IOW: Band can haz retro video

We’ve remarked before on C-U Blogfidential how surprisingly few music videos exist featuring Champaign-Urbana groups – if not counting live performance footage – when one considers the vast number of outfits to ever pick up instruments or lay down tracks. In recent years, digital technology has allowed area entrepreneurs like Sam Ambler and Matt HarsH, Garrick Nelson, and Jake Metz and Jack Maples to produce nifty low- to no-cost videos for their musician neighbors. Adventurous hands-on artists have also done it for themselves such as Chris Eitel (ex-Elsinore), Rick Valentin (Poster Children), and Lorene Anderson and Claire Cannon (The Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra). Yet, many other performers seemingly do not pursue videos, even in this portable Internet age.

Decades ago, those not signed to record labels with healthy promotional budgets faced limited options on their own. Analog video simply did not provide aesthetically pleasing results while traditional film production could be a pricey affair. One wonders how many music video projects have never seen the light of day, their remnants stuffed in boxes and folders lining the attics and cabinets of our twin collegiate cities or elsewhere. It’s an oddball subset of our creative media culture, to be sure

Currently working musicians can decide for themselves if it would be worth the effort to make a music video as self-promotion or additional outlet for expression. However, your humble editor has wondered more than once if there would be interest in or a market for “retro videos” set to seminal songs culled from our scene’s collective discography. Given the C-U’s pervasive love affair with its own musical lineage and the recent popularity of “flashback” gigs stocked with reunited bands, such as “1993 Revisited” and “Play or Pose,” our current filmmaker crop could have big fun visualizing the soundtrack of our former lives.

As telegraphed by the headline, somebody else finally hit on the notion and then acted upon it

No sooner had we started pulling together our post about the Bloomington-made indie feature WE HAD THIS BAND, with its themes of past triumphs and current regrets that so happen to revolve around the main characters’ indie rock band, than social media lit up over a new music video set to a 15-year-old cut recorded by the former Urbana-based trio American Football. Polyvinyl Record Company of Champaign, which originally released the group’s debut album American Football in 1999, put out a “deluxe reissue” last month of the same on CD, LP, and cassette, commissioning Chicago photographer Chris Strong to create the clip as a bonus for fans. Inspired by his own image adorning the album jacket, Strong’s gauzy video set to “Never Meant” imagines a failed summertime romance sparked during a house party. The director spoke to NPR about invoking the Nineties with his visual approach, every bit as timeless and fleeting as a 20-year-old’s allnighter would be.

Well remembered in certain circles despite a brief existence at the dawn of the Millennium, with only the LP and one prior EP to their name, American Football will resume play this September when they co-headline the 10th annual Pygmalion Music Festival in the C-U before visiting New York City to perform three shows in October. American Football is Steve Lamos, Mike Kinsella, and Steve Holmes.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Chris Strong has shot naturalistic, stark imagery for numerous C-U and Chicago bands you will know, as illustrated by this gallery posted at Manual Dexterity.

p.s.2 Remember that the Sousa Archives & Center for American Music at the University of Illinois will debut their exhibit honoring Mark Rubel’s Pogo Studios and the C-U sound captured within its walls over the course of three decades beginning Tuesday, July 1.

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