It’s no secret that the Bay Area breeds creativity. We’re the epicenter of business, technological innovation, advertising, art and ballet, to name a few. So it comes as no surprise that a myriad of incredible musical acts have called the Bay home. There’s just something about the San Francisco Bay that attracts the wildest, most fascinating, best costumed, musicians. From CCR and the Avengers, to Sly and the Family Stone and The Donnas, the Bay area just seems to churn out the hit-makers. And the trend shows no signs of stopping as the likes of Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Shannon and the Clams continually win the hearts, minds and eardrums of rockers nationwide. But things have changed a little. Nowadays bands don’t wait around to get a huge record contract to make the most of their music. Nowadays they take matters into their own hands. They pick up a camera, they recruit their friends, and they make a music video. And as it turns out making your own video is one of the best tools a burgeoning band can use to get themselves heard. They’re easy to share, fun to watch and you don’t need an OK from The Man to make them. The best videos are a collaboration between the band and the director/editor, contributions from various artists on one project are what make them shine. Hey man, we don’t need MTV, we have Vimeo! Here is a sample of my favorite videos by rad Bay Area bands and the tales behind how they came to be. Add these to your summer playlist and keep your eyes peeled for more.
Burnt Ones: “Web” Directed by Rob Williamson
With the release of their sophomore album, You’ll Never Walk Alone, SF-based poppy, psychedelic, fuzz-hounds Burnt Ones knew the video for their first single, “Web,” would best capture the complexity of their sound through simplicity. Lucky for them, longtime pal and rock n’roll romantic Rob Williamson was up for the challenge. Tired of the same old overblown, high-definition renditions of music videos, Burnt Ones’ Mark Tester and Williamson set out to create just the opposite. “When Mark and I watched bands from 30 years ago just play in front of a crummy camera it was really refreshing,” Williamson said. With their concept locked down, Williamson and the Burnt Ones headed to an SF warehouse where they had only a few hours, and very limited resources, to get the job done. “With the help of a few friends, some borrowed lights, and a lot of extension cords we built our set in about half an hour and started shooting.” To achieve that perfect lo-fi, analog look and feel, they opted to use Williamson’s dad’s 8mm Sony Handycam straight from the ’90s. The effect is a perfectly blissful psych for eyes and ears. “The Burnt Ones came over to check it out, were stoked on it, and that was that,” Williamson mused. It’s fuzzy and fine and a beautiful accompaniment to your summer playlist.
Burnt Ones hit the road this summer, follow their shenanigans here.
Cocktails: “Hey Winnie” directed by Lauren Matsui
In celebration of their self titled EP release on SF/Miami label Father/Daughter records, San Francisco power-poppers Cocktails conjured up one wicked music video. Using their own lyrics as their guide, frontman Patrick Clos came up with the robbery concept to pay hommage to their Bonnie & Clyde-style love song. With their vision in place, Cocktails recruited their camera toting pals, Tyler Cushing and Blake Bogosian to shoot the video on location at sassy Mission vintage boutique No Shop and the band’s practice space on Grace St. Meanwhile multitasking bandmate Lauren Matsui acted as director (and getaway driver). A true testament to kids who grew up on candy and MTV, this video has it all: violence, comedy, and silly string, not to mention catchy riffs and sugar-sweet melodies that would do Ric Ocasek proud. But the hardest part about filming a fake robbery in the Mission is proving to passersby that it is in fact a fake robbery. “It took a few people being totally alarmed by our filming a robbery before we actually had someone go out there to be a buffer and let them know it wasn’t real,” Matsui explained. For Clos, “The best part was kind of getting drunk and eating pizza while also getting to pistol whip our friends.” All in a day’s work, I suppose. Add Cocktails to your summer repertoire and you won’t be sorry.
Catch Cocktails live (and free!) in SF on 7/2 at Brick and Mortar alongside Pure Bathing Culture, Cannons & Clouds and DJ CoolGreg as part of Wood Shoppe SF’s free monthly music series.
The Trashies: “I’m A Worm” Directed by Dan Shaw
Though they mostly hail from our neighbor to the North, Seattle, Trashies‘ keyboardist Max “J.C. Trash” Nordile and video creator Dan Shaw, both currently living in the East Bay, give this motley crew of misfits Bay Area clout. With the release of their third LP, Teenage Rattlesnakes, on Oakland label 1-2-3-4 Go! Records, the Trashies had the perfect idea for a video to accompany their spazzy, schitzo, punk-rock circus of a single, “I’m A Worm.” They knew Dan Shaw was the man for the job.”The Trashies wanted the video to be disgusting and primordial so I went with my grimiest VHS camera,” Shaw told me. Armed with a camera and a goofball plan, Shaw and the Trashies made their way to the Bay. “We shot it in the Bay. Literally in the Bay. We went out to the tidal mud flats out by Golden Gate Fields/the Albany Bulb,” and the boys got dirty. After a 10 minute camcorder set up (most of this time was used to, smartly, drink “courage beers”), they filmed for a little over 90 seconds. To achieve that pulsating static effect, Shaw then transferred the footage using a dying VCR. The result is a music video as crass and mesmerizing as the band, it’s both creepy and artful. Too bad that mud wanted to stick around. “That mud didn’t really rinse off,” Shaw mentions. “And it was painful. And it stank. And they left their underwear in my driveway.” This is music to pound a beer and roll around to, so get to it.
Stay tuned in with the Trashies here.
DSTVV: “Crusher” Directed by Andy Cary
You may recognize DSTVV’s crooner, Joel Cusumano, as the creep in the dressing room of the Cocktails video. What can I say? He’s really good at videos. So when Wormhole Records decided to release his latest project, DSTVV’s cassette EP, Underground Product, earlier this year, Cusumano knew just who to trust with the video for its wild single “Crusher.” Andy Cary (AKA Andrea Scary), of psychpop outfit Snow Wite fame, was enlisted to bring this four minute journey of entrancing, psychy-snythpop to sweet, sweet life. “I wanted a kind of dark element to it so I rented those grotesque minotaur/bear/fake Mickey Mouse masks from Costumes on Haight, and got all the chains and stuff,” Cusumano explained, adding, “I just wanted it to look cool and abrasive and weird.” Cary was on the same page, delivering a shining, shimmering gem of weirdness over the hypnotic, grungy beat. Though filming in bondage gear on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon at the top of Bernal Hill with plenty of families looking on and laughing was, “definitely a traumatizing moment for everyone involved,” the end result is just priceless. Recognize that bunny in the background? That’s Don Bolles, drummer for the infamous LA punk band the Germs, NBD. So pump up the volume and shake a tail feather to this summer boombox blaster.
Party with DSTVV live at Milk Bar on 7/6.