Fotocrime Conjures “Inferno Rebels” From Cathode Ray Tubes (Video Premiere + Interview w/ Director Frank Huang)
Post punk rockers Fotocrime are unveiling their new music video today for their song “Inferno Rebels,” taken from their latest full length album Heart Of Crime— we're premiering this grainy, retrofitted affair below. “Inferno Rebels” saunters along with a minimalist, rock n roll slow burn. Creeping along with a driving bass line, mechanical drums, forlorn guitar notes, and some orchestral overtones, hints of bands like Depeche Mode and Sisters of Mercy flavor the track.
Directed by Frank Huang, this music video features Fotocrime mastermind Ryan Patterson juxtaposed with found footage of animals and other archival treasures as VHS lines and harsh exposures dazzle the sight lines. Huang achieved this vintage look through analog video gear.
“I like the fact that using analog video gear, it would force me to focus on what I’m doing in real time; unlike click and drop in effects on a NLE [non linear editing software], I need to physically adjust the knobs and camera settings to get the effects I want, and I would have to record the effected video in real time,” says Huang.
"For “Infernal Rebels,” I did 5 different recordings then mixed and edited them together in Premiere Pro. It was a lot of fun to find the rhythms between the cuts, effects and the music."
Huang, who currently works as a motion graphics artist for Relapse Records, recently directed the Full of Hell music video for “Eroding Shell,” a nightmarish visual pairing for Full Of Hell’s dissonant assault. Huang also documents metal concerts around New York City through his own company, Max Volume Silence, since he moved to New York City from Taiwan in 2011. We spoke to Huang about his contribution to the visual side of the metal scene—read the full interview below.
How did you get involved in the heavy music scene?
So I just celebrated my 10th year in New York City in August. The whole thing with me picking up a video camera, shooting things, started when I was still in Taiwan.
It was from a school project, because we had this advanced production class that we had to take, but in order to get into the class you had to make something as an application for the class. So I was shooting my friends' bands and doing interviews and stuff... In Taiwan we had relatively smaller things in everything. So at the time my thought was my camera can be recording this and the bands can look at themselves and maybe try to improve or whatever. And at the same time we can put it on the internet and help promote them. Now in retrospect that sounds really stupid. But that's how I got started.
I just started meeting people in the music scene in Taiwan. Mostly just metal. I started to know just how bands and the industry works. And then I moved to New York City in August 2011. I was actually here for film school in CUNY college of New York. I started looking up bands I liked to see if they were playing anywhere and that's how I discovered St. Vitus, and Acheron, and Santos party house when it was still around. I think Vitus just opened that April or something. Me and Vitus kind of just showed up at the right time, right place at the right time. It started snowballing and I started showing up more often, and people were like, "Who is this guy?"
It helped me get my job at Relapse now, so that's a good thing, I guess.
What's your title at Relapse Records?
I'm the video editor. They say I'm a motion graphic person but I really suck at motion graphic.
Can you elaborate on the visual elements you used in the chaotic music video for Full Of Hell's “Eroding Shell?”
Those things are actually, most of them are analogs and then I steal movies. But doing all the fancy hipster after effects graphics, like flying words, I suck at that. I'm still learning but I'm still kind of on the sucky side of it.
What was your inspiration for the Full Of Hell video?
Most of the time, Full Of Hell never gave me any direction. I think the one direction was to make it as sick as possible and stuff. Like, make everyone feel as uncomfortable as possible. I said “yeah, I'm really good at that.”
I actually did the Full Of Hell and Fotocrime videos at the same time. I think I watched a bunch of movies trying to figure out what kind of image we're going for. Nosferatu, the Herzog one, was always my favorite. I was like, I have to use this somewhere. When I started the Full Of Hell video, I was like yes, this could look really sick in the slow part.
There's not really too much concept behind it. Especially for the Full Of Hell one. I kind of just do a lot of experiments on this equipment I got. I ordered this video synthesizer from this dude in Florida. It can do all kinds of sick stuff with video signals...It's kind of a primitive way to do it. I make all kinds of materials and then I fuck it up in post.
Your videos have a grainy, VHS look. Can you tell us about that?
Like a TV 4:3 ratio. That was the intention. When going through these rigs, these analog rigs, you have to go through a CRT TV. Like a really old boxy TV from the nineties and 2000s. Because these gears are basically just distortion signals. I shoot the TV screen with the camera, and then I capture the footage from that and then put it into Premiere and After Effects and do all the post in there.
Was there a music video you watched that really inspired you?
That's a hard one. When was the last time you actually watched a music video?
...At the time I was in Taiwan. We don't really have that much, I would say, in the heavy metal side of music. Growing up I actually watched way too many pop videos. Especially Mandarin pop videos. But we would occasionally get Korn, out of nowhere. We had Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. Bands like Guns N Roses when they put out a greatest hit, like “Welcome To The Jungle” would play 30 times a day. Which gets really annoying.
