Pete ‘The Monsterist’ Fowler’s new promo video for psych-goths The Horrors' Changing The Rain has the charm of the character artist’s best-known work, but with a darkly trippy feel in keeping with the bands’s sound.
We sat down with Pete to discuss how he changed gear to work on the video, how its visuals related to his own band, Seahawks, and how it relates to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. But first off, here's the video itself.
DA: So how did you get the gig? You're perhaps not the most obvious artist we'd imagine doing a video for The Horrors (though it made sense when we saw the video)
PF: "I'm a friend of Tom the keyboard player, but I put in a treatment alongside others. To be honest, I was surprised myself when I won the pitch.
"I guess that my long-term involvement with the Super Furry Animals and all the work I've done for them in the past made me think that I might not get the gig, but I've always moved forward creatively and I think my commercial projects have given me lots of challenges and different briefs to work with. I was really looking forward to making something different for The Horrors."
DA: What was your reaction to the song and how did this give you the concept for the video?
PF: "I have to say I've loved the LP since I bought it and knew the song well, especially after doing some remixes for the band last year under [the guise of] Jon Tye and myself's musical project Seahawks, so I was immersed in the LP deeply. There was no brief other than that the band wanted an animated video featuring themselves in some way.
"I sat down with some strong coffee and brainstormed several ideas until it came into shape. I wanted it to be an almost daydream-like psyched-out journey that finally finds its way back to reality. I watched a lot of 60s and 70s wigged-out animation as a bit of a reference: Vincent Collins in particular. This wasn't necessarily for the style but for the almost abstract feel that a lot of his work has. That and the pinball count from Sesame Street."
DA: The video is more darkly intense than the work you're best known for, in keeping with The Horrors' sound. How was this different from, say, creating artworks for Super Furry Animals?
PF: "I understand the aesthetic and feel of the Horrors' music. That's something I wanted to respond to with this video but marrying that with what I do. I think a lot of people were surprised by the combination but as soon as the treatment, storyboard and first animation tests were done. I felt confident that we could turn in a different video for the band but keeping close to their attitude and feel.
"The similarities between SFA and The Horrors in this respect was that we were trusted to get on with the project, which meant a lot creatively and realistically as we only had five weeks to make a 4'30" animated promo.
DA: Someone here described the video as Pete Fowler and The Horrors do Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier, though they may just be referring to meeting god at the end and the colour palette of the poster art. Anyway, is this a comparison you're happy with?
PF: "I love that! I think the cosmic comparison is spot on, with a tiny amount of humour involved of course. I think my love of using playful imagery and ideas was always a challenge but I really wanted to include that in the video. For example the 2001: A Space Odyssey obelisk having a hole smashed through it by the band's heads [below] was something I giggled at when I had the idea.
DA: How does this video draw on the similarly trippy artwork you've created for your own band?
,PF: "It's all about creating a place, an atmosphere, an otherness that's important with all the things I do: be it this video, or a character or painting I make, or using found collaged imagery for Seahawks. I like to work in the realms of fantasy and freewheeling imagination so the trippy and otherworldy feel is pretty important to me, be it playful, dark or heavily atmospheric.
"The visual work for Seahawks was something that I wanted to approach differently from my illustration work. I didn't want it to be noticeably my work.
"I don't see the music and the artwork for Seahawks being separate really: be it layering images in Photoshop or playing heavily delayed ebowed electric guitars. I really want to spend more time making music as it's something that's always inspired and influenced my work, so it makes sense to dive deep into the world of our own music and create our own sound and identity."
DA: Did designing for motion mean you had to change the way you create?
PF: "Yes, but at the same time I drew a lot from working with toys in terms of the form, volume and movement. I've done so many projects where I've had to take characters apart and represent them almost in kit form, ready to animate.
[The biggest change was creating the] storyboard then animatic. That really pushed me, creatively. It was a steep learning curve but with each challenge you learn a lot and can bring that experience to the next project.
DA: What are you most proud of about the video?
PF: "I'm really proud to have worked with Made Visual Studio on this. Those guys really put in the hours within a really tight schedule and shared the vision for the piece. I can't thank them enough for going the extra mile and applying their skills.
"Aside from that I really like the ending, when the video comes back to earth with the bus scene. I just like that contrast and the slowing in pace for the final scene. It's inspired by a view I see on a daily basis, walking down the road."
DA: What's next?
PF: "Going on holiday. I'm planning a self-produced short animated film at the moment as I'm really keen to make more motion work and hope to be cracking on with that as soon as possible.
"Aside from that, as Seahawks we have a load of new material due for release throughout the year which we're very excited about. We have about 3 LPs' worth to release not counting some very newly hatched EPs and 12"s. There never seems to be enough time in the day!"