You won’t catch me being one of those old guys in a mall-fresh Misfits shirt talking about how punk died years ago – it’s quite possible that there are a larger number of great punk bands now than any other time in the past couple decades. Video aren’t just one of those great punk bands, though – I am willing to go out and say that they are actually really, really great. From the way they fuse hard-rock power to snotty punk grooves, put together fist-pumpingly memorable hooks and scream at you with a voice that sounds like a demonically-possessed pinball machine in an after-hours arcade, Video are the definition of modern punk quality. That aforementioned voice belongs to Daniel Fried, whose history playing in Texas punk bands as varied and notable as Bad Sports, High Tension Wires and Wax Museums (to name but a few) helped shape his evolution to frontman vocalist in Video. He talks a good game here, but I swear, he can back it up!

How did Video get started? I figure you all knew each other from playing in other bands, being around town, etc… What was the impetus for starting this new group?
We all have been playing in bands together for years, but this combination really gelled quickly. I always wanted to be in a band where I wasn’t tied down with playing guitar and was just a frontman, and this variation really helped set us apart from our other bands. We wanted to do something that sounded negative and refreshing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that our band is comprised of the best musicians in the business.

Is this your first time being a frontman who just sings? How would you say it differs from having to play guitar while singing – do you feel like you have to be more entertaining?
Yes, it’s my first time as a frontman. At first it was a little strange to not have the crutch of a guitar to hide behind. The hard part was finding something to do when I wasn’t singing. I didn’t want to just stand there, so I had develop a way to be entertaining during that time. From the beginning, I knew I wasn’t going to be the wild-and-crazy guy that was rolling around in broken glass. I have more dignity than that. I needed to find a way to use my brain instead of my body during our sets. So I started talking more on stage and venting my frustrations. Now our shows are pretty memorable, and I’ve barely done anything. I mainly just showcase my power and control.

Did everyone agree to the band name right away? Where did that come from?
There were no objections to the band name. Initially, we wanted the band to be Video “something”, because I wanted something to sound like that movie Video Dead, or Videodrome or something. So after going through about fifty different variations, I had the idea “why not just Video?” Sounded cool to me. People get mad about not being able to find us online because of our name. It’s hard to search for just Video and have us show up. But our goal, which should be met shortly, was to become so pervasive and recognizable in modern culture that when someone says Video, it only means us.

What do you hope for from an audience, as far as participation goes? I figure you don’t want them standing there with their arms crossed, but would it cross the line if they sprayed a beer on you, or grabbed and ripped your shirt?
As far as I’m concerned, the crowd can react how they want, as long as it’s far enough away from us. There’s a reason we’re on stage and they’re down in the crowd, and they should recognize their place in our shows. But if someone wants to try climbing on my stage, I have no problem putting them back where they belong.

Can you recall any specific memorable moments from recent Video live gigs? Is on-stage self-mutilation strictly off the table for you?
It’s not very recent, but a little more than a year ago, we played in Houston. After our first three songs, I knelt down and spoke very calmly into the microphone. “This is our first show back in the United States after our highly successful festival shows in Stockholm, Sweden (which was true).” There was a bit of an ovation at that, and after a slight pause I said “…and it makes me sick to my stomach that it’s here in Houston, Texas (also true).” The look of confusion that befell the crowd was priceless. The hurt looks on their faces almost made it worth playing in Houston. After a few more songs we’d cleared the room to about ten people. That was a pretty proud moment for me. As far as self-mutilation, I never intentionally try and hurt myself. However, I’m usually bleeding, at least a little bit, at every show. I tend to cut my mouth open on the microphone at some point. I’ve been accused of swallowing blood packs, but I can assure you, every drop of blood that flows from my face is 100% real. My lips are as susceptible to puncture as Ric Flair’s forehead.

Why insult a crowd like that? What does that do for you?
It is solely for my benefit. If it entertains me, then I’ll do it. I just got so sick of seeing bands get on stage and after every song say “Thank you. It’s so great to be here.” I’ve been on tour enough and played plenty of shows to know that being in a band is pretty stupid. Most of the time it’s not fun, and it’s not great being in some town you didn’t even want to go to in the first place. So if I can say some things to spice it up for myself, I’m going to. Plus, I would like to think I’m pretty good at it. I’ve been talking shit for a lot longer than I’ve been playing music.

