Stumbling into one of the small tents that housed the Festival Republic stage on a hazy Saturday on our annual DN trip to Reading Festival, I instantly knew Drenge were about to become one of my favourite bands. Two brothers, one guitar, one drum kit and a whole lot of noise…what’s not to love? After the festival, I kept my eye on the band and waited to see if they released any music videos and if they’d be any good. Thankfully, over the next couple of months the videos started appearing online and were good…very good. Perfectly capturing the band’s raw energy and translating their unusual lyrics to screen, director Stephen Agnew has really caught the eye with his visual interpretations of the Drenge sound. Eager to find out how the collaboration came about and where the video concepts sprang from, we spoke to Agnew about working with the up-and-coming band:
How did the collaboration with Drenge start?
Basically, I had heard a couple of tracks and thought they were great. Luckily they had seen some of our earlier stuff and liked it, we had some phone conversations and made Backwaters. After that they kept asking us to write on videos and liking our ideas.
Bondage chickens, gymnastics, wax heads full of meat, giant sandwiches – where do the concepts for the videos come from?
The ideas come from all over really, we like to keep the creative element of the videos pretty open. Some setups come from myself, some from Jack. Some from Eoin, some from Rory, and some from the crew. I think once the tone of voice is set, the content is fair game.
How much of an influence do the band and the particular song have on the concept and tone of the music video?
They have massive influence. Drenge are like a music video director’s dream come true. They are collaborative, but not pushy. Massively film literate and really up for experimenting.
Specifically speaking Eoin and Rory are also very involved in the whole production process. We generally go through a few versions of scripts before we arrive at the final version.
There seems to be a strong theme of abstraction running through all the videos, was this the approach you always planned to take with these videos or was it something that evolved more naturally?
Very natural. As we worked more with the band we found it easier and more relevant to get more esoteric in our approach.
We defiantly couldn’t imagine pitching those ideas in the traditional way and actually booking the job. Working with Drenge allowed us to generate and develop ideas in a non-conventional way. Plus everyone involved happened to enjoy pushing the abstract in these videos.
Who ate the sandwich from the Fuckabout video?
Our art director Lucie Red.
How have the shoots been for the Drenge videos, do you always use the same crew and equipment?
The shoots are usually a strange affair. Obviously Jack (DOP) is a permanent fixture. But everything else is a moveable feast. And like every shoot, they have a tendency to be manic.
A lasting memory I have is after smashing open the maggot and chicken liver skull. The smell was horrific. I had to clean it, because I wanted to do the shot. The smell got through a gas mask, making me wretch uncontrollably. It was horrible, but it looked wicked.
Tell us a bit more about directing venture, Never Ending Fun, you’ve just set-up.
Never Ending Fun is myself and Jack Wilkinson. We have been good mates for a very long time, since before we were directors and DOPs, we have also worked together for a few years. It’s basically the logical conclusion to our relationship as a director and DOP. Our main goal is to make weird and interesting films.
What are you working on next?
Honestly I have no idea! We have a couple of shorts up our sleeves and we’re pitching on a couple of music projects. We have also just signed with Agile films in the UK for commercials and music videos which we are really happy about!