Courtesy of the artist
A still from Defeater's "Empty Glass" music video.
A still from Defeater's "Empty Glass" music video. Courtesy of the artist
Some bands make a single concept album and walk away, others dedicate an entire discography to one long, unfolding story and make those one-album-and-out poseurs look like chumps. The concept career is a nerdy artistic pursuit, for sure, as evidenced by sci-fi-leaning story arcs that involve made-up languages (French prog-rockers Magma) and lyrics-to-ink comic books (Coheed and Cambria). But over two records, so far, melodic hardcore band Defeater has brought the concept album down to Earth with a working-class family from the Jersey Shore in the aftermath of WWII.
Advisory: This video contains a brief suggestion of a sexual encounter.
Set in a low-lit bar, this video premiere for "Empty Glass," from Empty Days and Sleepless Nights, shot by director Rob Soucy, captures the darker side of a seemingly victorious country still dealing with a lot of hurt. In beautifully-cast shadows, "Empty Glass" cuts from poker players and inconsolable drunks to a skeezy man looking for a one-night stand. Like the brooding song waiting to release, the impressionistic narrative coalesces into a bar-wide fight at the emotional climax. According to Soucy, that explosive moment comes from the bar itself:
Director Rob Soucy:
Defeater initially approached me about shooting them several years ago; the idea had always been that when we finally got to work together, the video would be a short narrative instead of a conventional music video. I've always been intrigued by the energy that exists in certain places, so I wanted the main character to be the bar itself and how its mood shifts over the course of a night. While explaining this is easy on paper, people have very short attention spans these days. So I thought it was a little risky to shoot a period piece where no action occurs until three minutes in, especially as a music video for a hardcore/punk band. I've been close with members of Defeater for a long time, so going out on a limb like that turned into an amazing experience. The creative process can make you feel vulnerable when you're putting ideas out on the table. But my dad appears in the video, as do my cousins, and my brother worked on it with the same group of crew members that I've worked with extensively over the last few years. I guess it's easier for me to make things like this with people I'm close with. And from my experience, it usually makes for a better end result.
Defeater vocalist Derek Archambault:
Along with the conceptual work of our records, we wanted to make a music video that told a story within itself. The "Empty Glass" video shows the sometimes seedy underbelly of our story's bar that the listener finds in the record instead of just seeing the bare-bones love story the song weaves. With our friend and director Rob Soucy, we wanted to take the viewer and fan to a different place than just the record explains.
Empty Days & Sleepless Nights is out now on Bridge 9 Records.