Dean Chandler “It’s Not Too Late”

2003-dean-chandler-its-not-too-lateSo, the video starts and there’s Dean Chandler performing the song with his band, set up in a television studio with a cheerful orange background. And then I noticed that Dean and the guys in his band all had the same neatly trimmed beards, the kind that look obsessively overgroomed compared to the wild bushy beards of the ’10s. And then I realised – Dean’s band is Dean. Yes, he’s been cloned.

Of course, it’s all done with digital effects, and it would explain why the band are so spread out – there needs to be room to always get a clean border when splicing together the different parts of the shot.

It seems inspired by the Outkast’s epic and wonderful video for “Hey Ya”, where a band of Andre 3000s entertained a hall of screaming fangirls.

The fake “Hey Ya” band all feel like individual characters, not just Andre in eight different shirts. But “It’s Not Too Late” has the strange effect of a band that doesn’t really interact with each other. After seeing Shihad’s loved-up live performance of “Home Again”, the band of Dean clones look like they all hate each other and are on the verge of breaking up. Dean Chandler is a nice enough singer and songwriter, but he doesn’t have much on-screen charisma. Multiply that by four and it’s still not a lot.

The digital splicing is done really well. There’s just one bit right at the end where the drummer’s head suddenly disappears (don’t worry, boys and girls, it comes back). But a digital trick isn’t enough to make a compelling music video. I just wish there was more to it than “hey, a band of Deans!”.

Best bit: drummer Dean, who is probably the one who gets the girls.

Director: Tim Groenendaal
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next…

Stoods “Redlight”

2003-stoods-redlightWe last saw Stoods in an art gallery, being tortured by the process of creating art. Their second and final NZOA-funded video puts the band in a car, but things are even more complicate than the world of art.

We meet Phil in the back of a car, with what looks to be a professional driver in the front. Sometimes Phil is sitting on the left, sometimes he’s on the right. That’s cool. But then sometimes we see his driver behind the wheel on the right-hand side, but other times she’s on the left. Are they hedging their bets so they don’t alienate fans from the 65% of the world who drive on the right?

Suddenly Phil leaps out of the right/left side of the car, runs off and jumps in the back of a vintage American car that just happens to be driven by the Stoods drummer. This car also changes from left to right. They pick up the Stoods bass player and the trio drive to a bricky alcove (possibly at the Wintergarden) and rock out.

It’s a stylish video, attractively shot in black and white. But “It’s too confusing,” goes the song’s chorus. Yeah, the video is a bit like that too.

Best bit: the slow-motion sprint.

Director: Andy McGrath

Next… four for one.

Pacifier “Home Again (Live)”

2003-pacifier-home-againThis live performance of “Home Again” was released to tie in with the band’s 2003 double album Pacifier Live, a collection of live recordings from live shows in New Zealand previously that year. It’s also the only video to be funded from the band’s Pacifier phase, with their record company otherwise picking up the tab.

The song choice feels like a treat for their core fan base in Australia and New Zealand who might have been feeling a little neglected after the band changed their name and ran off to America. What better way to win back fans than with a thrilling live video of the band’s most beloved song?

The band are keeping things very simple. They’re dressed in black and dark denim and the stage is lit with plain white lighting. I think this counts as making it all about the music, man. Though it doesn’t stop rockstar showmanship.

The video is cut together from at least two performance. This is evident as one has Jon with a t-shirt on, the other shirtless. He puts a lot into the performance, making it a thrilling and sweaty showcase, accented with rockstar leaps.

Near the end Jon goes for a wander, edging along the balcony, climbing down to the audience below, and crowd-surfing (or rather, swimming) his way back to the stage. The song has a new lyrics, “Yes, we’re coming home again” also serving as mission statement.

The video ends with Jon being a golden god on a speaker stack and/or being a golden god on the drum riser, in love with everything he does.

It feels like if there’s one thing Shihad can do really well, it’s playing “Home Again” to an audience full of New Zealanders. This video captures that. They might have less success with their other songs (would “Comfort Me” have got such a reaction?) but if they can make a theatre full of people feel happy for even just one song, that’s a good thing.

Best bit: Jon’s speedy swim across the top of the audience.

Next… left, right, straight ahead?

Scribe “Dreaming”

2003-scribe-dreamingAt the 2013 Silver Scrolls awards, Scribe surprised a lot of people by singing in his and Mark Vanilau’s performance of the Dave Dobbyn song “It Dawned on Me”. But here’s Scribe singing on a track 10 years earlier. According to the Crusader album retrospective on Grindin, Scribe originally wrote the chorus for Che Fu to sing, but P-Money convinced Scribe to sing it himself – and it works.

“Dreaming” is a testament to Scribe’s childhood, his hard work at becoming an MC, and his dreams for the future. And it includes a simple, sung chorus – a hint at his other talents.

