Since the summer of 2013—the group Scarves have been one of Seattle’s best kept secrets. Founded by Niko Stathakopoulos (from Silicon Girls), Marshall Verdoes (from Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band) & David Price (Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head); they have built a name for themselves with their debut release TV recorded by Sam Anderson from Hey Marseilles to their first album Empty Houses recorded by the legendary Dylan Wall. Their breakout EP laid the rough & real blueprint of Scarves, whereas Empty Houses would see a group transformed as Niko saw the group go through a barrage of change-ups that arrived up on the inclusions of percussionist Cael Watts joined by Hector Rodriguez III supplying bass. Announcing news of the new album Mall Goths, word has it was recorded at Chris Walla’s Hall of Justice in between Niko & company’s northwest tours & many stretches on the I-5 between Bellingham, Washington, Portland & practically everywhere—all the time…
Presenting the world premiere of the Benjamin Violet animated & directed video for “Passengers”; Scarves’ ultra-intimate narrative is set to a society of aliens dressed in nun-like garb who set upon their own mission & journey in our own shared material world. Beginning the day with the tolling of the bells & dressing up for morning prayers & rituals; the fish-looking alien nuns continue their own meditative/transcendental rituals that see them flying about the night’s sky toward a mother-brain vessel where new items of knowledge, no doubt, are gained. The nuns are seen picking garlic items from trees that are later beamed up to a UFO for further scientific experiments. Hour glasses & baby aliens are found like gifts given from a cocoon source as a baptismal ceremony sees alien brains being planted on mother earth that are grown to be new supernatural trees. The trippy cartoon visuals provide another level of alienation to Niko’s own reflective lyrics & painstaking delivery that takes the listener along for the ride as the “Passenger” who witnesses & experience the processes & ennui of making the rounds & runs of recording a new record & the road weary expressions brought by the trials of constant tours. “We saw the same dead trees,” Niko howls, “On the same damn journey every other week.” Thoughts & feelings from the constant grind of rehearsals/recording/touring/etc are met with the reckoning of degenerative discourse, where communication breakdowns are recounted in the privy glimpses of heartbreak like, “I can’t believe how I came across in our last conversation, I can’t defend my diction, I was a dick…that’s something I’m sure of.” Like the funereal chord progression of “Passengers”, Scarves do not shy away from the aspects of unrest & malcontent feelings that go along with keeping both a band & relationships functioning in a healthy, or otherwise, manner. All this & more is expressed in something of a visceral blood-letting session as Niko brings it all to a head with the memorable outburst that brings the song to a head with, “We were only messengers, messing…each other up.” The alien-nuns tale provides a sci-fi lens for “Passengers” to embody where the wonders & mysteries of the mystic & natural occurrences of earth are coupled with concepts & notions that are out of this world.
Niko Stathakopoulos provided us with the following exclusive introduction to both the new single & video for “Passengers”:
“Passengers” is a dense and tumultuous conclusion to an otherwise fairly lighthearted collection of songs, exploring feelings of impermanence in the wake of a major breakup. Austin-based animator Benjamin Violet’s visual interpretation of the track as the life cycle of celestial tree nuns was stark and fitting.
In Violet’s own words, “As visuals for a breakup song, it makes sense to me that heartbreak is a necessary and symbiotic phase of the propagation of our own species. All part of the life cycle, right?
Listen to more from Scarves via Bandcamp.