PREMIERE: AJJ Vote “Mega Guillotine 2020” in Teenage Stepdad–Directed Video
Adapted from a @leyawn tweet, the song features Kimya Dawson and Thor Harris.
With the 2020 presidential election less than a year away, it’s time to get serious about considering our options. On the one hand we have a small spread of faulty human candidates spanning the political spectrum—from a malfunctioning, finger-sucking robot to the macabre new status quo of enormous suits and way-too-long ties—and on the other we have an equitable, objective patent from Twitter user @leyawn, which is guaranteed to get shit done.
Heading up the Mega Guillotine 2020 campaign are AJJ and Teenage Stepdad, whose collaborative video pairs the anxious folk band’s stupidly catchy new single with a visual sure to appease all demographics. “We approached it like a Beatles tune,” vocalist Sean Bonnette says of “Mega Guillotine 2020,” the type of uncomplicated arrangement that sticks in your head like a bizarre local used car dealership jingle. “It starts off rather simply and then we grew the arrangement bigger for the second and third verses. I love performing it live and getting people who’ve never heard it before to sing along. That’s why we made it so poppy and repetitive.”
Aided with backing vocals by Kimya Dawson, and instrumental flourishes courtesy of Thor Harris (Swans, Xiu Xiu), the latest single from the band’s forthcoming Good Luck Everybody is an oddly comforting track coming from a band who tends to write songs sounding like The Mountain Goats on death row, with lyrical content detailing nervous breakdowns at a Linda Ronstadt exhibit. “Owen had the idea to tape an accordion part onto cassette and then feed that into the recording, which gave it a nice touch,” Bonnette continues. “Kimya’s distinctive and beautiful voice was beamed in from her phone, and then Thor’s tubular bells and vibraphone really pushed the song over the edge into madness.”
For the video, the group enlisted the natural collaborator Teenage Stepdad, who took the violent concept of the song and gave it a PBS Kids spin. “When AJJ approached me about doing the video for a song called ‘Mega Guillotine 2020’ my initial thought was, ‘Hell yeah, I get to make a brutal gore film about the overthrow of the ruling class,’ which is honestly something I’ve been thinking about since seeing Mandy in theaters,” the director says.
“But after listening to the song a different idea came into focus,” he continues. “It was pretty and optimistic! When I listened and closed my eyes I imagined an ’80s Saturday morning commercial for a Mega Guillotine toy for kids, a twisted version of a kids show, or a subverted version of ‘We Are the World.’” Ultimately settling on the kids show Daniel Tiger for a visual template, the result is a hilarious if not completely unsettling campaign video.
“Collaborating with this band and being even a small part of this record is a real honor,” Stepdad concludes. “We live in fucked up times. I’m pissed off about it, and when I can connect with other artists who are also pissed off about it, it makes me feel less alone. I want to believe there’s a better tomorrow out there, and I know the only way we’re going to get there is together.”
Good Luck Everybody is out January 17. You can pre-order it here.