There were always rumours that this song was about buttsex. Fortunately I found a definitive response, courtesy of a track-by-track commentary [which now, cruelly, is no longer online] by lead singer Renee herself who explained the lyrics of “Backdoor” thusly:
It is about our struggle thus far to make it in the New Zealand music industry, and the initial frustration of trying to get our music played on radio, TV – or anywhere really. The ‘backdoor’ part came about because we felt we were never going to be accepted by the student radio stations, we’d just have to come in through the back door somehow. And yes – for those who want to know, the metaphor of anal sex is intended. I liken our struggle to getting buggered over, and over, and over again. In a very loving and tongue in cheek way.
See, the buttsexee becomes the buttsexor. Ok, now that we have that sorted, let’s look at the video. It’s set in two places. The first is a cool industrial setting, inside some sort of factory or plant. It’s lit up with bright, flashing rock lights and Renee looks very glamorous.
The second setting is outdoors, in a grim industrial setting. It’s a grey rainy day and Renee emerges from the backdoor of a building. She’s dressed all in black and her hair is lank, looking like Carrie from Homeland on a secret mission/bad mental health day.
All around her the other members of Tadpole are dressed in white boilersuits and hardhats, rolling tyres around and tossing packages to each other. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on here. It’s a Joe Lonie video, so it seems like there should be some trick to it all. Are they actually moving backwards? Has it been slowed down? Maybe it’s just one long shot through a bleak industrial area, as a metaphor for struggling in the music industry. So that would mean the glamorous indoor scenes equal buttsex.
It’s curious. There has been a genuine attempt to feature the other band members, but they just don’t stand out as much as Renee does. This also happens with the videos for Fur Patrol and Stellar. As much as these groups are bands, they all come with charismatic lead singers who are a natural fit in front of the camera. Imagine a Shihad video that let Phil, Tom and Karl fade into the background.
Anyway, by this point in their history, Tadpole were enjoying chart success. Their backdoor entry to the music biz had worked. But the question now is, what sort of metaphor would describe the rest of their career?
Best bit: Renee’s Sporty Spice high ponytail.
Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision