Emmy-nominated actor Nicholas Braun — a.k.a. Cousin Greg from Succession — had a flash of inspiration in early May while quarantining in his friend’s L.A. guest house, lonely and wishing for companionship: a tongue-in-cheek rocker, “Antibodies (Do You Have the),” which premieres Wednesday along with the official video on Rolling Stone.
“I want a girl whose blood’s got the stuff/I want a girl who’s safe,” Braun sings over gentle guitar, building toward the explosively emo chorus: “Do you have the antibodies?/Do you want to be with me?/Do you have the antibodies?/’Cause if you don’t/you better stay away!” There’s also a line about antibodies equating to “pants off!” but be advised that that’s not medically sound advice.
“My friends are a couple and they’ve been together for years, but I was back there sort of being like, ‘Man, I wish I had somebody right now to go through this with,'” Braun tells Rolling Stone. “And so this girl and I were talking and we were like, ‘Maybe we should go meet up and go for a walk — with bandanas on.’ So I went on this quarantine date; it sort of felt secret because I didn’t want my friends to know. And I guess the combination of paranoia and romance is what the song is about.” Braun’s 81-year-old father also caught — and survived — the virus.
With a couple of lyrics in hand, Braun turned to his Instagram to crowdsource interpretations of the song from his fans. Hundreds of videos followed. “I thought: ‘This kind of an amazing thing,'” he says. “Then this A&R from Atlantic Records reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I know this song is kind of a joke, but I also kind of think that bridge and your second verse are really catchy.’ I talked to him and I was like, ‘Does it make sense to actually make this song right now?'”
With producer Colin Brittain (Papa Roach, Dashboard Confessional, 5 Seconds of Summer) in tow, Braun created a pop-punk version of the song, a portion of proceeds from which will go to Cope and Partners in Health. Braun then slapped on some eyeliner to shoot the quirky video: “That just felt like the character to me. Like a punk guy. I really wanted him to get emo and kind of grunge with it. I’ve never used that phrase before… ‘grunge with it.’ That’s good.” Artist Camilla Engstrom — a.k.a. Braun’s walking date — stars as the love interest. “In the video when we hug, that was a very real thing for us in real life,” he says. “We were on date three and we were like, ‘Hey, is it OK to take off our bandanas and hug each other today?'”
Braun has been acting since age six but has long been interested in music as well. “I started writing songs like six years ago,” he says. “I’ve just been very hesitant to put anything out. It’s always in the back of my head — making music. I’d love to perform, I’d love to tour. This is the first thing I’m officially putting out, but I love this song.”
To those who are curious: Braun has been tested for both COVID-19 and antibodies — and the results were both negative. So in Braun’s own words: “You better stay away!”