Shihad “My Mind’s Sedate”

1998-shihad-my-minds-sedateAt the time this song was released, I felt very energised by the sarcastic opening line: “Well, I trust the police and the government!” Whereas now it seems like boilerplate angry young man. But I like what Shihad have done with the video. Directed by Reuben Sutherland, it’s taking a fairly standard video treatment – the mad scientist – and giving it a really dark, icky edge. This is not a musical performance video, but Shihad have never been afraid to take themselves out of traditional rock settings.

Jon spends most of the video wearing a lab coat, curled up in the corner of a lab, with the rest of the band lurking in the background, like three other scientists who are watching their colleague descend into madness.

Dr Jon’s hair is wet with sweat. It’s a filthy lab and strange things slither in the corners. The line “you don’t have a brain” is complemented with an selection of brains, arranged like chess pieces on the lino tiles.

The video keeps looking like an ordinary mad scientist sci-fi, but suddenly really weird things, ugly things will pop up, making Jon’s character seems like a run-of-the-mill mad scientist in the midst of severe meth psychosis. Poor chap. He probably just wanted to create a bride.

Director Reuben Sutherland won Best Video at the 2000 New Zealand Music Awards. It was his second consecutive win, and the third win in a row for a Shihad video.

Best bit: the weird insecty thing on the shelf.

Director: Reuben Sutherland
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… bullet boys.

Shihad “Wait and See”

“Wait and See” was originally on Shihad’s “Blue Light EP”, but was later an album track on their fourth album, “The General Electric”. That album was full of pre-millennium tension and this song and the video fit right in.

The song looks to the future and wonders, “Is there space for every boy and girl in a competitive, material world?” But it seems like the kind of doomy, dramatic thought that only happens in boom times. When things are good, you have the luxury to wonder if they’re going to be bad. When things are bad, you just want the good times to return.

The video is filmed in a scratchy sepia tone, but shows a futuristic world of electronics, metal cells and cameras. Wait – a future full of advanced electronic technology but one that looks like something from 100 years prior? Hey, Shihad totally predicted 2011 and the rise of Instagram.

Directed by Reuben Sutherland, the video won Best Music Video at the 1999 New Zealand Music Awards, the second consecutive win for a Shihad video. It’s a very stylish video. It doesn’t quite feel like a remnant of the late’ 90s, so I’m going to declare that it did have a genuinely original vision. The band seem to be at their peak, strong and confident in their rock ability. Just don’t think too much about the future.

Best bit: very briefly, the metal room has tentacles.

Director: Reuben Sutherland
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… red, hot and blue.

Supergroove “If I Had My Way”

Supergroove had creative differences. The lively pop-rock-funk group of teens had turned into a rock band of serious young men, average age 22. The band was downsized (sending Che Fu out into the world on his own, where he did just fine) and adopted a new sound, less funk and more rock.

At the time, I came across a Supergroove fan site, kept by an enthusiastic Australian fan who was really excited about their new album. But her excitement turned to disappointment when the album was released. Who were these miserable bastards and what had they done with Supergroove?

“If I Had My Way” was the first single of “Backspacer”, a showcase of the band’s new sound. The song has some really fine moments (the opening hook is sweet), but its weaknesses are apparent. Karl’s singing voice isn’t strong enough to carry the song, the group’s vocal harmonies sound like a new trick they want to show off, and the song is about a minute too long. But what about the video?

Directed by bass player Joe Lonie, the video is based around a faux TV show. Clad in their trademark black, the ‘Groove assemble infomercial exercise machines and then ride them in crazy sped-up footage, while the lyrics repeatedly ask “Who would you kill?”

The band also leave the confines of the studio and play in a pigsty (with real pigs and real mud), an ice skating rink (while ice hockey players hoon around them) and the dramatic finale – playing on a desolate beach with a flaming piano as the tide comes in.

There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind these locations, other than they look interesting. It almost feels like the band didn’t have enough confidence in their new sound and so were trying to distract viewers with a crazy music video.

This video won Best Video at the 1997 New Zealand Music Awards, beating the videos for Shihad’s “La La Land” and Dam Native’s “Behold My Kool Style”. It was the third win in a row for Joe Lonie, and the second for Siggi Spath, but I’d say those other two videos are more beloved and have held up better over time.

I feel a bit sorry for “Backspacer” era Supergroove now. From all accounts, they weren’t in a good place at this stage and they broke up soon after. But despite all the misery, “If I Had My Way” still has a hint of the playfulness and energy that infused their first album. Karl wearing lipstick and singing with pigs? Go on, lads!

Best bit: the pigs, happily nomzing on scraps, oblivious to the band playing in their shed.

Directors: Joe Lonie, Sigi Spath
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Shihad “Home Again”

1997-shihad-home-againAh, good old “Home Again”. It’s possibly the song most beloved of Shihad fans, and the video captures its feelgood spirit. It’s shot in one continuous take with a static camera. So it’s up to the band to do enough for three and a half minutes to keep viewers entertained.

