Back in 1994, I was a high school senior, and I tell you what, my Saturday nights were crazzzzyyyy. We’re talking large bowls of curried popcorn (as much as I wanted! seriously!), writing strange horror short stories (this kid knows how to impress the ladies!) and really late at night, watching Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. For the uninitiated, Headbanger’s Ball was a show which doled out two hours of the latest heavy metal and hard rock music videos. In 1994, this included a steady diet of grunge, which was great, seeing as I had recently lost my self esteem in a large pile of dirty flannel shirts.
So one night in ’94, there I was, sitting on my couch, wrist deep in curried deliciousness. A video from a new band called Tool came on, for a song named “Sober”. The distinctive opening bass line immediately caught my attention, but more than that, the visual style of the video was unlike anything I had ever seen. The video used stop motion to brilliant effect, allowing us to watch as a creepy little clay man traversed an equally creepy environment. By the time I jumped up from my couch and asked the empty room, “Is that raw meat in a pipe?!” (answer: yes), I was hooked. I believe it was one of the musicians from the band who actually created the visual effects. I’m not really sure, but I’m guessing a lot of mescaline was involved.
Tool went on to achieve a great level of success through the nineties and beyond. They’re actually still a band now, but I don’t like them anymore because I’m not old. That their music had a very unique sound was obviously key in their development of an audience, but those early videos were very important as well. Gaining the initial attention of an oblivious public can be quite a challenge, but a healthy dose of creativity can oftentimes get the job done.