Deep Obsession “Miracles”

2002-deep-obsession-miraclesIt’s the long end of the Deep Obsession experience. Their remarkable run of three consecutive number one singles was a remnant of the late ’90s. Instead “Miracles” was a radio-only single and their lowest charting song at #34.

The video takes places in a hospital because, you know, miracles. The duo (Zara, with new-old member Charlie replacing Vanessa) and some dude with dreadlocks slowly, meaningfully walk along the cold blue corridor.

A young woman (whose long blonde hair makes her look like a Deep Obsession understudy) goes into a room where her grandfather is ill in a bed. She keeps a vigil over her poorly gramps, only for him to die while she’s taking a nap. A nurse come in to console the woman, and the story shifts to the nurse’s life.

The nurse, weak with compassion fatigue, comes home to find her slobby boyfriend lazing on the couch. She yells at him, he yells at her and they both end up feeling pretty crap.

Meanwhile, back in the hospital, new parents coo over their baby. The mother appears to be in the dead grandpa’s former room. But why was Gramps admitted to the maternity ward? Maybe that’s why he died.

The nurse looks on and the miracle of birth restores her faith in human nature, or some such. And then, just to make things even better, the granddaughter appears with a bunch of flowers. Oh, that’s nice. Again Deep Obsession and the dreadlocks guy slowly walk past, smiling benevolently.

“Miracles” is not the best death-bed video (that’s “Stay” by Shakespear’s Sister), it’s not the best hospital drama video (that’s “My Friend (So Long)” by DC Talk), and it’s not even the best video for a song called “Miracles” (flippin’ magnets – how do they work?). But it’s ok. It might be a bit cheesy, but it has a plot and a nice conclusion. And hey, the next time you’re visiting a loved one in hospital, if you see a fierce lookng woman wearing a leather bustier, don’t be afraid – it’s just one of Deep Obsession.

Best bit: that the loser boyfriend has already had three beers.

Next… family fun day.

Crumb “Nice to See You”

2002-crumb-nice-to-see-youThe song proclaims, “Nice to see you! Nice knowing you!”. At first I thought maybe the song was about a pick-up artist who’d got so obsessed with the technique that he’d forgotten about the human side of things (yeah, I’m currently reading “The Game”). But then the line “it’s just till December” makes me wonder if, in fact, this is the tale of a season fruit picker, bidding farewell to his Central Otago sweetie.

Well, either way, the video doesn’t go there. It’s all in the moment. The band are performing at a bar in front of an audience that – unlike your typical rock band audience – are 90% female. But given that Liv Tyler once declared Crumb were “my favourite band in the world”, perhaps this is an accurate demographic. (On the other hand, Liv was once married to that guy from Spacehog…)

The video hams it up, using star wipes and displaying the band’s name in a cheesy faux neon-sign font. There’s a lot of energy from the band’s performance, but the some of the fixed camera footage gives the video a feeling of a CCTV video, or scenes from a Big Brother house’s weekly task being rock stars.

“Nice to See You” was Crumb’s first single, a radio-only release. The video has a bit of a low-budget feel to it, but it’s a lot brighter and shinier than the low-budget offers of 10 years prior. Digital was continuing to change things, making that $5000 go even further.

Best bit: the mannequins hanging out at either side of the stage.

Director: James Barr
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… geriatric maternity.

Augustino “In and Out of Nowhere”

2002-augustino-in-and-out-of-nowhereThis video starts with a young woman, looking slightly more authentically dirty than Purest Form managed as mechanics in their “Lady” video. She wakes up and discovers she’s in a grim, empty corridor where the only exit appears to be locked doors at one end. The video is shot in black and white, so you know things are serious.

I’m not convinced by the quality of act0rizing. She seems completely puzzled by the way the corridor has walls, and that way there is a ceiling that exists. She’s not too fussed about the floor though.

I have just spent about 10 minutes engaged in an acting workshop, where I lay down in the hallway and pretended to be someone who had just woken up in a strange corridor, to see if could do a better job of acting. If it were me, I’d walk around a lot more, sussing out the situation, rather than just staring at the wall as if I’d never seen a wall before.

Fabulous cheekbones
Fabulous cheekbones: the crazy makeup is revealed in positive
Augustino are also in this strange corridor, but their world is filmed in negative, so everything looks really weird. Actually, the weirdness is helped by the band wearing theatrical make-up to create areas of shadow and light. Sometimes it gives a positive effect with the negative footage other times it looks quite sinister looking. But because it’s shot in negative, it’s easy to think, oh, that’s just the negative effect.

Back to the lost girl. She yells, bangs at the doors, and eventually they open, turning her strange corridor into Augustino’s strange corridor in negative. Bummer.

“In and Out of Nowhere” is a defiant but upbeat song, but the video makes it about as bleak as the lyrics will allow. I like when Greg Page makes unusual, experimental-style videos, but I can’t help feel that this song would have been better served by a video treatment that was a bit less grim.

