Rob and Clyde
As he nears the doors leading out to the Student Center’s terrace lobby, Robert Mitchell gazes around the interior of the building. This isn’t his first time back at UCI since graduating in 1988, but he can’t help thinking aloud about how much the campus has changed.
He opens the doors and scans the area until he spots fellow alumnus and friend Clyde Gaines, who is already waiting at one of the numerous tables.
When Gaines notices him, he gets up as Mitchell strolls over, grins spreading across both of their faces. They haven’t seen each other for at least five years and their contact is minimal, so the two embrace before sitting down.
For those of you who are wondering whether Mitchell and Gaines are famous, they’re not, although they deserve to be treated as such here at UCI. To know why, all you have to do is go on YouTube and look up a video titled “UCI The 1987 Music Video.”
The amateur music video, which currently boasts over 12,000 views, has cult classic written all over it. Its pixelation cannot mask its pure awesomeness. In it, Mitchell and Gaines, referring to each other as Rob and Clyde respectively, sing jokingly about their time at UCI and goofily dance around the campus. Groovy special effects enhance an already uproarious viewing experience.
Nearly 25 years have passed since the duo made that video. Mitchell, 45, and Gaines, 46, both keep their hair short now and have facial hair — the former a soul patch and the latter a mustache.
Mitchell, then a social science major, is a freelance graphic designer who has been working on KROQ-FM’s concert programs since 1996.
Gaines, a social ecology major with an emphasis in criminal justice, is a night manager at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast.
They have swapped the loose, striped shirts that they donned for most of the video’s duration for slightly more modern attire; for this reunion, Mitchell wears a black Queen T-shirt and a pair of light grey shorts, while Gaines opts for a black v-neck sweater under a dark jacket and a pair of blue jeans. Their voices have deepened considerably.
“I’m a year older than Rob,” Gaines says, “but we both lived in Middle Earth. I met him my second year, his freshmen year.”
They can’t remember exactly how they met, though. “I don’t remember,” says Mitchell, chuckling.
“Just probably at a party one night or something like that,” Gaines says, also laughing. “I mean, Middle Earth was a pretty small community back then.”
Regardless of how they met, it was no doubt the beginning of a beautiful friendship, which eventually led to the creation of the music video a few years later.
Mitchell merrily recounts how it all began.
“There were two things,” he said. “We had this two-man act we did. We were goofing off — wigs on, and I remember one time I skateboarded off the stage.”
Mitchell explains that the music video was made for a video class, who initially were the only audience aside from a few of their friends.
“[I was taking] my second video class, and you can basically just do anything,” he said. “I remember our teacher thinking that the video wasn’t that great and all this stuff, and I felt kind of bummed out.”
The UCI song was one of many that the duo recorded and performed as part of their two-man act. Mitchell had always been (and still is) a musician, and Clyde thought that he could halfway sing. It was an opportunity to goof around, and they soon put an act together. Luckily for them, they were able to find an audience that they could perform for on campus.
There were two such places where they could perform: the Backlot and the Lumbermill, both of which were taverns. The former was located where the Student Center is now and the latter across campus. The Backlot is actually portrayed in the music video itself; it is the setting for the scenes where the duo is performing in front of an audience. Sadly, both venues have since been torn down.
Talking about where they performed prompt the two to take a walk around the campus on Ring Road to see where the Lumbermill used to be.
When they arrive at the area between Steinhaus Hall and Humanities Hall, they pause. “It was either right next to [Steinhaus] or next to [Humanities],” Gaines said.
Where the Lumbermill used to be is now the Founder’s Court, which no longer serves alcohol but instead provides a hangout spot or moments of peace for students who wish to study.
In spite of their performing locations being gone, Mitchell’s and Gaines’ legacy still lives on through their music video.
Mitchell remembers all too well when he posted it online back in 2006. “When I started discovering all my old VHS tapes and YouTube was starting to get popular, I was like, ‘Oh my god, these can have a second life!’”
It certainly didn’t go unnoticed; Anteaters who watched it have contacted Mitchell (who owns the YouTube account of the video) to request that the duo return and perform again.
Gaines doesn’t seem very keen about that idea, though. “It just always seemed like this goofy thing we kind of did … It just seemed kind of weird.”
“Are you just less of a ham than me?” Mitchell quips, prompting Gaines to burst into laughter.
“I guess, maybe!” he says, those two grins returning them to 1987.