Tadpole “Better Days”

2001-tadpole-better-days“Better Days” was the final video of the seven songs released off “The Buddhafinger”. Tadpole’s previous videos have all had their own style and “Better Days” continues that with the Wade Shotter-directed video being done in anime style.

We meet the band in their Japanese-style animated form being taunted by their nemesis, a thuggish, green-skinned chap. Like the Power Rangers, Tadpole are colour-coded in red, blue, yellow and Renee in pink. They also come complete with their own collector cards.

The four friends are determined to slay the golly green giant, each blasting him with powers derived from their musical talents. Even Renee’s supersonic scream has no effect. And the group’s little frog friend just ends up getting splattered.

So what can slay their emerald enemy? Why, the buddhafinger, of course. The figure from the album cover smiles benevolently, granting them powers. And with one touch, the green guy becomes mushy peas.

It’s really good to see an animated video that’s got it right. Animation is time-consuming and takes a lot of thought and planning to get right. Other animated music videos haven’t been so successful. Having said that, I can’t help feel that the song would have been better served by a live-action video, but the crazy world of “Better Days” works well enough.

Best bit: the actual tadpole. It tried.

The video was given a special award at the 2002 New Zealand Music Video Awards.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… European vacation.

Steriogram “White Trash”

2001-steriogram-white-trashThis was “the video that started things off for us in New Zealand,” notes the Vimeo description. And indeed it was, with the sight of a skinny-arse, grease-covered, mulleted lead rapper Tyson kicking off the band’s burst of fame.

Tyson is in character as a hardcore westie/bogan type, with a hairdo reminiscent of Dave Spade’s “Joe Dirt” character. Being a mechanic, he’s covered in so much grease that I wonder if he’s some sort of holistic mechanic who fixes cars using his entire body.

The rest of the band arrived and with them are a couple of westie chicks. Tyson degreases and puts on his fancy going-out threads – a t-shirt reading “FAT AND PROUD”, which is funny because he’s only one of those.

Comedian and marriage celebrant Ewan Gilmour also joins the group, instantly attracting the attention of one of the chicks. That’s serious westie mana.

The video climaxes with some formation dancing, done with a similar ironic style that Fur Patrol did in “Andrew”. There’s something to be said when dance routines finally show up in New Zealand music videos, they’re done with tongue in cheek.

Steriogram’s videos have a lot of that cheeky spirit that forebears Supergroove had in abundance before they got all serious. The ‘Gram are happy to get all greased up and mulleted in the name of a fun video. And Ewan the Westie gets his girl.

Best bit: Tyson’s mullet preening.

Director: Adam Jones
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… mighty morphin’ power popstars.

P-Money “Scribe 2001”

“Scribe 2001” was a P-Money track (and the opening track on his debut album) but the song was undeniably about the young rapper Scribe. The early 2000s were good for Scribe, the golden years before things started to get complicated. With P-Money’s sophisticated beats, “Scribe 2001” is an introduction to this fresh MC who had a way with words.

The video is incredibly low-budget and was made by P-Money himself. There’s even a brief shot of him reflected in a mirror as he films Scribe, holding the tiniest of video cameras. If P-Money is ever in the shot, the camera is stationary.

The video begins with the duo and pals in a car on a rainy afternoon. They have the freshly released CD single of the track and they blast it in the car stereo, relishing this moment of awesomeness. The video then has a quick montage of New Zealand music personalities of the era – there’s Otis and Slave, Jane Yee, DJ Sir-Vere and Che Fu. And then here’s Scribe telling us his story’s just begun, implying he’s the logical next step in that line-up.

The low-budget video camera gives everything a dull grey, washed-out look. Even Scribe and P-Money look less like a respected DJ and MC and more like a couple of friends mucking around with a video camera. But back then, that’s kind of what they were – a couple of dudes who knew they had a cool song that needed a video.

The video is totally lacking in glamour. They’re hanging around in a hotel room, by some lifts, in a stairwell, in a record shop. It’s a bland utilitarian landscape, brought to life by the killer track.

At one point Scribe is sitting at a table in a nondescript hotel room. In front of him is some cash. Not stacks of Benjamins, rather a more modest Hillary and a Queenie. P-Money flicks a 20 at the camera. The scene comes across as both a parody of hip-hop videos and the sincere swagger of two guys who know one day they’ll be able to do that in a fancy hotel suite and with big stacks of Rutherfords.

But whatever flaws the video might have, none of it really matters. The song is so strong that the video doesn’t need to be super slick. Hey, it’s Scribe and he has some rhymes for you.

