You won’t find Long Island rockers An Old Friend operating within the friendly confines of what feels safe. No, as their latest single “Flower Glass” shows, this unit likes to jump back and forth and in and out of musical classifications. Listeners of emo, atmospheric post-rock, and modern progressive rock can all feel very much at home here with this sublime new single, a song that describes the experiences associated with sensory and emotional overload. It’s about looking turmoil right in the eyes and trying your damnedest to keep your head above the water, so to speak. Urgent, intense, and emotional, the song, like all of An Old Friend’’s other music, is meant to really grab you with the utmost feeling and sensation.
The “Flower Glass” music video only adds to the experience, a colourful, hazy, psychedelic visual experience that really matches the spirit of the song. It’s a fairly standard performance video featuring the whole band, but it’s shot in such a special, ethereal way that it really succeeds in taking you to a whole other place, both visually and emotionally. Riding the wave of emotion, there’s nothing one-dimensional about anything An Old Friend gets up to.
With the “Flower Glass” video released earlier this month, we went Behind The Video with frontman Cody Kohler to discuss how the video speaks to the song, what happened on set, working with director Tom Flynn, and generally what his views are when it comes to modern music videos and their benefits and drawbacks.
Any mishaps on set?
Cody Kohler: “It all went pretty well, thankfully. We met Tom at the location and loaded gear in. This was probably one of the easier shoots because the building had an elevator that we were able to load everything up in one shot. However, there was a little scare when we brought all the gear up, the girl hosting the location asked if we were going to play loud, we said we would keep it down, but when we got into it, we played full volume, with no issues luckily.”
Any concepts where you started and, midway through, thought “what the fuck are we doing?”
“Not in a bad way, usually those moments of self-reflection during the process are the best. They usually happen with all of our shoots and also shows, honestly. You get to a point where you realize all the plans are coming together and the ultimate goal is chasing something you’ve been dreaming of for weeks if not months. Those are the magical moments!”
If money was no issue what would be in your perfect video?
“Parachuting with our instruments! Explosions and a ton of over the top extras! Super special effects and like a sky diving scene! Drone shots and awesome scenery like in New Zealand or somewhere with amazing views.”
If you could have any guest appear in your video who would you have?
“For a musician cameo maybe Anthony Green, we would have a lot of fun creating with him. But for actor, maybe Willem Dafoe to play a bad guy. He’s an awesome person and an amazing performer. It takes a really good actor to pull off a ‘good’ bad guy.”
Do you prefer writing a video around the theme of a song or just going in a warehouse and banging out a live performance?
“We tend to stick with the theme of a song. If we feel it needs a story line then we’ll take the time to write one. But sometimes all a song needs is a simple ‘live’ video. Which we thought would be perfect for ‘Flower Glass,’ accompanied by Tom Flynn’s lighting and directing, we also had a wall full of flowers for this one which was fitting.”
Tell us about any good, bad, or crazy director or film crew-related incidents.
“Oh gosh, way back in the day, we went to shoot a video (‘Scavenger Hunt’) at an abandoned spot that was far back in the woods. At the beginning of the trail was a giant mound of dirt that was meant to stop people from driving into the trail. So we loaded all the gear in (drummer) Frank’s (Facompre) Jeep and he sent it over the pile. When he got half way his Jeep bottomed out and teeter tottered just enough to get over. What a rush!”
How does the music inform the video in terms of visuals matching sound?
“Great question! That’s a hard one to explain. So when we write songs, we usually temporarily name them after colors that we feel would match the feeling of the song. ‘Flower Glass’ was originally named ‘Pink.’ So we felt a more simple video with mellow scenery would have worked best. We added in some lighting and simple special effects to spice it up and keep it interesting.”
Have you ever had such a baller idea for a music video that you’ve written music for it?
“Always! That links back to the budget question (laughs).”
What is your favourite childhood music video and do you have any secret nods to it in your catalogue?
“‘Helena’ by My Chemical Romance and ‘Sic Transit Gloria’ by Brand New. Nothing consciously, but certainly influenced by many.”
How important are music videos in terms of increased exposure?
“Very important, especially in these modern days. People love to see a performance. It’s what makes the music stick.”
How important a role does social media play for sharing videos and increasing exposure?
“Nowadays that’s the new norm for exposure, it’s almost second nature to musicians of this era, whether it’s promoting a tour, or sharing new releases, it’s the most convenient way to stay one on one with your supporters.”
How much more effective or beneficial is creating a music video now compared to 20 or 30 years ago?
“Twenty or 30 years ago was actually a time when music videos started to pop, especially on MTV, they were almost circulated around it. I feel like a visual to a song holds much more weight currently as the music world is much more saturated than it was back then, anything you can do to add some extra life to your music helps. It’s also much more accessible to find a director and shoot a video nowadays.”
Are the benefits worth the costs and effort involved?
“One-hundred percent. Music is a labour of love.”
Do you think YouTube (or ‘online-only’ platforms) a good enough platform by itself to justify creating a music video?
“YouTube is convenient and one of the largest video platforms out there, essentially everyone’s gotta start somewhere, and if they utilize all of YouTube’s artist tools, and a proper PR release, their videos can definitely get into the right crowd.”
Is a well-made DIY video just as good or beneficial as a professionally-made/directed video?
“Well, if an artist spends the funds to work with professionals to produce the music, then we feel it’s important to follow through with the same mindset if planning to shoot a video as well. You don’t want a lower end video to take away from the quality of the music, if anything you would want it to add to it, unless of course the song energy calls for a DIY video. We have seen some really cool DIY stuff over the years that did the music justice.”
Does this latest video have a concept and, if so, can you elaborate on it?
“Well the song lyrics are posted under the video on YouTube, and are open for interpretation to the listener, however, the video does hold a small concept of being caught in almost a dream like state (dreamy color schemes, a wall full of flowers, crazy lighting, etc.). That’s where Tom Flynn did his justice with his overlays, lighting, and overall directing on the video.”
What about a video crew? Did you work with one, to any great extent?
“We worked with Tom Flynn, as we usually always do. There was no major crew involved or needed on this one besides Tom and one of his lead guys. Essentially it was all hands-on with getting everything set up and situated, and then from there Tom worked his magic.”
Did the video have a specific, hard budget and were you able to stick with it?
“No real budget in mind, however we were more concerned about getting an effective video shot so we can finally get the music out there.”
How much of the video was self-made?
“Well the concepts and location were discussed between us and Director Tom Flynn, so essentially everything was self made, we even used a projector screen behind singled out playing shots to provide crazy lighting.”