American Hi Fi

A Deep Dive Into American Hi-Fi’s Video For Flavor Of The Weak

Remember this one? Twenty years on, it’s time to take a closer look at American Hi-Fi’s Flavor Of The Weak video…

One of rock’s most underrated subgenres is the shit dude’ anthem, the heartfelt ode to how goddamn rubbish someone is. One of the all-time top entries in the book of what a shitty boyfriend that fellow is – someone like myself would be a vastly better partner for this particular individual’ songs, American Hi-Fi’s Flavor Of The Weak came out almost 20 years ago (January 2001), but shitty dudes remain just as shitty. What a bleak thought. Hey, let’s dive straight on in! 

These bits of the video were heavily inspired (as in, word-for-word, costume-by-costume) by the short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, filmed in 1986 in the car park before a Judas Priest and Dokken show. The whole film is currently on YouTube, but prior to that it was a bit of a cult sensation, being passed around on bootleg VHS tapes and watched endlessly on tour buses (Nirvana were apparently huge fans). It’s still influencing people – Steel Panther’s 2019 album Heavy Metal Rules is named after a quote from the doc’s breakout icon Zebra-man’. The documentary’s co-director, Jeff Krulik, found the Flavor Of The Weak video really weird”, telling The Stranger: There’s a note-for-note re-creation by the major-label band American Hi-Fi, made by major video filmmaker Chris Applebaum, for the song Flavor Of The Weak. We should have taken them to task for ripping us off, but we took the high road.” There’s a 2006 follow-up to the doc, for which a lot of the parking lot’s more memorable characters were tracked down. 

In 2001, 1986 was an unthinkable 15 years prior. Madly, though, this video is now 19 years old. What the fuck, yo. What the goddamnable fuck.

The band name American Hi-Fi was suggested to frontman Stacy Jones by none other than unkillable Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards when the band ran into him in a club. Jones mentioned that they were trying to come up with a new name – they had previously performed as BMX Girl – and Richards came up with American Hi-Fi from somewhere. Also, what the hell kind of clubs were they going to where they would just casually run into Keith Richards? 

American Hi Fi1

Despite American Hi-Fi’s profile not being as big as once it was, frontman Stacy Jones is arguably one of the busiest men in music. He started out as the drummer in Letters To Cleo, then played with Veruca Salt for a while (and also once auditioned to join Smashing Pumpkins) before forming American Hi-Fi. Since that band’s heyday, he has worked as touring drummer for a huge amount of acts (Against Me!, Matchbox Twenty, The Jonas Brothers, the Flaming Lips, Hey Monday, Everclear, Cobra Starship, Aimee Mann…) and has been Miley Cyrus’s music director and live drummer for the past decade and a half, putting together ridiculously massive shows all over the world while remaining in American Hi-Fi and rejoining Letters To Cleo. 

His dirty clothes are all he gives to her’ – wow. What an asshole! 

That’s a very sad line. You know what this guy should consider putting up on his wall instead? High-quality art prints by excellent illustrators celebrating exciting musical acts, like those included for free with every issue of the world’s favourite weekly music magazine, Kerrang!. 

American Hifi2

Extremely strong Saxon shirt, there. 

While He’s too stoned’ and Nintendo’ don’t actually rhyme, what a fucking great combo. There’s a lyrical minimalism at play throughout this song where a few words go a long way. Like, if you read the lyrics, there’s not a lot there at all, but it somehow paints a fully-formed, pretty bleak picture. 

Bassist Drew Mongo’ Parsons is now a restaurateur in Boston. 

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That’s a full-on dick move, boyfriend. You don’t have to edit prior relationships out of your personal history when entering into a new one, or sever ties with anyone you were previously close to, but keeping pictures of exes up on the wall is just unnecessary. Even if they’re up there to cover stains or whatever. Again, the excellent rock weekly Kerrang! provides plenty of awesome wall-covering unlikely to upset people with whom you are in a relationship (unless they hate Slipknot or whatever). 

Drummer Brian Nolan left the band in 2004 to focus on family life, but rejoined in 2007

Guitarist Jamie Arentzen is also currently a member of Miley Cyrus’s live band. 

American Hifi4

Director Chris Applebaum also made the Stacy’s Mom video and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ The Impression That I Get video, so will probably have a statue built of him one day. When making the Stacy’s Mom video, was he thinking, Haha, Stacy, like my pal Stacy Jones from American Hi-Fi!’? We may never know. But, just like Jones, he has also worked with Miley Cyrus, making her Party In The USA video. Applebaum recently described American Hi-Fi (in an Instagram post about K!’s Stacy’s Mom deep dive, in a snake-eating-its-own-tail kind of thing) as one of the most underrated bands of the century”. 

So what you’re saying is, he’s too stoned? 

American Hifi5

It’s a pun, of course, the title – flavour of the week’ being something briefly enjoyed, and the man in question being weak (as well as dickish). There’s a cursed irony to this song being American Hi-Fi’s biggest hit though, their Next Big Thing status never quite coming to fruition. They’re still going as a band though, between the fairly hefty commitments of Stacy Jones. Their last studio album was released in 2014, and in 2016 they brought out an acoustic version of their debut, including a new version of this very track.

Despite the message of this song clearly being to treat people better, does anyone else want to buy a car with a massive fucking eagle on the bonnet? 

Posted on January 4th 2020, 12:00p.m.
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