JACK LADDER & THE DREAMLANDERS BDSM and bongo solos in new ‘Tell It Like It Is’ video

by the partae

In what could be either the most confrontational or hilarious video of the year, Jack Ladder willingly endures intense but creative punishment from British model, musician and writer Alys Hale in ‘Tell It Like It Is’, the fourth video taken from the Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders album Blue Poles.

The video was directed and shot in glistening black and white by McLean Stephenson. An acclaimed and exhibited photographer, Stephenson has shot iconic album covers for DMAsSarah BlaskoDZ Deathrays & Jen Cloher as well as Ladder’s 2011 album HURTSVILLE.

Ladder and Stephenson dissect the video and their long friendship in an interview with Alys Hale for RUSSH Magazine. Considering their long relationship, it’s surprising that this is their first finished video together. Their last attempt (for 2008’s “The Barbers Son”) never saw the light of day after the files were unintentionally wiped.

“For me the song has a violence to it”, says Ladder, when asked about the link between the video and the song’s bare depiction of a relationship  unraveling. “Itʼs about wielding silence in a malevolent way. The idea of BDSM is a physical interpretation of that. There are sounds in the song that remind me of whips and the chord progression is kinda kinky”.

The pain and fear in the video as Ladder is singing is genuine. “Red wine burning my eyes. Real choking with a splitter bar. Alys hitting my face and walking on my head with perspex heels. I didnʼt know Alys very well so wasnʼt sure of what she would be capable of.”

Stephenson isn’t worried about how it will be received. “I don’t think this video is transgressive. Not to anyone who has ever read crime fiction or played a modern video game. Not to an Alice Cooper fan. But there is always a chance that it will upset an internet troll and cause a pile on.” Sexuality isn’t a theme he consciously sets to explore. “I am, however, interested in human vulnerability and ambiguity”.

The video comes just after Ladder completed his ’20 Golden Greats’ solo tour, performing songs from his five albums catalogue. “I was doing a retrospective show trying to make sense of my life and how I came to this point. Itʼs hard to ignore that a huge part of my work is devoted to sado-masochistic themes and self destructive behaviour. A lot of my songs are about being controlled and breaking free from control. Either sexual or substance. This could be the video Iʼve been moving towards for years.”

As for the bongo solos that intersperse the punishment? “The last 20 years has been unkind to them”, says Stephenson.“They have been marked as deeply uncool. I wanted to do something about that. And look, I’m not scared to admit it, I’m a bongo guy”.

Reviews for Blue Poles

“The album is a deeply inventive grab bag of genres, lurching from bluesy sleaze to a kind of giddy, gothic disco. As ever, Ladder’s lyricism wanders from the romantic to the flat-out absurd.”
– THE AUSTRALIAN 4 stars

“Perhaps it’s time Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders started getting the recognition they deserve, and Rogers in particular as one of the best modern Australian songwriters, singers and music makers going around.” – X-PRESS 8.5/10

“Singularly dark Australian singer-songwriter hits career high”
– Q MAGAZINE 4 stars

Reviews for Playmates

“The appeal of his splintered romanticism is by no means a given, but once his work connects, you begin to feel as though it’s been fashioned specifically for you….Playmates has already made a persuasive pitch for album of the year.” – THE BRAG 4 stars

“It’s tongue-in-cheek, heartbreakingly serious, snarling, restrained, rhythmic and hypnotic. And it’s an instant classic.” – TONE DEAF 4 stars

Reviews for HURTSVILLE

“Taking subversion to another level” – VICE

“HURTSVILLE sounds like Hurtsville – It’s honest, rich & like nothing else” – INPRESS

“Landscapes of regret, a new king has risen to worship” – MUSIC AUSTRALIA GUIDE

Reviews for Love Is Gone 
Album of The Year – WHO WEEKLY

Jack Ladder – Blue Poles1. Can’t Stay
2. Dates
3. Susan
4. I.N.M
5. Blue Mirror
6. Tell It Like It Is
7. White Flag
8. Feel Brand New

9. Merciful Reply
Jack Ladder – Blue Poles is out now via Barely Dressed Records / Remote Control Records.
Jack Ladder
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