Photo Credit: Canderson

Do you wish more bands were honest about things? Would the punk ‘scene’ be better off if people told their friends that they thought their bands sucked instead of just passively being nice?
Yes, very much so. We wish everyone would join us on the Hate Wave. There’s too many people trying to be nice to other bands in order to “support the scene.” We should all embrace our inner thoughts and inner hate. We’re living in a world that supports disposable culture. I like to refer to it as “shallow times.” Once we’re all honest to ourselves and to others, we can grow as a society and profit from a more sustainable artistic environment because we wouldn’t have to deal with artificial sincerity and the false hope that stems from that. People should be honest with themselves and others. If that means hurting someone’s feelings, so be it. They should strive to be a little better and overcome their handicaps. Not everyone has it as easy as Video.

I can name a few examples myself, but in what way do you feel like Video stands out from all the other punk bands out there?
The main difference that sets us apart, is our obvious greatness. We pride ourselves on our songwriting chops and since we’re all students of the game, so to speak, we can draw influences from a wide variety of music. We are the best because we’re not just a punk band. Punk should be thankful to have our name associated with it.

Speaking of punk, you recently played the Total Punk Total Fuck Off Weekend… how did that go? Did any of the other bands impress you in particular?
The Total Punk weekend was fun. Rich did a great job of setting it up, and every band was good, which is rare for me to say. The one band I hadn’t seen before that impressed me was Golden Pelicans. They were great. I assume the only reason Rich put on the fest was so we could play and they could open for us.

You haven’t released a ton of records – just an LP and a single at the moment. Is that due out of you just not having a lot of songs, or time to record, or was this a conscious decision not to flood the market? Seems like most punk bands that have any sort of a following quickly release a ton of stuff these days.
We haven’t released that much due to the fact that we want to stay consistent. It might take us a little while longer to write and record songs, but in our opinion, they are worth the wait. You can’t rush perfection. It’s a conscious decision to let you, the consumer, know that when the Video name is on a record it’s a mark of quality. We want to be proud of our output, and if it takes years for us to be happy enough to make new records, we don’t mind making you wait.

Seeing as you’ve all played in various other punk and hardcore bands before, was there any sort of musical guidelines you’ve tried to stick with? What makes a guitar riff or lyric something distinctly Video, as opposed to one of your other bands?
One of the main devices we use is the Wah pedal. We can write songs that might not sound right normally, but once you run it through a cool Wah pedal, it sounds perfect. If something doesn’t sound like it would fit with the rest of our songs, just adjust the Wah to either be really shrill and harsh sounding, or pull it back and have it be really bass-y. Initially, the band was supposed to have very minimal guitar, but as time has gone on, we let Payton stand out and play a little more. He’s a great guitar player, but if he tried to shred over every song, it would get old pretty quickly. So we only unleash his talents when it’s absolutely necessary. It’s our little secret weapon.

Were there any specific stylistic touchstones you wanted to avoid with this band? Could there ever be a super-fast Video song, or a sleepy dirge?
We wanted to keep this band free from any musical barriers. If we think it works, we’ll put it in there. That’s why some of our songs can go from an angular punk song to a stoner-sounding jam session. It’s boring being fenced in. I wish more bands in our genre would explore different themes and try a few things. Maybe that’s my age talking, because I definitely wouldn’t have thought that when I was younger. And we could have slower songs or even pop songs if we felt so inclined. They would just have to feel right in the wide spectrum that is Video. However, at the moment, I am not very fond of super fast songs. I don’t think it does anyone any favors to play fast for no reason. I think other bands want to play really fast because they think it sounds aggressive. I think you can get more aggression and power out of a good mid-tempo song. Fast is fine too, but it has to have power.

What’s next for Video? Are you working on any new recordings?
There will be another single out sometime soon on Hozac. It’s been in the works for a while, but we feel it’s worth the wait. The writing for the second album is taking a little longer than expected, but is going to be a little more ambitious and better than Leather Leather. Maybe some European releases as well.

Would you ever do a Video video?
We have no objections to doing a video, but we have yet to come up with a good concept or idea for one that is feasible. If someone wanted to invest a few million dollars into a video for us, get in touch. The closes we have are a couple of live performance videos that the good guys at Delocreative did for their “Be Nice To Your Kids” series. They’re online, if you can find a way to search for them properly. Good luck.