The video has also been shot at a slower speed and sped up, giving it a manic energy. This condensing of time allows several Polaroid photos to be taken and develop in front of our eyes.

Most of the action takes place on or around a blue couch. There are also a number of different backdrops hung in the background, a wheeled-in TV for a glimpse of off-set action and a drum kit which various band members have turns on.

The image is slightly altered by different fliters and frames being clipped to the camera, but really the star of the video is the fish tank. For about 40 seconds, some goldfish are wheeled in, where they happily swim around, oblivious to the rock dudes running and jumping around them.

In a way, what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the video doesn’t even matter. It’s such a good song that the video is almost like a screensaver, just some images to watch while you listen to a great song.

Director Mark Hartley was awarded Best Video at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards, breaking the three-year winning streak of nominee Joe Lonie.

Best bit: the goldfish, just chillin’.

Director: Mark Hartley
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Russell’s seduction techniques.

Supergroove “Can’t Get Enough”

1994-supergroove-cant-get-enoughThis is pretty much the ultimate Supergroove video. Like a lot of their vids, it feels like every single effect in the video editing software has been used. Why have all seven band members in shot when you can have a border of 20 Supergroove heads around the shot? And shall we throw in some flames for good measure? Yeah, why not!

And then there’s the issue of the harsh lighting on Che Fu making his nose cast a shadow like a Hitler moustache. And remember, kids, this was before hipsters made bad moustaches cool.

The video was directed by Supergroove bassist Joe Lonie (then going by the name Jo Fisher) and Matt Noonan and was impressively awarded Best Video at the 1995 New Zealand Music Awards.

But at the heart of the video is Supergroove, doing a tight, twitchy performance. Even the band members who aren’t always performing still keep the energy going.

And let’s not forget that the song is called “Can’t Get Enough”. That attitude has been also applied to the video, with every shot filled up with layer upon layer of effects. If there was ever a quiet moment, ever a feeling of stillness, the entire Supergroove universe would have collapse upon itself. The band (average age 19) were young, hugely successful and were teeming with energy and ideas. If the video had been more subtle or calmer in any way, it wouldn’t have been enough.

Best bit: the awkward kneeling dance steps near the end.

Director: Joe Lonie, Matt Noonan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Emma Paki “System Virtue”

Watching this video is a little bittersweet, knowing that Emma hit a rough patch soon after and left the music industry for over a decade. In the video she’s young and seems to be singing a message of hope. If only.

The video is lovely, with slow black and white footage of Maori in small towns around New Zealand, including plenty of staunch-as bros looking real hard, eh. Meanwhile, Emma busks on the streets of Auckland, with passersby passing her by, though the infamous Queen Street busker stops for a look.

“System Virtue” feels like it has a positive and uplifting message, but Emma seems to have been studying the Shayne Carter style of singing, leaving the verses sounding like they might just be make up of interesting sounds, rather than meaningful sentences. And “system virtue” – what does that even mean? But does it need to have a meaning?

By the way, if you love this song, stay away from the album version on Oxygen of Love. The distinct jangly guitar and meandering bass is gone, with distracting backing vocals inserted. The general appeal and emotion of the song has been smothered with full-on pop production style, more suited to a Feelers track. But thankfully the one-two punch of the original recording and its video are how the song is best known.

Directed by Josh Frizzell, the “System Virtue” video won Best Video at the 1994 New Zealand Music Awards.

Best bit: the lady enjoying a cup of tea in an Arcoroc mug.

Director: Josh Frizzell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… man on the verge of a popstastic breakthrough.

Supergroove “You Gotta Know”

Finally, here come the Supergroove. Average age 18, they look so young in this video. Led by a fresh-faced Che and a mono-fringed Karl, the band lark about, channeling their pop forefathers The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night”. There’s a great energy coming from the video. It’s like they’re not trying to be crazy; they’re 18-year-old guys so they just are crazy.

The song is jam-packed full of everything. When Che is singing, Karl is yelling bits in the gaps, and vice versa. When one instrument quietens down, another blasts in the gap. The video is like this too. Non-stop goofball.

Contrast this with the second version of the “You Gotta Know” video, which I think was made for a later Australian release. It relies on one of Joe Lonie’s comedy video concepts – walking backwards, taking off their clothes – and it feels like they’re relying on a gimmick to make up for their natural energy.

In the funny mixed-up chronology of NZ On Air funding applications, “You Gotta Know” was the third Supergroove single. The second was “Scorpio Girls”, but that’s not coming up till later in ’93. The video also won Best Video at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards – the second win in a row for co-director Joe Lonie!

Best bit: the hammer smash shot. Rock!

Director: Sigi Spath, Joe Lonie

Next… Uncle Ray gets smoochy.