A name change can be a tiny bureaucratic adjustment, or it can be a personal revolution. For Detroit indie-pop band JR JR (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), it was the latter. According to the band, their original name was "the most ridiculous name [they] could think of," which freed them up to experiment with different sounds, and freed the listener from expecting them to sound a certain way. Five years later, the duo says they're ready to let their music speak for itself. And with the surreal, literally disembodied new video for "Gone," they've got visuals to illustrate the transition.
Band members Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott wrote in an email that the name change and new video are purposefully complicated:
A lot of what went into that decision [to shorten our name] was the idea of taking back our voice in as many ways as we could after a period of feeling like we were very tied to another personality. The song "Gone" is uniquely representative of this empowerment, but the real wonder of "Gone" is that it sounds cheerful even though its lyrical content comes from dealing with very real feelings of inadequacy and sadness that so many of us go through ... When it came to making a video that represented the song visually, we elected to not be the focal point of things — but rather to allow [directors] Los Perez to make what we think is a darkly beautiful visual piece that captures the tones of the song perfectly.
The dance between uplift and melancholy in the video is immediately apparent. Over whistles, lighthearted guitar and high, breezy vocals, a desperate chase scene gives way to a series of other vignettes showing people at the ends of their ropes. Then a thumping beat comes in and liberation arrives in the form of disembodiment, as joyful legs separate from hopeless torsos. It's not a completely happy ending — what happens to those poor upper halves? — but it's a bold statement that from now on, things are going to look different.