CHEESEBALL green screen. Claymation. Homages to Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee And Cigarettes and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Flying dogs.
There’s a lot going on in the clip for Skegss’ ‘Paradise’, which begins in bassist Toby Cregan’s Mullumbimby backyard, before taking a wild detour into outer space and through the hills of Bangalow in Northern NSW.
The man behind the clip is Nick Chalmers, a Gold Coast-based creative who’s famous for two pretty cool things: a successful pyjama line called Chalmers Pyjamas and a “viral” Today show interview that had [former] host Karl Stefanovic in stitches.
“The clip still has serious intention. People tell me they can tell a lot of effort was put into it, despite the handmade feel.”
Nick and his mate Angus McNicol became heroes after saving a pair of French tourists in choppy waters off the Gold Coast. But their dry rundown of events made them internet sensations. It’s been more than four years since the incident, but Nick still gets recognised from time to time.
“I don’t have long hair anymore, but I got stopped in Santa Cruz on the coast of California. I got stopped by a woman and she pointed at me saying, ‘I know you! How the hell do I know you?’”
After leaving his pyjama business earlier this year to focus on other creative pursuits – “I just enjoy having a lot of different outlets,” he says – Nick decided to try his hand at directing a music video again. (He’s made videos for Mylee and The Milkshakes and Wax Witches in the past.)
Nick’s clip for ‘Paradise’ matches the song’s carefree vibe, but there’s no denying its attention to detail – from the replica of Toby’s beloved ute to a shot-for-shot Neverending Story homage.
“The clip still has serious intention,” Nick explains. “People tell me they can tell a lot of effort was put into it, despite the handmade feel.”
So how did you know Skegss in the first place?
Toby was just a mutual friend in the same circles. It’s been a long time since I had done a music clip. I had a bit of spare time and it was something I’d been craving to do for a while. I just thought of some of the guys I know in bands and they came to mind. Toby was keen and it went from there.
Did you meet them in Byron?
Yeah, that’s how I met Toby. I was living in Bangalow at the time. Heaps of my mates are still there. I was always spending time down there. I met Toby through mutual friends. I’ve got a surf background and he used to do a lot of surf videography. He was always hanging out with surfers being a surfer himself. I was in similar circles and you just end up having a beer. The rest is history … He seemed like a good dude and I liked his take on videography. I’m also good friends with Jack Irvine, who does all their art and merchandise, so it’s all pretty fitting.
What did you respond to in their music?
They don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, but behind closed doors they are. They’re not just drunk 24/7 going, “Whatever happens happens.” They work hard on their music which is really cool. They do write some catchy stuff. It seems like a modern day take on what I used to listen to almost in my early teenage years, the likes of Blink-182. It’s that grungy kinda rock. It’s fun and not too serious. It just seems that’s what resonates with their following. They have such a cult following. If I didn’t like the music I don’t think I’d be able to do a film clip for someone.
It’s interesting you say that. I got to spend a day with the guys out in Mullumbimby, where the clip for ‘Paradise’ actually starts. People just dismiss them as a slacker-surfie band, but they’re much more than that.
They definitely give a fuck and it’s cool. At the end of the day they’re creating something. I think that’s one thing that resonates with me – they’re making something of it. They’re doing it. So many people talk about doing shit and don’t do it … They work hard and they certainly play hard, but they’re driven and I don’t think they’d sign up for anything they didn’t want to do, which is important as well.
Was it your idea to pick ‘Paradise’?
They gave me a bunch of songs [and] ‘Paradise’ was the first one they pointed out. I listened to it and started writing the direction of the clip and the storyline right from there. There was something about ‘Paradise’ that just stuck with me.
What’s your own personal history with making video clips. You mentioned doing one in the past?
