D-Super “16 Songs”

2001-d-super-16-songsWellington purveyors of surf punk D-Super move from the suburban minefield of “We Ride Tonight” into a strange world of plus signs and aggro.

The band are playing in a studio gridded out with plus signs, like a grid for added CGI animation over the top. It’s like a lofi version of the video for Tom Jones and the Cardigan’s 1999 cover of “Burning Down the House”. Only instead of having slick CGI figures dancing with the band, they give each other the bash.

As the song starts, the band seem to tense. It’s like a group whose spent 18 months on the road and everyone is thoroughly sick of everyone else, held together only by a contractually mandated appearance. Something’s got to give.

There’s shoving, evil stares and simmering tension before it suddenly erupts. The guitarist and bass player lay into each other. The drummer joins in the aggro, seeming both like he’s trying to break it up and join in. The keyboard player finally jumps on top of everyone. What a disaster.

But the show must go on. The band return to their instruments and continue the song, playing with bruised and bloody faces.

I was going to say I was sure the violence was all done for the video, but there were glorious stories about fisticuffs within Luke the keyboard player’s other band, Paselode. I’m sure there’s also a metaphor in here about the sacrifice needed to survive in the world of rock; you get bashed up but you keep on playing.

Best bit: the drummer’s dramatic final hit of the drums when he gives up and joins in the brawl.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the horse of freedom.

Che Fu “Fade Away”

2001-che-fu-fade-awayBack in 2001, “Fade Away” was #2 in the charts, kept off the top spot by – get this – Hear’Say’s song “Pure and Simple”. But 12 years later, it’s Che Fu’s song and not the UK reality TV popstars’ one-hit wonder that’s an enduring pop favourite around these parts.

The first single off Che Fu’s second album is about being there for someone. The lyrics most obviously are about staying close to friends who bugger off overseas for their OE, but the video goes for a different sort of overseas experience, focusing on the camaraderie of soldiers during the Second World War.

Che Fu and his band the Krates are dressed as New Zealand soliders (Maori battalion, no less) and a few Allied soldiers. The video is set in the New Zealand Warbirds Association hangar out at Ardmore airport, complete with vintage aircraft casually chilling in the background. The dudes decide to have a jam, finding authentic WWII-era turntables and synths in crates. By throwing in some obvious 21st century technology, the video relieves itself of the burden of having to be historically accurate. The vibe and the energy are right and that’s all that matters.

By the way, there’s a line of te reo that is subtitled as “He thinks your a bit of a ‘Bing Crosby’.” Bloody hell. I used to make subtitles professionally and I would never ever have let a your/you’re slip through. That’s appalling.

The action isn’t confined to the hangar. We see Che out in the battlefield, marching over scenic landscape and hanging out with his battalion mates. He also has a moment where he reflects on his pounamu pendant, a reminder of home.

“Fade Away” is a really nice video. It serves as a good way of introducing Che Fu’s new band (it’s not just about him as a solo artist) and a fine way of referencing part of New Zealand’s history. For decades young New Zealanders have been going overseas, but it’s what brings them back that matters.

Best bit: Che casually writes in his notebook as stuff explodes behind him.

Directors: Matthew Metcalfe, Greg Riwai
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Next… come at me, bro.

Betchadupa “Man on my Left”

2001-betchadupa-man-on-my-leftThere’s a really simple concept behind this video. Betchadupa play their song at a cool gig while a bespectacled cynical dickhead in the audience slags them off to another guy. We follow the conversation with subtitles.

Many of Betchadupa’s previous songs have been short punk numbers, ripping through them with a burst of energy that might not even see the timecode click over to two minutes. “Man on my Left” is an epic 3:23, which prompts the dick to quip, “Wow, over two minutes. This must be one of their long songs.” Lol! But that length means they can’t just edit together a bunch of cool shots. That have to make a proper music video.

“Man on my Left” takes its inspiration from Radiohead’s “Just” video, which using subtitles to introduce another level of story into the video. The risk with this concept is that the viewer becomes so engrossed in reading the subtitles, they forget about the song. But “Man on my Left” gets around this by making the conversation about the band, with the band turning out to be the worst band ever, as far as the cynic is concerned. “How many cliche rock poses can that bass player pull,” he sneers. Eight, it turns out, as the video demonstrates.

There’s a lot of energy in the video. The audience are fully moshing, not the standard unnatural music video direction of “wave your hands in the air”. Like the band, the audience is young with energy to burn.

And then this all leads to the fun payoff at the end. “Even their music videos are lame,” moans the dickhead. “They always have punchline at the end.” The fellow he’s been talking to turns, removes his earplugs and says “I’m sorry, did you say something?” Ba-dum-chh!

Best bit: the steely close up as the dickbag sneers “predictable”.

Note: An episode of The Big Art Trip profiled video director Gerald Philips, including a rehearsal of the “Man on my Left” video. The item can be viewed in part three.

Director: Gerald Phillips
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… peace in wartime.