When audio of Christian Bale’s tirade on the Terminator Salvation set surfaced, the actor unwittingly joined a select fraternity with Barbra Streisand and Bill O’Reilly: celebrities whose rants have been transformed into viral-dance remixes by RevoLucian. Almost as soon as Bale’s hissy fit went public, the Web picked up on RevoLucian deft a mash-up of Bale’s best quotes set to a synth-heavy beat. “Bale Out” turned “What don’t you fuckin’ understand?” into one of the year’s most addictive choruses and spun a little art out of the debacle. Considering how widely the song was heard, it’s almost surprising that nobody at the Newsroom Café recognizes songwriter and producer Lucian Piane, 28. RevoLucian is a pseudonym for what he calls “my remixes, my crazy things.”
The boyishly handsome Piane graduated from New York University’s music program and assisted Tony-winning composer Marc Shaiman on soundtracks to Team America: World Police and Hairspray. Given the way Piane’s remixes tackle zeitgeist moments with impish humor and obvious affection — he’s like a one-man antidote to the leering cruelty of TMZ — it’s no wonder that in person he’s warm, unassuming and has an easy sense of humor. Blame it on a happy childhood in Kansas City, Missouri, with a dancer/singer mother and computer-programmer father. “I’m doing something that is a marriage of both [their interests],” he says. “It’s weird — and kinda sad — that you can’t write music today without computers.”
He became Shaiman’s assistant after NYU, then moved to L.A. to help with the composer’s Hollywood projects. Then, in October 2006, Piane heard a clip of Streisand telling off a heckler during a Madison Square Garden show. This sparked a memory of a dance track he loved in his youth — Bingo Boys’ 1991 novelty hit “How to Dance.”
“They did a ton of sampling,” Piane says, “but they also sampled this instructional disco record, this guy’s voice:Step left, around, together with the right. I remember thinking as a kid, ‘That’s so cool! When I heard Streisand, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is a perfect opportunity.’”
The result was his first remix, “STFU,” which established his signature merging of repurposed audio and perky dance rhythms. Others soon followed. There was O’Reilly (castigating his Inside Edition crew) and University of Florida–student-cum–John Kerry spoilsport Andrew “Don’t Taze Me, Bro” Meyer. The songs landed Piane gigs — everything from producing a Perez Hilton track to scoring the forthcoming horror film Sorority Row. In fact, he was producing RuPaul’s recent Champion album, when the Bale tirade came to his attention.
“I heard the clip,” he remembers, “and I was like, [exhales deeply, exhausted] ‘Oh, I have to remix this.’” It took him three hours. Soon “Bale Out” was popping up on CNN and on Terminator Salvation director McG’s iPod.
Piane is sensitive as to how his songs portray their subjects, especially Bale, whom he admires as an actor. “I don’t want this to make him seem worse than the original clip,” he says. “We’re all people in this world. So I figured, [instead of] remembering that one time Christian Bale went crazy on set, maybe people will remember the remix.”
Because of his remix success, fans may expect Piane to spring into action each time a celebrity meltdown goes public. But he has rules about the clips he will and won’t touch. He declined to fiddle with Michael Richards’ racist Laugh Factory blowup (“There’s nothing good about remixing the N word.”), and wasn’t interested in the altercation between Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell on the I Heart Huckabees set. “There’s nothing celebratory, joyous or funny about it,” he says. “It was just vicious and weird.” He laughs self-deprecatingly. “I have my limits.”