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Alamo Race Track

#30.1 – NORTHERN…

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in Paris, November 2007

Rarely have I done a video in such a haphazard way that I find myself on the verge of snapping and giving up, of telling myself that I’m wasting my time. It’s not that the guys from Alamo Race Track are difficult or impolite–they’re actually some of the best type of guys, charming and up for anything. The problem was more the total lack of preparation, the poor execution, an uncontrolled camera, and bustling Dutch journalists all around.

The Alamo are relatively popular in the Netherlands–especially since they’re on the Parisian label Fargo–but their sound echoes something American.
But theirs is an imagined America, seen from far away, remodeled and reinvented. The four guys, who actually come from Amsterdam, create a classy and tight rock sound brimming with references: Radiohead, XTC, Joy Division, and Television, to name a few. Such influences are, however, assimilated and re-assembled with enormous skill and success–especially the superb arrangements, which give each piece a certain depth. This is particularly evident on their second album, released last October, entitled Black Cat John Brown. This recent release is far more accomplished than their first album, Birds at Home; it will remain, in my opinion, one of the three or four best rock albums of 2006.

For this video, the magnificent pop loyalist Pablo Nicomedes accompanies me. Mr. Nicomedes is the founder of the project Big Purple Van Club, which we’ll talk more about later.

We began at the Kiss Me Bar, not far from Moulin Rouge, with a song accordingly entitled “Kiss Me Bar”. That whole neighborhood is full of hangouts, each more rotten and fascinating than the next. The Alamo had to hang out for a while around there, and with such a peculiarly named bar, the moment was unforgettable.

Unfortunately the bar was closed, so our pre-planned ode would have to be performed outside. But there were too many people in the street and too much noise, so we headed back toward Montmartre to Alamo Race Track’s hotel room, a foul establishment with repulsive décor and rotting curtains. In the end, we made do with what we had: the band formed more or less a circle, leaving me enough room to film around them. I really love circles; we have a whole series of circular moments in the Take Away Shows, and they’re always my favorite performances to film.

The version in this video of “The Northern Territory”, one of the gems from the new album, is one of the most compelling things I heard in 2006. Its strength is its length and its continual ascent into something more powerful, the voices that support and work off of each other. It was incredible to have had the chance to be in the middle of all that sound, to circle around it, to let myself rise up and fuse with the music, to go crazy without worrying about filming for a few minutes, to shut my eyes and let go. It was truly explosive, a fortunate moment that will always remain irreplaceable.

#30.2 – BLACK CAT

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in Paris, November 2007

We left the hotel room in a hurry and happened upon the Théâtre de l’Atelier (a beautiful spot spoiled by a shitty theater program) putting up one of its marquees, à la New York. Although this was obviously a dangerous situation, the band started to play in such a way that I forgot all the potential risks. Three-quarters into the sensational version of “Black Cat John Brown” (the album’s title track), an employee from the theatre, as rudely as possible, came to break it up. He tore into us, freaking out because his building was fragile and couldn’t stand Ralph and his friends’ boisterous behavior. Needless to say, the song didn’t reach its end. But facts are facts: Alamo Race Track had just risked their lives, though they had no scars to show for it. As they descended from their perch, it became obvious that, from then on out, nothing would slow their dazzling ascent.