I figure the titular Interstate Boy is a distant cousin of Telegram Sam. He seems to exist for the purposes of making the lyrics sound cool. Is the song really about a pretty boy who has travelled to several states? Or is just an excuse to drawl out “interstate” because it’s a cool word?
The video doesn’t even attempt to sort out the lyrics. Instead the band are plonked inside a grunty old steam train along with an old man. The video is also shot in high-contrast black and white, so things manage to look really cool. Yeah, check out the clouds of steam and the hot fire of the engine boiler.
A lot of the video involves lead singer Paul playing the song on his acoustic guitar, when the only guitar in the song is loud, distorted, crunchy electric. It’s like a warped take on the cliche of the travelling hobo, hitching a ride in a boxcar. We also see the whole band playing, crammed inside the narrow-gauge New Zealand railcar.
Meanwhile, the old man (who has a pet rat) come in and does a freaky dance in front of the band. This sort of thing never happened on the Crunchie train.
And these high jinks continue into the night, as the train rolls onto its destination, with the three rock dudes, the old fella and his pet rat. I’m intrigued to know what happens next. What further adventures will these four interstate boys (and one interstate rat) face?
Best bit: the brief appearance of a comedy Afro wig on the old man.
Bonus: here’s a list of director Richard Bell’s five favourite videos that he’s worked on, as presented on a rapidly decaying TVNZ webpage.
Bonus II: Songlines Across New Zealand has a good interview with Paul from PanAm. He describes the “Interstate Boy” video as:
“A sort of ‘crazy train’ idea seemed a fitting visual motif for the song Interstate Boy. Got the train, got the weird actor guy, got the chickens and the rat, got the band on board and voila!- a music video. It has its flaws but it’s an interesting little video.”
Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
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