Pump It Up!

My band recorded a video last night until almost four in the morning, which accounts for my dour expression and bloodshot eyes today.

Originally I’d wanted some kind of concept video–like, maybe we could be running from zombies, in a neon-lit cave made of wrinkled black trashbags, while scantily-clad heavy metal vixens struck menacingly robotic poses.  But our singer/guitarist/band-leader had us go with something more simple, something modeled heavily on this:

After seeing what we could achieve with just a pure white background and some good lighting, I think I’ve rediscovered the joy of a basic music video.  I mean, look at Elvis Costello and his gang in the video above (and not just his jelly ankles).  They’re posed as though all set up for a photo shoot that someone just coincidentally brought a motion picture camera to.  The simplicity of it allows the music to stand center stage, and really articulates the attitude of the band and the song in a way even a live concert setting couldn’t. 

Even the worst band looks less retarded playing in front of a simple white background.  I remember seeing the video below as a teenager and thinking “My god, these guys may not be total douchebags after all!”  Admittedly, the song itself is a cut above their regular tunes, but doesn’t this video make you hate Stone Temple Pilots a little bit less (even the renfair looking guy)?

Of course, it’s much better to reminisce about good grunge bands than bad, so to change topics slightly, thinking about the song “Pump It Up” always makes me think about the Mudhoney version that appeared on the awesome Freedom of Choice compilation that came out in ’92 or ’93 so.  It has an organ in it, a first as far as I know for Mudhoney, so as a kid I was thinking “this is where Mudhoney turns the next corner!”  Instead, music changed for the worst, and Mudhoney treaded water, recording the song again for the guilty pleasure I call P.C.U.

Mudhoney didn’t like the movie version, as I’m just discovering now through their Flipside interview (by Bob Cantu, 1998):

Bob: Did your cover of “Pump It Up” end up in the credits of a movie? Some comedy?

Mark & Steve: “P.C.U.”

Bob: Is that the one with Rodney Dangerfield?

Steve: No, David Spade. Some eighth generation knock off of Animal House.

Mark: They’re calling it “the Animal House of the ’90s.”

Bob: I just saw the credits in the video store.

Steve: Not one of our higher moments.

Mark: It’s probably one of my least favorite things that we’ve done.

Steve: I don’t mind it that much.

Mark: I think it’s bad.

Bob: I thought it was kinda cool at the time.

Mark: We had a perfectly good eight track version of it that we did for this benefit compilation “Freedom Of Choice.” It’s all New Wave covers and it was for Planned Parenthood and it was perfectly fine. And then this guy, Ralph Saul, was that his name? – we may as well let people know who it was – he was putting together the soundtrack to this movie. He had this brainstorm, why don’t you guys do “Pump It Up”? We’re like, we already did it. So, he takes us into this studio and he’s got two twenty four tracks slaved. We’re on forty eight tracks here and we’re doing a song that we’ve already done on eight track! Me, Steve and Matt did like, what?

Steve: Twelve different tracks of backing vocals!

Mark: I just had this horrible feeling, like, I should just go now. So instead what we did was we went into the back room and watched the Playboy Channel while this guy did whatever he did in that other room.

Steve: We didn’t care anymore.

Mark: It’s out of our hands. It’s nothing like I want to be a part of. It’s too late. The damage is done.

Bob: Is it on the “P.C.U.” soundtrack, if there is such a thing?

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: There’s a single of it.

Mark: With George Clinton’s P Funk All Stars on the other side.

Bob: How did that happen?

Steve: It’s one of our stranger split singles!

Bob: Often the best collectable items are really someone else’s mistakes.

Steve: Yep. But they paid well for it. It’s forgotten.

Bob: Do you get a little something every time it runs on cable?

Mark: An angry call! “What the fuck were you thinking!” Click.

Ah, Mudhoney.  To be young and enjoy contemporary music again!

Of course, I loved P.C.U. at the time.  Still kinda do.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at college shortly thereafter, I found it much more similar to Higher Learning (just replace the skinheads with crystal meth), but that’s a story for another time.


Guided by Voices? Built to Spill? Crappy as Shit!

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