Best bit: the people who share the lift with Scribe: frozen; horrified.

Director: Peter Waddams
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… take out the trash.

Evermore “Oil & Water”

2001-evermore-oil-and-waterIt’s Evermore, the triple-bro guitar-pop group who’s had more success in Australia than New Zealand. “Oil & Water” was a track on the Hume brothers’ second EP (also titled “Oil & Water”) and it’s a pleasant enough song, but nothing remarkable.

The video takes the trio and puts them in an interesting old building full of bunches of twigs and pools of water. Or is that pools of oil? Either way, it’s not oil and water.

The lyrics are intent on using the oil and water not mixing as a metaphor to represent relationship tension. But oil and water aren’t all that bad. If it’s a petroleum-based oil, it can produce a cheerful rainbow. And add a few spices and herbs and you’ll have a delicious salad dressing.

Instead the video goes for a gothic tone. The brothers may be performing in front of a bright window, but they inhabit a world of stark silhouettes and those wintery twigs. It feels a bit post-grunge (is that a thing?), pulling away from the bright guitar pop of the late ’90s and bringing a bit of serious back.

Best bit: the awesome hair silhouettes, bringing an artful quality to a remnant of the hair metal days.

Bonus! Here’s a documentary on the 2000 Smokefreerockquest, where Evermore (aged 13-16) took out the big prize. Hugh Sundae also chats to other finalists Nesian Mystik and an early version of Die! Die! Die!

Next… the beginning of the story.

Dark Tower “Alright Now”

2001-dark-tower-alright-nowThe Dark Tower lads are back and this time they’re having an adventure in a central Wellington neighbourhood. Jody and Eli are cheerfully walking home, not realising that in their flat is the dastardly Mario. He’s eating their cornchips, drinking their beer, farting on their couch and macking on Jody’s girlfriend (as explained by on-screen titles). They walk in mid-mack and Mario makes a run for it, sparking off an epic chase on foot.

It’s not exactly a geographically accurate chase, more a patchwork of chainlink fences, narrow alleyways, paved backyards and bits of flat and hilly Wellington. At one stage the duo are overtaken by a jogger. This doesn’t stop them catching up with the corn chip thief, but he surprises them with a posse of thugs. Fortunately a deus ex machina arrives in the form of Jody’s mum, who flips off the goons and rescues the lads.

But is it too late? Back in the flat, Mario has returned to continue his dance of seduction. Jody’s girlfriend is enjoying herself as Mario shimmies, with his giant belly overhanging his giant Y-fronts. Aw yeah.

At this point I’m wondering what the motivation behind the chase was. Jody’s girlfriend seems much happier with Mario (and what woman wouldn’t want a bearded fellow who’s not afraid to dance in his undies?). Surely corn chip theft is a pardonable crime. But perhaps for Dark Tower, doing a curry fart into someone’s couch is the worst crime of all.

It’s a fun video with great editing, capturing the anarchic spirit of Dark Tower.

Best bit: the birthday boy who gets a face full of cake, thanks to the disruptive chase.

Note: there are two slightly different versions of this video. In one, Dark Tower are credited as Earl Deviance and Eel, in the other they’re Jody and Eli.

Director: David Stubbs

Colliding Traits “Sometimes”

2001-colliding-traits-sometimesColliding Traits were, the internet tells me, overall winners of the West Auckland Battle Of The Bands Regional Final, and had crossover with the Christian pop scene. They were also appreciated for their songcraft. And “Sometimes” feels like a well-crafted song, like a mellower Feelers or a less showbiz Opshop.

There’s only 1:43 of the video online, but it’s not hard to guess what the missing first half of the video would be like. Basically, the band perform the video in a black studio while they are showered with water, like it’s raining. This might be a reference to their 1999 EP “Through the Rain”. Or it might just have been done because it looks cool.

The band are good sports, not looking all that bothered by the torrent coming down on them (apart from the occasional defensive nose scrunch).

While the rain doesn’t serve any purpose other than to spice up an otherwise ordinary performance video, wetness in a music video does look great (as Tex Pistol demonstrated in 1987). Everyone looks dramatic and bothered, and the water crashing down on the cymbals is visual poetry. It’s like the old Hollywood saying about Esther Williams – dry they ain’t much, but wet they’re stars. Kind of.

This was the first and only NZ On Air-funded video that Colliding Traits had, eventually breaking up after releasing their debut album in 2002. But this isn’t a bad way of remembering them.

