Category Archives: SEEN YOUR VIDEO

Seen Your Video: Matt And Kim

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 gets the skinny on Matt And Kim‘s naked promotional stunt for “Lessons Learned.”

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“In all of our videos, there’s some sort of surprise.” That understatement comes from Matt Johnson, one half of the indie-pop duo Matt And Kim. The two have been getting a lot of (ahem) exposure lately for the video for “Lessons Learned,” a track from their latest album, Grand. And, no, the surprise isn’t just that the two strip naked in the middle of Times Square. Johnson reveals that surprise (watch the video first if you don’t want it spoiled) and recounts the experience of being nude in the most public place in America.

Johnson: I came up with the idea for the video. The song has this kind of “I don’t give a fuck anymore” attitude, so I came up with this idea that’s us taking our clothes off in the most public place in America. I just had to convince Kim to do the video. It took a lot of talking and some foot rubs and back massages.

In all of our videos, there’s some sort of surprise. Kim came up with getting hit by a bus. Just to have something that gives you a reason you just watch through all the way to the end. I went to school for film and video, and my marketable skill was motion graphics and compositing, general after-effects stuff. We wanted it to be a taxi, but it was too confusing and the roll up on the hood didn’t look real enough, so we ended up going with a bus. We shot it in February. It was totally cold and not one of the most glamorous days for a man to be naked in public. I was really surprised none of the pictures that tourists were taking popped up online. We would Google “naked, Times Square” after we shot it, and all that comes up is the Naked Cowboy, the icon of Times Square nudity.

We had to shoot Kim standing in the road without her clothes on, jumping in different angles. It was generally confusing to people and embarrassing to Kim. She didn’t realize the nature of the tourist in Times Square. It’s not something you see every day. Watching back, you can obviously see who is going to work and who is from out of town observing this crazy goings on. People taking pictures and video and watching. But then the one shot, the Bad Boys/Michael Bay shot where the camera spins around us, there’s these women who do not get out of the way of the camera. You can see them if you watch it. Our assistant cameraperson had to bug them: “Can you move, ’cause we need to shoot this?!”

We had to decide beforehand about wearing clothes that we could throw off and not worry about or just get clothes that we don’t like and get rid of them. But we figured that people might actually see this video and we want to be wearing clothes that look cool. After the take, we just ran back to the van and someone had a couple of robes waiting for us. There was a clothing collector. Every once in a while, you can see him dart in and grab clothes.

We’re consistently asked now if we are going to get naked at our shows. I’m not sure if they’re asking for this because they want us to be naked or if they want to be warned so they can look away. But the question comes up once or twice a show. I usually respond that you can get naked and we’ll see what happens.

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Seen Your Video: Cursive

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/sy-14208648/

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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