Any singer-songwriter accustomed to playing as part of a band will inevitably have somewhat mixed feelings about their solo debut – on the one hand you don’t have to please anyone except yourself but on the other, it’s a bit lonely.
Available now from all major digital retailers and my own online store, “You Did This To Me” is the first single off my upcoming album Gentle Songs Of Ceaseless Horror and is the first time I’ve released anything without the company of The Bedlam Six. I’m by no means alone on the record (indeed the producer is my longtime Bedlam band-mate Biff Roxby) but there’s definitely a big difference between solo projects and band ones.
It’s apt then that the subject of loneliness is explored in Paul Wright’s brilliant video for the single. Indeed it features plenty of references (both overt and subtle) to the Bedlam Six as my character attempts to tie up his loose ends. Literally.
Anyway, have a watch and then I shall discuss the video at greater length below…
Hope you liked it.
This video is among my very favourites. Partly because, in Paul, I have found a collaborator that shares my love of directors like Terry Gilliam and Jeunet & Caro. I love shadows on smoke and twitchy edits. It wasn’t the easiest shoot (who knows what malevolent spores we breathed in over the course of two days in that dank basement) and at times I found the performance quite taxing (“quick, let’s do another take… I’ve got a real tear welling this time!”) – up until now the videos I’ve made have mostly tended towards humour, this one has a lot of desperation in it.
The main reason I like it is that I’ve become strangely attached to the forlorn light-starved protagonist (who we’ve been variously calling “anorak man” and “string man”). He’s definitely a continuation of all the angry people I play in Bedlam Six videos but, whilst all those stories tell of a character furiously trying to keep control of a situation (and then inevitably losing it), this individual has long since lost his grip and is now trying to build his world back up from disparate fragments. Hopelessly so.
Like String Man, I enjoy finding connections between things. Maybe it’s because I’m the son of an anthropologist, maybe it’s just because that’s what humans naturally do, make connections, however blindly or spuriously. One could argue that the connections are frequently more interesting than the things they connect. Famously the mantra in E. M. Forster’s Howard’s End was “Only Connect”.
This video is riddled with references to the past. Nailed up on the wall are the original hand written lyric pages reproduced in the CD booklet of Youth. There are production shots from the sets of “Mother” (2010) and “Waiting For Bad News” (2013). You can’t see it but on the bookcase are piles of notebooks containing lyrics of Bedlam Six songs (along with worn out gig hats and ties). There are also rolls of celluloid everywhere. One in particular hangs from the ceiling beside the map, on it is the trailer for Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes – that may seem like a strange link but did you know we shot “Mother” on the same set as the big fight between Robert Downey Jr and Robert Maillet? So many connections. So little string.
And how can we forget those nightmare nurses, played by my label-mate Felix Hagan (perhaps seeking revenge for the knock-out blow I dealt him in the video for “My Little Lusitania“) and my Debt co-founders Dan Watkins and Biff Roxby. They’ve got a lot to answer for.
A week after the shoot Paul and I got together to discuss the edit. After a few bottles of red wine we decided this definitely wasn’t the whole story, that there are many more gentle songs of ceaseless horror, all of which should connect up. What’s more, this could easily spill out into a whole separate narrative. The nightmare basement was just one moment in the life of String Man. Possibly it’s his lowest ebb. Possibly there are worse things to come. One thing is for certain, we can’t just leave him stumbling through the woods forever.
How long is a piece of string?
I guess we’re about to find out.
ON-SET PRODUCTION PHOTOS