Bleeders “All That Glitters”

2004-the-bleeders-all-that-glittersThere’s nine seconds of silence and stillness, as the camera moves through the corridor of an old warehouse, then suddenly – “Let’s burn the bridges!” and the anti-bling anthem kicks off. The Bleeders were a hardcore punk band, though they became more metal on their second album. “All that Glitters” was their explosive debut.

The band has a ton of energy as they deliver the impossibly catchy tune with its tight singalong chorus. This is captured well by Greg Page, who was like the go-to guy for videos that rocked as hard as they bands within.

The secret is that despite all the black hair and tattoos and attitude, “All that Glitters” is secretly a pop song, cleverly hiding under all the guitars and fringes. And really, no one’s going to notice when the lead singer has a Straight Edge “X” tattooed on his hand. (Remember Straight Edge? I tried being Straight Edge for a week before I inadvertently engaged in non-SXE behaviour and gave up.)

Lead singer Angelo brings energy and swagger to the video. When he sings, it’s like he’s using his whole body to get the words out. It’s the sort of video that makes the band seem like they’d be really amazing to see live – and it sounds like they were.

Best bit: the pink Chucks go en pointe.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… not enough fairy lights.

48May “Leather & Tattoos”

2004-48may-leather-and-tattoos48May got into a bit of trouble with this song, on account of it having more than a passing resemblance to “Punk Rock 101” by the Texan punk-pop band Bowling for Soup. According to the Htown Wiki, the song was pulled from the rerelease of the band’s debut album The Mad Love, and indeed the track is currently not available for purchase on iTunes.

The worst thing – “Punk Rock 101” is a rant against cookie cutter punk-pop, and also a fine example of how to include references to other songs and artists without directly copying their work. It even has the sneering refrain “Same song! Different chorus!”. Oh dear.

But if you go back to a time before any of that happened, you end up with 48May breaking into a bleak student flat. This is where the subject of the song lives – the goth chick with the leather and tattoos – only she’s not home.

Weirdly it looks more like a dude flat, but then the lyrics do mention she likes wrestling, monster trucks and Slipknot. Jon sneaks upstairs and joins the rest of the band rocking out in a couple of bedrooms.

Jon then ventures into the girl’s bedroom and discovers a pair of novelty fur-lined handcuffs. Well, that’s something. The band play some more, then enjoy an instant coffee and sandwiches in the kitchen.

Then suddenly – uh oh! – the goth chick is at the door. Will she discover the four pop-punk intruders who have been enjoying her Nescafe? Nah. She opens the door and finds the room empty, with just an open window to suggest something might be astray. The goth chick seems to sigh a little, as if she was expecting a punk-pop party at her house, with the empty room instead reminding her of the emptiness of her life. Bummer.

Despite the drama around the song, the video is ok. It captures 48May’s energy and even though it has a very American sound, there’s no mistaking the very New Zealand setting of the video.

Best bit: the slow-motion food-in-mouth throw, perfect caught.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a good fry-up.

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.

Betchadupa “Move Over”

2003-betchadupa-move-over“Move Over” was the first single from Betchadupa’s second and final album “Aiming for Your Head”. It reached #14 in the New Zealand charts and it has the sound of a band becoming even better at songcraft and performance. It has bit of a Pixies loud-quiet thing, and some classic Finn melody, as well as generally awesome pop stylings.

The video is shot in black and white, and is based around the band performing the song in a grungy old room. But not everything is as it seems.

The room appears to be all walls and no floor or ceiling. There’s Liam’s standing against a wall, next to a window… except he’s actually lying on the floor, with a bandmate stepping over him. Whoa.

But the weird room and crazy gravity situation isn’t played for laughs, like the upside-down antics of Goodshirt’s “Green” video. It’s more used to create a sense of unease, that something isn’t quite right with the world.

The video is directed by Greg Page, and it’s another example of his ability to capture the live energy of a band. Here’s Betchadupa going crazy with their performance – and maybe they’re rocking out so hard it’s making the room spin. Awesome.

Best bit: the drummer’s horizontal drumming, neatly keeping his hair out of his face.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the anger games.

Elemeno P “Verona”

2003-elemeno-p-veronaFor the “Verona” video, director Greg Page put Elemeno P in an industrial freezer. Why? As he explained to NZ On Screen, “There was no legitimate reason for shooting in a freezer – I just enjoy torturing the bands I work with.” Rock on.

I’m sure they could have shot the video at the actual Verona cafe (it was also the setting of Fur Patrol’s “Lydia” video), but by using a much less predictable setting, the video is a lot more interesting than if we just saw the band playing in a bar.

So there are the band playing in an actual working freezer. It’s so cold their breathe is visible, but they’re all playing in t-shirts. Because it’s all bloody freezing, there’s a kind of tension to band’s performance in the video. It’s like they’re putting everything into rocking out but at the same time they’d also like to get out of there and into the loving embrace of room temperature air.

Because the freezer is relatively small, the band are shot individually. But the editing cleverly makes it feel like they’re all in there together, united in ice.

The freezer setting is a bit gimmicky, but the band’s performances and the cool-as cinematography make the video more than just a standard torture-the-band vid.

