Katchafire “Close Your Eyes”

2005-katchafire-close-your-eyesThe default Katchafire video has the band performing at a live venue, surrounded by fans, friends and whanau, with everyone having a great time. “Close Your Eyes” is one of those videos.

The band are found playing at the Junction Bar in Frankton, their local. The video follows them from setting up to performing. And everyone in the bar, from little kids to oldies, are all grooving to the band and having a good time. (Diabolical thought: wouldn’t it be amazing if a music video showed a real audience looking bored and talking during the band?)

The video is cut with still photos of the same event. The photos are a better quality than the video. And because the photographer has ventured out onto the streets of Frankton (the most interesting part of Hamilton), the photos tend to be more interesting than the video. Smiling kids playing in the fountain, biker dudes posing across from the iconic Forlong’s furniture shop and a boy enjoying a massive battered sausage – so Frankton.

It’s a really low-key video, but it’s Katchafire doing what they do best.

Best bit: the hongi – this is not America.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a lot of balls.

Katchafire “Rude Girl”

2004-katchafire-rude-girlKatchafire’s sauciest song opens with the titular rude girl leaving her inner-city apartment (or office?) and taking a shortcut through a Chinese restaurant downstairs to an alleyway out the back of a building, where a taxi awaits. None of these locations are faked – there is indeed a Chinese restaurant on Wyndham Street that leads through to Durham Lane. Though it would have been whole lot easier if she’d got the taxi to come around to the front entrance.

The taxi takes a surreal journey through a warehouse, lit in neon, with various members of Katchafire doing unusual things. It’s like a Levi’s ad from the ’90s. Rude girl isn’t bothered. She’s probably seen it all before.

The taxi takes her to Katchafire playing at a makeshift bar in the middle of an otherwise empty warehouse. Partying ensures. The next morning the rude girl gets into the taxi. NZ On Screen notes that “its kooky hydraulic suspension is utilized to rude effect”, which is a polite way of saying that it implies that the taxi is getting an erection, as taxis do.

The video does all look really stylish, and the whole experience has a dreamlike feel. It’s something that Katchafire’s previous videos have never managed, despite it really suiting the laidback style of their music. The video was rated #83 in the Film Archive’s poll of the top 100 New Zealand music videos.

Best bit: the car with an “APPLAUSE” sign where a “TAXI” sign would normally be.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… please, Mr Postman.

Katchafire “Seriously”

2004-katchafire-seriouslyA lot of Katchafire’s previous videos have involved the band playing at some sort of concert, but this video goes a step further and is a recording of an actual live performance.

It all looks like a pretty standard Katchafire show, with no rockstar (reggaestar?) antics wheeled out for the camera. And it’s so good to see a real audience in a performance music video. The enthusiastic crowd dance and cheer, seemingly of their own accord.

The song takes a while to get going. In this live version, the bass doesn’t kick in until almost two minutes into the song. Before that happens, the build-up feels like one big tease of EDM proportions.

Strangely enough, throughout the performance we can hear the constant chatter of the crowd. Is this normal at a Katchafire concert? Because it seems to me if you’re talking loud enough to be heard over the music, then you’re probably not really paying all that much attention to the music.

It ends up being a fairly ordinary documentary of Katchafire playing a live show in 2004. Maybe that’s the problem. To be in the crowd, dancing along with your friends with your favourite band would be a great experience. But somehow these emotions don’t translate so well to the screen.

Best bit: the positioning of the NZ On Air logo at the end of a beam of light.

Director: Ivan Slavov

Next… tuning in.

Katchafire “Bounce”

2003-katchafire-bounceThe video starts with Katchafire in a shed, performing a song about marijuana. I feel like this is the group’s default mode, and if you were to pay them a surprise visit at any time of day or night, they’d be in a shed performing a song about marijuana.

“What do you say we do ‘Bounce’ then get up out of here?” asks Logan. It’s an agreeable suggestion and the band start playing the song. And that’s basically the video – shot in black and white, Katchafire in a shed, performing a song.

The implication that it’s a sound check, setting up for a later evening show in the shed. It actually looks like it would be a great venue at night, complete with the “No Patches” sign and chickens scratching around the front.

And maybe that’s the problem. It’s a funky tune, but the video is like sitting in on basic soundcheck but being denied the band in full force at the main event in the evening. I suspect this is the eternal problem of Katchafire’s music videos – how do you capture the magic of their live shows without being able to replicate that smoky vibe?

Best bit: the chicken pecking at a cob of corn.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… long walks on beaches.

