That epileptic seizure warning at the beginning of "Tony," the new music video by Instructions, isn't a joke. Directed by Ryan Lee Caldwell, the video is a psychedelic spinout through a nostalgic maze of blown-out color. In order to better represent their core dynamic, Instructions made their video for "Tony" with a nod to vintage video games like Star Fox and Mega Man, using clips from the Sega Saturn game Bulk Slash. But the lyrics themselves address the bitterness surrounding a breakup.
"[Tony is] about spitefully wanting the other person to see how awesome you're doing," says TJ Friga, Instructions' guitarist and singer. "But in reality, still being 'broken' and having regrets."
Friga adds, "I think that a lot of our lyrics are rooted in adolescent nostalgia, which we also have for these games, so it made sense to embrace something nearby in the frame of reference."
Instructions may have been around since 2011, but the pop punk band says their level of operation has been 'more seasonal' than anything, playing certain times of the year depending on who was available and doing other projects.
"Since last year been a full on thing," says Friga. "We went through about four lineup changes over time, but throughout remained the core three of Justin [James, bass], Chad [Dennis, drums], and I. Now, we either play as a three-piece or on occasion we have Wayne Jones (Twin Ponies, Gentle Hits) fill in to play the extra parts from our recordings."
Despite the erraticism, they've been able to produce a handful of EPs and singles through Rubber Brother Records, most notably last fall's Summer Ghost Town, which includes "Tony" as the lead single. It's a more twee punk departure from their more math rock days, but still has the signature Rubber Brothers garage rock tinge to it.
In fact, the label co-founder Robbie Pfeffer makes a cameo as the Final Boss, screaming "I will destroy you, Instructions, once and for all!" and exploding into a "Not again!" mushroom cloud. After all, Instructions did join Pfeffer's band Playboy Manbaby on a lengthy two-week tour through the Midwest and East Coast and the two bands share a drummer.
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So who is this Tony person, anyway? Friga explains: "The song is not literally about anyone named Tony. We just tend to give our songs person names while they get worked out so we can refer to them as something. Sometimes, they stick like this one. Maybe Justin thought of the name in reference to Tony Poer who used to be in this awesome Phoenix band Emperors of Japan."
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