“Guess Who’s Here” asks Alphrisk. The answer is Alphrisk. He’s joined by fellow Deceptikon Savage, and notes that the “Deceptikonz are going places”. There’s a live performance of the song on the short-lived New Zealand version of Top of the Pops.
Bennett “Stop Holding Us Back”
Bennett’s second and final funded video is the assertive “Stop Holding Us Back”.
The weirdest entry in the old NZ On Air database was funding for a Blindspott song called “Trevor Sue Me”. No song (or video) with this name exists, so I assume it’s a placeholder title. That raises the question: who was Trevor and how did he earn the ire of Blindspott?
Michael Murphy “How Good Does It Feel”
I’m not sure if a video was made for NZ Idol runner-up Michael Murphy’s second single “How Good Does It Feel”, but it’s on the list. If so, it was his one and only funded video. This seems like such a luxury – a reality show contestant being allowed to release an album full of original songs. Murph’s post-Idol solo career didn’t have a future, but he will later show up with his band 5star Fallout. (Bonus: long-term readers of my online oeuvre may wish to think back to #sodamncontroversial and laugh and laugh and laugh.)
Sommerset has the dramatically titled “Magdalene (Love Like a Holocaust)”, which sounds like the aftermath of a bad break-up. It was the final of Sommerset’s five funded videos.
The New Trends were a high school duo from Taradale. They were finalists in the 2004 Rockquest, the same year Incursa won and Kimbra was the runner-up. But they had their most success with the song “Five Minutes with You”, which placed second at the Play It Strange songwriting awards in 2004, including a performance of the song by Michael Murphy.
The consolation video for this month is a charity single. “Anchor Me”, the Mutton Birds’ nautical love song, was recorded by an all-star line-up to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the sole act of international terrorism in New Zealand.
“Yours Truly” was the first single from Blindspott’s second album, End the Silence. The band had moved away from the nu metal stylings of the first album and had gone for a more traditional metal sound. And as drummer Shelton explained, “It doesn’t really fit into a genre, like the whole ’emo’ sound that’s around now.”
The non-emo “Yours Truly” opens and closes with an animated swoop around a city, where all the buildings are adorned with religious symbols: a star of David, a Dharma wheel, the star and crescent, and a cross. Completely separate from this, Blindspott are rocking out on a front lawn in front of an old villa at night.
The video is full of meaningful symbols. Inside the villa, a glass of milk bleeds, white lilies burn, and a statue of the Virgin Mary hangs out on a table. Shelton takes a nice hot bath, except he also has a mouthful of blood. Purity! Innocence! Ebola!
But that’s all basic music video stuff. Blindspott then bring out some classic Tool stylings from the ’90s. Damian finds himself with large tree branches sprouting from his back. And then there’s a bald-headed dude (dudes?) with two torsos and no legs. I’d like to see follow-up on this. What’s everyday life like when you have a tree growing out of your back? How does your girlfriend feel when you have another head instead genitals?
Blindspott have always paid a lot of attention to their music videos. “Yours Truly” isn’t anything amazing, but yet it’s still a quality Blindspott video and more ambitious than what most New Zealand metal bands of the era did.
Best bit: the two-headed dude manages to do a push-up.
Blindspott have a lot of serious, emotional rock songs in their repertoire, but this is one of the most serious and emotional songs. See, it’s about addiction, portrayed in the video as alcoholism – a stark contrast to the fun but sensible drinking of the WBC’s “Ease Ya Mind” video.
The video is set in a gloomy room. It might be a bedroom, or it might be a motel room, the last refuge of the troubled drinker. We see the drinker hanging around in the room, and each member of Blindspott is seen performing individually in the room.
The drinker, meanwhile, is drunk. There are close-ups of Scotch being sloppily poured into a tumbler – the cinematic shorthand that says “I’m so desperate for a drink that I will sloppily pour a glass, but I am not so desperate that I’d drink straight out of the bottle.”
The drunkard doesn’t do anything fun when he’s drink. He doesn’t even stagger about or drunk-dial an ex. He just lies down on the bad and grips the sheets. Because booze.
There’s also some symbolism in the video – a fading Polaroid photo, a blue liquid – ink? curacao? – trickling down a wall. Actually, if they really wanted to show alcoholism, they’d make the blue liquid spilt curacao and have the guy lick it off the wall, not wanting a drop to go to waste.
Is there a lesson to be learned? Well, it’s that all the success of being in a popular alternative metal band doesn’t mean much when your mate is an addict. Mmm.
Note: this video is taken from a music show broadcast and there’s an annoying scroll advertising a competition underneath the video most of the time. And the sweary lyrics are awkwardly silenced out.