Katchafire “Colour Me Life”

2003-katchafire-colour-me-lifeHow’s this for a story set-up? A hedgehog is minding its business in the woods. A stoned-as Rastaman drives up in a BMW and throws a guitar case of of his car. The hedgehog investigates the case, crawls inside it and entered a trippy-as rainbow world (i.e. the hedgehog is now also stoned-as). Well, it’s a much better then the hedgehog getting squashed.

This magical rainbow world is animated, with a sandy beach, Rangitoto across the water, some singing palm trees and flowers, as well as a cheerful Rasta snail. Katchafire also appear in the video, superimposed on top of the colourful world, but not actually part of it.

Things are just really nice and chilled out in this rainbow world, in that very Katchafire way. When the song’s sax solo is played, a stream of rainbow-coloured musical notes come floating out of the sax, then Rangitoto erupts with similar rainbow juice.

Eventually the hedgehog returns to reality, where he crawls out of the guitar case, still powered up with the magical rainbow vibes. Along comes another car. This time it looks like Katchafire’s wheels. They pick up the guitar case and head off, no doubt for another magical rainbow experience.

By this stage Katchafire had settled nicely into their sound, becoming a well liked summer festival act. A video like this is pretty goofy, but it feels like an authentic Katchafire experience.

Best bit: the real hedgehog – superb animal acting.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… overtime is quality time.

Katchafire “Getaway”

2003-katchafire-getawayIt took me a while to figure out what was happening in this video. On the surface it just looks like lead singer Logan is going for a walk around some Auckland suburbs, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

This top 10 single is all about taking time out from the pressures of life, even if it’s just the desire and fantasy of taking a break to a “special place”, rather than actually doing it. So the video treads that line between fantasy and reality with two versions of Logan (one wearing a green sweatshirt, the other a red hoodie) taking a walk. It’s like a version of Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow played by a chilled out dude just going for a walk.

Red Logan sets off from his home and goes to a park where he meets his bandmates for some fish ‘n’ chips and a jam. He takes off his sweatshirt and becomes Green Logan, but Red Logan is still out there, taking a walk past his local dairy. Green Logan leaves his mates and also goes for a walk. So the two Logans are both out there, both walking.

They each pass by a number of landmarks – a bushy hedge, a vintage car, a power pylon – as well as some one-offs like M2 presenter Jane Yee walking a huge dog. Halfway through the video the two pass each other on the street and then go past the landmarks the other has just been near.

Red Logan ends up at the park, where his bandmates don’t seem to notice that their bandmate is mysteriously wearing the hoodie he took off before he went walking. And Green Logan returns home.

I’ve seen this video many times before back in the day, but this was the first time I actually realised it was more than just the guy from Katchafire going for a walk. Discovering the parallel worlds of “Get Away” was a nice surprise.

Best bit: the kids jumping on the trampoline, appearing over the bushy hedge.

Director: Tim Groenendaal
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… big heads.

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!

Katchafire “Giddy Up”

2002-katchafire-giddy-upOh, Katchafire. Previously the only Hamilton bands that had made a national impact were bogan rockers like Knightshade and Blackjack. But along came Katchafire, a roots reggae band who not only had three top-10 singles but had 18 NZ On Air-funded music video. And this is a band who has survived despite line-up changes due to what its Wikipedia entry describes as “commitments with other bands, family and religion”.

The “Giddy Up” video begins with a manifesto of sorts. They are here to bring messages of “peace and love and purity”. And that’s musical purity. “We got no DJs, no samplers. We just got some pure musicians on stage, people.” Are they talking about technology – if so, why do they not have an issue with using electric amplification? Or is it some sort of moral purity of the musicians themselves? If so, dicks.

Combined with visuals of bikers arriving at a concert, it all comes across as macho posturing. So then it’s a big surprise when the song itself starts and it’s a sweet, romantic reggae number.

There’s a bit of Katachafire performing at this concert of purity, but most of it is the band playing in a smaller room, surrounded by friends. And that comes across as a lot more enjoyable and friendly.

The song is also notable for its saxophone solo. These were a staple of pop in the ’90s, but had well died out by the ’90s. It’s like Katchafire had a saxophonist and they wanted to put a sax solo in the video and cool kids be damned. And, well, the song made it to number four in the charts.

That’s where the strength of this video seems to lie. Katchafire have this song that people love and they have their band identity and they’re absolutely sticking to that, keeping it pure. Whatever their definition of purity is.

Best bit: the giant Bob Marley poster looking down over them all.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision