VIDEO: Sundown "Sleepy Song" (via Impose Magazine)

Seems like a year has gone by since we were introduced to Sundown. Turns out it’s only been like eight months or so since Kanawha Valley native and Sundown guitarist Dustin Travis White reached out to us from their home in Columbus, and turned us onto their debut EP “Mansion Burning,” and ever since, we’ve become huge fans of what TK Webb and crew are doing. Even snagged a Sundown flyer from Budget Tapes to hang here in the WVRockscene home office.

So it was with much excitement we noticed that Sundown recently debuted their video for “Sleepy Song,” off “Mansion Burning.” Done in complete VHS fashion and edited by White, we thought it would be cool to catch up with White (again, we talked for the Gazette late last year) to get more on the making of the video…

WVRockscene: Where/when was the footage for “Sleepy Song” taken?
Dustin White: In the middle of last November we went to Shepherdstown, Philly, and then two shows in Brooklyn with The Demon Beat. We collected it mostly in Brooklyn at Public Assembly and some at Union pool and obviously the road to and from.

rockscene: Was that you filming the TV? that was a neat look...
White: I shot the footage on this JVC video camera from 1982 (image here). It’s a separate camera and VCR unit. Then I played it back on my trusty 1980 JC Penny’s TV and shot that with a digital camera. I originally bought the camera to document two months on the road in Europe with Times New Viking, BUT the battery that came with it wouldn’t hold a charge and I couldn’t track down a battery before we left. I found the camera and VCR on Craigslist and had to drive into the middle of nowhere Ohio to purchase it. I finally found a replacement battery and got it shipped to The Demon Beat guys’ place. I now have a second camera I picked up at a thrift store.

rockscene: What kind of camera were you using? how did you get that VHS look?
White: I got that VHS look by using trust old VHS-C. I’m not a fan of faking things or emulating things if i don't have to. I’m sure there are ways to make it look that in post-production, etc., but that makes no sense to me when the real way exists and is cheap and fun. The camera traces light in really weird ways that make it really fun to experiment with. if you Google ‘Saticon’ or look up videos made with a ‘Saticon’ camera on YouTube you will see all the weird imperfections the camera causes. I just thought this visual aesthetic would work very well with what we are doing musically -- especially for that song in specific, the slow moving and hazy nature of the song.

rockscene: It’s definitely a tough lifestyle going out on tour for extended periods, does putting this video together feed back into the dedication and energy you guys have for the band? regardless this does document you guys being out on the road...
White: My point was more to show how simultaneously romantic and completely un-romantic being on tour is. The open road is beautiful, but you don’t get to enjoy it. It just passes by your window. Then your moving a bunch of half working antiquated electronic devices out of your van and into an empty dark room and praying people show up. I love being on tour. It’s why I have done this fairly constantly since I was about 18, but there is so much down time. So much waiting. So much just sitting. That’s the part people forget about. I kind of wanted to show that and thought that was the perfect song to do it with.

rockscene: What is it about tour videos that have forever seemed to be so cool? Maybe the thought that you get to be on the road with your favorite band...
White: I’m presently living in VHS only 2012 and have been picking up a lot of older tour/concert VHS tapes but there is some weird mystique to them. If you have never seen it there is this Pantera video -- i think from the Vulgar Display of Power tour -- that is maybe the most amazing video like that ever. It’s basically Pantera doing “Jackass” before there was Jackass. Betting their friends to do stupid shit and just generally fucking around. It’s mind blowing. We used to watch it all the time. Seriously this video should be given the criterion treatment. The Cure ‘In Orange’ is one we have been watching lately a lot, but that’s just a concert film and no real road footage. There just is this mystique in popular culture of ‘the road’ as this intangible object. This concept, people latch onto it. It’s very much part of America. So when you combine that with the tradition of the troubadour it takes on even more mystique. It’s this never ending snowball of cultural currency.

rockscene: anything big or something you guys might be looking forward to in 2012? shows, fests, recording?
White: Recording. We are about to start recording our first proper full-length at the end of next month. We have most of the songs for it already but are spending this month writing and working on getting everything together so that we can make this record. I think it’s a major step forward to us. I mean ‘Mansion Burning’ was just intended to be a demo, but obviously it took off in a way we didn’t expect at all. Lyrically the record has this Afghan Whigs by way of Rumours vibe and then musically we are really trying some different things. There are some songs that are more direct and some that are even more gazey and covered in syrup. No idea who is going to put out the record yet, but we are going to record it with Adam at CDR here in Columbus just like we did the last one.

--- Sundown is tentatively scheduled to return to West Virginia May 16 for a show at the Glass, and in June for a show in Huntington at the V Club

Related: Five questions with Dustin White of Sundown (Charleston Gazette Sept. 2011)

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