Tom Scharpling, the former host of WFMU’s beloved The Best Show, has become something of a music video auteur over the past few years, directing clips for indie rockers like Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, the New Pornographers, Kurt Vile, Wild Flag, Ben Gibbard and more. He’s back at it again, bringing his singular vision to the new video for “Crime” by New Jersey dream rockers Real Estate, just like he did for their 2012 track “Easy” — except this time Scharpling’s got himself into a bit of money trouble, making his vision not so singular.
The clip opens with Scharpling (played by comedian Andy Daly) copping to his financial woes and admitting he’s outsourced the concept for “Crime” to three different people: 24-year-old Jared Frenkel, who wants the video to show extreme sports-loving zombies “always on the hunt for blood and erotic encounters” from his self-published sci-fi novels, Blood Lords; 48-year-old sculptor Valerie Anderson, who wants her bulbous clay creations highlighted; and 78-year-old Fred Dombrowski, Sr. who wants the new clip to bring back the values of the good ol’ days. Add in some product placements for Real Estate’s new album Atlas, celebrity cameos and the band performing in a Thai restaurant alongside Scharpling selling a block of time to the Westboro Baptist Church — but, uh, don’t worry, it’s gonna be fine.
And indeed it is: Set to Real Estate’s lilting track, the video tells the hilarious, surreal tale of those nefarious Blood Lords popping wheelies and kick flips as they chase a young woman through the streets of New York. Not even a trip down memory lane, led by Dombrowski, can stop the bloodthirsty gang, nor are they thwarted by Anderson’s sculptures, which the young woman uses to fend off the hordes (though they’re apparently quite good for kissing, as comedian Nick Kroll reveals). The Westboro protestors, who are now directing their ignorant ire at Real Estate, make their requisite appearance, and the clip comes to a jarring end when the woman on the run from the Blood Lords turns into Frankenstein’s monster. Smash cut to Scharpling counting that sweet, sweet cash.
Real Estate’s Martin Courtney recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the band’s new album, Atlas, as well as what it’s like finding success as a guitar-based rock outfit at a time when such bands aren’t really dominating the indie scene. “Ten years ago, we would be one of a million indie rock bands and for some reasons, these days, tastes are shifting away from that,” Courtney said. “So it’s great for us to come back and for people to think that we’re special in some way. I don’t know why we’re being pinpointed for some reason.”