Kero Kero Bonito’s creative direction has always focused on the personal. The indie pop trio’s most prominent lyrical themes are of nostalgia and growth — their debut Bonito Generation is all about holding on to the child inside while becoming an adult, and the music videos for the singles on Time ‘n’ Place are all shot in the style of a ’90s home video. On Sept. 9, the band shifted direction with the release of “When the Fires Come,” and its accompanying music video, a forlorn acknowledgment of the imminent climate catastrophe.
“When the Fires Come” is clear in its message that climate catastrophe is not an if, but a when. In a statement upon the song and video’s release, the band said that “‘When the Fires Come’ is about the worldwide wildfires heralding the seemingly imminent climate change apocalypse… partially inspired by (their) experience on tour in North California last year, when (they) got caught underneath the smoke cloud from the Camp Fire.”
Throughout the video, the scenes in which the band members find themselves alternate. In one setting, vocalist Sarah Bonito walks through a beautiful green forest, donning a dress of vines and branches asan extension of the nature around her. Then it flips to producer and bassist Jamie Bulled, walking through a desert wasteland in a futuristic space suit, examining garbage with a trash picker as though it were a relic from an ancient time. Throughout these post-apocalyptic scenes, Sarah gazes around and smiles, like she is in an odd paradise. The image is jarring: It speaks to the way society continues on without urgency in the face of disaster.
When the band walks through the lush forest, there is a feeling of ancient power, like the shots depict a time long lost. To the band, this omnipresence of untouched nature has long been a thing of the past. With every day that goes on, more of nature is gone.
“When the Fires Come” is the first single for Kero Kero Bonito’s next project. In light of the man-made fires plaguing the Amazon, the band’s new conceptual direction in the music video is a timely call to action.