The delectably pulsating disco beats of “Sympathy For The Auto Industry” are probably the opposite of what you’d expect from three members of prolific alt-country band Lambchop. But after nearly 20 years of writing tear-jerking, soulful chamber rock, it seems clear that Kurt Wagner, Ryan Morris, and Scott Martin are all itching to dance a little. This year, the three reorganized as HeCTA and released their robotically inclined debut, The Diet.
The video for “Sympathy For The Auto Industry” arrives at the tail of that publicity cycle, and it’s equally surprising in how offbeat it is compared to anything they’ve done before. The blocky, computer-animated video, directed by previous collaborator Christopher Shepard, suits the song’s retro electronic vibe. It features a sullen boy running away from his grumpy father at a gas station, wandering into a garbage dump and then discovering that everything he touches turns into colorful, prismatic vegetation. It’s weird, funny, and a little dark, and it complements the somewhat Orwellian humor behind the lyrics’ main refrain, “You shouldn’t have to change a thing, except your mind.”
Shepherd’s statement on the video:
I wanted to do something that matched the electronica of the track. It felt like the Human League, Heaven 17 vibe of the track screamed out for something visually similar to the Money For Nothing promo by Dire Straits. I also thought it would be cool to collaborate with RTS award nominee and Kingston graduate, Jez Pennington, whose graduate film Pigeon Kids is a story of urban alienation in a world of CGI.
Myself and Jez were really into the idea of getting data moshing into the promo. We wanted to get a sense of abstraction. Where the music becomes so powerful it breaks the images apart. There’s a great bit in the promo for David Bowie’s promo Loving The Alien where the image breaks apart as the music hits a peak. I love the power of that idea.
But in a bigger sense. What about the story? The story is about a father and son who don’t communicate. The son tries to reach out to his dad but is he cold and remote. It’s not till he thinks he’s lost his son that things change. They are like ships passing in the night. But will they collide?