Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Blood Red Shoes: Heartsink video day out!

Over fifty hardcore Blood Red Shoes fans stand on a waste ground somewhere in London; some have travelled from only a few streets over, others from as far afield as Portugal, Holland or Berlin. They clutch what will soon be bits of broken and twisted metal, torn paper and burnt clothing. For now these items are intact, VCRs, school uniforms, mix tapes, ornamental plates, Instamatic cameras, guitars, love letters. It’s a sweltering July day and the sun is lobstering up anyone foolish enough to stand exposed for too long.
These fans are here for one purpose to smash, trash, destroy or burn an item that means something to them, whether that item is something they hate or love is up to them. Oh and it’s for a music video.

Blood Red Shoes second album Fire Like This has been out since March and has seen them go from strength to strength with yet another huge line up of dates across Europe stretching from now until December. The single Heartsink will be the third from the album and is out in August. On the 6th July the band got together with director Steve Glashier and crew amongst the rubble of a half demolished building in Colliers Wood with a host of fans that had heeded the call to attend.
There to film a behind the scenes documentary about the day, I knew that this video was to be all about the fans, I just wasn't sure what to expect. With camera in position and fans already massing by the gate of the site I felt it was time to get them in front of the camera and find out what made them tick.
Blood Red Shoes fans are a mixed bunch it would seem, from classic indie kids sporting mop top haircuts, to skaters, goths and hipsters in skinny jeans and fitted shirts. Ages too ranged from kids in school to gig going thirty somethings.

Their stories, halting and shy at first, came rolling out like confessions.
T-shirts signed by classmates ready to burn leaving childhood behind, scented candle holders gifted by ex girlfriends that they just wanted to smash, creepy china dolls that plagued their nightmares, undeveloped rolls of film their ex boyfriends took of them. The list was endless.

My questions were all kind of the same, what have you brought along today and why?
Some times their response seemed to leave things unsaid:
"It's the first guitar I ever owned so obviously it has some meaning to me... I won’t be getting another"
While others didn't need anything else:
"I've got a wine bottle, because my mum was an alcoholic... We don't speak anymore...”
The sacrifice of treasured possessions or things that marked a point in their lives were big hitters:
"I'll be tearing up a piece of artwork that I did a few years ago, that I am most proud of and that I feel got me into Uni' and where I am today"
"I've brought a teddy bear which I got from my best friend just before we went to different schools and lost our friendship...”

There were also a lot of relationship stories and as afternoon went on and as story after story was told my mood grew a little towards melancholic.
"It's a crystal ball my ex girlfriend gave me, the day before she broke up with me on our anniversary and I'd really like to get rid of it as it just reminds me what a waste of time she was to me."
The most poignant was one girl who had come with an SLR Camera,
"My real dad gave it to me when I was eleven and doing photography at school. But I haven't seen him since I was about twelve. I held onto it and the photos waiting to show them off to him, but I'm twenty now and am pretty sure that's not going to happen!"

Now from reading this you might think the general mood amongst the fans arrayed before the camera was one of sadness or tragedy but that couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone there had unifying theme to not only their back stories but also in their attitude towards the imminent moment of destruction.
This was a cathartic day, a symbolic split with something or someone in each of their pasts a positive ritual of mindful destruction... and it also looked awesome!

Interviews with the fans over it was time for their moments of truth and one by one rain of debris started to accumulate upon the ground, smashed, broken, burnt, crushed, torn and shattered, the pieces mingling together to form a monument to moving on. These were committed fans of the band but as the day went on you could see their excitement at being in the video, at being with their heroes, give way to an excitement about the destruction at hand, even when their object was trashed their focus simply moved to the next fan and the next thing to go.
In a quiet moment I spoke to the videos director who gave a rare interview, talking about the shoot, fans and working with Blood Red Shoes.

Me: Roughly what was the outline of the video; did the band have much of a hand in the idea?

Steve Glashier: The idea was to have something with some energy, and we all thought would be good to have some people in it, I proposed we get some fans to come and smash up possessions that meant something to them. I think the whole video was decided in two emails, and I met up with the band to discus aesthetics.

Me: How easy was it to find fans willing to destroy their treasured possessions?

Steve: Easier than I thought we had about a hundred emails within a couple of days, and all very open about the reasons why they wanted to destroy their chosen object, happy and sad.

Me: What do you think the fans, or anybody getting in front of a camera for free, gets out of it?

Steve: Sometime I look at the extras and I do wonder what they will get from it, but it’s usually a fun day, but a little long. This video was different, as the fans were the focus of the video and with a bit of luck it was a nice positive experience.

Me: You've worked with the band before, what do you like about them or what makes it a rewarding experience?

Steve: Very rarely you meet people, let alone a band that know their own minds, Blood Red Shoes are one of a few and I think you hear that in the music. That's the rewarding bit for me, to see uncompromised art and collaborate with interesting people who have a good disregard for health and safety on a video shoot..!

With evening approaching things were wrapping up, the fans were leaving and I hopped on the train home. From that evening to writing this now, two days later, all I can see when I shut my eyes is a riot of objects smashing into bits. Tea pots, alarm clocks, computer monitors, books, acoustic guitars, type writers, mirrors, Xbox’s, records, vases, breaking smaller and smaller until they're gone.

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