Psych-rockers MGMT returned in October with “Little Dark Age,” the title track from their fourth album, set to arrive early next year. The band simultaneously dropped a predictably odd music video to go with the tune — and now they’ve shared a behind-the-scenes clip about its making, which EW is excited to premiere below.
“I think it was a title that I had on a list on my phone, like notepad notes,” singer Andrew VanWyngarden says in the video when explaining the origins of the song’s title. “The lyrics are kind of about anxiety. But there’s also a current of the culture of crucifying and internet shaming. Getting into that world of these people that are doing things that are harmful to society and the world, they probably have this intense feeling of guilt and shame. This song is kind of calling them out.”
The clip details the premise of the “Little Dark Age” video: According to collaborator Randy Lee Maitland, who cameos in a jumpsuit engulfed in haze, VanWyngarden and MGMT cohort Ben Goldwasser play characters with varying dynamics that represent different aspects of the band. VanWyngarden is a vampire haunted by beauty, while the work-driven Goldwasser wants peace and quiet. They’re living in a haunted mansion, and the music video captures what happens when people get caught between the emotional poles.
VanWyngarden also recalls a harrowing late-night drive with “Little Dark Age” co-director David MacNutt that occurred the evening of Nov. 8, 2016. “We were listening to NPR, the election results, and it’s an eight-and-a-half hour drive,” he says. “By the time we got up toward Finger Lakes area, it was starting to rain. It was crazy timing, where Google Maps or Waze or whatever took us off the main highway and the storm was kicking in. So we were on these backcountry roads in the Buick, with this torrential rain, listening to this radio be like, ‘Trump! Trump! I believe that Donald Trump…’ It was just like, ‘What the f—…'” VanWyngarden describes the subsequent adrenaline rush — which undergirded sessions the next day — as similar to the one he felt after Hurricane Sandy or 9/11.
Naturally, the elaborately produced video features plenty of props and costumes: In the behind-the-scenes clip, VanWyngarden gushes about loving his frizzy black wig because of its similarity to the ‘dos of Edward Scissorhands and the Cure’s Robert Smith. And friends of the band who cameo, including Maitland, musician Connan Mockasin, and model Hiromi Oshima, also explain their roles.
MacNutt and Nathaniel Axel directed the “Little Dark Age” music video, while Sam Fleischner helmed the behind-the-scenes footage.
MGMT’s Little Dark Age — their first full-length since their 2013 self-titled effort — arrives in early 2018. Watch the behind-the-scenes video for “Little Dark Age” above.