PanAm were an Auckland four-piece Flying Nun band, going for a noisy punk-pop sound. “Long Grass” was directed by Greg Page and uses puppets to depict the band. They’re a bit like three-dimensional versions of Terrance and Phillip from “South Park”, with big flappy mouths. The inside of their mouths even look a bit like half a 45, but upon closer examination, it’s just a black semi-circle with a red bit in the middle.
The band are playing in front of an aeroplane, with a glittery “PanAm” logo (which, I assume for legal reasons, is enough from the airline Pan Am). They’re wearing black turtleneck tops with the initials of their names on it, jeans and sneakers – all made with just enough detail to look as authentic as puppet clothes can.
We also see the trio dressed in cammo gear and military helmets, looking like they’d gone and formed a puppet junta. It gives the video a slightly dangerous edge, especially coming so soon after 9/11. Perhaps the puppet PanAm hijacked the aeroplane just so they could use it in their music video. Yeah, that’d be it.
But this time, most of Greg Page’s music video were live action, so it’s cool that he’s had the opportunity to go back to his non-human video roots. Only with a significantly bigger budget than his Hamilton student video days, “Long Grass” is a slicker production.
For PanAm’s debut, it’s a bold choice to not feature the band in the video. But the video turned out to be well liked, scoring nominations for the Juice TV Awards and the Squeeze People Choice Awards in 2002.
Update: Songlines Across New Zealand talked to Paul from the band about the music video. He revealed that the band themselves were operating the puppets. And the puppets and set were all designed by Greg Page.
Best bit: the little kazoo toot mouthed by puppet Paul.
Director: Greg Page
Next… post-apocalyptic dub.