Back in June, Hot Hot Heat released their fifth and final full-length, a self-titled record that honors the hook-heavy dance rock of their early years. The indie rock mainstays used the LP as an opportunity to say goodbye, and today that farewell continues. With the video premiere of their single, “Pulling Levers,” Nerdist is sending Hot Hot Heat off into that distant fiery sunset.
The video was born from a collaboration between Hot Hot Heat frontman Steve Bays and Cayne McKenzie, the singer/keyboardist of fellow Canadian band, We Are The City. After discovering a shared curiosity for video technology, Bays asked McKenzie to direct the video for “Pulling Levers.” The duo devised an “ambitious, cinematic script that would involve a large crew and sweeping crane shots on a snowy British Columbia mountain.” But McKenzie got sick, and they had to scrap the whole concept on the day of the shoot. “Instead,” Bays told Nerdist, “we combined our toys and made an impromptu video experiment that combined different eras of analog video equipment.”
For the video, Bays and McKenzie gathered a ’90s disco laser, a video distortion box, and a lo-res ’80s security camera that McKenzie found in the trash. These contrasting projections layer as the clip progresses, coming in and out of focus. Sometimes it’s grainy and “glitches out like ’70s cable access TV.” Other times it’s psychedelic. And occasionally the image of Bays is clarion. “In the end,” he told us, “I think it’s a reflection of the music, and almost everything I’ve been working on these days, in that the process of making it was the reward itself.”
The song itself is vintage Hot Hot Heat: big piano chords, sauntering guitar lines, Bays’ reverberating voice. It’s catchy as hell. But there’s also a poignance to it that seems to be aware of their goodbye. And as they ride off, it’s nice to remember that you can never quite extinguish a hot hot heat. They will burn on in that special place in our hearts reserved for the indie dance outburst of the early naughts. Check out the vid and keep the fire going!
Featured Image: Hot Hot Heat