Ben Barlow is accustomed to penning songs and performing them for a horde of Neck Deep fans, but the frontman recently embraced a new creative medium for the band’s mysterious “Don’t Wait” video. Taking on the role of a self-described creative consultant, Barlow joined directing duo Daniel Broadley and Joshua Halling, who work under the moniker Our World Is Grey, in developing an idea for their latest visual. Watch the video below!
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Barlow revealed the band weren’t liking some of the previous ideas being tossed around. “We had a bunch of treatments come in, [and] I didn’t feel like they were accurately representing the song, or they were kind of missing the point.”
As a result, the vocalist recruited Broadley and Halling, the latter of whom he has been friends with for a while. The friendship helped their working relationship as Halling described him as an unofficial third member during production where they worked to make sure the song got the video the band wanted.
“Ben [and I] have spent a lot of time together collaborating/touring in the past and definitely have always shared interests in similar visuals, darker themes and hidden meanings personally and with past work, so communicating on set and during filming was a breeze,” he explains.
Barlow’s work as a creative consultant was the most involved he had ever been on a video shoot, but it was a move that made sense. “I wrote the lyrics, so out of everyone [Our World Is Grey] knew I had the best idea of where I was going with that song,” he explains. “A lot of the time in my head when I’m writing songs—and I’m sure fucking everyone does this— you picture a music video to it in a weird way. I think I had a case of that, and I knew I couldn’t necessarily direct a music video, so they did all that technical stuff and the sewing together.”
The trio developed Barlow’s idea of having three characters—a kid, an average blue-collar worker and an old man—connected by a fourth character of a beggar, which he said relates to the song’s line, “What if God was the beggar in disguise?”
Broadley and Halling ran with the concept, using the track’s lyrics to create visuals that will keep fans on their toes. “We knew straight away we wanted the video to have this weird vibe to it,” Barlow says. “We wanted it to be kind of mysterious, and we wanted people to think about the video they were watching, and it not just be a piece that accompanies music—it’s a whole story in its own.”
Further elaborating on that, Barlow reveals he hopes fans notice the importance of the beggar. “It’s a super-political song, so it does have a deeper political meaning,” he says. “The [beggar] is making people question how they treat their fellow human beings, and that ties into it a lot, as well about the decisions that we make.”
While piecing the concept together, Barlow presented the idea to create visuals inspired by “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana. “Obviously, you’re never going to recreate something like that because the budget was insane, and Nirvana and Kurt probably had that idea himself,” he says. “We’re not going to recreate that, but in terms of aesthetic [and] how there wasn’t really a narrative I picked up on—it’s more of these weird visual metaphors—that’s kind of what we wanted to do.”
Our World Is Grey applied the grunge-rock inspiration in various methods including the sets and how they filmed Barlow. “Another mention would be how almost uncomfortably close we had Ben singing toward the camera—very similar to Kurt in some of his scenes,” Halling reveals. They also filmed it in a 4-to-3 aspect ratio, which Halling expressed is another throwback to the video that was able to give Neck Deep’s the same ’90s vibe.
In addition to Nirvana, Our World Is Grey used inspiration from movies such as Requiem For A Dream, Poltergeist and Twin Peaks, the latter of which Halling says is most prevalent in the curtain drop bedrooms. Despite all of this, the duo worked to stay true to their own artistic vision just as Neck Deep wanted to do for themselves.
The video’s overall vibe reflects in “Don’t Wait”is one of the heavier and more political tracks from The Peace And The Panic. As a result, the band aimed to go darker in their own way.
“I wanted it to be quite weird, not just the old stereotype of put a metal or heavy band in a forest or a quarry and just let them play in front of somewhere that looks weird and desolate,” Barlow says with a laugh. “We wanted it to have some energy, and we wanted it to be something a little bit different—at least for us—and I felt like the political message in the song definitely had to be reflected in the video. I felt we hit a happy medium without going too generic or too dark—we hit the tone for it just right.”