I did one for Alex Wall who’s in Bleeding Knees [Club]. He had a little side project called Wax Witches. I did a little clip. It was super lo-fi, nothing compared to the time I put in on this one. I kinda look back on it and cringe. But it was a bit of fun and did the job. We went for the full ‘90s lo-fi look. And then did another a clip for Mylee and The Milkshakes. They’re a small band from Byron Bay – her [Mylee’s] partner is in The Goons Of Doom. It’s definitely something I left behind. I started a business [Chalmers Pyjamas] and a lot of my creative outlets fell by the wayside. I left the business earlier this year and I thought, “Why not get back on the horse?”
There’s a lot going on in the clip. Can you take us through the concept?
I’ve always had a soft spot for animation and then also cheese ball green screen. So many bands shoot clips in a studio. It’s always a white room and they make it black and white or something. It’s so unoriginal. I just wanted to have fun, tell a bit of a story. Capturing someone’s attention in this day and age is even more of a challenge than it once was … The clip still has serious intention – people tell me they can tell a lot of effort was put into it, despite the handmade feel. It’s similar to the band in that respect. A lot of effort was put into it, but it’s still fun.
So you handmade all the clay characters?
I did and it was quite a process. It probably doesn’t look that hard. Animating it was easy – it was making sure the characters and objects could move [that was hard]. I’m pretty particular and I tried to spend a bit of time making it look like each of the guys. I spent a lot of time on Toby’s car, way too much time. I love that car and I wanted to make sure there were signature parts on there.
Is that his actual licence plate [SHT-YEH]?
[Laughs] No, no. I didn’t want to put his real licence plate … so I wanted to get something cryptic out of him, maybe something only him and his girlfriend knew. He didn’t want to give me anything in the end. He was just like, “Yeah, dude. I don’t care. Do whatever you wanna do.”
What materials were you working with? Was it just regular plasticine?
It’s called fimo and a lot of people make jewellery with it. It’s not my cup of tea, the jewellery. It looks like something people would sell at the markets – like daggy markets. But that was the best stuff I could find in Australia for the budget. The stuff they use for Wallace and Gromit is from England and it’s just going to cost too much to get.
There’s a lot of easter eggs in there. Is “scotchies and tea” a band in-joke?
For each scene I basically asked the boys what they considered to be their paradise. Benny [Ben Reed, vocals/guitar] said: “Drinking tea and eating scotchies.” I was like, “You’ve gotta give me a bit more than that. Make it a bit more elaborate.” So he was like, “I love space. You can put me in space eating scotchies and tea.” And I’m like, “Sweet. There you go. That’s all I need.”
Toby’s dream was to be driving around in his [Subaru] Brumby with a cocktail. Jonny [Lani, drums] just said he wanted to be hanging with his dog. And I was like, “OK, we need to fun that one up a bit as well.” I thought he could be riding his dog like in The Neverending Story. A lot of the camera angles were emultating that scene from Neverending Story. Benny’s scene mimicked Jim Jarmusch’s film Coffee and Cigarettes, which is another easter egg in itself. The particular scene is with Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. That’s what I was going for, it’s why it’s in black-and-white. Instead of coffee and cigarettes, I made it scotchies and tea.
Obviously there’s a personal connection to Bangalow.
For sure and there’s a road I lived on as well. There’s a shot outside a house and that’s Toby’s old house. There’s heaps of little things. The dog that Jonny’s on is his dog. The beginning title is a reference to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The whole thing is a bit of a homage to some of my favourite cinematic images or frames … The koala giving the finger on the road sign is pretty synonymous with Australian road signs, but one of my friends drew a finger on a koala near the border of QLD and NSW.
There’s a [Jack] Irvine cameo too?
Yeah, of course. There’s a few intentional goofs in there, too. Like Toby never puts a prawn on the BBQ, but then all of a sudden there’s a prawn in one shot. And then Benny’s wearing a hat and then in the close up he’s not wearing the hat. I really hope that people think it’s a mistake … In a nutshell I just really enjoyed it. I found it really fun.