Since getting his start in the late ’90s in New York’s antifolk movement alongside the Moldy Peaches and others, Jeffrey Lewis has easily transcended any single musical scene. His inventive, irreverent songwriting has grown in tandem with creative forays into comic books and, now, ringleader of a variety show/news program called Jeffrey Lewis And The News. We really can’t explain it, but we’ll be debuting new episodes each night this week at 11 p.m. EST.
Later this month (May 26, to be exact), Loxsly will release Tomorrow’s Fossils, the Austin band’s third LP of gently twanging, subliminally electronic pop of Grandaddy-ish proportions. (Tomorrow’s Fossils even has a Sophtware Slump-like concept involving technology and humanity.) Far be it for us to make someone else’s guest list, but we’d recommend giving Loxsly—along with similar-minded Austinites the Octopus Project—a slot at Spoon‘s three-day mini-festival in July. Here’s the world premiere of the video for “As The Constellation’s Arms Uncurled,” directed by Loxsly frontman Cody Ground.
Your 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 Cursive‘s new video “From The Hips”—a sort of dating-meets-flash-mob plot starring members of L.A. comedy troupes—with frontman Tim Kasher.
Any band willing to name its album Mama, I’m Swollen indicates at least some sense of humor. Cursive amplifies that notion via this hilarious video that brings to visual life the health-class maxim: “When you sleep with someone, you’re sleeping with everyone they’ve slept with, too.” Kasher tells MAGNET how this ridiculous tale is the result of his band finally embracing the idea of making videos on its own terms.
Kasher: In the past, we haven’t been as hands on when it came to our videos, so we wanted to make sure that we liked our videos more and wanted to play more of a role in them. Thankfully, we had the time to do it. It’s a pretty basic idea that when men and women go out on dates, they take their baggage with them from all their exes. So I set up a scenario where that was actually happening. Then it got a lot more absurd from there. Mostly, I had the idea of we even when you’re dating living in small town like Omaha, everyone kind of dates in the same dating pool. I was kind of commenting that we all end up having sex with each other, so maybe we should capture that on video somehow.
Michael Grodner, the director, had the idea to go to comedy troupes in L.A. to cast the video. It ended up working out really well. The main guy, David Neher is from the Honor Student comedy troupe and we also got people from the Groundlings and people from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in L.A. It was fun to watch them try and lip synch along to my song. I was often right behind the camera helping them when they were having trouble remembering the words, helping sing along with them.
We pulled it together pretty quick, actually, around the beginning of February. We got the treatment to the director, and he was really responsive, so we were able to shoot it later that month. We did it over two days in Los Angeles. We had a great time. It was great to be hanging out with a lot of new people. And they’re all funny people, so we just got to hang out, have some drinks and have a lot of fun.
Making videos was more of a self-conscious thing for us in the past. We always wondered, “Why is a band at our level making videos, anyway?” So instead, we just embraced it, figuring we could do videos very affordably, write them ourselves and surround ourselves with people who could get them made. Mostly we convinced ourselves that we’ve got to open ourselves up to the benefits of the Internet. A band with just about any measure of success can do a video and it’ll end up being shown somewhere. At least on someone’s MySpace page or something.
We’re psyched to premiere the following video from West African singer/songwriter Hermas Zopoula because: a) we get to mention that the capital of his native Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou; and b) we can further look down our noses at the weak afro-posturing of Vampire Weekend. Zopoula is the youngest of 36 children in his family (in your face, Octomom) and will see his first American release, the two-disc Espoir/Live In Ouagadougou issued by the Asthmatic Kitty label on May 19. “Pai Doun Yunai,” below, appears on the live album recorded in Zopoula’s back yard.
Your 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.
Your 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.
Your 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.”
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.