In the bizarro world we find ourselves in, Rhode Island power pop rockers Jets Can’t Land took the newfound, show-free, ample time available to bring the song “Stranded on the Moon” off their As the Earth Shakes EP on 75orLess Records to vivid technicolor. That’s right, they made a music video.
With Apollo-era imagery and playful, cross-hatched notebook-doodle style animation, JCL singer-guitarist Eric Meier, bassist Michael Bilodeau, guitarist Kyle Jackson, and drummer Keith Swist, pulled the song out of storage in response to the state of affairs we find ourselves in.
“I know it seems timely since we’re all stranded inside – trapped,” Meier says, “and that desperation is a part of the song. But it was inspired by an article I had read about the original moon astronauts. Apparently, Nixon had written a speech in the event they weren’t able to take off from the moon. I began to think of the song as an alternate history sort of thing, imagining what an astronaut might be thinking if they were stranded. I like those ideas in general; apocalyptic sci-fi has always intrigued me.”
Using repurposed art from the EP, Meier created the video himself as a project to fill the musical void of not playing live or having jam sessions. As with all artists, creativity doesn’t disappear; it just changes form. The video itself has a cool, almost stop-motion feel to it and would have fit in perfectly in a ‘90s Saturday afternoon lineup on MTV.
“I think the MTV vibe is pretty coincidental as I’ve always liked those sorts of images,” Meier says. “With the theme of the song being so Apollo-centric, it seemed like a thing to do that I could draw pretty easily – since I had to draw a ton of drawings. For animation, it’s 15 frames per second and the song is over five minutes long, so there’s over 3,700 frames in the video.”
Behind Apollo rockets blasting off and JCL band members playing the song with scrawled lyrics, “Stranded on the Moon” is straight-ahead rocker with jangly, garage vibes reminiscent of REM or The Flaming Lips, playing to the urgency that comes from being solitary and stranded. The most miniscule of actions are consequential because that’s all there is. Despite having written the song pre-pandemic, JCL certainly picked a timely tune to give new life with a video; it was also a chance to reimagine and repackage the song with alternative layers of meaning and narrative.
“Being an animated video, this gave me a chance to think about moments in the song that I’ve imagined while singing the song at our shows, and to illustrate those moments to the audience in a quirky and fun way.”
Says Swist, “I just assumed that this is what is going on in Eric’s head all the time.”
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