Named after an S&M-themed Velvet Underground song, Madison's Venus in Furs are one whip-smart surf-punk outfit. A video for their new song "Death of Disco" shows off their dark side as they stage a funeral for the musical genre that spawned the Bee Gees, ABBA and Chic. Don't freak out, though: Between grisly shots of a wake and a burial, you'll see an adorable bunny and other whimsical details that prove that these tough, tuneful gals are big ol' softies after all.
I chatted with the band before tonight's show at the Inferno, where they'll celebrate a new EP and their first-ever tour, which will take them to Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut and New York.
The Daily Page: Why is the death of disco important to you guys? Because punk won? Other reasons?
Nat (bass): "Death of Disco" is really just a metaphor for change. If you're ready for an era to end, what better way than to construct its own demise and then attend its funeral? I think disco is actually alive and well. I really like the music and borrowing from it.
How did the song "Death of Disco" come about? Why'd you decide to make a video for it?
Nat: Like most of our songs, this started out as an instrumental. We originally loosely named it "Disco's Dead" in reference to its dance beats wed with rock riffs, and sort of a "Punks Not Dead" take-off. Honestly, we struggled with it for months, having mixed results playing it live -- until we added lyrics.
The song was written at that same point in time just before the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It was both exciting and frustrating. Change was happening, yet so slowly and with so much resistance. The lyrics envision the perspective of a woman in the armed services, forced to hide a relationship. The refrain "I'm here to tell" is a shout-back to "don't tell." The lyrics point out the irony in our country's failure to respect the basic human rights of so many. We all wanted to make a video to help promote our tour, and we agreed it was one of our best songs and the potential for imagery and message was strong.
What's your favorite moment in the video?
Vic (guitar): Bunny! There were certain scenes that were really fun to film, like the Jello. But my favorite is probably driving Natalie's Toronado up the dirt driveway, and the shot that we got from inside the trunk of the car. I think the camerawork and angles were really neat.
Cynthia (guitar): My favorite is the mysterious suitcase of creepy items, to be used in some nefarious but unspecified way. Marlo and I cut out foam to fit the items snugly in the suitcase, as if it's some sort of pre-sold occult weapon kit that you might assemble in the field.
Nat: Vic, Marlo and Cynthia opening up the trunk -- scary!
Marlo (drums): All of us dancing at the end. We are so nerdy!
Where and when was it filmed? Who filmed it? What's up with the Jello?
Vic: It was filmed at the Commonwealth Gallery at Main and Baldwin, and at Marlo's uncle's farm out in Cottage Grove. All of the filming was done by Natalie and Trevor Triggs with some assists from Cynthia [and] Victoria. The Jello consumption was a rather spontaneous idea. Marlo just took a few nibbles and then Cynthia pushed it over the top. I also thought it was fun filming out at the farm, we had the whole extended family sitting in lawn chairs watching and Grandma needed someone to explain to her what a music video was. It was really sweet of them to assemble this huge brush pile for us to burn.
Cynthia: The Jello came from the idea to have a Jello mold at a funeral, which for some reason I find iconic. But then it turns out I am terrible at making jello molds and instead made a giant Jello blob. So one of my favorite moments was standing in the bathroom of the Commonwealth building with Vic running hot water on the outside of the jello mold, setting the whole thing down on the floor, then slowly lifting the mold to reveal ... a giant puddle of half-formed Jello! No one ever accused me of being Martha Stewart, what can I say?
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