Directed by frequent collaborator Chris Graham, the video keeps things simple and uses a lot of old photos to illustrate Scribe’s early years. The first 20 seconds of the video is timelapse footage of clouds – a deliberate choice by Graham to avoid obvious hip hop iconography. Then we step inside Scribe’s photo album – a cool-dude little boy, a surly teen, a budding MC.

We also catch up with present-day Scribe hunched over a notebook, writing down his lyrics. This isn’t a fancy Moleskine – it’s a cheap-arse, dog-eared notebook, with lyrics written in all available spaces.

He’s also rapping in a recording studio and freestyling on the street with his friends – all signs of a successful young MC, someone who turned those notebooks full of lyrics into songs.

Near the end of the video we get a recap of his previous music videos, including some behind-the-scenes bits from the Chris Graham-directed ones. It’s a nice touch, especially as his videography contains some of the best New Zealand music videos.

Best bit: Scribe playing with the dog on the “Not Many” video set.

Other good thing: YouTube commenter Cruzin Streets says, “For whatever reason this film clip makes me feel better when i’m down.”

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a homecoming.

Savant “Distance”

2003-savant-distance“Distance” is the final of Savant’s three funded videos. And like the other two (“Solitary” and “Underground”) it’s a well made video. It looks good and I’d guess Savant were very happy with it.

We find the band sitting around in a dark room, noodling on their instruments, having some lolz. The blinds in the room are pulled, but there’s a light dramatically shining outside. So goth.

One of the band members suggests calling it a day and they’re all about to pack up and leave when suddenly the lead singer says, “Hang on, boys. Just one more time.” This may have something to do with his notebook, full of scribbled lyrics and “I WILL” in thick lettering.

The band kick into it, but because the video has drawn attention to it, my focus is on the lyrics. “She said, show me all your human nature, just how deep it goes.” Whoa.

And that’s pretty much the video – the band playing in a dark room. Director Greg Riwai and DOP Geoff Andrew have done a good job playing with light. Candles and the outdoor light are used to create dramatic silhouettes, until finally the head singer notices it’s getting light outside, and the video ends with him peeking through the blinds at the outside world.

Well, yay. Savant may not have had the most original sound (this song is very reminiscent of Incubus), but their music videos were good quality.

Best bit: the notebook, a masterclass of cinema serial killer penmanship.

Director: Greg Riwai

Next… looking back and forward.

Rubicon “Rubicon City”

2003-rubicon-rubicon-city“Rubicon” was the final of the seven tracks Rubicon had funded from their debut album. That’s pretty extreme, and by this final video it feels like they’re not even making much of an effort.

For a start, the band aren’t even in the video. It’s animated, done in that rough style that involves lots of repetition and little action.

The animated Rubicon are playing a gig on top of a tall building, when along comes a woman looking like Trinity from The Matrix – a film that was already five years old and becoming a bit of an overused trope. The Matrix drama continues with Rubicon city suddenly getting the shimmering green outlines of the Matrix, then all the concertgoers turn into Agent Smiths.

The drama progresses from Smiths to trolls to cyborgs, and then in a twist worthy of M Night Shyamalan, it turns out it was all a dream – or rather, a computer simulation called Rubicon City Training Program. With the program ended, Rubicon go back to, er, the rooftop concert simulation where the fake crowd wildly cheer their heroes.

The animation feels rushed and the video doesn’t have any original ideas behind it. For a song that’s a stonking rock number introducing the band (it’s the album’s opening track), the video’s simple animation struggles to capture the band’s spirit.

Best bit: the giant’s loin cloth.

Director: Ian Moore
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… lazy bogan afternoon.

Revolver “Out Your Window”

2003-revolver-out-your-windowRemember Jackass? And remember when everyone blamed every societal ill on Jackass? Well, there’s another thing to blame on it. Specifically blame goes to the fifth episode of the second season of Jackass where the act of milk chugging was demonstrated. This involves drinking a gallon of milk (3.87 litres) in one go. It also involves lots of multicoloured milk spew because it’s very difficult to drink that much milk without puking.

So director Joe Lonie took the art of milk chugging and give it one of his trademark twists. In this case, a backwards video. Combined with a reference to the song title, the result is a video in which the band members appear at a bathroom window and suck up a thick layer of vomit from the bathroom floor. Eeeeew.

The video begins with a hot chick finishing up in the bathroom. It’s a reminder of how rare video vixens are in New Zealand music videos. As she leaves the bathroom, the camera pans down to reveal the floor entirely covered with regurgitated Primo. The camera’s slow pans looks like the movement of a remotely operated camera, suggesting a scene too gross for a human to film.

One by one the band members pop up at the window and reverse-vomit all the puke out of the room. They’re all wearing t-shirts with the names of Auckland suburbs – New Lynn, Westmere, Kingsland, Greenlane and Arch Hill. This along with the Jackass reference firmly roots the video in 2003/2004.

Then the chick comes back and closes the window. And that’s the video. If you see it once, it’s like, “Whoa, this is crazy!” But it doesn’t hold up after multiple viewings. I mean, who wants to see a bunch of guys reverse puking, again and again?

