The White Stripes are reuniting with director Michel Gondry, and to celebrate, they’ve assembled a crew of characters that’s, well, pretty darn Gondry-esque.
A cast of little people, giants, roadies, stagehands and one solitary Conan O’Brien will join the Stripes in their Gondry-helmed video for the song “The Denial Twist.” It’s the first collaboration between the band and the French auteur since 2003’s “The Hardest Button to Button” (see “The Story Behind The White Stripes’ ’Hardest Button': Lens Recap” ), and their fourth time working together overall.
“It’s going to be a real — how do you say it? — a mindblower,” Gondry said. “It is based on one day in Jack and Meg’s life. It’s re-enacting a day when they went to play on the Conan O’Brien show, in a very bizarre way. We see them playing on the stage, then they talk to Conan, and then they take their car and drive amongst giant people, and then they go home and watch their performance on TV. But the whole time, they will be distorted and stretched.”
The video is based on the week in 2003 when, to celebrate the release of their album Elephant, the Stripes had a weeklong residency on Conan’s show, performing a different song each night. But though it sounds like it comes from the White Stripes’ personal memories, the idea for the video was actually all Gondry’s, and much like everything he does, it’s got some really strange roots.
“I had made a statue of Conan, as a big square head, and I gave it to them and they gave it to him [while they were on the show],” Gondry laughed. “It was made of plaster and it was like something a little kid would do for their mother. And it got on TV, so I thought it would make for a funny and weird video.”
And from everything Gondry said, the “Denial Twist” video is going to be plenty funny and weird. He’s building a compressed set in New York — Conan’s just wouldn’t cut it for the complex camera tricks he plans on using — and he wants to do the video all in one take. He also promises plenty of bright colors and a fair amount of post-production wizardry too. And while Gondry swears that O’Brien will definitely make a cameo in the video, it might not be as the host of his show.
“We might have someone wearing his picture on their face, because we have to stretch that person, so we might have to get a [little person] and put a compressed image on their face,” Gondry said. “But who knows? All I can tell you is that Conan will be in the video.”
The “Denial” video is scheduled to film in three weeks, and after that, he intends on keeping his collaboration with the band going — he’s already got ideas for videos number five and number six in his head. And sorry, Stripes fans, he says unlike the clip for “Fell in Love With a Girl,” none of them involves Lego bricks (see “Inside The White Stripes’ ’Girl’ Video Block Party” ).
“Yes, people are always asking me to redo my older videos, but I won’t ever do another Lego video with the White Stripes. But I do have plenty of ideas,” he said. “I’ve done six videos with Björk, and I want to tie that record with the Stripes, then beat them again by doing another video with her.”