“They told me not to smoke drugs, but I never listened…” sings My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, and the lyric couldn’t be a more fitting introduction to James Frost’s wild, psychedelic trip of a video for “Outta My System”.
Frost has become renowned for his technology-infused storytelling: “House of Cards” for Radiohead used real-time 3D recording in lieu of cameras; a DieHard Batteries spot for Y&R saw New Wave icon Gary Numan literally playing “Cars” on cars that were synched to a synthesizer; and Frost’s new prodco, Honey Badger, combines directors and experiential teams.
That taste for technology figures thematically in “Outta My System”, where a 2D-animated MMJ journey down the rabbit hole and through a lair with enough twists and turns that at one point the band’s flying through a planet full of robo-eyes, and, at another, they’re landing among satellites crashing into a desert landscape with rigs that pump oil through mechanized, Egyptian pyramids. And if that wasn’t trippy enough, an animated Zach Galifianakis makes a cameo as an evil wizard, whose cape and hat are somehow made more menacing over his pullover sweater and cargo pants.
Frost worked with animation director Michael Gillette who sketched the environments, which the team variously dubbed ‘Babylon,’ ‘Eye Land’ and ‘Consumer Land’. Frost and editor Nicholas Wayman Harris pieced the images together in a loose narrative and then executed rough moves on the stills, which allowed Gillette the freedom to sketch more scenes and transitions as the story was firmed up. Grant Kolton animated the project in a super-human solo effort over a three-month period.
“I knew I always wanted to create a story that ended up where we began,” Frost says of the video’s surprise, circular ending. “I liked the idea that because we were going into an animated world we could do whatever we wanted.”