And the worst bit – the song manages to be the least interesting part of the video. The visuals are so bold and obnoxious that the song pales in comparison. In fact, you could swap it with any song, really, and it would still work. Like, try it with “Yakety Sax” and it would actually be an improvement.

Best bit: the nice clean bathroom floor at the end.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… cyber matrix 2000.

One Million Dollars “The Original”

2003-one-million-dollars-the-originalOne Million Dollars was a funk-soul band from Auckland who always seemed to be gigging. I saw them live once and my memory was of an epic collection of skilled musicians who easily got away with playing for a little bit too long.

“The Original” was their only NZ On Air funded video, but certainly not their only music video, as their vast Amplifier profile demonstrates. Instead of trying to capture the larger One Million Dollars family, it instead focuses on the band’s lynchpin, lead singer Richard, and there he is – walking down a road, singing a song. It’s like an outdoor version of the “Bye Bye Birdie” theme song.

And that’s mainly what the video is – Richard walking a country road, along a bleak path beside a motorway, and down a hip innercity street. The camera is following in front of him, but occasionally we get a few sideways shots of the scenery, a bonus if you like roadside shrubs.

The video actually gets a bit repetitive. I mean, there’s only so much a person can do while they’re walking alone, singing a song. The most exciting bit happens when he briefly stops and the camera keeps moving and things get a little bit “Virtual Insanity”. Other band members occasionally pop up as disembodied hands playing instruments, and the occasional head singing backing vocals.

It’s a really charming song (and I mean that in the good way, not the sarcastic way), but the video seems immune to its charms and is going for much less spirit and more grit.

Best bit: at 2:28, the energetic cut between the motorway and the countryside.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… spewtastic.

Falter “Falling to Pieces”

2003-falter-falling-to-piecesA classic of the “torture the band” genre, director Joe Lonie put Falter and their instruments down a hydroslide. Apparently he used the same idea in the video for Christian hip hop duo Sumix’s song “Jump House”, but could safely recycle the concept given how few people would have seen the original. The Sumix video was filmed at the Waiwera hot pools, so I’ll assume the same location was used for “Falling to Pieces”. Actually – reader Thom says “99% sure the video was shot at Parakai – it’s got a much longer slide with the interchanging grey and yellow panels.”

So, we see the three band members gliding down the tunnel, each playing an instrument. The hydroslide seems to be covered with lichen on the outside and there’s a bit of graffiti which all gives it a kind of broken-down look – not quite a bright fun water park.

The most interesting thing about the execution of the video is how relaxed the band look. There’s no sense of “Woooohooo! I’m in a hydroslide!!!” It’s more just three dudes playing a song and they just happen to be doing it in a hydroslide. It doesn’t help that the lead singer’s hair looks dry and nicely styled.

Because 90% of the video takes place inside the hydroslide tube – and nothing much is happening in there – it actually gets a bit monotonous. Because there’s no visible horizon, the video can be a bit dizzying and made me want to look out the window to reorientate myself.

The near the end a bit of drama happens when a couple of amps at the top of the slide slip down into it. As the band finally spill out into the splash pool at the end, the amps come hurtling after them. There’s the sense that they might have been hit by the amps, but the video quickly ends so that’s never resolved. It’s like the video is ao enamoured with the sitting that it never really figured out what to do with it.

Best bit: the drummer, looking like the only one having old-fashioned waterslide fun.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… going for a walk.

Elemeno P “Urban Getaway”

2003-elemeno-p-urban-getawayGibbo looks like a corpse. His skin has a grey pallor, with greasy stringy hair clinging to his face. Why, he looks like someone in need of a relaxing holiday.

The song us all about feeling claustrophobic in your own life, but the video takes its cue from the wishful sunny lyrics of the chorus. It seems to be shot on one take and sees Elemeno P all in a living room of a house. The camera is located in the middle of the room and it slowly rotates around room – 11 times, to be precise. As the camera rotates, the room slowly transforms from a bleak, grey hovel filled with miserable individuals, into a bright sunny room where the band are very much enjoying themselves.

I’m going to assume the video was filmed all in one go. If that’s the case, there would have been a lot of running around behind the camera switching out bits of the grey world for the colourful world – a bleak wooden sideboard suddenly becomes a cheerful tiki bar. I imagine there would have been so much stuff happening as soon as the camera was off a particular area, with everyone on camera having to ignore the other action.

The video is directed by Greg Page, and he’s used a rotating camera concept couple of times before. Once with an early Elemeno P video (“Nirvana”) and also with the Datsuns’ “Super Gyration”.

Ignoring the novelty of the concept, the video manages to keep the bittersweet flavour of the song. These are, after all, people having a tropical holiday in the living room of their flat, which isn’t actually all that flash.

Best bit: Lani’s book of exotic parrots.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… hydroslide fun time.