“Give me half a chance / I can prove to you / This life is worth living.”
So begins “Off the Ledge,” the second single from Fort Worth alt-rock band Meach Pango’s highly acclaimed second album Distractions.
A song about not being able to prove the brighter side of life to someone who is going through a rough time in theirs, “Off the Ledge” searches for some kind of resolution in a seemingly hopeless situation.
It’s a song in two parts. The first consists of a slow and patient attempt to console the person being addressed while conceding that the speaker may be out of his depth.
“I remember it started as a conversation between me and (lead guitarist) Tony (Coffman),” singer Alex Mackenzie says. “We were talking about, I don't know if it was a family member or a girlfriend, but we were talking about what we thought of the situation. Then we said basically the same exact thing — you’re listening to our words, but not hearing what we're saying.”
That is how the lines desperately repeated in the song’s conclusion were born.
While the first part is filled with lush guitar sounds bordering on the rhythmic patterns of math rock, the song gives way to hard driving guitars worthy of a mosh pit.
And what would a dramatic song be without a dramatic video? Meach Pango turned to videographer Andrew Sherman of Drewlio Photo for help developing the story.
“It feels like a heavy song, and cinematically, we felt it would be a cool video,” Mackenzie says. “Luckily, Andrew really gravitated towards the idea when we pitched it to him. We wanted it to look like someone was on the edge and jumping off, but Andrew felt like that was a dark message to send.”
Rather than actually sending the video’s protagonist over the edge, the band decided on the story we see here — a man played by Coffman is down on his luck and takes a walk through a cityscape followed by two spritely beings played by Mackenzie and drummer Clayton Gaskamp until, at his lowest moment, he is fatefully saved
by the band and joins in on its high-energy conclusion.
“At first we thought of playing with the idea that one of us was an angel or demon, but we decided to go with the idea that we were just happy thoughts,” Mackenzie says. “We're a little more colorful than everything else in the video, so by the time he's with us his world is sort of filled out.”
Viewers with a sharp eye will notice that the cityscape Coffman walks through is a composite of locations in Denton, Dallas and Fort Worth. This composite not only speaks to the length the protagonist walks as he contemplates his will to live, it is also an homage to areas that are significant to Meach Pango’s history.
“When we're playing in front of that big peach mural,” Mackenzie points out, “we did a photo shoot there for our first album three years ago. It’s just kind of tied together in a nice little bow.”
The video itself is intended to have an '80s feel to it, which is a tribute to the music videos the band members grew up watching on MTV and VH1.
“I remember staying up late and watching Jump Start on VH1 at 4 in the morning and seeing all the crazy videos,” Mackenzie says. “People don't appreciate them as much as they used to. They don’t even show videos on MTV anymore.”
Ultimately, the real significance in seeing the song brought to life in music video format is watching the band perform the work the song attempts to accomplish in its two parts. When logic and reason and pleading just don’t make it better, sometimes the only thing left is letting go and rocking out.
“Sometimes somebody just needs to let out aggression or going out into a pit,” Mackenzie says. “It isn’t just screaming. It’s releasing yourself and seeing that you are the master of your own destiny.
“You can't tell someone what to do. All you can do is tell them we're here for you, and you can listen if you want to.”
Watch Meach Pango's new video below:
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.