Making music videos is weird because the level of palaver and handwringing that goes with making a 3 minute 30 seconds thing for people to kinda watch when they’re listening to a song on YouTube seems out of balance.
Last year I pitched an idea for the Parquet Courts’ “Borrowed Time” song that sounded hilarious and fun one night but then in the cold light of day was really bad. We were gonna have actors, backing dancers, lazers shows, internet cats and members of A$VP pop up throughout the song but the prospect of those things made singer Andrew Savage extremely uneasy.
We met to talk about it one night and the whole thing was a shitshow. Somehow we got a relationship back on track and made this Light Up Gold Road Trip documentary instead.
We just collaborated again on the video for Sunbathing Animal, the first song from their new album of the same name, which you can watch here.
Noisey: The first time we met was pretty awkward. We were there to discuss what was, in retrospect, one of the worst video ideas of all time.
Andrew Savage: You think so, in retrospect?
Yeah, after getting to know you and the aesthetics you like, it couldn’t have been less fitting really.
Well I only think it was awkward because it was the first time we met. If you gave me a shitty idea TONIGHT, I’d just be like “No I don’t want to do that” and it would have been no big deal.
It was a weird time in the band, were a lot of stuff was happening at once and we were about to go on the road for a long time. It was one of the first times I realized that in the band; that I didn’t want to do something I had to be very vocal about it, you know… Is that why you say I’m like Mark Knopfler?
The Mark Knopfler comparison is because you have this, like, “cool meanness”. You know Mark Knopfler’s not really mean and all he really wants to do is jam and play rock and roll guitar but there’s a thing…
You’re saying I’m a straight shooter? That’s what you’re saying?
Nah. It’s more like you have an aloof meanness… That’s if you don’t know you properly of course.
Well shit. And here I am thinking that I just come off as completely amicable.
Err, nah. I realized how terrible the idea was recently when I read somewhere you were talking about how much you liked The Replacements video for “Bastards Of Young”. What is it that you like about that video?
Well I guess a lot of videos these days are too attention grabbing. I guess you have to be these days on the internet. But I think the best videos have an understated quality to them and aren’t immediately flashy. There are some great flashy videos of course but the reason why I like that video is because of the understated quality it has.
I guess we got to know each other properly when we made the video that was Light Up Gold Road Trip documentary. There was talk of us doing a trilogy of these but what do you think about that now?
I don’t think we shoot one any time soon. What makes that one so interesting is that it’s the band when we’re in such a fledgling, new state and you see us learning the ropes. Making one now wouldn’t be that interesting. I think it’d be better if we made one when we were on the out and things are ending. It would be better if it was much later, or posthumous. Then it’s something that can examine the band as a whole, maybe. How did we all fuck up.. I’ll be in some new terrible band.
It’ll be with a guy from another band of the same genre and you’ll both be going: “This is the sound I always wanted to achieve with my old band…”
“…But I couldn’t get it with those hacks. And I’m not talking to my brother any more.”
I guess the video for “Sunbathing Animal” looks pretty simple but it actually took a great deal of planning and special FX. Your cat is 2 years old and jumps in the air at the hint of any movement or noise so was hard to get to “sunbathe”.
Yeah, Frida. Named after Frida Kahlo for her moustache. Every afternoon she takes a nap in that spot, but that afternoon she knew she was being observed. So I created a special tea that I found on a cat lady website that was full of herbs that could allegedly make a cat sleepy. You got some valerian root, some poppy seed extract, skullflower caps, chamomile…. I gave that to her and she was kinda being a bit more chill but she was still moving around a bit too much. And I guess we basically made the sofa area of my apartment into a cat paradise in order to get her to perform. We had bird songs playing on the iPhone, the window was open for bird noises outside. We put some food on the couch and then finally some cat nip.
There was also the standing outside the front of the house whirling a fork around in a can of tuna and scratching the underside of the windowsill. This was the level of behind the scenes shit we were doing.
Maybe we shouldn’t tell people about that tho. Maybe that should stay part of the movie magic.
Like, they tell you how they kinda made the FX in sci-fi films, but they don’t tell you the whole story. Otherwise everybody would be doing it.
Right, exactly. I think a lot of stuff that gets written about bands is very sensational and hyperbolic and Parquet Courts have seen a lot about that too, so I wanted to make something that was decidedly understated and decidedly not sensational.
“SUNBATHING ANIMAL”, taken from the album of the same name by Parquet Courts, out June 3 through What’s Your Rupture? / Mom and Pop (US) and June 2 through Rough Trade (UK)
Directed & Produced by Andrew Savage and Andy Capper
Edited by Elise Coker
Thanks to Frida, Halsey St, Kevin Pedersen, James Oldham, Dan Meyer, Scott Pierce, Fruity Pebbles.
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