Best bit: the dramatic saturated hair flicks.

Note: the band’s website is still online, last updated in 1999. It’s a classic turn-of-the-millennium minimalist website design, complete with tiny Verdana text.

Next… who’s been eating my corn chips?

Cassette “Don’t Let Anyone”

2001-cassette-dont-let-anyone“Don’t Let Anyone” is a laid-back alt-country number, but the video takes the trio on a much wilder adventure. We meet the group as they’re each driving in identical brown cars. A handy map identifies that they’re travelling from separate parts of town, all headed for the centrally located Paydirt Studios.

The video uses a lot of animated backgrounds, and there’s plenty of CGI trickery, like when the band pulls up in their three identical cars (all played by the same car). The lads head into the pink palatial studio complex and each goes into an area with a different theme, involving costume, props and appropriate backgrounds. There’s a hunting lodge, a tropical beach and a winter wonderland. Hunting Lodge Tom gets to sing the song as part of his area.

It seems that Paydirt Studios are kindly making a music video for Cassette, but the Paydirt’s surreal production line is making a rather off video. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable in this strange “presentacion de los Cassettes”, the trio escape, sprinting through the sets as they flee the studios and pile into one of the brown cars as they made their getaway.

The video was directed by Jonny Kofoed, who’s since made a career out of doing delightful animations for the world of advertising. I like his dark take on the world of video production.

Best bit: Tom’s very long look in the rearview mirror.

Director: Jonny Kofoed
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… wet, wet, wet.

Augustino “Into The Grain”

2001-augustino-into-the-grainI love this video so much. In fact, if someone told me I had to stop 5000 Ways today, I’d almost be ok with that. “Into the Grain” is little over two and a half minutes long, but it feels like every shot in the film is the right thing in the right place.

The video begins with a door, the NZ On Air logo rotating on a door hanger. Eagle-eyed readers will noticed that this is where I got the above header image from. Inside we find Sean from Augustino sitting on a chair in an otherwise empty room. It’s decorated with shagpile carpet and a grotesque rococo-style wallpaper. The camera slowly pans in on him, but it feel like hesitant pan, as if it’s afraid to get too close. After the first stanza Sean stops lip-synching and turns to the left. He notices that the wallpaper pattern is writing. Trippy as.

The chorus switches to Augustino rocking out in a small room. It looks like they’re in a rundown house, a contrast from the room of weird. For the next verse we’re back with Sean in the freaky room. It continues to be freaky and then it’s really annoying because a fly walks across your screen. You go to swat it away but suddenly realise it’s part of the music video. Well, you think, that was a neat trick.

Back to the chorus and this time we see the band graffitiing a room in the rundown house. It’s the worst graffiti ever, just random scribbles. I mean, a 13-year-old kid from the suburbs could tag up a wall with greater style than that.

Again we join Sean as he continues to stare down the camera. But suddenly flies start crawling out of his mouth, and the image starts to shake and warp. It wasn’t just one trick fly – they’re everywhere! It’s like the video has become too intense and is breaking apart from the pressure.

What’s the perfect antidote to an intense situation? Why, a coffee break. We join the band in the kitchen of the old house, having a sped-up coffee break. But this is not enough to stem the chaos. Sean bravely swats away the increasing numbers of flies that are pestering him, and soon the screen becomes crowded with the pests.

The video was directed by Augustino drummer Wade Shotter. As well as having really strong usuals, the video also has a great sense of rhythm. “Into the Grain” is a manic, slightly ridiculous song about getting out of it on drugs, but the video takes that to a whole ‘nother level.

Best bit: the warping wallpaper, the merest hint of the craziness to follow.

Director: Wade Shotter

Next… step inside a world of fantasy.

Missing videos from 2001

February 2001

Augustino “Overblown”

According to an Augustino fan forum from 2001, “Overblown” was a radio-only release for Augustino. The forum is amazing. It’s so full of energy and enthusiasm for this cool band everyone loves, there’s bonding and hugs when September 11 happens, then the forum regulars suddenly peter out just as the band release their debut album. And if a band’s fan base can’t stick around, there’s not much hope for the band.

BJ White “Uptown”

The only thing I can find out about “Uptown” by BJ White is that it was included on a sampler CD from Festival Mushroom Records, in between tracks from Lash and Kylie.

