RVA Mag presents premiere of Shagwüf’s brand new video for “Television,” the first single from their upcoming album, Dog Days Of Disco. The video sees the fun-loving rockers from Charlottesville take on a serious subject.
It’s hard not to love Charlottesville rock n’ roll trio Shagwüf. From their catchy tunes and vastly entertaining live performances to their relentlessly positive attitude and advocacy for everyone to celebrate their own freakiness, Shagwüf is a band that always makes us smile.
However, on the first single from upcoming album Dog Days Of Disco, Shagwüf tackles the topic that still hangs like a cloud over their hometown, over two years later: the events of August 11 and 12, 2017, when white supremacists held violent gatherings around the city in a steadily escalating confrontation that ended with one anti-racist protester dead and a lot of people searching for answers.
The lyrics of “Television” take on this subject very directly, with singer/guitarist Pete Stallings singing about “tiki torches in the park” and everything on his phone hitting “a little too close to home.”
“The song is about August 12 in Charlottesville, obviously,” said Stallings, “and how it is so frustrating that we as a generation are busy having to fight actual nazis when we should be fighting for healthcare, equality and the environment. It is incomprehensible.”
The black and white video Shagwüf’s visual collaborator, Rich Tarbell, created for “Television” fits with the song’s dark subject matter. “Whereas our previous videos featured characters like a pink-haired Crocodile girl, a hairdresser with Cheetos rollers, a buxom seductive therapist, alien sex queens and the band playing in outer space, this song called for a somber tone in the video,” Tarbell said.
Bassist/vocalist Sally Rose acknowledged that aspects of the song and video, particularly the brief intro featuring footage and audio clips from that day, remains difficult for a lot of people to contemplate, even years afterward. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about it. It’s triggering and polarizing,” Rose said. “The intro to the video is difficult to look at; the sound of the car and the stampede of people flooding down the street is hard to hear. But it’s important to talk about. We need to face the reality that it was about race. Hate crimes against POC is a danger to everyone, hate crimes on LGBTQ is a threat to us all.”
Shagwüf’s Dog Days Of Disco is scheduled for release February 1, and while the first single is definitely serious, Stallings and Rose explain that the whole album won’t be a big downer.
“The direction of the album lyrically is a commentary on social issues, exploring America while we were on tour, probing popular music,” said Stallings. “Musically it is exponentially more genre bending and fluid than our first album. Spy theme songs sitting next to disco sitting next to grunge in the span of 45 seconds.”
“Swells of surfy, poppy riffs. Heavy stoner doom and a witchy lullaby,” Rose chimed in. “It’s a healthy dose of political resistance with upbeat dance grooves. Not all the songs are as grave as ‘Television.’ We wrote feel happy-sexy songs to shake your body to. We strive to keep a balance to everything we do. We work hard to create safe spaces at our shows and we do not tolerate harassment to or from our fans. We take that very seriously. In the end, we throw a party onstage and hopefully leave sweaty, unified, and in love with each other.”
And so we have thankful confirmation that the Shagwüf we’ve known and loved for years is still the fun, positive explosion of musical delights it’s always been — even if the band does get a little more serious this time around. Dog Days Of Disco enters the world in February, and you can get a dose of Shagwüf awesomeness in the meantime by spending your New Year’s Eve at Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater, where they’ll be performing along with No BS! Brass Band and The Falsies. For details, and to purchase tickets, visit the Jefferson Theater’s website.
Photo by Rich Tarbell