“Phlex” is Blindspott’s highest charting single. It reached number three, only kept off the top spot by the double whammy of Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard’s American Idol singles (and then chased well away by the almighty “Ignition Remix” the next week).
The “Phlex” video is also significant because – so far in the 5000 Ways adventure – it has the first appearance of the graffiti-style NZ On Air logo, the first major reworking of the original late ’80s logo.
In contrast to the band’s angry dude music of previous singles, “Phlex” has a positive message and is a slower, more subdued song. The video sees the band hanging out at a dude flat, with camouflage duvets, gig poster decor and turntables in the kitchen. There’s even a guy shaving his hair, a full decade before Lorde’s friends did the same in “Royals”.
The camera slowly pans from left to right in every show, giving the feeling that we’re witnesses an ordinary slice of life in the Blindspott house. Lead singer Damien spends much of the video sitting against a wall with the silhouette of a laughing cartoon character right next to his head. It’s distracting, like the cartoon character is laughing at Blindspott for being so serious.
But the video is generally just the band sitting around in the dude flat, all with blank expressions on their faces. No one looks like they’re having a great time, but they don’t look all that miserable either.
The video ends with a graffiti artist painting a giant “Phlex” on the lounge room wall (he’s wearing a respirator, the others in the room aren’t; breathe deep, guys) and this seems symbolic of the way hip hop culture was becoming more mainstream. Here’s a rock ballad (with a bit of turntablism) and it seems like the most natural complement to have some graffiti in there too.
Best bit: the face freshening in the bathroom – most invigorating.
Having built up a substantial fanbase (and that’s something that Blindspott have always been good at), they finally had the opportunity to show off with a live video.
The video consists of live footage shot at a Blindspott gig, and there’s a little bit of stage banter at the beginning, where it is established that there are a large number of Westies in the audience.
The video is cut to match the dynamics of the song – the constrained intro roaring into the hearty boganny verses. The editing manages to disguise the fast that the camera work isn’t all that great sometimes. The self-designed parental-advisory sticker from the band’s debut album keeps flashing up on screen, reminding its audience that – check this out, Mum! – there are swear words in the song.
There’s both black and white footage and colour, and both lots work. The black and white is as metal as a pair of black jeans, while the colour is full of the energy and fire of Blindspott’s live shows.
The song ends with very sedate outro, and the video goes with that a bit too much. As a result, things just fade away, where it feels like there should be more connection with the audience – a bit of cheering. But it still feels like a good document of Blindspott on their way up.
Best bit: the brief flashes of spider silhouettes, just to alienate the arachnophobes.
I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I used to really really like Blindspott, and I will offer three pieces of evidence:
I bought their first two CD singles (“Nil By Mouth” and “Room to Breathe”) at a time when I had otherwise long given up buying actual physical singles.
I went all the way out to a skate shop in Orewa, of all places, which was the only shop that stocked Blindspott merch. I bought an official Blindspott t-shirt.
I won tickets to the extreme sport games X-Air, when it was held in Hamilton, and only went because Blindspott were playing. I got Damian’s autograph.
Things were going well, and then Blindspott released “S.U.I.T.”. There’d been talk in NZmusic.com of the new Blindspott single that was changing things up by having rapped verses and a sung chorus (rather than vice versa on the other singles). But along came this really really angry-dude song, with a chorus that seemed entirely unaware of its contradictory lyrics as it yelled “Fuck you and all your negativity!”
And the video is just as much an angry-dude work. It’s set in a shady bunker type space, where the band are playing in a cage, surrounded by dozens of angry looking dudes. There are tattoos, shaved heads, dreadlocks, eyebrow piercings and scowls a plenty.
The band are all performing in matching boilersuits, and there are some graphics that imply they’ve prisoners in a futuristic prison system or at least have just been arrested. Perhaps they’re performing as part of some sort of futuristic community arts periodic detention programme to assist youth offenders. If so, I’m not sure it’s working.
The video is a statement. The previous two videos were self-funded $800 jobs with the bigger budget and all the extras the band have made a bold statement about who are see themselves. But for me the biggest moment is the pre-chorus lyric “This is us and us is this”. The song and video is Blindspott laying down the law. This is who they are and if you don’t like it, you can get lost. Which is what I found myself doing. And I never wore that Blindspott t-shirt.
Best bit: the seething mass of dudes, barely contained by the fences.
Bonus: Here’s Shelton and Marcus from Blindspott giving high school music students a lesson in the structure of “S.U.I.T.” and somehow make it seem like the world’s most boring song.