Canvas “Tina”

Canvas were an enthusiastic trio of young men from Wellington by way of Christchurch. “Tina” was a good pop track and the video got decent airplay on music video shows.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Flipside “Movin'”

So, an artist called Flipside received funding for a track called “Movin'”. It’s almost impossible to google (and it doesn’t help that there are two other artists called Flipside with tracks that involve “Movin'” in the title) so I can’t find anything on this track.

Nurture “Beautiful”

Nurture was a poptastic collaboration between Deep Obsession producer Christopher Banks and singer Phil Madsen. “Beautiful” was their first single and it reached #13 in the charts.

Sumix “Jump House”

Sumix was a hip hip duo consisting of friends Craig Mckenzie and Aidan Richards. Their single “Jump House” is an upbeat number with a insanely cheerful chorus that instantly reveals Craig’s roots in Christian pop. (Seriously, it has such a Christian chorus). The video was involved the duo going down the slides at Wairewa hot pools. The video evidently made so little impact that director Joe Lonie could safely later recycle the video concept Falter’s “Falling to Pieces” video in 2003.

Director: Joe Lonie

April 2001

Dam Native “Terminal Illness”

Last seen in 1997, Dam Native returned with the boisterous “Terminal Illness” (which eventually showed up on their 2010 album “Aotearoa Nobody Does It Better”). Here’s the band playing the song live in Wellington.

Jester “Eyes For Xmas”

It sounds like the name of a yuletide horror film, but Jester‘s “Eyes 4 Xmas” is actually a sweet guitar-pop tune. The video seems to have taken inspiration from Popstars. Nga Taonga describes it as “An amusing take on a reality TV talent show. We are privy to auditions for the band (“day 12″), recording the single, shooting the video, creating an image and – Jester’s first show.”

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Pierced “Painted Angels”

All I’ve been able to find out about Pierced is that they toured with Loki in 2003. “Painted Angels” was their only NZ On Air funding.

Pine “Speeding”

Pine are a three-piece pop band who specialise in melodic charm. Nga Taonga describe it as “Pine play with a Scaletrix slot-car racing set.” “Speeding” isn’t online, but here’s an in-studio performance from the late night music programme “Space”.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Sheelahroc “If I Gave U Th’ Mic”

Sheelahroc were an all-girl hip hop trio from Christchurch, comprising of Ladi6, Voodoo Child and Tyra Hammond, a powerhouse of talent. The cool and cautionary “If I Gave You Th’ Mic” was their only NZ On Air funded video. My vague memory of it was an overhead shot of Ladi6 in a space like the train station foyer. The video needs to be online! In this documentary, the group talk about the video shoot being a bit of a mess, and the end video not really making much sense.

June 2001

Canvas “Sunday”

Canvas had their second funded video “Sunday”. From memory, it was the band playing the song in a house, going for a lazy-Sunday vibe.

Carmen Steele “Believe In Me”

Kiwihits noted that Carmen Steele‘s song “Believe In Me” was a “reaction to media coverage of the tragic incidence of child abuse in New Zealand” and that the production make it “one of the year’s most evocative songs”. It was Carmen’s only NZOA funding.

Garageland “Highway”

Garageland‘s “Highway” is a cheerful ode to road-tripping, and other pleasures. Nga Taonga describe the video as, “Footage from the road – including the Capitol Records – and on stage on a US tour by Garageland.”

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

GST “Put Up A Fight”

GST, the early incarnation of Opshop, have the song “Put Up A Fight”. Most significantly, it was the making of this video that inspired Jason Kerrison to build his apocalypse shelter. As Jason told Salient, the video was filmed at his landlord’s “monolithic dome structure”, which inspired him to build his own.

PA Styles “Summer Breeze”

PA Styles were twins Naomi and Sharlene Sadlier. “Crowds are drawn to P.A Styles like moths to a flame,” claimed a Southgate Entertainment press release, creating an image of crowds of people madly running around PA Styles. “Summer Breeze” was their only funded video.

Director: Rongotai Lomas

Purrr “Oxygen”

Purrr‘s final funded video was “Oxygen”, but I’m not entirely sure if a video was actually made. Oh well, it was nice knowing you, three-piece girlband.

August 2001

D-Super “The Moths”

D-Super go for a janglier, poppier sound for “The Moths”. It was their third and final NZ On Air-funded music video.

Meno Panteboy “Any Kinda Weather”

Meno Panteboy were an Auckland group made up of musicians who’d previously worked with artists such as Che Fu, Greg Johnson, Nathan Haines and John Rowles. “Any Kinda Weather” was a bFM hit. (In case you’re wondering, panteboy is the Greek transliteration of rendezvous and is another name for a coffee house.)