Best bit: the pleasingly punctuated subtitles for the girl’s cries of despair – “HELLO?! Anyone…?”

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the pick-up via rock-out.

Tim Finn “Say It Is So”

2002-tim-finn-say-it-is-soThis is a Tim Finn video but the star ends up being Mareea Paterson, the bass player in his touring band, the Dirty Creatures. The video features around the band’s 2002 tour, and a performance of at the Civic Wintergarden (and the web tells me this gig took place on 19 October 2002). We see a lot of Tim and the band on stage, but there’s also lots of footage of them on the road, the glamorous life of loading up the station wagon with suitcases, before heading to the next airport.

Like a lot of recent Tim Finn videos, this focuses on Tim performing. It seems he’s most comfortable when he’s Tim Finn, the showman on a stage, rather than awkwardly trying to fit into a music video narrative. And like the last performance-based two videos (“I’ll Never Know” and “What You’ve Done”), this video is also shot in black and white. It’s a good style choice. It avoids the video falling into the “zany high jinks on the road” mould, and gives it a bit of style.

But yeah, the video totally hearts Mareea (who we’ll later come across in her solo project, Friends From Sweden). She’s easily the most exotic member of the Dirty Creatures, an otherwise unremarkable touring band of quality musos. So the video has latched onto this cool chick with cropped hair, tattoos and cigarettes.

She kinds of outshines him in the “on the road” segments, but when the band is on stage, there’s no risk of that. Tim is in his element, working the stage like the pro he is.

The video ends with a comedy postscript. Tim dances a merry jig on what looks like a solid stone ledge at the Wintergarden. But this is the Civic. It was built during the Depression. With the exception of modern strengthening, much of the solid-looking parts of the interior are just made of cheap plaster and cannot support the weight of a popstar. Tim’s foot goes through, damaging this Category I listed heritage building.

Best bit: the road sign pointing to Te Awamutu, just in case you’d forgotten.

Director: Andrew Morton

Next… the age of the winery tour continues.

The Have “Right On”

2002-the-have-right-onStraight outta Wanganui High School, the Have were the 2002 winners of the Smokefreerockquest, appearing at just the right time to ride the wave of the rock ‘n’ roll revival. Singer Brodie and guitarist Peter appeared as almost fully formed rock stars – rugged and hairy vs skinny and enigmatic. The pair are still playing today, in the Berlin-based psychedelic band the Sun and the Wolf. And they both look exactly the name.

But back in the early ’00s, the Have were ready to rock out. Their video, part of the SFRQ prize package, sees them playing in a most unexpected location – a warehouse filled with a mountain of golden sand.

The sand’s purpose soon becomes apparent – it’s there to crumble and quiver with the sheer magnitude of the band’s rockingness, helped out by the giant speakers suspended over the band, feeling a bit like a sword of Damocles. And of course the band get to run around a bit in it, kicking up dusty clouds. I bet they were finding sand everywhere for weeks after.

This is a really confident band. It’s one thing for a teen band to have a song with lyrics like “You should be kissing my ass!”. It’s another thing for its delivery to sound so self-assured that you forget all about the teen/rockquest thing. And when a band is playing on a giant mountain of sand, it takes presence to not be outshone by the epic location.

Directed by Greg Riwai (whose name has been popping up a lot in 2002), the video was a finalist in the Breakthrough Artist category at the 2003 Juice TV Awards.

Best bit: the remote control, a gift from the sands.

Note: This video was available at The Amplifier, but with the end of The Amplifier so went the video.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… outrageous damage to a Category I historic building.

The Feelers “Anniversary”

2002-the-feelers-anniversaryThe “Anniversary” video is filmed at a backyard party, with the Feelers rocking out on a small suburban deck, next to the barbecue. But despite the modest setting, this is not a modest affair. The place is absolutely packed and there doesn’t really seem to be much room for people to move. It makes me wonder if this performance was the result of a competition to have the Feelers play at the lucky winner’s house, with the music video production being thrown in as a two-for-one.

So the video is packed full of lively 20-somethings, all decked out in plastic leis and holding cups of non-alcoholic punch. The huge crowd obviously made it hard for cameras to film the band, because much of the video footage shows the band as distant figures through a sea of partygoers.

In the middle of all the chaos, the Feelers seem to be having a great time. There are fire-breathers, drunk-girl dancing and even a moment where – super lol! – the Feelers’ drummer uses jandals to play the drums.

The of adventures the backyard gig give more life to the song. The lyrics are about a failed relationship, the sort of thing that would more traditionally get a video involving a girl in a cafe. But this video turns “Anniversary” in to a party anthem. And I think that’s part of the magic of the Feelers – they could turn all these straight MOR tunes into hugely popular drunken shoutalong experiences.

