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Shaking Chains burn the Midnight Oil with interactive film

PUBLISHED: 11:51 24 April 2017

Shaking Chains. Picture: Ren Rox

Shaking Chains. Picture: Ren Rox

Archant

The Islington band has released the video for Midnight Oil, a customised visual experience that generates different scenes depending how the viewer clicks.

Watching a music video from a new, unknown rock band, you expect to see the usual four line-up trying to look effortlessly cool. All the way from Manchester, Islington-based band Shaking Chains are creating a case with the video for the single Midnight Oil, which has already featured on the BBC, the Guardian and Vice.

It’s a customised visual experience built around the viewer. What should you expect? It’s hard to say, as each click is meant to generate a different video. But it is most likely to appear as a chaotic array of random footage from YouTube, including beauty bloggers, twerking girls and police chasing criminals.

“The video is the baby of our drummer Jack (Hardiker) He had the idea when he was in his final year at art college,” explains guitarist Alex Solo.

“The titles preceding the video, ‘This film is just for you. Made by a machine, moments ago’ puts the spotlight on the viewer.”

The band set some search terms vaguely associated with the song, which produces a rather unpredictable outcome.

“Midnight Oil is based on the film Midnight Cowboy. It has got a couple of lonely, raging, melodic characters in it, just like us,” he laughs.

Their arresting calling card appears to have already paid off by generating publicity and ticket sales.

“The last couple of weeks have been mad. We have more people following us on social media now and the gigs are sold out,” he says, of their recent gig at The Islington to launch their AA side.

Solo and his band mates - lead singer and guitarist Jack Mahoney, bass player Nathan Mcilroy and drummer Jack Hardiker - have known each other for ten years, playing around in different bands. “It’s been two years now as Shaking Chains,” he says.

But their YouTube bonanza shouldn’t fool you into thinking of the band as marketing-driven.

“I think the video says something really interesting about our times,” adds Solo. “Those images are so self-obsessed and narcissistic that trying to re-contextualise them amongst other things and make people think about that can be a poetic act.”

It’s clear how crucial poetry is for them, as Solo explains how he came up with the name for the band.

“It’s from Shelley’s poem The Mask of Anarchy,” he says. “I love Shelley, I think he’s the greatest Romantic poet who’s ever lived.”

What kind of chains would they like to shake today, then? “All of them, as many as possible! Where do I start?” he laughs. “We have a few targets, we’ve written a lot of songs about the British government and Brexit”.

With their powerful, if slightly unlikely, combination of romantic poetry and pop culture references, Shaking Chains might be about to rock the London scene, but they aren’t concerned about competition.

“Too many bands today do not have anything interesting to say,” he admits. “And if they do, they can’t say it well.”

Not surprisingly, their biggest influences come from the past. “Folk music, old Irish and Greek stuff, country, gospel blues, but also Talking Heads, The Pixies and Iggy Pop,” he says. “However, me and drummer Jack like electronic music, grime and dancehall, too.

“We’ve written about 40 songs, got rid of loads of them and have half-finished ideas,” Solo explains about a possible upcoming album.

“We want this to be good! We’ve listened to the songs we recorded a billion times, but it’s time to move on, get some new stuff out!”

This sense of the endless pursuit of perfection is definitely an influence of Romantic poetry. Shelley would approve.

Stefania Sarubba

Watch Shaking Chains’ video Midnight Oil now at midnightoilfilm.com. Their single is available now to download and on vinyl.

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