Drenge On Film

The rock pair’s music promos, explained…
Drenge

The thrilling garage-punk racket kicked up by brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, as Drenge, has won itself many a fan at Clash HQ. The pair’s debut, eponymous LP, released on August 19th, earned an 8/10 review on these very pages

The breaking-through Sheffield-spawned duo, signed to Infectious, began from a firmly DIY position, where they self-directed videos to accompany their raucously energised musical offerings. Here, Eoin guides Clash through the background(s) to each of their clips to date, charting a visual evolution of the band beside their stonking noise. It’s entertaining. You should totally read on…

- - -

‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’

The video for this emerged as a piece of homework I set myself. I’d been to see Mark Cousins give a talk at Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema about his Story Of Film series. He’s constantly making films on a very small HD video camera, but he applied the same logic to all camera phones. Anyone can make a film. It won’t be a glamorous, Hollywood epic – but if you understand the aesthetic of the camera phone and understand the charms and quirks, you can be inventive and versatile on zero budget. 

I also read a famous quote – from Eisenstien, let’s say (I’ve just checked: it’s not, but bear with me) – saying that the camera isn’t special. It’s just a pen. So I took my new found ‘pen’ everywhere with me. It’s the camera on an HTC Wildfire S. It’s nothing special, but I thought it was cute.

The next day, I was in York and I saw a dead jay on the floor. I’d seen a lot of dead birds in the days before, but I knew I wanted to include it in the video. So I bent over it with my phone and filmed it. It was really gross and mangled. After that I filmed some flowers, and then for two straight weeks I couldn’t put my camera down. I filmed everything. A discarded Santa. A scarecrow ‘bird’ thing. My phone getting confused over which colour it should be in a dark room when filming itself in the mirror. A horse doing a little curtsey for me.

The rest of the video was shot in an organic health food place in Heeley, and a B&Q just down the road. I wanted to include shots of shopping trolleys because they could be used as a nice tracking thing to make some smooth shots. I also think shopping trolleys are beautiful symbols of what happens when love takes a back seat.

- - -

‘Dogmeat’

The idea for this video was really simple. We go out onto West Street, which is the main bar crawl in Sheffield, and film a load of girls dancing along to this really ropey punk track as if it’s a club banger. That just didn’t happen.

It was a Friday night. England had just beaten Sweden in a really great football match. We took a camera onto West Street and waited. For nothing. Nothing happened. No one turned up. It was awful. People would walk into shot. Wave. Smile. Drunk women in their 40s would dance for a couple of seconds. Some lads turned up. A man showed me his belly, but he wouldn’t have it filmed. I handed out party poppers. It seemed to help. I thought it was a total failure.

We’d borrowed a mate’s camera and needed to get the camera and memory card back to him for the following day. We had to transfer all the footage to my laptop, which was at uni. By email. Which was ridiculous. When I edited it down, we had just enough footage. Any less and video would probably have been scrapped.

Then I went through it and found that we actually had something really beautiful. There’s some really perfect moments in there. The guy kissing the rose. The bloke gurning and pogoing up and down on the spot. The chaos at 1.29, where it blurs and there’s a great shot of loads of young men dancing, showing off and having a good time (and the guy walking past in the background, wearing the same shirt as the guy dancing in the foreground. Homogeny, sigh…).

I wanted this video to be really cynical, laying into people who live to drink overpriced larger and listen to shitty loud pop music in soulless bars and clubs on the weekend. But what we had was a really beautiful document of a night out in 2012. All that weariness and hatred faded. I could see people watching this music video in decade’s time, a hazy fugue of nostalgia waiting to bloom. A couple of people have told me that they initially thought it was a professional video with a massive budget, a load of savvy producers and crew. This has no doubt boosted my ego to the point I probably won’t direct anything ever again.

- - -

‘I Wanna Break You In Half’

It was the holidays. We were bored and thought we should upload our new song, with a new video. We went back to the camera phones. I thought we could have a really disturbing POV shot if we stuck the camera to our heads with parcel tape. We took our beautiful dog, Panda, out for a walk and dragged each other around in the fields.

It was tough to turn the cameras on when they were fixed to our heads, and we had no idea whether the contact with our foreheads on their touchscreen would turn the cameras off. The dragging shots looked really amateur. We’re a lot heavier than I thought we’d be, so dragging each other across the ground was really draining and awkward. And it looked lame as hell.

It was filmed on the old road over to Manchester, which collapsed in the mid-‘70s during an earthquake and now looks like something out of The Day After Tomorrow. I like how dreamy it goes in the mid-section. It seems like I’ve fallen over and bumped my head and the images fade in and out from each other. I also like how much our dog is in it. As with all our videos, the original idea was pretty shit, the filming even shitter itself and the final vision surprisingly passable.

