The cold mood — and temperature — one recent night on New York’s Lower East Side was definitely worlds away from the sun-drenched atmosphere of Hinder’s last video, the L.A.-set ”Lips of an Angel.” (Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It aired, oh, approximately 345,939 times last year on MTV, and ruled both the radio airwaves and the ringtone charts for a good portion of 2006). But for the new video for their new single, ”Better Than Me,” the hard-rocking Oklahoma-bred quintet decided to take a more serious approach. EW.com waited patiently on the set — a cavernous, dimly lit cultural center and former temple, strung with low-slung, flickering chandeliers — and grabbed singer Austin Winkler and bassist Mike Rodden for a quick Q&A. Later, we also snagged legendary video director Nigel Dick, who has helmed clips for, among others, Green Day, Guns N’ Roses, Britney, N’Sync, and Tina Turner.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what’s the overarching theme of this video?
AUSTIN WINKLER: It’s about a high-school sweetheart kind of a couple, they’re moving into a new house and starting a new life, but he has a drug addiction that she doesn’t know about. Eventually he’s on a really bad trip, and she walks in on him, and she’s trying to help him out, and all he sees is this monster, and then he ODs, and it turns out we’re playing at his funeral. There’s no happy ending, because we believe in real life. [Laughs.]
Do you guys really feel like the women you date deserve better, like the title says?
MIKE RODDEN: [Laughs.] If we did have girlfriends, they would definitely deserve better than us.
But you still sound pretty bummed in the chorus: ”I told myself I wouldn’t miss you / but I remember what it felt like beside you / I really miss your hair in my face / and the way your innocence tastes…” That last part is kind of dirty!
AUSTIN: Well, originally it was ”I told myself I wouldn’t miss you, but I remember what it feels like inside you.” Now it’s ”beside you.” That was a big ordeal.
I could see how the censors might not love that. But you did get to kiss the hottie from Entourage in ”Lips of an Angel,” so you must be happy…
AUSTIN: Emmanuelle Chiriqui? Yeah, [sarcastically] it was hard, you know. But I got through it.
Are there more pretty girls in this video? I’m betting yes…
MIKE: There’s two of her! They’re twins! [In the narrative part of the video, filmed elsewhere.] It’s like, Wow, take one perfect chick, and there’s a replicant? Holy s–t, I can’t think of anything that would be better than that.
Whoa. Well, how was it you guys ended up working with Nigel Dick again? He’s a pretty big deal.
AUSTIN: Nigel’s the man. He did our ”Lips” video too.
MIKE: He was definitely in mind, but we had a bunch of different directors throwing treatments at us.
Well, this is your second shot at the big time, right?
MIKE: This is actually our fourth single. ”Get Stoned” never got played anywhere, because we had so many half-naked chicks everywhere. It’s better to have meth as your concept then beautiful ladies, you know. Unless it’s a rap video.
AUSTIN: We’re double platinum, we’re the number one selling rock ringtone, ever. But the piece they selected for the ringtone isn’t even what we would have picked. [Hums the intro] ”Honey why you calling me so late…” It’s the chorus. But the fact that we’re on our fourth single, that’s rad. Not many bands get that chance before the label throws them back in the studio. And we’re planning on having two more after this. We’re very, very fortunate.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you’ve already worked with these guys on another video. Tell me about that.
NIGEL DICK: I’d never met them before and we had one day [to make the video]. On ”Lips,” everything went wrong. The car we were shooting in ran out of gas, it was manual, it was the only manual GTO ever built, and of course Austin had never driven a stick shift before, so we had to send him on a driving lesson, then the transmission broke. Then we lost reverse. So we have a car on this one, but it doesn’t move. And Austin won’t be driving it. [Laughs.]
What’s your MO for making videos? You’ve done so many famous clips, like Guns N’ Roses’ ”Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Britney’s ”Hit Me Baby,” and they’re all pretty different…
It’s always, make the band look great, and then tell a story if you can, and make sure they have a flavor, and that they mix in with each other. It’s appropriate to the song, and appropriate to the band. You know I wouldn’t put this band in small frocks in a school. I mean, it might be interesting for somebody, but…
And why are you covered in wax right now?
I was timing the lighting change, I went like this [gestures upwards] and punched the light in the chandelier, and I looked up and covered myself in this. A film set’s a very dangerous place, and you have to be careful.
Why choose this space here?
NIGEL: We needed a church, and it’s a Sunday. We had to find a place with no congregation.
PASSING TECH GUY: Actually, it’s a synagogue.
NIGEL: A synagogue! Well there you go.