Seen Your Video: Man Man

video3Your music video may have only played once or twice on MTV, but it’s on permanent rotation on YouTube. We watch videos and TV performances—the good, the bad, the hilariously dated and the brand new—with musicians to find out what they were thinking. MAGNET’s Robert Ham discusses the teenage-werewolves-in-love video for “Rabbit Habits” with Man Man frontman Honus Honus.

When a band like Man Man makes a video, you can pretty much be guaranteed that what’s on screen will be as uncompromising and unusual as the band’s ecstatic art rock is on record. In the case of the video for the title track from last year’s Rabbit Habits, this means creating a strange and strangely moving love story that references b-movie horror stories and Teen Wolf and features starring roles from Judd Apatow alums Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) and Martin Starr (Freaks And Geeks) as well as SNL cast member Fred Armisen. Man Man singer Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner to his friends and family) gave MAGNET the lowdown on how to make an amazing video with no money and a lot of connections.

Honus: I had this concept that I had wanted to do for a long time. The song’s pretty heavy even though it’s housed in somewhat upbeat music, so I wanted to have a video that ran against that vibe. But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose the weight of the song. When I looked at [director Lex Halaby’s] reel, I thought, “Is this really going to work out?” I know that a lot of the work that he did was just gun-for-hire, but he’s done some really big videos and our budget was a 10th of what he’s used to working with. But we both wanted to do something that was more like a short film. I mean, it’s not like MTV shows videos anymore.

I was friends with Charlyne and talked about doing a video with her. So when this came up, I called her and said, “Hey, you wanna be a werewolf? Do you want to eviscerate someone?” She reached out to Fred and worked out the dialogue for their scene with him. He was so great, too. He was in a band for 10 years. He knows the hustle. And he had seen us play and liked us, so he was down. We shot his stuff the day after Thanksgiving. He flew in on a Saturday night, and we shot the diner and the stuff in front of the movie theater, and then he got on a plane and went right back. I became good friends with Martin, too. He was psyched and really into the idea that you never see his real face. That’s the greatest thing about it. It really could have been anybody, but at the same time he did a really good job

It was hectic to make it, definitely run-and-gun style over two 12-hour days. We had some permits, but for a lot of shots, we just had to show up and look like we knew what we were doing. Lex hustled so hard to make it come together, especially since we had almost no budget. Lex had to call in a lot of favors. When I first showed it my bandmates, they said, “I can’t believe you gave it a happy ending.” But is it really? I mean, she did put a leash on him. I like the fact that he wasn’t a werewolf, but rather a savage, feral person. Which is a theme that runs through a lot of our songs.

Seen Your Video: Meat Puppets

video3Your music video may have only played once or twice on MTV, but it’s on permanent rotation on YouTube. We watch videos and TV performances—the good, the bad, the hilariously dated—with musicians to find out what they were thinking. MAGNET’s Robert Ham caught up with Meat Puppets‘ Cris Kirkwood to discuss a 1982 live clip of “Walking Boss.”

Videos like this remind me why YouTube is such a wonderful thing for music history. Fans and neophytes can watch bands move from their earliest, shaggiest attempts at music making to their most triumphant moments to their most current shaggy attempts at music making. From its 1980 beginnings, no group seemed shaggier than the Meat Puppets, especially when compared to their punk-rock brethren on SST Records. The trio—brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood on guitar and bass, respectively, along with drummer Derrick Bostrom—had long, unkempt hair, specialized in psychedelic country rock and generally acted like it should have been at home listening to Grateful Dead bootlegs instead of burning up the highway on tours with Black Flag and the Minutemen. Since the time of this 1982 clip, the Meat Puppets went through a major-label renaissance thanks to the alternative explosion of the early ’90s, and they appeared alongside Nirvana on that band’s episode of Unplugged. Spurred on by Cris’ heroin addiction, the Meat Puppets have broken up twice, but they reconciled in 2006 (with new drummer Ted Marcus) and are currently gearing up for the release of their 12th album, Sewn Together.

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Seen Your Video: Shudder To Think

video3Your music video may have only played once or twice on MTV, but it’s on permanent rotation on YouTube. We watch videos and TV performances—the good, the bad, the hilariously dated—with musicians to find out what they were thinking. MAGNET’s Robert Ham sits down with Shudder To Think’s Craig Wedren to discuss the homoerotic music video (banned in Canada due to “unnecessary cannibalism and necrophilia”) for 1994’s “Hit Liquor.”

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Shudder To Think‘s 1994 album Pony Express Record was, by anyone’s estimation, not your typical major-label debut. It seemed powered by its own internal logic of odd time signatures, glam-rock influences and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Considering the band was entering a musical world still coming down off its grunge high, it was a pretty daring piece of work. Pony Express Record didn’t fare too well commercially for Epic, and the promotional video that the band filmed with friend and director Jesse Peretz to introduce Shudder To Think to middle America didn’t help the cause much. The “Hit Liquor” clip is filled with intense homoerotic imagery as well as shots of guitarist Nathan Larson furiously hacking up bits of meat. With a good 15 years of hindsight at his disposal, Shudder frontman Craig Wedren was kind enough to give us his thoughts on the creation and execution of this strange little clip.

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