SHAINS EXPERIMENT WITH ELECTROCUTION IN NEW VIDEO FOR
‘Let them hate, so long as they fear.’
Lucius Accius, Atreus, c. 140 BC
Nuanced argument and electric shocks
Initially inspired by the 1960s psychological experiments of Stanley Milgram, Shaking Chains conducted their own experiment (albeit entirely unscientifically). Rather than testing willingness to obey authority, the band recruited people to argue their opinions or beliefs. And electrocute each other.
The video was directed by Shaking Chains drummer, Jack Hardiker whose previous promo for the group, ‘an algorithmic filmmaking experiment’, gained features in The Guardian, NME, BBC, Vice and Creative Review, later inspiring similar projects from Muse and The Horrors. The video for ‘Into Dust’ builds on the themes (particularly filter bubbles) previously explored in Midnight Oil, as Jack explains:
‘I knew I wanted to produce something that expressed the ideas in the song, but also said something of its own. I’d been thinking about removing the mediating barriers through which we communicate with strangers online, whether comment moderation, or people’s ability to hide behind closed groups and anonymous accounts.’
‘I began recruiting participants from highly opinionated online groups, many of which were private. I was honest about my intentions and the groups were usually welcoming, despite some of the unpleasant subject matter. I was able to associate with people I wouldn’t normally come into contact with, online or offline. Of course when we brought these arguments into the physical space — even in a closed set where I was the only other person present— people didn’t express their opinions nearly as strongly as they do behind the mask of a computer.’
‘Into Dust’ brings typical online interactions into a physical space and introduces the kind of consequence you won’t find ‘below the line’. The band (who are now based in London) decided to return home to Manchester to shoot the video.
‘Participants with differing opinions were grouped in to pairs. They were seated in different rooms but could hear each other. Participants were given a white card and electrodes were then connected to their arms. The pairs chose topics to discuss. One would be asked to give their opinion and the other could hold up the card to interject and trigger shocks to the first. Some participants chose not to electrocute at all. Some used it a lot.’
‘The conversations were often political, or tackled ‘big’ themes, but I was keen to avoid tropes and sought to uncover nuanced, confused, human argument.’
‘Inspired by Burroughs’ use of the Dadaist cut-up technique, I wanted the edit to create a certain amount of cacophony, ambiguity – an overload of voices. On paper, a music video comprising of subtitled interviews, cut almost beyond recognition, shouldn’t work… and maybe it doesn’t, maybe it’s too fucked up. But perhaps that makes it a valid account of our times.’
The shocks are real. Their reactions are real. Their fear is real.
Into Dust is now available on iTunes.
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Who are Shaking Chains?
Shaking Chains borrow their name from ‘The Masque of Anarchy’, a poem written when Shelley was in exile, to portray his disgust with the Peterloo Massacre and the encroaching parochialism of the England in which he fled (‘Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many – they are few’). More Chartists than chart hits, they are a four piece produced in The North long after production halted, currently treading water under the dark streets of London (having played music together, in one form or another, since they were at school).
In an age where groups live and die in the time it takes them to amass a student loan debt, they have stayed together, like a dysfunctional family – chained – through mutual misunderstanding, begrudging love and harrowing shared experience. They’ve seen the changing musical landscape gorge on itself and spew out pale imitations, enough times, to inoculate themselves from hype and ceremony. Instead, they’ve concentrated on their neurotic craft and sullen art.
Shaking Chains are Jack Mahoney (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Nathan Mcilroy (Bass/Vocals), Alex Solo (Guitar/Vocals) & Jack Hardiker (Drums/Vocals). The single was produced and mixed by Oli Barton-Wood and recorded at The Gizzard Analogue Recording Studios in Bow, East London.
Lyrics for Into Dust by Shaking Chains:
Scatter gunning barefoot into a fountain of ignored wishes,
Frozen by the sudden dawn.
Staring at the sky in disaffection,
Paralysed we drown in our reflection.
Read unto your children and when they are soundly sleeping,
Load the gun with your goodbyes.
Eager to demand your full attention,
Flash bulb eyes don’t recognise deception.
To rise and fall like the splintered wheel, Collapsing as it turns another civilisation into dust.
Advertised – underneath the static, Everlasting life assured
Hypnotised – false idols and fanatics,
You can hear them scratching at your door…
can you hear them scratching at your door?
Expanding like delirium inside of the confession,
When you can no longer hold it in.
We all agree to disagree objecting,
In silent cries we rise from genuflecting.
To rise and fall like the splintered wheel,
Collapsing as it turns another civilisation into dust.