Directed by Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux, the clip features the Stranger Things star and his bandmate Malcom Craig appearing in movies that include Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Child’s Play, and yes, The Shining. The duo become the Grady twins, with Danny Torrance racing down the Overlook Hotel’s carpeted hallway in fear.
For the video, Wolfhard reached out to Schaulin-Rioux — his long-time friend and collaborator — who suggested the iconic scenes. They filmed themselves in front of green screens and sent it off to the director to edit. “It was really vital for me to have The Texas Chainsaw Massacre scene,” Wolfhard tells Rolling Stone over the phone from his home in Vancouver. “Jeremy is a total genius. We couldn’t believe what he did and we’re really, really proud of it.”
Releasing a music video that plays off of nostalgia for classic horror movies makes sense, considering that Wolfhard is best known for Stranger Things and It — not to mention his role in the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, now scheduled for 2021 due to the pandemic. “I like to dip my toe into every genre, but horror has always been really fun for me,” he says. “I’ve always loved it, especially Seventies and Eighties horror.”
“Smoke Bomb” is a delightful ode to Wolfhard’s friend Grace Repasky, lead singer of the Atlanta band Lunar Vacation. He’d visit Repasky and her bandmate, Maggie Geeslin, while in town shooting Stranger Things. “I’d be sitting in their house and we’d be watching a movie,” he says, “and then we’d pause [it] and Grace would just be gone. So her roommates call her ‘smoke bomb’ because she would just leave without anyone knowing and go to sleep upstairs in her room.”
The Aubreys are Wolfhard’s second band, following the indie-rock outfit Calpurnia, who broke up last year. “Calpurnia was amazing,” he says. “But writing songs, there were more hoops you had to jump through, and sometimes it was harder. Now it’s just me and Malcolm. There’s much more creative freedom.”
Wolfhard and Craig met in 2013 when they both starred in the video for Pup’s “Guilt Trip” (co-directed by Schaulin-Rioux). “Malcolm was the first person I met that actually played music,” Wolfhard says. “I was 11 years old and wanted to play bass, but I never knew any other kids that liked to play music. We immediately had a connection because we had never met someone like each other before. He’s really the only collaborator music-wise that’s stuck with me ever since we met. He’s the other half.”
The band took their name from Wolfhard’s former cat, Audrey. “There’s an Australian band called the Audreys, so we just swapped the D to a B,” he adds. They released an EP, Soda & Pie, in March, and plan on recording a full album next year — with the help of Twin Peaks’ Cadien Lake James and Colin Croom and Sun Cops’ Andrew Humphrey.
The Aubreys cite Wilco has a major inspiration. “Jeff Tweedy is one of Malcolm and my biggest influences,” he says. “The Flaming Lips [and] Pavement are huge for us. Also, just bands that are the same age as us. There’s a band called Disq from Wisconsin that’s amazing right now. But we also have influences like the Beatles or Neil Young. So we love listening to all music.”
While in quarantine, Wolfhard has been writing music, playing guitar, watching movies and working on a screenplay. He also had an Al “Pacino-athon,” recently watching Dog Day Afternoon and The Godfather for the first time. “One of the things that has been interesting about quarantining is having to stay home and lock yourself in and do things that you wouldn’t normally do in your everyday life,” he notes. “So to me, that was sitting down [and] watching movies that I wouldn’t have seen.”
Season 4 of Stranger Things was halted due to the pandemic, and a resume date for filming is still unclear. “I’m really lucky to have this break, but I’m ready to go back to filming,” Wolfhard says. “We’re trying to find the safest thing, but I think we’ll be shooting by this year. Hopefully, we’ll go back soon.”