Patrick Stump realizes that his new single is called “This City,” and, because of that, you’re probably expecting the video to be filled with sweeping shots of skyscrapers, bustling crosswalks and all manner of urban ephemera. Which is why he chose to include none of that in the final product — and not much else, for that matter. He wants the message of the song to stand on its own.
“There’s not really a plot, there’s not really a story to it,” Stump told MTV News last week on the set of the “City” video. “The song’s called ‘This City,’ and it describes a lot of these images in a city, and I feel like those images are already there; it would be kind of redundant to take a camera into a city; it’s almost like the colors and the lights and the images that are going to be around this are going to be representing the life in a city.”
So there was nary a building to be seen on the “City” set in Glendale, California. Instead, it was just Stump performing his verses in front of several screens (Lupe Fiasco, who guests on the song, wasn’t on hand), which director Ken Koller will fill with projections and colored lights. It’s an artfully abstract way to present the song, one that Stump said he and Koller agreed on almost instantly.
“One thing that Ken and I were talking about is that a city is so complicated, so … we wanted to do something a bit different with it, and a bit more abstract,” he said. “I mean, the treatment was really funny to look at; it was literally one sentence, like ‘Patrick stands in a room and sings and we project all these images and lights on the walls.’ And that was it.”
And while Stump admitted that Koller’s bare-bones treatment freaked out his management, he stuck with it because he believes that simplicity truly makes for better art. It’s a message that’s taken on added significance now that he’s gearing up to release his Soul Punk LP, due October 18. Because like the “This City” video, Stump would much rather prefer to let his music do the talking.
“I feel like videos and stage performance, those were always natural to me — I’m a musician and that’s a comfortable surrounding for me. And videos are the same way,” he said. “Interviews and photo shoots and all those things have sort of been learning experiences, because they’re not something that comes natural to me. It’s a really weird feeling to talk about yourself all day; you have to either really like yourself or have a really great sense of irony. … It’s just a totally different thing.”