The video for Youth Lagoon's "July" is like one of Stephen King's short stories come to life. Not like one of the ones about giant rats or haunted hotel rooms. We mean his study pieces on the apocalypse. Something like "Night Surf," in which a group of ordinary teenagers survive a deadly plague, and come to terms with the end of the world.
It starts off as a typical, idyllic day, with "July" playing light and airy over scenes of a summer drive. A young blonde woman and her boyfriends are out of a day of nothing special. Still, there's an uneasiness about the scene. A lot of it is the sinister undertones of Trevor Powers' music.
Undoubtedly the song is beautiful, with a siren call that stacks up not unlike Taken by Trees, but a graveyard can be beautiful as well. It doesn't change the fact that there is rot and secrets just below sight.
Another harbinger is the washed out, vintage colors that director Tyler T. Williams has shot the video in. It makes the world feel over.
Night falls, and our couple is confronted by a bicyclist that they had mocked while driving earlier. A fight ensues, and the biker suddenly collapses with blood poring from his face, foam from his mouth.
They throw him in the back seat and drive for a phone as the song begins to pick up power. Drums echo in sparse, spaced hits, but each one bears the stab of a psycho's icepick. Powers's voice becomes insistent, and slightly scared.
The cause of the biker's death, as well as the death of the girl's parents and countless people across the globe is a bizarre change in the axis of the moon's orbit that causes massive hemorrhaging in the brain. Bathed in a sickly red color, the hue of infection, the moon rises impossibly close on the horizon, dwarfing the sun and seemingly malevolent.
"July" is a short film of a minor apocalypse. Our heroes drive into the moonrise alive, but bleeding and alone. Sadness consumes the iris of the girl, but guilt swims in the blackness like mudfish.
So much of what happens seems to link back to one brief act of contempt against a stranger. Would the moon have turned from a familiar part of the heavens into a killer without that one almost inconsequential sin? "July" follows the mark at the end of that question from beginning to end, driving off an unknown void to reach the period.
We're looking forward to catching Youth Lagoon when they hit town next month supported by our own Bang Bangz. Until then, check out the video below.
Williams was kind enough to answer some questions about directing "July." Click on over to Page 2 for the interview.
Rocks Off: As strange apocalypses goes, this one is pretty damned strange. What gave you the idea of sudden hemorrhages brought on my an off-axis moon orbit?
Tyler T. Williams: The idea first came to mind as I was driving around listening to the track on repeat. I knew I wanted the story to have a sci-fi element and having the moon off axis seemed perfect. It's just a surreal idea that at the same time I view as within the bounds of being possible.
I originally wanted to have a plane crashing with the gravity shifting during the moons orbit while kids were partying and having fun, totally oblivious to the havoc of mother nature, but it just didn't work out with the budget.
RO: There's a real, raw sense of loss throughout the song. Did a real life loss help drive the video?
TTW: Fortunately nothing this prominent of a loss has happened to me. It's just a fictitious story that I thought fit the song with an eerie twist. I tend to find much of my inspiration and story ideas tied together with a common theme of death.
Dark, pessimistic stories tend to inspire me most with the likes of David Lynch, the Cohen Brothers, Gus Van Sant, and so on. Death is inescapable for us all one day and it is something everyone can relate on, especially emotion wise. No one wants to have their life cut short.
RO: You could take the whole thing as saying that one act of violence is the catalyst for all the world's pain since the catalyst for much of it is the altercation with the biker. Agree? No?
TTW: Totally. It's all the small things that consume us everyday, the pointless and petty fighting and violence against each other contrasted with the omnipotent forces of our universe and how much we take for granted every day. The kids didn't appreciate the environment around them and assumed they were indestructible until something happened to them where they were forced to realize that life is very fragile and can be cut short.
RO: What did you think of this song when you first heard it?
TTW: Initially, the slow eerie start made me feel like I was in a dream state so I knew the concept had to consist of something unfathomable, but at the same time, very plausible. About halfway through the song Trevor sings "safely, so safely" and at that moment, I just pictured something going terribly wrong after the Fourth of July fireworks.
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Everyone is supposed to be happy and to have not a worry, chaos unfolds. Love the song.
Youth Lagoon plays Fitzgerald's Sunday, March 18.