Level Pegging

A couple of years ago, when I first had the opportunity to support Levellers on their ‘One Way of Life’ tour a friend Claire Cressey made some wooden peg figures of the band and sent them to me with a view to making them into a video. She managed to capture their likenesses incredibly well and even made a Boakesy to join in the fun.

For various reasons the idea for the video was shelved, followed swiftly by the little wooden Levellers who spent the next year or so squatting in my cupboard.

Then, back in January this year, an email came from Jeremy Leveller asking if I’d be up for making a few introductions to go with the songs for the DVD version of the album Peace.

It sounded like a lot of fun so I started sleeping on what to do. I had the honour of supporting them again for two nights in Bury St. Edmunds in February so during the daytime on the second date I interviewed the guys and got their thoughts on the new album. It was a bit noisy but I got what I needed and took it home. Next I wanted to make some ‘Levelly’ settings so I took a trip down to their studio, Metway, in Brighton where their lovely manager Steve showed me around so I could get a few photos. He also nursed me as I had managed to cut my head on the way through the TINY door. Good first impressions and all that.

I came away with these photos of the various rooms and got to work creating the scene.

the live room
the studio
the bar

Getting through rather a lot of balsa wood, glue, Stanley knife blades and other materials…

a hat for matt
making the otari
and regenerating a desk in photoshop
for the studio

bar taking shape
an amp of course
and the farfisa organ for the live room (the record on the wall  is made of a washer 🙂 )

I made little replicas of the rooms…

the live room
the studio
the bar

However… I didn’t really bother to measure everything properly and when I finally evicted the Peg-Levs from the darkness of the cupboard, I realised they didn’t quite look right.

I couldn’t seriously expect them to give their interviews from a Persian version of quicksand. There was only one thing for it. I had to give them legs. So a few days – and charity shops – later the whole crew (including the interviewer) were fully legged.

The fading on the jeans is talcum powder by the way, so they smell delightful. Finding a small enough plaid for Boakesy’s troosers was a bit of a mare so I ended up just drawing black lines on a scrap of red material, but don’t tell anyone. I made a didge too so that Boakesy would feel more at home. There was an incident involving him dropping it but you’ll find out more about that when the DVD comes out. (trivia fans, the only reason I gave Charlie a pair of sticks is because otherwise his hand would have been holding his bits – see first photo)

So, the stage was set – literally – for the interviews to commence, and the guys made themselves at home in their new surroundings.

Loads of audio was edited, hundreds of photos were taken, thousands of tiny mouths and eyes were manipulated, and great song by great song, we made our way through the album. There are some gloriously amusing moments to look out for – mainly down to the banter between the band members.

When I had finally finished everything I had word from Camp Leveller that they needed one more *actual* music video for one of the songs to complete the DVD.

Did I fancy it? Heck yeah!

However, lockdown was heavily upon us so I was restricted to using things I already had in the house.

I won’t go into too much detail about the video because it’s not out yet, but it involved another few thousand photos and very bad arm ache.

It was a massive pleasure to have something to immerse myself in for this rather strange period, and of course a huge honour to do it for a band I’ve been a fan of since my teens.

Levellers will be releasing the videos one by one in the run-up to the album launch in summer.

Massive thanks to Claire Cressey for capturing the guys’ likenesses so well, to Steve for mending my head and letting me snoop around the studio, to Jez for giving me artistic freedom to basically mess around, and to the rest of the band for not minding my terrible interview techniques, or the strangeness I put them through in the last chorus of the *actual* video.

It’ll be out in August.