Best bit: the brief glimpse of the face of a chilled-out, eyebrow-ring-having party bro.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Deceptikonz “Don’t Front on Me”

2002-deceptikonz-dont-front-on-meSo this is a bit of a weird one. From what I can figure out, in 2002 the Deceptikonz originally received funding for a song called “Chillin'”. A video wasn’t made, but the song ended up on the Sione’s Wedding soundtrack, released in 2006. But also in 2006 came the video for “Don’t Front on Me”, which seems to have been made with the transfered funding originally intended for “Chillin'”. There’s no NZOA logo on the version of the video I’ve found online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t made with funding.

“Don’t Front on Me” was the first single from the Deceptikonz’s second album, “Heavy Rotation”. It comes after Mareko’s modest local success in 2003, but before Savage’s massive international success in 2008. In the video’s YouTube description, Dawn Raid describe the album as “slept on”.

So, to the video. It’s directed by Sophie Findlay who had previously done “Swing” for Savage. It’s a simple set-up – the group rapping in front of green-screened graphics, promoting the band and South Auckland.

It looks like Mareko wasn’t available for the video, so when his part comes, they use a body double wearing a Mareko-style bucket hat, pulled so far down that he looks like Dumb Donald from Fat Albert. Or maybe the real Mareko was just feeling really shy.

The best solo bit comes from Savage, having an angry rant in an old phone box. It breaks the monochrome world of the video to introduce a bit of bright red into the picture. The lyrics dish a bit of their reality – they don’t have to be nice to their fans but they never seem to win the awards they’re nominated for. Hmm, I wonder if the two are connected somehow.

It’s an ok song, but it doesn’t have the instant zing of their earlier stuff. And that’s what the video feels like to. It’s ok, but it’s not even close to the captivating “Stop Drop and Roll” bootcamp.

Best bit: angry phone box Savage flanked by two little Savages.

Director: Sophie Findlay
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… we’re having a party and everyone’s invited.

Salmonella Dub “Platetectonics (Fartyboom)”

2002-salmonella-dub-platetechnonicseIn the early 2000s, anti-genetic-engineering sentiments were very popular. There was even an all-star charity single called “Public Service Announcement”, as well as the pressure group Mothers Against Genetic Engineering (MAdGE). The “Platetechtonics” video is Salmonella Dub’s foray into the anti-GE world, with an animated cautionary tale.

The video is a sequel of sorts to the group’s “Problems” video, directed by “Problems” co-director Steve Scott. And indeed this video stars the same animated characters from “Problems”, though in a more cartoony form. This time he’s a scientist and has cross-bred a “natural seed” with a “mutant seed”. And you just know this isn’t going to end well.

He plants the seed, has a nightmare about it, returns the next morning and discovered a giant purple bush. He eats a berry and goes a bit mental and had some choice hallucinations involving the music, just like in the “Problems” video. That’s a hard life.

The GE plant gets all Little Shop of Horrors, chasing the hero up a volcano. But suddenly he starts to bloat up, and floats high above the earth. The moral of the story? Er, GE food gives you gas?

The track itself is a fairly laid-back, almost instrumental number. The video is far more engaging and interesting. It avoids the temptation to takes the lazy stoner path, and instead turns the sound into the soundtrack for a surreal adventure with a moral lesson.

Best bit: the classic animation chase up the volcano.

Director: Steve Scott
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the phone box of rage.

PanAm “Interstate Boy”

2002-panam-interstate-boyI 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

Next… the dire consequences of genetic engineering.

Katchafire “Who You With”

2002-katchafire-who-you-withThis song is about smoking heaps of pot and getting really off your face and hanging out in Hamilton. Which, for young Hamiltonians, is a popular option.

But the video never explicitly illustrates this, cleverly setting the lyrics of “wrap it up” and “throw it all my the papers” in the world of fish and chips. Yes, the band are sensibly having a good feed before their night out.

The video revolves around a big event at night, but before that the band have to get coordinated through a series of text messages (and one of them has the same cheap-arse Nokia that I had back then!). The text message is a friend of music videos. It’s an easy way to show communication or exposition without the need for dialogue.

While most of the video strays from literally illustrating the lyrics, when the song mentions “spinning out around Hood Street”, the video throws in a few shots of the street itself, a central Hamilton road known for its adequate collection of pubs and restaurants. And David’s Emporium, which is like Geoff’s Emporium or Pete’s Emporium, only better.

Finally all the text recipients come together and everyone meets up at a big ol’ outdoor party, with bonfires and that type of reggae dancing that is only tolerable when one is stoned. It

For a video that can’t show what it’s literally about, it does a really good job of expressing the vibe of the super chilled-out world of pot. I’m not sure how this works, but the song actually seems to slow down and possibly warp the fabric of the space-time continuum as it progresses. Sweet.

Best bit: the Union Jack cellphone case.

Director: Michael Reihana
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… all aboard!