- - -

‘Bloodsports’

We went down to Hillsborough Dog Track with our mates/admirers Blood Sport (a local band who, through the power of coincidence, share their band name with of one of our tracks). We wanted to film the dogs run around the track. More importantly, we wanted to have a nice time. Neither of these things we succeeded at. We paid to get in. Started filming the dogs. After about five minutes we were told to stop because we didn’t have the right permission.

So then I bought a pie and a pint of Stones Bitter Extra Cold and spent all the money I had in the world on the hope that the dog with the silliest name would cross the line first. This didn’t happen. A tractor drove around the course. Uri Geller was on the television talking about dogs. There were dog races being broadcast from Newcastle. I missed our dog. We left.

We ran around the car park. I mimed. It looked awful. Me and Rory had a fight. I ‘won’. It’s probably the last time I’ll ever win so I’m glad it was caught on film.

All this time, it never occurred to me that filming a video for a song called ‘Bloodsports’ at the races probably wasn’t the most sensible thing to do. It wasn’t a political statement on animal cruelty. The dogs were having a really nice time. When they finish they all get treats. It’s cute. I just wanted to make a video like ‘Dogmeat’, where we document a social event. Especially dog racing, which seems to be an ever-dwindling sport/tradition.

For the sake of the country, your mental health and greyhound breeders up and down the country: go check out the dogs before this tradition dies.

- - -

‘Backwaters’

We decided to step up to the plate and get some guys in to help us with our next video because we were really busy and didn’t think that anyone would want to see an ‘on-the-road’ video, which was what our life had boiled down to. We asked Stephen Agnew, who’s done a bunch of videos for Crystal Castles, The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses and The Vaccines, to come up with something that involved a campfire and some bored teenagers.

He hired couple of actors from Manchester and we went out onto the hills around our house. We rented a field off a farmer and did donuts in a Citroën Saxo that was on its last legs. It choked up, bust itself, then rose from the flames like a phoenix before we took it into the next field to smash it up with some rocks and sticks.

There was some pressure to look cool, because only cool people damage cars and the only point of a music video is to show how much cooler your band is compared to the next cool band, so it was really stressful trying to pull off a stress-relieving activity whilst looking young, tough and mean.

That day we had a gig in Holmfirth, so we left the director and actors to travel round the valley we live in and get up to all sorts of crazy activities. We got back at about 11 and went to build a bonfire for the final scene. It was a really windy night so every time we put some wood on the fire it would burn out within a couple of minutes. We were constantly going out to collect more bracken and firewood whilst the actors hugged and pushed each other around in the cold.

We threw a can of deodorant onto the fire, a tribute to a low moment of my teenage years, but when it exploded the camera wasn’t rolling. Story of my life.

- - -

‘Face Like A Skull’

Goodbye DIY aesthetic. Goodbye old friend. The video for ‘Face Like A Skull’ is really beautiful and like nothing we’ve done before. There’s some footage of us miming along to the song, which I was really terrified of doing, mainly because I think it’s the suckiest thing you can do in a music video, despite NEARLY ALL MUSIC VIDEOS HAVING SOME FORM OF PERFORMANCE IN THEM. Sigh.

Fortunately, we got Steve to come and help us again and he and his D.O.P, Jack Wilkinson, framed it at a disorientating angle, so it doesn’t look like a pop video, it just looks really screwy.

But enough of that. What’s more interesting are the heads. We got our heads moulded by some really talented special effects artists and sculptors. The whole process should have taken about 20 minutes per person, but we were there for almost three hours. The backs of our heads were cast in plaster of Paris (what a delightful set of words), whereas our faces and ears were cast in this blue gunge stuff that went on as liquid and set.

Our heads were cast in wax and we returned a couple of weeks later to destroy them for the video. We melted a couple of them with a heat gun, a domestic iron, hot knives. The money shot, where a cricket bat slices off the front of Rory’s face to reveal a world of maggots and chicken livers, was particularly arduous.

The maggots had been put in with the liver a few hours before, with a wax seal so they wouldn’t fall out when we tipped the head the right way up. This was under the illusion that we’d be filming it in a couple of minutes, but it got pushed back. When it came to the shot, the director picked up the head, remarked on how warm it was and put it on the glass table. Some of the maggots had eaten through the wax and when the head was struck with the cricket bat, the head projectile vomited its nest of offal and larvae all over the studio.

The worst smell in the world. Ever. So gross. 

- - -

‘Drenge’ is out now and reviewed here.  Find its makers online here

Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-