Augustino return to the Wintergarden at Auckland Domain, previously seen there for the video for their 2000 single “The Silent Film”. So, is “You’re Making Me Sober” a sequel? Well, it doesn’t appear to be, both videos have an eerie scifi flavour to them.
Lyrics about booze and other mind-altering substances feature a lot on Augustino’s lyrics. But rather than by going for a more literal interpretation of the lyrics, instead goes in an astral direction.
This time the band are strolling around the back of the buildings, passing a number of people who seem to be set up to watch some sort of eclipse. There are telescopes, goggles, reflecting ponds, and cardboard boxes with slits – very instructional! And just to make things even more unusual, the watchers are all very different groups – an Asian family, a group of Victorian-era nurses and 1940s schoolboys.
All are staring up at a new-moon shaped brightness in the sky. We never see it directly (it’s not safe, you know), but we see it reflected in various surfaces. Finally the eclipse ends and sunshine returns to the Domain.
There’s something reassuringly eerie about eclipses, and combined with ye olde scientific equipment, things get even spookier. It’s like all these people have time-travelled from various points in the past to view the that particular eclipse in Auckland Domain in 2004. But the question is – what are Augustino doing there and why aren’t they using any devices for safely observing the eclipse?
It’s another Augustino song that’s an ode to the high life. “I’m going downtown! I wanna get high,” sneers Sean on the chorus. But being a music video, there’s no graphic depiction of drugs. Instead the video opens with series of empty shot glasses, with the drinkers signalling for more. They never feature again in the video. Oh, so with all those unfilled glasses, maybe the band is just high on life.
“Going Downtown” is bright, energetic rock song with never a quiet moment. The video goes with this, depicting the band performing outside in Auckland at night, with the illuminated shaft of Sky Tower popping up in the distance. It’s all looking very sexy, with great lighting. The camera work does much to capture the energy of the song. It runs around the band as they’re playing, with good rock video editing getting the rhythm.
Sean is a fantastic frontman and works the camera with his great rock swagger. In fact, The rest of the band are looking cool, but there’s also a vibe like a bunch of guys who work in advertising who’ve decided to form a band. There’s a lot of coolness, but it always seems to feel like it’s being done because that’s what you’re supposed to do in a rock video.
Best bit: the “I wanna get high” sweep up the Sky Tower.
This video starts with a young woman, looking slightly more authentically dirty than Purest Form managed as mechanics in their “Lady” video. She wakes up and discovers she’s in a grim, empty corridor where the only exit appears to be locked doors at one end. The video is shot in black and white, so you know things are serious.
I’m not convinced by the quality of act0rizing. She seems completely puzzled by the way the corridor has walls, and that way there is a ceiling that exists. She’s not too fussed about the floor though.
I have just spent about 10 minutes engaged in an acting workshop, where I lay down in the hallway and pretended to be someone who had just woken up in a strange corridor, to see if could do a better job of acting. If it were me, I’d walk around a lot more, sussing out the situation, rather than just staring at the wall as if I’d never seen a wall before.
Augustino are also in this strange corridor, but their world is filmed in negative, so everything looks really weird. Actually, the weirdness is helped by the band wearing theatrical make-up to create areas of shadow and light. Sometimes it gives a positive effect with the negative footage other times it looks quite sinister looking. But because it’s shot in negative, it’s easy to think, oh, that’s just the negative effect.
Back to the lost girl. She yells, bangs at the doors, and eventually they open, turning her strange corridor into Augustino’s strange corridor in negative. Bummer.
“In and Out of Nowhere” is a defiant but upbeat song, but the video makes it about as bleak as the lyrics will allow. I like when Greg Page makes unusual, experimental-style videos, but I can’t help feel that this song would have been better served by a video treatment that was a bit less grim.
Best bit: the pleasingly punctuated subtitles for the girl’s cries of despair – “HELLO?! Anyone…?”
“Captain Zero” is an unusual song in that it’s quite good, but also not. It’s a hook-laden pop-rock number, but yet it somehow feels a bit too clean. It’s like if there was a movie about an indie rock band that had one big hit record, this would be it. And it wouldn’t quite be convincing.
The video is just as nice. The video starts with shots of the band lazing around a bar. While the song is kicking off with great energy, the band looks tired and depressed as they slouch in the bar’s booths. But as soon as the first verse begins, the band are suddenly in position with their instruments, rocking out.
The proper bandmanship continues until the chorus, a laid-back bit regarding Captain Zero himself. This sees the band return to their lazy-arsed positions, all looking fairly disappointed by this Captain Zero chap.
This alternating style continues, but as the song approaches its end, things get shaken up a little. The camera begins to wobble and go in and out of focus, as if it’s been overcome by the intensity of strange world of Captain Zero. This is a bit of a trademark of Greg Page, something that has taken on an uneasy new meaning after the earthquakes of recent years.
New video editing technology is put to use with a filter that keeps only red colours, rendering everything else in black and white. Now it’s the sort of thing you could now do with an iPhone app, but back in 2002 it was a cool new thing.
Maybe I’m inflicting really high standards on Augustino based on their previously brilliant videos and songs. “Captain Zero” is a good video and a good song, but it just feels like there’s something missing.
I 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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‘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.”
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‘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.
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 have their final NZOA-funded video “Crumbling”, an upbeat song about someone who is struggling with drink and drugs.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Last seen in 1994 with his Smokefreerockquest-conquering high school band Halucian, Sean Clarke emerged as the frontman of Augustino. “The Silent Film” was their first single, with the video co-directed by drummer Wade Shotter, who is now a professional director of ads, videos and other delights.
As the video begins, we find the band playing outside at the Wintergardens at Auckland Domain. The video is shot in high-contrast black and white, with digital scratches added for that authentic faux old look.
But wait. Something is a bit unusual. Rotating above the lilypond is the giant A of the Augustino logo. It’s a little bit corporate, a little bit sci-fi and every so slightly unnerving.
But the video doesn’t dwell on that, letting the focus stay mainly on the band. But just when things are at risk of getting a little boring, something unusual happens, thanks to the wonderful world of CGI. Bursting out of the film comes a flying cube, looking like an extra from a Doctor Who episode.
The cube flits about, observes the band (who are oblivious to all the strange goings-on), is grabbed at by a giant claw and then multiplies and attacks the giant A. The cubes retreat into a wormhole type thing where, Voltron style, they form a giant cube. Such is the power of the mega cube that the film melts, leaving only the Augustino logo which proceeds to fall apart. Mega cube 1, Augustino logo 0.
All this CGI mayhem impressed the right people – “The Silent Film” was nominated for Best Video in the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards, losing out to the Stereo Bus’ “Touchdown” vid.
Best bit: the subtle sound effects when the cubes attack the logo.