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Still from Green Blood (Courtesy of the artist )

First Watch: Sonny And The Sunsets, 'Green Blood'

Jun 13, 2013

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Bob Boilen

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I adore this song, and the video makes me love it all the more. "Green Blood" is from Sonny and the Sunsets' new album, Antenna to the Afterworld. It's a record filled with cinematic tales, told simply with guitars, bass and drums. And none of those tales are told as endearingly as they are in this song and video about love on a distant planet.

I probably love the storytelling here so much because it reminds me of another artist I adore, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. It makes even more sense when you discover that Sonny Smith is also a playwright and author who draws comic strips and more. Smith saw "Green Blood" as a chance to make a sequel to another animated video for "Planet of Women," from a previous album, Tomorrow Is Alright. So he reached out to Teppei Ando, an animator and painter from Oakland.

"[Sonny] sent me the album, pointing out 'Green Blood,'" Ando tells us via email. "He thought it would be cool if it was a conversation between [Sonny and the Sunsets guitarist] Tahlia [Harbour] in a cab, and I immediately thought of 'Planet of Women' when I heard the story within the song."

Ando says he likes to visualize his animations by going for a run. At first he tried working on another song called "Dark Corners," and when it was time to try another idea — this time for "Green Blood" — he says it was time to put on the running shoes

"I went on another run, this song being much more immediate for visual inspirations. I approached animating in two distinct looks to further differentiate the line between what might be real or not real, though it's all a blend. I suggested that Sonny himself illustrate the taxi customers who come in and out. He was game, and pretty soon I had enough people to fill the San Francisco Mission streets. After that, it was just about working to a very giving song and continuously getting subtle visual inspirations as I went along. Our little take of the sci-fi genre, I guess."

For Sonny Smith, "It's strange to see yourself as a cartoon," he says in a note. "The song began as a comic-strip idea. Weird that someone else returned it to the original idea."

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