Interview: Swears | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Middlesbrough’s fuzzed up, rock ‘n’ roll four-piece, SWEARS return with their entertaining new video to Cabin Fever. It’s a self-made, self-directed, buddy-cop mystery-satire, in the style of a classic 70s detective drama, starring the band-members and friends in various roles. We apprehended the band to answer a few questions about themselves and the new video down at the station.

Who came up with the concept behind the video? What is it about? And how does it tie in with the song?
We’ve been looking for an opportunity to film a 70s B Movie style cop show for a while now and this gave us an excuse. The song itself is about the feeling of being trapped (be it in a situation, a self-destructive routine, a relationship, a body, a job, a town) the desire to break out, and the suspicion that things will only get worse. The original concept was based around the obvious metaphor of being stuck in a room, with the lead character drawing conspiracies on the walls and generally being a bit weird. With a bit of mental gymnastics, we extended the idea to be about a buddy-cop detective duo conducting an investigation to find their perp, who was committing crimes and taunting them using an abandoned cabin as a base. 

The two detectives, Stephanos Kotopoulos & Stavros Souvlaki (as played by Stephanos & George) must put their limited crime-solving skills to the test as they traverse the mean streets, following clues, interrogating mechanics, barmaids and blasts from the past (cameo appearance incoming) on their quest to find criminal-mastermind Terry Tremors (as played by Joel). It features show-stopping performances from a number of friends and family, including Joel’s dog.

Who filmed the video and where was it shot? Any funny on-set stories you wish to share?
We filmed our first video Faith in The Nation ourselves, and as we wanted a low-budget B-movie aesthetic we decided the DIY approach could work again. Joel’s brother, Louis Clayton, has the skills and access to some cool equipment so he took on the role of cameraman. We planned out the shoot ourselves, filming it at a variety of locations – Base Camp, Sticky Fingers Bar, Hy-Tech garage, Joel’s house (mid-redecorating) and the streets of Middlesbrough. 

In terms of funny stories, we’ve got a few. For the driving scenes, we tied the camera to Louis’ hands and dangled him out of the car to get side-on driving shots, and out of the rear of another car to get the front-on shots. We were hanging around the train station filming and a train pulled away, which our detectives chased down the tracks waving toy guns, which in retrospect was probably a dumb idea. Stephanos turned up to one particularly hot evening shoot with heatstroke and had to lay down between takes. Joel had to leave his psycho-conspiracy wall up for about a week between shoots, forgetting to tell his girlfriend who turned up at the house when he was out and assumed he’d had a long-overdue mental break.

What is your favourite police/detective drama and why?
The Rush Hour Trilogy because it was so good, they decided to make the same movie three times. Also, Black Dynamite is a masterpiece, overlooked by the Oscars for reasons we’ll never understand. We took inspiration from these two movies, as well as the likes of old-school Starsky & Hutch, Taggart, True Detective, when filming our own entry to the genre. 

What have you got coming up in the near future?
We’ve got a few cool shows coming up, including appearances at this year’s The Old Saw Mill Party and The Gathering Sounds festival. We’re planning to do a tour of some sort this autumn, as well as getting back in the studio to record some more music. Hopefully, you will see another release from us before the year is out.

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