Chicago’s Varsity could have thought directors Mark Pallman and Amanda Speva were all washed up with their concept for the group’s new video for “A Friend Named Paul,” premiering exclusively below. But it went with it and wound up happy with the results.
“We really didn’t have much of a vision in terms of a storyline or anything like that,” guitarist Dylan Weschler tells Billboard. “The song itself was one of the first we wrote for the album (Parallel Person, which came out in April). We spent a lot of time on it; It’s a pretty intricate song with a lot of different parts to it. But for the video we just cast around and found these folks that made the video. We knew they were going to do a good job.”
The clip is a bit of romantic fantasy in which a woman attending an adult water aerobics class, played by Chloe Baldwin, has visions about the well-toned instructor, with a couple of shots of Varsity performing the song around the pool’s diving board. “The song itself is just the soundtrack to this love story,” Weschler says. “Bringing us in for a couple of shots was kind of interesting, like we’re the live soundtrack to this story. But the video is kind of a separate entity to the song.”
Fortunately none of the band members fell in the pool fully clothed during the shoot, and shooting the narrative allowed the quintet to spend some time in the school’s other rooms working on new material. Parallel Person is Varsity’s sophomore full-length, and the group has been busy compiling more material since its release, with an aim to get into the studio during August. “We don’t really have official plans for what we’re gonna do with it yet. We’re just writing a lot, demoing in our own studio as well,” Weschler says. “I don’t think we ever really had a vision of how all this was going to go. When we started off we just kind of liked the idea of getting together and making these songs. So it’s been a pretty slow build, which has been good for us. I think we’ve been able to form a pretty unique sound and figure out the right ways to get music to people.
“We’ve seen a lot of other bands get chewed up and be over. I think taking this slow kind of build has definitely been to our advantage.”