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Band of Skulls: "Sweet Sour" Is Bitter Fare

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Earlier this month your intrepid VJ brought you a music video called "The Greeks" from London band Is Tropical and the filmmakers at MEGAFORCE.

It detailed a children's war game enhanced with anime-style explosions, blood and just all-around awesome, over-the-top violence. While somewhat offensive on the surface, as I was so told by the small circle of non-deranged friends I maintain specifically for testing that hypothesis, it was ultimately lighthearted. It was like reading Judge Dredd, so much of a parody that the violence itself becomes humor, even though it's still a video about childhood violence.

Now, let's hear from the other side of that equation.

Band of Skulls presents "Sweet Sour," directed by Petecia Le Fawnhawk and Mark Maggiori. The band (Of skulls...sorry. Couldn't resist) doesn't appear at all in the video. Instead, we watch a quartet of young children engage themselves in increasingly violent acts of battery and vandalism.

Rather than the Day-Glo brightness of "The Greeks," "Sweet Sour" is presented in a dirty black and white. It looks like the exterior shot from Eraserhead, and because we're dealing with children, the filth, the cuts and scars, and the ill-fitting, hand-me-down clothing are all the more disturbing.

It's fistfights, blood, destruction of property, implied intent to rape, and ultimately... dance-offs?

Wait, what? Let's rewind the tape for a moment and see if I somehow confused overly choreographed fight scenes with stomping the yard. Nope, it's freakin' dance-offs.

As with "The Greeks," I can't help but feel as if Le Fawnhawk and Maggiori are trying to tell us something very important here. Up until this point in the video, it's been a chronicle of petty urban war, atrocities that make the news, and it's all being played out by elementary-school-age children in what is either a grim parody of modern poverty or a terrifying hint of a Harlan Ellison-esque dystopia where even kids are savages.

But then it comes down to artistic expression. Granted, these dance-offs have an undercurrent of primal competition, the sort of thing hippos do over encroached territory, but you could also see it as hopeful. I mean, how frightening can a dance be?

Unless you're dancing among the ruins. You be the judge. The video is below.

Le Fawnhawk made time to go into detail over the video with us. It's on page 2.

Rocks Off: Would you consider this video an exploration of childhood rage and violence, or more of a parody of adult actions?

Petecia Le Fawnhawk: I feel it's an exploration of human experience...the Sweet and the Sour of it all. What is the real difference of child and adulthood anyway? Parental guidance? I feel we are creatures of expression. In anger and in bliss. And in the words of Alan Watts, "Life is a game, have fun with it." And that's a code we try to live and create by.

So...why so serious? Seriously?

As a kid I remember having to stand up for myself aggressively for the first time on the school bus. As social hierarchies set in, it became survival of the fittest.

But really, if we didn't have to prescribe to such silliness, we would all claim...bullies, loners, jocks, nosebleeders and the like...that all we really wanna do is have some fun. To express ourselves freely and to do it without judgment.

RO: What's the connection between dance and anger?

PL: Ever ask a boxer what it's like in the ring? It's like dancing. I feel it's all in the same, a physical outlet with different results. And in this video, it's more an expression of adolescent angst than anger.

The whole dancing bit was just a way to throw the wrench in the whole "hard" image and exploiting what we look at as being cool. We are all fucking geeks. It's just easier for some to admit it than others.

RO: How was it working with the kids? Did they think it was odd to punch each other, dress like homeless people and have a dance-off?

PL: IT WAD SO RAD! We loved working with those kids. They were amazing. And they had a blast! We were asking them to do things their parents have been telling them not to do their whole lives.

Like, "Hey kids, let's go break stuff in a junkyard! Let's get our clothes as dirty as possible and terrorize in the streets! Let's spit, spray paint, do flips, fight and have dance-offs in shady neighborhoods!" (All this done under adult supervision, of course.)

But wow. Living vicariously through them, I have to say it's real nice to let the tie loose one in a while. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Run for your life at least once a day, I say. Now that's living!

RO: What led you to take "Sweet Sour" in this visual direction? Did the band have any input on the way the video evolved?

PL: The title, of course...and rock and roll. The song had this energy to it and we always end up taking a road less traveled with our work. This band is bringing back some of that lost edge and that really inspires us.

We didn't have the opportunity to work closely with them on this project, but hope to do so in the future. Keep the music coming!

RO: What did you think the first time you heard the song "Sweet Sour"?

PL: We didn't think. We danced and then moshed, then strained our necks headbanging... laughed and then made out and dreamed up some crazy ideas to have us some fun in London. (Some of these statements may or may not have been exaggerated, all except the making-out part.)

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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