If there is something that is sadly lacking in the world, it's musicians directing music videos. Some do it, of course, like Blitzen Trapper's Brian Adrian Koch or Taylor Momsen who does her own storyboards. For better or for worse, though, most bands turn their product over to a professional director and often times aren't involved in any way.
But then you get something awesome like Andrew Seward of Against Me! directing a low-budget but excellent adaptation of Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Fucc the Devil" on an off day while on tour.
"Definitely hard to find time, but this just happened to be a day off when we were on tour together," says Seward. "What a way to spend a day off in Medford, Oregon! I adore AJJ's music and they are great people. We made a fun video in the spring in Gainesville when they were playing a show. That was the beginning of a gorgeous relationship. I also like staying up late at night editing video."
The video takes place in a filthy hotel room filled with half-empty drinks, pizza boxes, and overflowing ash trays. You can literally feel the grime and the sad scent of inertia come flowing out of your screen. Neatly folded into this scene is AJJ's roadie Mark, who looks like a man that woke up late on the day God handed out fucks to give.
Just as he gives up on whatever sad program he's watching on TV and goes to sleep, the Devil appears, played by Sean Bonnette. Even the Prince of Darkness comes across more as an agent of sloth and indifference than of all-consuming evil. His red suit is stained and cheap looking, and he clearly hasn't bathed recently enough. Still, he's on the job tempting, settling in nicely with his new roomie as they smoke, drink and fall further into a pit of sad pointlessness.
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Bonnette plays this to the absolute hilt. His father of Lies has the creepiest, most pervy smile you've ever seen this side of To Catch a Predator. He's the ultimate in modern evil, the enabler that tears down a man to the point where he's a mindless consume of junk food and the lowest level of television. Honestly? If there is a Devil I bet this is exactly how he operates.
Luckily, Slash comes to the rescue.
Not the real Slash, of course. In fact Seward says it was supposed to be a fake Brian May but the proper frilly shirt could not be found. Instead we got the legendary guitarist and video-game muse Saul Hudson as portrayed by Ben Gallaty. He attempts to save the Devil's victim with an amazing guitar solo, but the Devil summons his pitchfork and launches lightning at Slash.
The magical forces of the two Gods, represented in the most high tech fashion possible -- they're lightning bolts made of cardboard and manipulated with fishing line -- collide in midair with an incredible explosion! Next thing you know, even Slash has succumbed to the seduction of Cheetos and bizarre infomercials.
"Our guitar player [James] and I were sharing a hotel room and this infomercial came on," explains Seward when asked about the surreal background role that television plays in the video. "He told me I had to record it and use it. It was too perfect. Some kind of Holy Water that you drink and erases your debt. Better order some!"
On the surface, "Fucc the Devil" is not some great artistic statement, but underneath the fact that it was shot quick and cheap in someone's room is a real look into what constitutes the greatest danger to our souls. Keep in mind that this was a collaboration between two very busy musical groups who were both on a grueling tour schedule.
Instead of spending their down time recuperating by moving as little as possible, they decided to work even harder to make some new art.
Seward is basically showing us the effects of prolonged not-getting-off-your-ass: You end up basically a human stain that contributes nothing. It's a message that we can all love, and Seward shouts it loud and clear. True damnation is a life defined by the amount of pork rinds you ate and how many episodes of Golden Girls you've seen.
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