Human Services is the kind of band that tends to polarize opinions. Their performances are interactive and avant-garde, featuring long improvisational sets wherein a mysterious black book is read, and their recorded works blend just enough finesse and disregard for obvious pop melodies to impress some while confusing most. Remember the first time you heard Bauhaus “In The Flat Field” album and couldn’t predict what things were going to sound like next and you may understand what makes Human Services appear so simultaneously interesting and bizarre.
Interview by Thomas Duerig for 757Ezine
Photograph by Paul Costen paulcosten.com
I caught up with Human Services in Hampton at the wrap-party for their new music video, The River Pig; a video that managed to capture the bands prodding symbolism and debuted on “Your Local Music Show” on March 2nd. If you haven’t seen it yet, correct that. You’re missing out on one of the more artistically relevant video projects to come out of our Hampton Roads recently. I sat down with the band, which includes the Video’s Director, Billy Kurilko, to try and figure out what their video was all about.
757E: Hey guys, thank you for having me. Let me start off by saying that you guys pulled off an amazing production on that music video. How long did it take and what went into it?
Billy: From beginning to end it took about three months. There were long gaps in between shoots. We did the torch shoot on the 14th of December and then it was a good month until we went and got the intro stuff and then it was like another month until we got the bonfire. So it was only three days of shooting but spread over, like, forever.
757E: After I watched it the first time, there were very intense and memorable symbols that really stuck with me. Can you talk about what some of those things mean to you?
Sean: Well, the television was a free TV donated by an arts group up in West Point called Arts Alive. They thought it was a good idea when I told them we were gonna take it and burn it so we appreciate them.
Billy: …It’s basically about consumerism. You can quote Tyler Durden there and you’re done. We’re not the first people to ever say this, but hopefully we presented it in an interesting way. The fire is metaphorical there in the way it spreads like the way people care about stupid things. We’ve got Jeff Liscombe symbolizing the titular –
Sean: The working stooge. He’s rewarding himself with all these things but its all disposable in the end, really.
757E: There does appear, to me, to be some important opinions about money and its pursuit and the daily struggles of capitalism. Is that fair to say, and either way, why do *you* think the video is important?
Sean: I think its more materialism. It’s more of a personal thing the way I see it. What do we value? What do we work for and is it really worth it to us in the end?
Billy: We definitely touch on other things, and I wouldn’t say that’s an overall message of the band, but that’s what “The River Pig” is about and that’s what being a “River Pig” is.
757E: What is a “River Pig?
Billy: The Japanese word for “Puffer-Fish” translates to “River Pig.” That’s where it all stemmed from. Everything on “Animal Fires,” the album we’re putting together is all “animal-based.” So we had this song about a “Puffer-Fish” and it got me thinking, “How could I turn that into a metaphor for a person that’s inflated, but they’re really just hollow?” Everything inside them is just the seawater they’re floating in
757E: Now that the video is done, what does the future hold for Human Services?
Billy: The next big thing is definitely getting the full-length [Animal Fires] out.
Sean: It’s ready to be mastered and distributed on a worldwide scale.
For more on the band visit www.human-services.com
757E Zine is a bi-monthly music, arts, and culture magazine dedicated to local musicians and artists who are not afraid to push boundaries. 757E Zine doesn't strive to be "safe" but rather in touch with what is new and unique in Hampton Roads music and art.
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