Possibly inspired by the psychiatric-themed cover art of their debut album The Mad Love, the “Home By 2” video puts 48May in a padded cell (room 48, of course). Except rather than looking like a secure psychiatric facility, it looks more like someone has bought some green duvets from Spotlight and stapled them to sheets of plywood. When the band members hurl themselves at the walls, the walls move. Classic era Doctor Who sets had more structural integrity.
The sight of the band leaping around the padded cell is pretty ordinary. It’s not until the second verse that things get interesting. Lead singer Jon is on the floor, sensually writhing about like Miley Cyrus in her “Adore You” video. He’s biting his lip and giving the camera the glad eye and at one point he kind of humps the padded floor. I can’t help but wonder what fate would have awaited 48May if they’d been around in the era of Tumblr. They would have been gif’d good and proper. Yeah, like that.
Disappointingly, the rest of the video goes back to the band leaping around the mock padded cell. “Do you think I’ll be fine,” the lyrics enquire. Well, given that the band has been allowed their musical instruments inside the padded cell, I’d say they’re not really at risk of self-harm. Go on, give us another song.
“What You Owe” was the third single by Rockquest winners The Have. The group were one of five New Zealand acts to perform at South by Southwest in 2004, with “What You Owe” being included in a best of SXSW CD included with UK music industry publication Music Week.
Director: Adam Jones
Falter “Fear Of Heights”
Christchurch punk-pop band Falter, the 2003 Rockquest winners, have their second single “Fear of Heights”. The single was recorded at York Street Studios as part of their Rockquest prize package.
The saga of the missing video for Crumb’s song “Got It All” has the best story. Basically, the band had agreed to work with a director who was planning an ambitious semi-animated video. It involved something like the lead singer performing at a gig, seeing a mysterious girl who zaps him and he’s sucked into a cartoon world. The production was all going well until the band saw the finished product. It was terrible. No one was happy. The label refused to pay and the video never saw the light of day. No known copy of it exists, just some raw footage and a few stills. One can only hope that some day “Got It All” will surface in all its glory.
“Case” is the final video from Dimmer’s second album “You’ve Got to Hear the Music”. It’s one of those great Dimmer tracks that sounds like the soundtrack to the best/worst weekend. The video used to be hosted at Amplifier and a lone screenshot is all that remains.
The Heavy Jones Trio song “Free” was their second funded video and the first single off their debut album. Director Ivan Slavov vaguely but intriguingly noted that the band “gave us freedom of expression which lets us do our job.”
“Homeland” was the follow-up single from No Artificial Flavours, but also their final NZ On Air funded video – though I’m not actually sure if a video was made. There was talk of an album, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. But I found a 2009 profile of frontman Taaz where there’s mention of new music.
Salisha Taylor “I Saw An Angel”
Young singer Salisha Taylor had her debut single “I Saw An Angel”. There’s little trace of her online, but I found a post on the soc.culture.new-zealand newsgroup where an enthusiastic member of her team described her as “a real diva but she still replies to all her fan mail.” This prompted someone to cruelly reply: “It’s good to see New Zealand music in the international spotlight. It’s a shame its shit New Zealand music.”
48May had funding for their song “Spinning Around”. There’s no sign of the video, but instead here’s “Into the Sun”. It seems to have been made around the same time and includes outtakes from “Home By 2”, as well as ever reliable live footage.
Red Drum “Resurrect Jim”
Red Drum was a rock band fronted by Garageland frontman Jeremy Eade and “Resurrect Jim” was their funded song. A 2003 blog from Arch Hill Recordings mentions the production of a Red Drum song called “No Cross in the Crossroads”, but there’s no sign of that either.
This month’s consolation video is Steriogram’s lively “Walkie Talkie Man”, directed by the perpetually creative French director Michel Gondry, far removed from the world of NZOA. By the mid 2000s Monsieur Gondry was well established as one of the cool-dude video directors, so he was the go-to guy for Capitol Records when they needed an impressive music video to attempt to launch Steriogram in America. The stop-motion-animated woolly world was created by production designer Lauri Faggioni and her team of knitters. (This is also a good enough place to link to Gondry’s enigmatic video for “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto, one of my favourite videos ever.) Seeing a big budget video like this makes all the New Zealand videos set on beaches seem like roughly made home movies (and in some cases that’s just what they were). Sometimes it’s just nice to revel in the world of the fancy international music video in all its glory. (Director: Michel Gondry; Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
Hey, this is the halfway point!
