Breathe “Don’t Stop the Revolution”

2000-breathe-dont-stop-the-revolutionI bloody love this video. It’s so massive and overloaded and extravagant. Few New Zealand bands have the cojones to make a video this röck, but in 2000 Sony ensured that Breathe would have that experience.

“Don’t Stop the Revolution” made it to number six in the pop charts. It’s a bold, feel-good anthem, but it hasn’t really become a classic. Perhaps it just wasn’t New Zealand-ish enough.

Directed by Julian Boshier, the video begins with a codger in a gold jacket introducing the group to the sound of teen girl screams. He makes frequent use of a cue card, glancing down every few words. Anyway, here’s “the fabulous Breathe.”

The curtains pull back to reveal the band playing to a backdrop of leafless tree branches, with the background colour changing to reflect, I dunno, probably seasons and/or moods. The video initially focuses on lead singer Andrew, but by the time the first chorus comes, the camera lingers on the other band members. It’s as if the band has stipulated equal screentime for each band member and are timing it with a stopwatch.

And here’s a curious detail – three of the band members are wearing sunglasses, so the eye focus is on the lead singer and lead guitarist. Why those two? Or do the others just have sensitive eyes?

It’s all choice, but the very best bit is when the chorus comes back after the break. Andrew picks up his microphone stand, slowly walks toward the camera but doesn’t lip-sync. The background slowly changes to blue, then Andrew starts singing. In the background snow starts falling. Magnificent.

But wait. The video gets better. For in this winter wonderland there comes to be a ballerina, who doth verily dance amongst the branches and the faux snow. And finally the song gets around to ending, almost clocking in at five minutes. If this were a drinking game, I’d be in a coma.

This video deserves a better afterlife than the one it currently has. Most of the YouTube comments are from high school kids having an “OMG! It’s my English teacher!” moments at seeing “Mr Tilby” rocking out, but I reckon it deserves better. “Can’t Stop the Revolution” might not have been the massive hit that Sony were after, but both the song and video are so audaciously epic that it’s still worth remembering.

Best bit: the ballerina’s eyeroll.

Director: Julian Boshier
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… navel gazing.

8 thoughts on “Breathe “Don’t Stop the Revolution””

  1. I bought their album of the same name off the strength of this song, and particularly loved the video (which was an Enhanced CD—remember them?—extra, yay!). I think it suffered in terms of timing: there wasn’t really anything like it around at the time.

  2. The whole album was pretty good and nicely recorded by Malcolm Welsford (Shihad etc).
    Breathe had all the right stuff – I agree it was a timing thing and for some reason it was off.

    Incidentally I was contracted by Sony to work with these guys for artwork, styling – right down to the videos.
    This is one I was initially going to conceptualise and direct but ended up working with Julian on it.
    It’s probably not what I would have done but myself but I kinda just let Julian get on with it.

    It was smart of Sony to actually think about giving the band a ‘look’ and have someone come in and work on it. Not many bands were open to that, especially in New Zealand and it might have been seen as “getting told how to look”. Props to the Breathe guys for going with it.
    The photos (by Leon Rose) and styling (clothes etc) still stand up today – I was going for a classic look and the band were keen to capture that classic band thing.
    Quite proud of it even though it tanked in early 2000s terms.

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