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.