FISHBONE Merch Giveaway and New Documentary Release Interview
By Sound Check
October 21, 2010
Everyday Sunshine, the newly released documentary on the multi genre, multi dimensional, multi fucking crazy band, Fishbone, blew my mind. I watched it twice, just because I couldn’t believe how much it exposed the members of this band who I’ve been following since the 90s and swore I knew everything about. Now, I’m normally not a fan of music documentaries as they often come across plastic, self loathing reflections of the directors trying to get in good with the band, but directors Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler of Everyday Sunshine got to the core of Fishbone’s life- from early beginnings with frontman Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher meeting at 13 years old, to the 25-year journey of keeping true to their style and musical perspective.
Fishbone was and is a band that challenged (and challenges) the status quo. With those efforts they’ve created some great art and changed music, but they also paid a personal price financially and emotionally to walk their own path. So when we filmed the documentary the band had reached a crossroads and were in the middle of deciding what was the next step after being together for almost 25 years of non-stop touring and making music. And we wanted to capture that punk rock endurance that the guys have even amidst those difficulties and creativity that springs forth from those challenges. We find Angelo and Norwood inspiring in that they keep doing what they do because of their dedication to their art and their dedication to keeping the legacy of Fishbone alive.
Well the one thing we weren’t shocked by is Angelo’s perseverance and continued stage diving and moshing in the pit for a forty-something man. It’s not always on the knees, but he loves and the energy and showmanship he brings to the stage was one of the reasons we wanted to make the film. So the biggest surprise was some of the financial hardships that guys in the band have to endure. Or as Angelo likes to call it, “The lifestyles of the famous but not rich.” While we knew Fishbone never really did strike it rich, as they have always flown under the radar, we were not sure we understood the extent of the hardship that trailblazers in music often suffer. In some ways Fishbone’s story seems to mirror eerie parallels with jazz musicians of another era or blues players.
Also, we were a little surprised by the creative conflicts between Angelo and Norwood, but when you think about making music with someone for almost 30 years without really making much money, it is in a way also surprising they are still at it.
Mrs. Moore was always a treat to work with; however, before we met her, we had heard stories from Angelo and the other original members that she never liked Fishbone, would break Walt’s Parliament records over her knee because they were devilish, or tried to shave off Angelo’s afro off while he slept, so we didn’t know what to expect. But, at least these days, she is real sweet and very supportive of Angelo, which he values tremendously, even though they are so different. We think she realizes the extent of his talent now and how influential and important he has been in American music and now she really does try to help him out with things. She was always very nice to us and generous with her time. And she seems to really love the film. We had 4 screenings at the L.A. Film Festival and she came to every one, bringing family and friends to each screening. I think what we learned from her about Angelo is how stubborn he can be, but also how he was always a creative, unique talent his whole life and part of that stubborness comes with his perseverance and focus on getting what is in his mind out into the music.
How long did it take to film and edit Everyday Sunshine? Why did you guys decide to do a documentary on Fishbone? Why now?
It took about 4 years to make the film. We might have been able to complete it sooner if we had lived in L.A., where all the guys live, instead of San Francisco. This meant lots of late night drives on I-5.
We made the film because we thought it provided a unique perspective on American culture and music of the last 30 years. All of the guys in Fishbone have strong personalities and we felt there was a good story to tell even beyond the music they made and tell it as tale of these eccentric outsiders, guys that lived on the fringe and thrived on it. Neither of us are huge fans of music documentaries but we figured this would be a good film to make as it was also a unique social history of Los Angeles and because we figured we could talk to anyone – actors, rappers, punk rockers, jazz musicians, etc…
It was always a treat to see the band perform, as the music is always good and Angelo is truly a great showmen. We never got tired of shooting Fishbone concerts. And also, just getting to know all the guys in the band was great as they are all very talented, intelligent and friendly, just great guys to hang with. Plus was a nice surprise when after not seeing each other for 15 years that Kendall reunited with Angelo and Norwood on stage for one song during a concert in Berkeley. That was magic!
You kind of get the feeling after watching this documentary that Angelo and Norwood are in a crazy relationship, at times battling with control and band identity. What did you gather during filming about the dynamics of their relationship?
When we interviewed producer Dallas Austin, he said it made sense that they were the two original members still doing it because they were always the craziest of the guys and committed to their visions.
So, yes, at times it really did seem like an unhappy marriage, as they may have wanted to go their separate ways and disband the band. But what kept them from tearing it apart is that they felt that too much was at stake when it comes to their music and their legacy, so they talked about things and were able to rediscover their shared passions and enduring friendship that started when they were each 13 years old. And while they may still disagree with each other a lot, they definitely share a creative vision for what Fishbone’s music is about and they care for each other as friends which is where it all began.
What do you hope viewers gain by watching this film?
We hope viewers get a strong sense that it is not easy being original or groundbreaking, or even just being individualistic, but that if you can navigate those waters, it can be rewarding just the same. The guys may not have a lot of money, but their integrity is intact and they are respected by all kinds of musicians just for that fact. Along those same lines, we’d hope to show that people do not fit the stereotypes foisted upon them by society and can define themselves as individuals.
Of the featured interviews you have on the film, including Gwen Stefani and George Clinton, in your opinion, what were some of the most insightful Fishbone comments made and by whom?
Flea’s was particularly great to interview because he really seems to know what it takes for different personalities in a band to get along and make good music. He wasn’t afraid to be critical because he has always been supportive of the guys in a personal way and celebrates what they are trying to do. Ice-T kicked ass as he not only grew up with the guys, but also he is wise and funny. George Clinton obviously was fun because he provided a little of that elder statesmen perspective, but we also really liked Eugene Hutz because he seemed to draw a direct line between his idea of music, as a communal experience coming from his roots in the Eastern European community to the Fishbone guys coming out of South Central. To him, it made perfect sense that there was a kinship. Though that line didnt make it in the documentary, it sticks with us.
Why should people in the Afro-punk community support this documentary?
Well Fishbone was right up there with Bad Brains (and a few other lesser known acts) in pioneering what may be called Afro-punk music so there is that respect. But also they really embrace the idea of that punk is as an attitude – doing your own thing even though it is not embraced by the mainstream scene. Parliament-Funkadelic were punk rock in their time and Fishbone took their cues from that band and ran with it. As we made the film, a DIY project through and through, we tried to incorporate the punk rock attitude throughout and tried to tell a story that may not be pretty at times, but as close to the reality of art and punk rock that we could do, while still making the film accessible to folks that have never heard of Fishbone. When we think of Afro-punk, we think of people that whole heartedly embrace their passions despite what others may expect of them, by debunking stereotypes. Fishbone does that and we hope that comes across in the film.
The Norwood Club
241 West 14th Street
New York, New York
*Post-screening Q&A and concert
Saturday, October 23rd at 7:30pm
*Post-screening Q&A with filmmakers
Denver Film Festival
Thursday, November 11th at 9:00pm
Denver FilmCenter – Colfax
2510 East Colfax
*Post-screening Q&A with filmmakers
Denver Film Festival
Saturday, November 13th at 4:15pm
900 Auraria Parkway
*Post-screening Q&A with filmmakers
Cucalorus Film Festival
Sunday, November 14th at 4:30pm
Thalian Hall – Black Box
310 Chestnut Street
Wilmington, North Carolina
*Post-screening Q&A and concert with Dr. Maddvibe