There’s a perceptible bit of Chad VanGaalen energy permeating “Half Smoke,” the new single from Nova Scotian troublemakers Walrus—who, legend has it, have been banned from Avis for putting way too many miles on a rental van—when you consider the jangly guitars and hooky chorus that mostly define the tune. Yet it’s the video that really smacks of their fellow Canuck’s influence, likely because it was directed by VanGaalen himself.
The grotesque animations that inhabit the clip recall the cartoon fantasy creatures featured in a handful of VanGaalen’s own videos, as well as the cover art for his 2014 album Shrink Dust. “We have been big fans of Chad’s work for a long time, and had been interested in doing an animated video for a while now,” the band shares of the collab. “I’m not sure how he comes up with his ideas, but it’s all so creative and detailed. You could watch it a hundred times and you’d probably see something new each time.”
While scoring VanGaalen to animate their video seems like it’s enough of a tale, the backstory of a disastrous cross-continental tour for the song is certainly worth noting: “We had been robbed in San Fran after our window was smashed in the van, then after a show in San Diego we had basically a day and a half to make it to Chicago. We did it. Then we had to play Moline, Illinois after and we had run out of money. We had the best band blow up to date. I was sure it was done. My clothes had been stolen, I was bumming cigarettes. But it could always have been worse.”
Running with this theme, VanGaalen admits the video “started off as a story about life on the road but then quickly derailed into synchronized psychedelic abstractions.” He concludes, “I love it when this happens.”
Cool to Who is out October 18. You can pre-order it here.