Was there a cinematic inspiration?
So, a lot of people like Nicky from Nothing said my stuff's like Stan Brakhage. He did all kinds of experimental films and shorts...especially like painted films and stuff.
I think for me, these images, a lot of time when I'm making these videos, I don't know why I always have this urge where I want to break stuff. The kind of primitive and physical urge to try to destroy something. And these kinds of chaotic images match up to that emotion. So that's usually the direction I go for. Like how chaotic can I make this thing look? How violent can this be to the viewers. Instead of me going out to punch somebody, I kind of release this in these images.
What's it like being a metal head from Taiwan who moved to the US?
There's not that much of a gap in that for me. The good thing for me is that I speak English. That's like a huge difference. From my observation, a lot of international students come to the states and they only hang out with Asian students. Especially if I come from Taiwan, I only hang out with the Taiwanese. I saw my sister did it and I'm like “why the fuck did you come here for? Just get your masters in Taiwan.” Because I speak English, I could go anywhere.
It was hard in the beginning because I didn't know anyone here. So I tried to establish my relationship here with these small venues. I had to reach out to people. I started with bands. I reached out to bands who were playing shows and said “Hey you're playing this venue. Can I come and film it?”
The more huge difference for me is how musicians function in here and Taiwan...Generally the bands here are really nice people, surprisingly. You'd think metal people are really mean. Some of them in Taiwan are really mean assholes.
The scene from New York City was always very welcoming. I always remember this thing from Nick from Pyrolatrous. Nick at the time was playing in this band called Hull. We'd see each other at Acheron a lot because Hull's practice space was literally the entrance door at Acheron. So like, Nick told me this one thing: “Because everybody comes to New York, nobody is from New York. So we have this mentality that we're going to take care of each other, because nobody is from here and we all need each other's help.”
And that's like, shocking to me. I never felt a sense of community ever in my life until I lived here. A lot of times in Taiwan bands would fight each other over really stupid things. Like everybody will really bitch at each other over the internet. And I'm like you guys all write really terrible music, so why are you fighting? But some of them are really popular now, so what do I know?
I guess it's sort of a culture shock, where everybody knows where you come from, so everybody knows we help each other, so we can help this community grow. I think that's part of the reason I'm still staying here , for that sense of community.
You've filmed a lot of concerts with Max Volume Silence. What's one memorable concert you attended?
Do you know this band Alabama Shakes? I never heard of them before. I think it was 2012. I had a guy from Taiwan who was a senior in my department and had tickets to see Jack White. I said, “Yeah, I'll go.” So Alabama Shakes was opening for that tour. I think It was at Roseland Ballroom. So it was Jack White and Alabama Shakes, and as soon as they took the stage, I was like 'this band is amazing.' I'm a person who really hates standing in a crowd and watch music because I hate people. But that band is amazing, music wise and performance wise and then that singer. Like, she could really sing. I think the comparison showed up once Jack White played. Because his solo songs were like whatever, and then he turned all his new songs from his other bands into his solo stuff. And I was like 'Oh my god, this is terrible.' How sucky Jack White is makes Alabama Shakes even more amazing.
For metal shows, I think that Carcass show at Vitus was really good. And then, Gorguts. I remember how my mind was really blown when Gorguts played. 2013 was a really good year at St. Vitus. I think Dillinger played that year too. I always remember watching those people in Gorguts just playing all the crazy riffs flawlessly. Like what? How do you do that? How do you sing with that going on with your hands? What the fuck is that?
What was your first metal concert ever like?
My first metal show was also pretty like...it's almost a bit anticlimactic, but it was really fun for me. My parents are very conservative people. They think everywhere that sells alcohol is a bad place, restaurants aside. But, like a bar, or any related place, they all categorize it all into prostitution.
So I'd never been into a live venue. Like, a more underground live venue, until I was 18. I think when I went to college. My first show was at this place called The Wall after the Pink Floyd band. And it was the only metal band from Taiwan that everyone gives a fuck about. They're called Chthonic. They're the only metal band from Taiwan that anyone has heard of. For some reason Chthonic was the one that made it happen. They even got to tour here multiple times, but Freddy is a politician now, so he can't tour anymore. He's a legislator in my parents' district. I even voted for him last time I was home.
It was like a regular programming with some bands stacked together. It was Chthonic and some punk bands and indie bands, and like nobody was there. But that was my first time watching any metal bands play live. Ever. I was like "This is so fucking cool." The first time I heard double kicks through the speakers, I was like "Yeah, this is nice. This is really nice."
Heart Of Crime is out now via Profound Lore Records.