like there needs to be a miracle in demand of a bassline. We noticed that last year: there was a severe dearth of basslines and accompaniment in news.
So where are you at in making more episodes of “Auto-Tune the News?”
We made six episodes in the first five months [of “Auto-Tune the News”] last year. In the 10 months since then, we’ve put out another 6. We’ll continue to produce it, but we refuse to put ourselves on a schedule. We’re planning some now and we’re gonna keep doing it as long as it’s fun for us… I will let slip that we have a couple pretty tasty articles selected and we have a celebrity cameo coming, but I can’t quite tell you who it is yet.
Are you going to find out soon? You know how fast the internet news cycle works.
If our celebrity confirms, I’ll be sure to let you know by the end of the day if, y’know, Justin Bieber is down for showing up with us. [Ed: Considering Gregory’s propensity for deadpan humor, I have no way of confirming or denying if he was just joking about the Bieb.]
You all have your own more straight-forward musical acts of your own. What are your shows like, and does your audience come expecting “Auto-Tune the News?”
When we play in new York, the bulk of the audience is made up of people who’ve known our stuff for years. We’ve been a quartet for three years or so. Since the advent of “Auto-Tune the News,” a lot more people found out about our band and so we’ve started including some different kinds of versions of “Auto-tune” in the show [Ed: see an example of what that may look like at the very end of the “Double Rainbow Song” clip, below]. We’ve also sung along to our own videos. For Vid-Con, we did a very stripped down version of “Double Rainbow,” four of our voices with just acoustic instruments.
But some of your separate projects’ music is so much more serious than comedy bits. Do you want to keep the two worlds separate?
Being separate doesn’t mean unrelated. We have different bands, but the videos have gotten each a ton of attention, it moves virally. That’s awesome for us. Traffic on YouTube has driven a ton of fans to our other music projects. It’s been really worthwhile enterprise in its own right.
Has “Double Rainbow” opened any new doors for you in the music biz?
Yes, the song has done well on the iTunes pop chart, but it remains to be seen when the numbers come out what it actually means. We’re not kidding ourselves. It’d be nice to make a couple bucks and share it with Paul. We have heard from numerous fans that the song has been played by radio stations here and there, but we haven’t been contacted about that. Since its not our faces or anything in the video or the song, it’s less tied to our identity. We’ve had some really great doors opened for our video work, though.
Do you get a big check from YouTube, considering the millions of views you’ve gotten?
We get a small check from YouTube. It adds up in a series in four to five trickles. Perhaps even medium sized rivulets. It funds our band’s bagels. A larger stream comes from people who wanna jog to our tunes on their iPod. And then there’s work for hire. People that like the videos wanna ask us to do music or video of whatever. Last fall, we did a viral piece for Sony. And we did a radio spot this spring for Chipotle, which wasn’t even auto-tune related at all.