I like to think of 1996 as the golden age of Garageland. Every one of their videos from this era is a mix of cool and naivety, like they knew what they wanted to be, but weren’t quite sure how to get there.
“Beelines to Heaven”, which is ever so slightly reminiscent of Buddy Holly’s “Every Day“, is given a classic 1960s television pop treatment. Taking its cue from legendary New Zealand pop show “C’mon“, Garageland play their song surrounded by go-go girls in silver boots and cool beatnik youth.
But looking back at an old episode of “C’mon”, one thing is clear – the go-go dancers were there for the up-tempo numbers. A song as slow as “Beelines to Heaven” doesn’t quite work with the go-go girls shakin’ it in slow motion. What would “C’mon” do? Well, one slow song had the singer reclining in a chair, taking off his shoes. Er…
Ok, it’s the ’90s, not the ’60s. Garageland aren’t gunning for historical accuracy. The video is simple and visually interesting. It lets the sweetness of the song stand out, and thankfully doesn’t involve literal use of honey.
Best bit: the la-la-la beatnik at 1:52. He’s well in character.
Bonus:A second video for “Beelines to Heaven” was made in 1997 as part of the group’s big UK push. Using a tszuj’d up version of the song, it was directed by Gina Birch and uses a similar split-screen technique that she later used for her second Garageland video “Feel Alright”.
The “Fingerpops” video is an ode to drinking, specifically to that kind of drinking people do in their early 20s. It’s when you’ve moved on from such adolescent delights as peach schnapps and Sprite, and are now entering the adult world of sophisticated drinks. Why, in this video Garageland are hanging out in a Tarantinoesque bar, enjoying a whisky-like beverage in cut-glass tumblers, and drinking some sort of milky concoction shaken up and poured into shot glasses, and there are cocktail umbrellas. Take that, Don Draper.
“Fingerpops” is a love song, about being carried away with the whirlwind of emotion that comes with love, about how the cracking of knuckles can set your heart ablaze just cos it’s your special sweetie who’s doing it.
As well as the drinking, the video captures both the moody, emotional side of the love (the dark bar) and the joyful fun side (a bright lounge decorated with op shop furniture). It’s that perfect naivety of being a young adult – caught between the bright shiny world of childhood but forcing yourself into the dark world of adulthood.
Maybe this is how I want to remember the ’90s. I look to Jeremy Eade, wearing the sort of shirt you only see these days on cool uncles. “I haven’t been to bed for days,” brags Jeremy. “I live in a twilight haze.” When you’re old, this is a terrible situation. When you’re young, it’s brilliant.
Best bit: As the rest of the band rocks out, Debbie Silvey plays her guitar while lying on the couch.
Early Garageland always felt like a bunch of kids from the suburbs who’d emerged from their bedrooms, formed a band and knew that they’d never be the cool kids, so they just wrote great pop songs instead.
Garageland are also responsible for the greatest NZ On Air-funded music video ever, but we will come to that later.
Now it’s time for “Come Back” the first track on the “Comeback Special” EP. The gang load themselves into a van, accompanied by fake flowers, a mannequin, a hairdryer and playing cards. It’s like a holiday version of the Headless Chickens “Cruise Control” car.
There’s also studio footage of the band playing the song, complete with Debbie’s red shiny Rickenbacher. By the way, Debbie had the best hair. Once I tried to make my hair look like hers, with disastrous results.
Doing a Mutton Birds, there’s a UK version of the video. It also features a van, but has had almost all the colour and fun removed.
And that’s what I like about this video – it has fun and colour. Garageland are just mucking around with crazy props, not trying to be cool guys. And because it’s done more in a camp style than comedy style, there’s no risk of musicians trying to be funny. It’s just a fun introduction to a band that was to enjoy much success in the ’90s.
Best bit: the casual discarding of a guitar out the van window.