Tadpole “Condition Chronic”

2001-tadpole-condition-chronic“Condition Chronic” was the third single from Tadpole’s second album, an ode to the pain of unrequited love. The video is directed by Wade Shotter, and like his earlier Tadpole video “Better Days”, this one is also based on animation, but the band make a real-life appearance too.

The video is set in a stylish snow-covered forest. Renee is alone in this forest, with a fur stole to keep her warm in the chilly environment. (Though evidently not cold enough to warrant covering her shoulders.) Beneath her wintry wrap, her heart is full of love.

Through the forest we also find Tadpole rocking out. They’re shot in silhouette, black shapes against an orange sky. It’s all about the hair, with dreadlocks, spikes and a mighty clip-on ponytail all getting a workout against the fuzzy sunset.

Nothing much happens in the video. The big climax involves Renee’s heart animation getting pierced with an arrow and bleeding because love hurts. Otherwise it’s a slow, moody video that works with the tone of the song.

The song is ok but doesn’t seem like a good choice for a single, particularly when the frequently repeated chorus lyric “I’m enamoured of you” always sounds like “I’m a man with a view”.

Best bit: Renee’s ponytail power flicking.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… taking a stand.

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.

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.

Augustino “The Silent Film”

2000-augustino-the-silent-filmLast 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.

Director: Wade Shotter and Jamie Dower
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the rockness of a weed eater.