Slim “Crumbling”

Slim have their final NZOA-funded video “Crumbling”, an upbeat song about someone who is struggling with drink and drugs.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

October 2001

Aaria “Cry No More”

I’m disappointed that Aaria‘s “Cry No More” video isn’t online. The slick bilingual pop vocal group had a top 10 hit with this single, but it was to be their last. From memory, the video had a similar vibe to the Spice Girls’ “2 Become 1” – all city-at-night cool.

The Relaxomatic Project “At The Onset”

There’s no sign of the final video “At the Onset” from Auckland groovsters the Relaxomatic Project.

December 2001

Garageland “Crazy”

I’m not sure if Garageland actually made a video for “Crazy”, but it’s worth celebrating as it was their last lot of video funding. They had a total of 15 videos funded over seven years, which is an impressive rate. From the low-budget fun of the early years to the more sophisticated vids of later years, Garageland made good use of the medium of music video.

Lavina Williams “So I Cry”

The “V” in Ma-V-Elle, Lavina Williams went solo with “So I Cry”. In 2006 Lavina made it to the final 12 of Australian Idol, following younger sister Emily who placed second in the 2005 series.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Michelle Kazor “In This Life”

According to the bio on Amplifier, Michelle Kazor‘s debut single “In This Life” was the “highest charting song from an unsigned act ever on radio” – but that’s referring to a radio plays chart, not the singles chart. I’m not totally sure if this video ended up having NZ On Air funding, but it’s in the Nga Taonga archive, nonetheless.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision


There were two non-funded videos that made a significant impact in 2001. One was the Deceptikonz‘s “Fallen Angels”, the other was Blindspott‘s debut “Nil By Mouth”. It was self-funded and made with a budget of a mere $800. With a solid song behind it and a great scream-along chorus, it proved a popular hit and won Breakthrough Video Artist at the Juice TV awards and launched Blindspott as alternative metal heroes. (There’s a slightly-higher-budget alternative version, but it’s not as much fun as the original.)

Garageland “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?”

This video didn’t used to be online, but there’d been enough written about it that I could kind of review it from memory. But now that it’s been uploaded, well, there’s even more to write about.

But first, this video features nudity. Totally NSFW. Also, I’m not 100% sure if this video eventually had NZ On Air funding as it’s only in one of the three lists I use. But nonetheless, this vid is still worthy of a few paragraphs.

In their early days, Garageland made fun, colourful pop videos, but they sometimes got a little edgier with their later releases. Still, their previous video, “Gone” was a funny low-budget vid that imagined a world where Garageland were big in Asia. But things changed with “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?”

It was directed by Myles Van Urk, the man behind “The Trip” compilation albums of “alternative grunge” from the early ’90s, and his own foray into the world of pop with the 1994 track “Sanctuary”. This time Myles was taking Garageland into the world of live nude girls.

The video is a slick extravaganza, filmed in black and white and set in a strip club. The video even started with opening titles, crediting the band and the video’s director. And then came the strippers. Crotches thrust at the camera in an erotic fashion. And the boobs – the troublesome boobs.

The nudity meant it didn’t get to screen much in its unedited form. I remember seeing it screened on a late-night music video show, given all truckload of promotion because boobs. The nippless version was still restricted to after the 9.30pm watershed. But the world’s cruel reaction to his artwork seemed to take Myles by surprise. He had, after all, just wanted to create a video that was “beautiful, simple, hedonistic, ironic, potent and most importantly rock’n’roll”. Yes, ironic strippers.

As Myles explained in a 2001 statement, “It was never a question of ‘eek, let’s put some tits in here and make the video really edgy and controversial'”. No, the video just happened to end up like that.

Funnily enough, in a TVNZ article on the matter, all the producers of music video shows quoted were sympathetic to Garageland. They liked the video, they wanted to play it, it’s just that it was inappropriate for their audiences and time slots.

Myles mused, “Perhaps it’s naive to consider the music video one of the last free mediums where art and commerce don’t collide.” Lolz! Music videos are precisely all about the sticky collision of art and commerce. As the NZ Herald commented at the time, “We here thought music videos were exactly the point where art and commerce not only collide, but end up lap dancing with each other.”

So how did the “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” video affect Garageland’s career? Well, it created a largely bemused reaction in the media. The single didn’t chart and the album it was taken from was to be their last. But, you know, Garageland were still cool.

The lesson: you want boobies in your vid? You must pay the price.

Director: Myles Van Urk
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Neil’s day off.