In almost three years, I’ve reviewed 777 videos, which is quite a lot, really. There are also 350 videos that aren’t currently available online (like the ones above), though there are definitely more videos available from the mid 2000s than there were from the early ’90s. And 57 previously awol videos have since turned up online, which is splendid. I just need to get around to catching up with those ones.
When I started 5000 Ways, I didn’t have a specific end date in mind, but I realised that I don’t want to do it forever (oh God). So I’ve decided that a good enough end goal is June 2011, the final funding round of $5000 grants before that was replaced with the current Making Tracks scheme. I’ve roughly calculated how long it’s going to take to complete it and I will reveal this: it’s going to take a bit longer than three years. It’s ok. It’s not like I have anything better to do.
The one thing this project has done is completely kill the joy of nostalgia for me. When I look at a video from the olden times, it’s like I’m seeing it how I saw it back then. And when I’m not watching old music videos, I only listen to contemporary music. Anything older than five years just makes me feel depressed. Yay.
Anyway. This is still loads of fun. Most videos are a pleasure to watch and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. The only ones I have trouble with are ones that are just really boring – because no one deliberately sets out to make a boring video. But at least now when I come across a difficult video, I can at least console myself that I’m over the hump.
Ok, on we go. Here’s a video right from the beginning, “The Beautiful Things” by the Front Lawn one of the first three to be funded.
48May 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.
This video starts with something I haven’t seen since the ’90s – a customised NZ On Air logo. This time it’s the standard graffiti style logo, but some aerosol paint can sound effects have been added.
The video takes place in a wooden frame of a building. It doesn’t quite look like an active building site, maybe more like the construction was halted halfway through. Well, whatever happened it has provided an officially interesting setting for a punk-pop music video shoot.
And that’s about all that happens. There’s 48May performing in front of a bunch of unlined rooms.
I’m intrigued by this building. It’s by the sea, it appears to have a rooftop deck (the drummer is found up there, surrounded by a “CAUTION” tape fence) and one room has a (hole for a) large picture window overlooking the beach. I like to think of this as being a Bond villain’s lair under construction.
At the end of the video, the group get out of the house and play closer to the beach. But this isn’t anywhere near as interesting as performing inside a strange half-built house.
Update: Stu says, “If memory serves, [lead singer] Jon’s family were building that house out at Raglan.”
Best bit: the lone curtain, tacked up on a window hole.
I had a look at 48 May Street on Google Street View, the Hamilton student flat where the band formed in 2002. There’s a bunch of old furniture dumped on the front lawn and a ute parked on the berm. Bloody students.
A NZ Musician magazine profile notes the support the band had from NZ On Air, with bass player Shannon saying “We’d still be at the fish and chip shop playing Street Fighter 1 if it wasn’t for NZ On Air.” That’s probably more to do with the two $50,000 recoupable album grants the band had, but their seven music video grants are just as important.
“Fight Back” was a bright, shiny debut single, with production by Welsh producer Greg Haver via the Resonate music conference. But the video isn’t quite as slick as the song.
The band are playing in what looks like a school gymnasium, sometimes wearing bits of American football protective gear. It turns out they need the protection because each band member beats himself up. It’s like a freakish neurological condition – the man who gave himself the bash. They’re joined by cheerleaders (to jump around in support) and medics (to look on in bewilderment).
The video concept doesn’t quite work. Why are the band beating themselves up? What have they done wrong? Unless you’re a 48 May hater, what pleasure is there to see the lead singer of a band with a (fake) injured face? And by the time the drummer repeatedly slams his head against the drumkit, it’s all just getting weird.
Best bit: bass player Shannon’s bondage trousers.
Note: the video was on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down and there’s no alternative.