How long did it take to make the film?
It took us about 4 years to make the film, from the time we first approached the band until we premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2010. Lots of tape was shot, many miles traveled, and lots of Red Bull drunk.
I love the animations that show the early days of the band, who did these?
Steve Tozzi and his crew at Click 3X did the early days/Fat Albert-styled animation. They did a great job accomplishing what we wanted, which was animation that could introduce the audience to each of the distinct personalities that the band is made up of. But also doing it in a fun way that also gave a sense of that time and place.
And since the guys grew up in the 1970s watching “Fat Albert” and often play the theme song at concerts, that seemed appropriate. Steve Tozzi is a Fishbone fan and also did the artwork for the film’s poster.
What is your favorite Fishbone track?
Neither of us have a favorite Fishbone track, but ‘Monkey Dick’ is one that really captures the spirit of the band and really shows off their hardcore funk talents and well, ‘Skankin’ To the Beat’ is pretty great as well as it just makes you want to dance.
There is a part in the film when someone mentions that Fishbone were just too musical for the mainstream? Do you think that is true?
Well, we personally think they were maybe too musically complicated in that they would switch from genre to genre and they combined a sort of punk rock jazz feel over everything that can throw some people off.
Nowadays, audiences are more musically sophisticated as you see more and more of the genre-bending that Fishbone helped to pioneer. So in some ways they created and laid the groundwork for what you hear on the radio today.
Particularly the band was a trailblazing group for the now rapidly growing Afro Punk movement. They made it okay for Black kids to sport mohawks and slam dance while also influencing so many other bands that made it bigger than they did – No Doubt, Sublime, Primus, Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Outkast, etc.. And the fact that the band has created a standard for live shows that they still live up to, is something we hear about all the time.
There have been a lot of people that were either serious fans or just saw Fishbone once in college that tell us that they saw them perform somewhere and have never forgotten that experience. Some critics may say that playing metal and ska at the same time turns people off that may only like one style, but that is their legacy.
Fishbone could play anything and didn’t give a fuck about fitting into any industry defined parameters. And on the best nights, I am not sure any other bands can really come close to the energy and musicianship.
Was anyone reluctant to participate with the film?
The only person who was reluctant to participate in the film was the drummer Fish. For him, it was a business decision and we respected that. But everyone else from the original line-up (Angelo Moore, Norwood Fisher, Chris Dowd, Dirty Walt Kibby, and Kendall Jones) let us into their world and did interviews with the film.
What is your next project?
Right now, Lev is working on a new full length documentary about the City of Irvine CA, called “Model City” and I am exploring doing projects about evangelical Christian backpackers and gay truckers.
What genius thought of using Laurence Fishburne for the commentary? (and was he drunk at the time)
When we first started learning about the band’s large network of friends, Fishburne was mentioned frequently because he was friends of the guys way back in the day. He also used to work at a bouncer at some L.A. clubs in the early 80s so he got to know the guys well through those experiences. So, he was our number one choice for narration and we are happy he was able to do it…. And nope, he wasn’t drunk, just laid back and cool as he always is, which is another reason why we thought his narration would kick ass. And it did…..
Hopefully this wonderful documentary will see a UK release in the next few months, watch this space. I was lucky enough to see them at Glastonbury in 1992, at that wonderful time of the day when the sun goes down and the stage lights come on. Norwood was dressed casually (in a bath towel) and Angelo spent so much of the concert in the crowd at one point a cry of ‘Can we have our singer back?’ was heard from the stage.
Thursday, March 17th at 12:00pm
Carver Museum, Boyd Vance Theater, 1165 Angelina Street. Austin, Texas.
Post-screening Q&A with the filmmakers and band (info HERE)
Fishbone with the Wu-Tang Clan
Village Voice Media & Frank 151 SXSW Showdown,
Thursday, March 17th at 10:50pm
Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces, Austin, Texas (info HERE)
Fishbone are currently putting the finishing touches to brand new EP and are performing live in the UK in April and May. Here are the dates.
27/04: Underworld, London
28/04: Talking Heads, Southampton
29/04: Concorde 2, Brighton
30/04: O2 Academy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
01/05: Apollo 23, Glasgow
02/05: Sub 91, Leicester
03/05: The Globe, Roath (Cardiff)
04/05: Waterfront, Norwich
If you love music, don’t miss it!