PanAm “Song1”

2003-panam-song-1It’s night time and Paul from Panam shows up late for his shift behind the counter at a petrol station. I feel great tension every time I see him in this video because his hair in this video is how my hair goes on a bad day. I want to give him a good blowdry.

It’s an old-style petrol station (filmed “in Christchurch in the middle of winter at night in a draughty old gas station,” Paul told Songlines Across New Zealand). It’s the kind of place that was primarily an automotive workshop with just a little shop selling a few chocolate bars and chips, secondary to the oil, fanbelts and other essentials. It’s also the kind of petrol station that isn’t really around these days, and indeed it seems that the location in question is now occupied by a budget car rental company.

Business is slow and there’s nothing for Paul to do but slouch around the till. If it were me, I would alphabetise the chips – cheese and onion, chicken, ready salted, salt and vinegar. There.

But relief comes in the form of a customer, an old geezer rolling up in a Mercedes. Paul fills up the car. Petrol is only $1.049 a litre, and the 91 is 99c. Remember that fact, kids. Those were golden days.

The customer tended to, Paul goes back inside and keeps singing “I don’t care anymore”. Even a dwarf customer isn’t enough to break his boredom, so he goes out the back and jams on his keyboard, using headphones.

A shifty looking young man (who I think I recognise from my olden Hamilton act0rizing days) comes in the shop and buys some chewing gum. He’s either wanting to break a big note or he’s casing the joint.

Paul returns to his back-room jamming, and the shifty dude returns and steals several boxes of Cadbury chocolate bars. He runs out and there’s the geezer in the Mercedes waiting. What kind of arrangement is this? Rich older man picks up a young street youth, gets him to steal chocolate bars and they go back to the geezer’s mansion and spend all night eating Pinkys and Crunchies until they crash out in a sugar coma, holding each other as they sleep?

And then the video expects us to happily go back to Paul moping around the petrol station. No, I want to know what the odd-couple crims are up to.

Note: In 2012, PanAm released a revved up new recording of the song.

Best bit: the physical comedy of the thief dumping the haul of choccies in the back seat of the Merc.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… you, me and everyone we know.

Pine “Days on End”

2003-pine-days-on-end“Days on End” was shot in one take, but it doesn’t feel like a typically gimmicky “one-take wonder”. The video was shot in New York City and focuses on band members walking the city streets, but it isn’t a simple walk around the block.

Instead the band cover vast distances, catching taxis to take them around the city. When we see Aaron and Stephen lip-syncing, the video is slowed down, given a dreamy feeling. But in between verses the action speeds up with the group zipping around the streets, so fast it’s impossible to keep track of their journey.

It’s a chilled-out, lazy song, and the video is just as relaxed. The potentially exotic setting of New York hasn’t been allowed to dominate the video. This isn’t a band who are bursting with excitement at being in the Big Apple. It’s just some people hanging out in a city.

Best bit: the sped-up journey slows down for a little while to feature a couple of old ladies hobbling along the footpath.

Note: The first 1:23 of this video is bars and tone, which is very unpleasant.

Director: Richard Bell

Next… put your serious face on.

PanAm “Interstate Boy”

2002-panam-interstate-boyI figure the titular Interstate Boy is a distant cousin of Telegram Sam. He seems to exist for the purposes of making the lyrics sound cool. Is the song really about a pretty boy who has travelled to several states? Or is just an excuse to drawl out “interstate” because it’s a cool word?

The video doesn’t even attempt to sort out the lyrics. Instead the band are plonked inside a grunty old steam train along with an old man. The video is also shot in high-contrast black and white, so things manage to look really cool. Yeah, check out the clouds of steam and the hot fire of the engine boiler.

A lot of the video involves lead singer Paul playing the song on his acoustic guitar, when the only guitar in the song is loud, distorted, crunchy electric. It’s like a warped take on the cliche of the travelling hobo, hitching a ride in a boxcar. We also see the whole band playing, crammed inside the narrow-gauge New Zealand railcar.

Meanwhile, the old man (who has a pet rat) come in and does a freaky dance in front of the band. This sort of thing never happened on the Crunchie train.

And these high jinks continue into the night, as the train rolls onto its destination, with the three rock dudes, the old fella and his pet rat. I’m intrigued to know what happens next. What further adventures will these four interstate boys (and one interstate rat) face?

Best bit: the brief appearance of a comedy Afro wig on the old man.

Bonus: here’s a list of director Richard Bell’s five favourite videos that he’s worked on, as presented on a rapidly decaying TVNZ webpage.

Bonus II: Songlines Across New Zealand has a good interview with Paul from PanAm. He describes the “Interstate Boy” video as:

“A sort of ‘crazy train’ idea seemed a fitting visual motif for the song Interstate Boy. Got the train, got the weird actor guy, got the chickens and the rat, got the band on board and voila!- a music video. It has its flaws but it’s an interesting little video.”

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the dire consequences of genetic engineering.