‘Shot in a truly immersive way, you’ll feel like you’re experiencing a live gig that’s just for you.’
Regardless of the direction a music video takes, there are generally three things that should always be apparent: Originality, high level engagement, and memorability. Each of those terms can of course mean something different to different people, but if each of those are achieved, the visuals will be ones to return to time and time again. This task though becomes all the more complicated when it’s for a cover track that already has a striking video. So how do you go about doing this? Well in the case of The Howl and the Hum’s live performance video of The Weeknd’s track Blinding Lights, by capturing the essence of something us, and as bassist Brad tells us the band themselves, are all missing right now.
“We miss everyone that we would be seeing at gigs” says Brad, “and this video was our way of showing people what we’ve been up to, that we still exist, and that we can still create music when it’s been deemed ‘unviable’ by our own government.” And what becomes apparent right from the first frame – where we track vocalist Sam from the recording studio – is that this goal will be very much achieved.
Framed as it is, it genuinely makes you feel like you’re watching footage projected onto screens. The kind we would see as the headliner makes their way to the main stage, while the crowd roars ahead of the band kicking off with a banger of an opening track! Then we enter the venue proper, and revealing a striking combination of deep red spots and haze, that sense of anticipation becomes even stronger.
As atmospheric as can be, those much missed sensations that only a live show can generate flood your mind. You can imagine the buzz that would fill the venue as the ringing of guitar strings transform into a roaring distorted riff. You can imagine the tightly packed crowd jumping up and down. And you can imagine the sweat and scents that would inevitably make their presence known! Mmm, it’s almost nostalgic. As Brad explains though, there are a whole host of reasons for the look, feel and sound being so authentically live.
“Attached to the shed that we practice and record in, there’s a little garage. It already looks like a dilapidated cell, but we decided to add an even more sinister atmosphere with the lighting.”
Now, for those of you have seen the visuals for The Weeknd’s original release, some of this may ring a bell of familiarity. For example, the colour palette, with red playing a key role. Or maybe how the car headlights blur in the tunnels and react with their nighttime surroundings. However with Brad stating “I haven’t actually seen it. I haven’t seen a modern music video in a while, but I’m sure it’s a masterpiece.”, we can probably count this as coincidence rather than down to planning!
This of course doesn’t take anything away from the vision that the band had for the video. What those videos, and indeed the two versions of the track say and achieve are very different. What is does do though, is enhance the level of instinct, rather than thought behind what we see.
“Overall there wasn’t much planning in any of it! We knew the song and we wanted to capture the same spontaneity as when it was arranged and rehearsed. It probably took four or five run throughs till we ran out of caffeine, but otherwise we’re pretty chuffed with the avengers we assembled and how they put it together for us.” Of course knowing this only adds to what are completely immersive visuals, brought to us in a way that truly captures that spontaneity.
Remember the opening shot that followed Sam? The one right at the start? That shot is still rolling. There is no break from beginning to end. One continuous shot that pans, sweeps, and zooms seamlessly within and around the band while honing in on them individually. Just like the setting, it’s a shot that’s utterly transportive. The kind of shot that makes it feel like you’re having your own private performance. And when you when you discover it’s far from the first time they have worked with this team of avengers, it’s little surprise this is the case.
“Andy Little is our sort of in-house visuals wizard, and he knows the songs as if he has the lyrics tattooed all over himself and his home – so goes the initiation ceremony for joining the band’s inner circle! . Andy directed cameraman Tom Cook brilliantly. And Tom really got what we were doing, and somehow managed to move around without tripping over the mics.”
So if you’re after immersing yourself in a music video that delivers an experience we are all yearning for, look no further than The Howl and the Hum’s live performance of Blinding Lights.
Thanks The Howl & The Hum for chatting with Listen to Discover.
Find out more about The Howl & The Hum at:
Cover Track Review: The Howl & The Hum: Blinding Lights
Behind the Music: Interview with The Howl & The Hum