Best bit: the video starts with a bit of “Fast Times in Tahoe” and the lyrics “playing in the snow”. Lol.

Note: NZ On Screen has lots of behind-the-scenes stories, both on the video page and in this interview with Greg Page.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… classroom discipline.

Blindspott “Phlex”

2003-blindspott-phlex“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.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… send in the clones.

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.

Stellar “One More Day”

2002-stellar-one-more-day“One More Day” was the final single to be released from Stellar’s second album, and it was the first single not to chart, after a solid run of eight singles in the top 40 from 1998 to 2002.

It’s a pretty standard Stellar song, all epic motivational lyrics and Boh Runga sassing. But there’s nothing special about it, and it’s not at all surprising that it didn’t chart.

The lyrics suggest the song is a reaction to the relentless slog of a touring band (much like what Boh’s sister mused over on her song “Get Some Sleep”). The video avoids the temptation of literally depicting this with a “life on the road” montage, and instead just puts the band on a stage.

The band are performing the song on a slightly grimy looking stage, with steel grey walls and a tomato-soup-red floor. It’s reminiscent of Stellar’s first big video, “What You Do” – the band performing on a stage, with stylish coordinated outfits. The band seem so much more mature since their earlier days, but that seems to have taken away a bit of the crazy energy of their early days. Boh’s trademark neck shimmies are very restrained.

The song isn’t especially remarkable, and neither is the video. It seems like a band who have run out of ideas and have just turned to a kind of autopilot mode.

Best bit: Boh’s kaftan – it flows.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… call of duty.

Carly Binding “Love Will Save Me”

2002-carly-binding-love-will-save-meThere’s quite a cool set-up to this video. We see Carly at home, at work and in the club, but it’s how she gets from place to place that is interesting. The three sets are built side by side, so Carly jumps on the camera trolly and travels across the sets – a perfect set-up for the modern lazy girl.

Carly wakes up in her bedroom that somehow looks most like a set, with walls that seem on the verge of wobbling. Scooting along to work, she ties on an apron and begins a shift at a greasy spoon diner. There’s another waitress wearing a traditional American diner waitress uniform and she seems a bit miffed that Carly gets to wear a tank top, jeans and sneakers. But it’s that simple outfit that takes her from home, to work, then to the club. And so it happens every day. Every top Carly wears – even the off-the-shoulder one – is suitable for all three places. It’s like a masterclass in smart-casual.

The song is a really sweet, radio-friendly pop tune. Carly works hard to overcome her bitchy resting face, but sometimes it just seems like she’s trying very hard to look happy and in love. But to be fair, that sort of pop video requires a demanding performance.

I feel a shoutout has to be given to Kylie Minogue’s “I Should be so Lucky” video, which also involved three rooms that were obviously a film set. It has a different feel to it than “Love Will Save Me”, with Kylie’s girl-nextdoor charms bringing cheer.

“Love Will Save Me” was directed by Greg Page. It’s remarkable that around the same time he was making videos for metallers 8ft Sativa and indie rock dudes PanAm, and pop-rock band Elemeno P. All different, all good.

Best bit: the sneer of the sassy waitress at the diner.

Note: The video is geoblocked for New Zealand (and Germany) on YouTube, but ok for everywhere else. Alternatively you can watch a good quality version over at Greg Page’s profile at Fish ‘n’ Clips.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a hoon down the north-western.

PanAm “Japanese Girls”

2002-panam-japanese-girls“Japanese Girls” uses the same trick as Garageland did for their “Gone” video – casting a group of random Auckland Asian extras as Japanese fans of the band. According to NZ On Screen, director Greg Page cast the video via “a notice at an Asian food hall”. Though in the case of this video, the extras do reasonably resemble the sort of young women who’d be fans of the band and who’d leave a video message for PanAm.

That’s the premise of the video – that in a padded pink booth, the titular Japanese girls can leave a message for Flying Nun’s young act. The messages are subtitled, and include such revelations as “I like the drummer”, “My phone number is…” and “Excuse me”. Disappointingly, no one is making like a One Direction fan and claiming that her cat died and wanting Paul to give her consolatory hugz.

While the video fan fest is happening, the band are rocking out in a cool looking warehouse. Except it’s not a real warehouse. As Greg Page explains, “we used a miniature warehouse for the background, made out of balsa and cardboard”. If you look very closely, you can tell the band have been green-screened in, but otherwise it gives the setting a slightly spooky feeling, like maybe the band are ghosts.

Now here’s the thing. When the band are rocking out in their shoebox warehouse, they look really cool. And the song’s a bit saucy with its allusions to BJs and girl-on-girl action. But at the end, when the boys finally get inside the pink video booth with the Japanese girls, they suddenly lose their swagger and become three geeky guys who aren’t quite sure how to act around all these girls, nervously shuffling off at the end. It feels like a really candid moment.

Update: Songlines Across New Zealand talked to Paul from the PanAm about the video. He describes it as the strangest video the band has made, crammed into the video booth with a bunch of non-professionals pulled off the street.

Best bit: that everyone in the video – male and female – pretty much has the same haircut.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next: wet, wet, wet.