I spend a disproportionate amount of time on Facebook. I can’t help it, I’m a member of the internet generation. In between stalking random people that I’ve never met (to decide whether or not I would care to meet them) and raging at Candy Crush Saga, I like to flick through my news feed to see what all the different bands I’ve started following are up to. And you know what most of them are doing? Posting thirty second teaser trailers for four minute videos.
That’s what Parkway Drive did for their latest video. Parkway Drive are a successful metalcore band from Australia with a very attractive frontman and they sell out venues. For me, the teaser trailer is a pointless exercise. It didn’t showcase anything about the video at all, just showing a few performance shots. Here’s the video:
There’s nothing overly special about the video, really; it’s a performance video, where everyone is a bit dirty. At least Epitaph had the good sense to release the teaser just a few days before the actual video, therefore not losing any hype generated in the mean time. But see, this is where Parkway Drive and the vast majority of my timeline differ; Parkway Drive are well established and extremely popular. The other bands have barely got their first demos out of the stable. If you’ve never even released a song, don’t post up a trailer that’s comprised of twenty per cent of your first unknown music video! Trust me – nobody cares unless you’re yet another one of Trent Reznor’s projects. The same goes for posting snippets of songs online. The best way to preview one of your releases is to post up a complete song, rather than ten seconds of each, smooshed together to a montage of terrible press photos. Come on, bands of Facebook – you are better than this. I know you are, and I want to believe in you, but this is like when you go to a restaurant and they give you complimentary bread – in this scenario, the bread is stale and some kind of weird multigrain that you’d never normally consider eating, and you’d much rather be chowing down on the delicious meaty steak (or delicately balanced mushroom risotto, if that’s more your deal) that is your new song.
There’s a few bands out there doing it right. AFI, for example, if you’ll forgive my total and absolute bias. AFI are potentially releasing new material in September. It’s not even totally clear that’s what’s happening. So far, they’ve released three videos. One follows Davey walking down a corridor wearing the most badass jacket I’ve ever seen, accompanied by a voiceover of him speaking some potential lyrics which sound darker than anything he’s written since Sing The Sorrow, until he enters a practice room where the rest of the band are waiting. Davey takes the mic, the music’s about to kick in when it fades out and all we know is SEPTEMBER. Ohhh, baby. The other two are weirder than Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham’s little murder family in Hannibal right now. Numbers chanted over images of circles and girls and people with their heads wrapped in sheets. If you’re a fairly hardcore AFI fan, you might remember their short film Clandestine and the number of theories that then became attached to the lyrical concepts of Sing The Sorrow. (If you aren’t and you don’t, it’s worth listening the album from Bleed Black onwards, not ignoring the bonus track, which then puts The Leaving Songs in order and follows concepts about a cyclical nature of life and death. It’s kind of creepy. And awesome.) These videos are creating a total frenzy amongst AFI fans and a significant amount of WTF from everyone else, all of which is extremely useful publicity, and because AFI are a very well known band, it works.
This isn’t to say that an unknown band couldn’t pull of something like this, because it’s intriguing. It’s potentially a little bit pretentious and a little bit of an ego stroke, but you’re in a band. Take those self-indulgent teaser trailers, cram them where the sun doesn’t shine and play around with something a little more crazy. You owe it to yourself and your fans (or your potential ones, if you’re yet to have any) to stand out from the crowd and try something different. So before you click ‘upload’ on that thirty-second preview of your reasonably ordinary music video, think – the best of your act can’t be showcased in thirty seconds. Unless you’re Limp Wrist, and then your best songs can always be showcased in under thirty seconds because the whole thing usually is. But chances are, you’re not, so show us the whole fucking video.