October 2003. You usually don't find this many miscreants in the
parking lot of Jugheads on a Sunday morning. You've got some rough trade
in spiky leather jackets, a crying Indian, three-card-monte hacks, a pair
of trailer-trash beauties, a tow-truck operator with Wolverine sideburns,
a pool shark with a nasty temper who flashes some unwanted butt crack
every time he lines up a shot, and a guy from Edinburgh, Scotland, named
Pringle, who was actually an extra in Braveheart and will soon
weave a similar dervish (sans blue face) in the mosh pit. They've all come
shockingly early to support local band Greenhaven -- and to hear the band
play the song "Southbound" repeatedly and act infomercial-pleased, as if
they're hearing it for the first time instead of the 20th.
|Glory revival: The heyday of the hard rock
video is gone, but Greenhaven's ready to bring it back.
Yes, Virginia, they're making rock videos again.
What's that you say? Using a video to demonstrate the appeal of a hard
rock band has about as much likelihood of happening again as Americans
giving the metric system another chance? Bah!
Theories abound as to what exactly killed off the video star, but the
bloodied shoeprints lead to the doorsteps of MTV, who gave it life in the
first place. After killing off glam metal with grunge, the music channel
rushed the alternative cycle by pushing electronica, a genre that produced
no stars whatsoever. This dynamic carried over into its next incarnation
as reality TV arbiter that plays videos as often as the obstructed have
bowel movements. And it had a catastrophic effect on the record industry,
as not only killing off this built-in promotion but also jump-starting the
music-downloading phenomenon. When Michael Jackson, the video vanguard of
the last century, had to beg Sony to release a second video off his last
album, the rule became the exception again.
But try telling that to Greenhaven singer Matt Strangwayes, who plowed
ahead anyway and pulled in a lot of favors to make this video happen. An
outfit called Industrial Discord is directing, but the storyboards adhere
to the tale of trucking repo revenge that Strangwayes envisioned when he
wrote "Southbound" and fleshed out the visuals with friend Dan Stone, who
plays the video's laughable heavy. (Stone recently gained notoriety for
having shot the downloaded-the-world-over video of North Side Kings' Danny
Marianino and punching clown Glenn Danzig.)
The "Southbound" clip effectively demonstrates that Strangwayes,
drummer Bill Schumann, guitarist Jay Hofer and bassist Uncle Dave have the
considerable musical chops to warrant the fan devotion that their
over-the-top rock posturing seeks to lampoon. For those expecting a
reprise of the stoner rock Strangwayes perfected with his previous band
Windigo, forget it. This is full-out, balls-to-the-floor rock, played as
if this were the Motor City instead of the Valley of the Sun. This clip
and the others to follow recall the halcyon days of early Van Halen's
inexpensive videos, when even speedy guitar solos can be milked for cheap
Recalling that first video now, Strangwayes says, "I was going to film
school for years and tripped back into what was once my primary thing,
with Dan Stone and Eric Braverman. It's almost better to be doing videos
now than the early '90s, when every video was glass breaking or pouring
water in slow motion, and it was no longer a novelty."
Braverman, who heads up Killing Time Productions, had tapped
Strangwayes to scout locations for his next horror short, The Peephole,
kind of a Rear Window on a much smaller but bloodier scale.
Strangwayes wound up assuming the lead role in the film, and the band
contributed the song "Supernature." Much of the crew and extras for
"Southbound" are carry-overs from this mini-gore flick.
March 2004. Almost three years and no Greenhaven buy-product besides
the stickers that drummer Bill Schumann makes and the tee shirts bearing
the likeness of the band's much-loved bassist Uncle Dave. That drought
ends with the release of a seven-inch of "Southbound" and "Supernature,"
which was delayed because, according to guitarist Jay Hofer, "We got one
pressing that had bits of paper and corn in the grooves." Since most
people don't own turntables, the band decided to bundle each copy of the
single with an enhanced CD that contains the video and both songs.
"We've entered it in a couple of music video festivals," says Schumann.
"It's on the Web, on our Web site,
nonemoregreen.com, and we're in the process of mailing it to video
channels and video Web sites. All underground channels, basically."
"Since the music industry with the Internet has changed," adds
Strangwayes, "people don't have 100,000 in their socks to tell a band 'Go,
here, make a video,' like it was maybe five or 10 years ago. I would say
it's coming back a bit, with alternative outlets like Fuse and Much Music.
But certainly not like it was in the '80s. You've gotta hustle."
When Greenhaven is nominated in the 2004 New Times Music
Showcase for Best Hard Rock Band, a category it ultimately wins, the group
decides to use a shoot for its Showcase profile photo as the basis for a
second video for the song "Waterloo."
"We did a casting call of hot models, and it kind of morphed into a
video shoot as well, with Dan Stone filming fun footage of frolicking
nymphs all over the place," says Strangwayes. "The opening shot is the
band in a hot tub with no chicks. And one of us turns to the other and
goes, ‘We should start a band,' and it goes to live footage interspersed
with chicks doing full flips. We basically re-created Cannonball Run 2."
Uncle Dave, who wears a loincloth some of the time and went drunkenly
berserk during the rest, can't remember to this day what happened, and
shuns looking at the raw footage. "It's my Waterloo," he says.
August 2004. Still no full-length album from the band, although its
method of recording two songs at a time with a break for a video seems to
have become the norm. "Videos are too much fun to make," says Strangwayes,
who promises the band's CD will be finished by spring 2005, enhanced with
three, possibly four videos.
Right now Greenhaven has yet another video in post-production for a
song called "Throckmorton Express." It's being assembled by Stone, who
interrupts shots of the band playing in its rehearsal room with stock
footage from a construction site safety film called Shake Hands With
Before filming could begin, Uncle Dave received a large chunk of glass
in his right wrist and had to be rushed to the hospital when some homemade
beer that was stored in the band's rehearsal room exploded from internal
pressure. Naturally, the band intends to re-create this accident for the
cameras. "Breaking glass, liquids and videos," nods Strangwayes. "They all
kinda go together."