"I'm sure it was after a long night at the hi-dive. I found a note on my phone the next morning and it was this single sentence: People becoming clowns against their will." Neil McCormick, one half of Safe Boating Is No Accident, says it was this seemingly unremarkable note-to-self that inspired the band's marvelous new video, "Dye My Love," from its 2014 album, Bonus Features. He took the idea to bandmate Leighton Peterson and the two began hashing out just what, exactly, the visual version of this little snippet of a thought would come to be. They worked through a Teen Wolf-style scenario involving an involuntary clown transformation. Then there was the slightly darker version involving a clown grim reaper roaming the streets of Denver. That idea sort of melded into the concept of a van that kidnaped unsuspecting people, taking them to a creepy warehouse where the forced red-nose assimilation would take place.
The final version involves a pair clown policemen who not-so-brutally jump dudes into this new life of face paint. But they aren't just any old cops in rainbow wigs; they are local comedians — and co-founders of the Fine Gentleman's Club, among other immense creative accomplishments — Nathan Lund and Chris Charpentier. Peterson and McCormick felt that in order to really bring the concept to life, they needed great people involved to carry the video. Both are devoted fans of the Denver comedy scene and saw it as a rare opportunity for musicians and comedians to collaborate.
"I don't know anything about being a comedian; I am in total awe of those guys," says McCormick. "It felt really humble in a way to ask them to work with us." He says that when working with other musicians, a collaboration can come through a casual conversation and then, well, it just happens. When crossing disciplines and asking other performers to be a part of a project, McCormick and Peterson wanted to make sure they were respecting the comedians' time and talent — especially since it was a fully DIY, no-budget production.
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But it ended up being pretty simple, anyway. Peterson dropped a Facebook message to a few major players in the comedy scene — along with Lund and Charpentier, Kevin O'Brien, Cory Helie and Sean Cummings make appearances in the video — and everything was set. All the dudes were down to play a part, and the result is a not only a great music video, but a snapshot of a moment in time for Denver music and comedy. Charpentier has since set sail for work in Los Angeles, but the video is a great reminder of his impact on the local creative community. Denver theatrical powerhouse Buntport Theater Company also offered a hand in the video, in the form of five red noses, rainbow wigs and some of the other costumes that appear in "Dye My Love." In the world of art with little money but a lot of heart, these things go a long way.
So why do bands still make music videos in 2015? "Videos are the new singles," says Peterson. "This is a sweeping generalization, but it seems like people place less emphasis on seeking out new music. But a video will get played socially; people are more willing to click on a video than maybe, like, a link to check out a band or stream an album." Besides all of that, the duo just really loves music videos. Peterson says he grew up obsessively watching MTV, and McCormick shares that the impact of music video directors like Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry is an influence still felt today.
Safe Boating Is No Accident will celebrate the release of "Dye My Love" this Friday, May 15, when they open (along with fellow locals Space Suits for Indians) for R. Ring at the hi-dive.