Tuesday, September 22, 2009

“Getting Footage and Gaining Access”

I’d met Ulrich Schnauss in late April 2005 in Hollywood; he was my first interview for “Beautiful Noise.” It was a beautiful spring day, I left work early and hustled down to Hollywood to meet him. I got there ridiculously early and killed time at the Coffee Bean until Chris arrived. When we reached the door of the club where Ulrich was, no one at the door knew we were coming. I’d called the PR Company who set the interview up and there was no answer. We had to improvise. Walking around the corner, the back of the club was wide open so we just walked in. I guess since we were both carrying gear, security assumed that we were “with the band” so to speak. When we got in I looked around for Ulrich, it’s at this point I’d realized I didn’t know what he looked like (this happens to me again – many times). I started poking around and I found him asleep backstage, at this point someone tells me that he has the flu. I decided as long as he wanted to do the interview, I was ready to do it. It would have been depressing if the first scheduled interview of the film got canceled, fortunately Ulrich eventually got up and was adamant about doing the interview. Chris and I got situated and then Ulrich gave a very interesting interview, sharing his experiences of hearing this music when he was younger (similar to my discovery) and the impact it had on him. We chat a bit before and after, he is intelligent and friendly and talks almost as much as I do. I’m happy to call him a friend.

So at this point as the film was progressing, I started scheduling more interviews with people either living in or visiting Los Angeles. It was only days later that the next interview would happen, it was with Anthony Gonzales of M83 in Santa Monica. Another afternoon shoot, I met him after a radio interview where the station asked us to wait outside. So when Anthony came out we talked music with him near a row of dumpsters, classy I know. He was really cool, a very thick French accent but unfortunately we didn’t have much time as he was running late to his next tour date. I’m a big fan and I’ve enjoyed all the M83 releases, though “Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts” is still my favorite.

Brad Laner of Medicine was my next interview a few weeks later; we shot it at his beautiful house in the San Fernando Valley. I have always been a huge Medicine fan because they are an excellent band that everyone should know. I was lucky enough too see them play a blistering set at theMercury Lounge in New York only weeks before the band would break up. Brad and I hit it off immediately; he got what we are trying to do with the film and gave a great interview. We talked for a while afterward, we have a lot in common and he threw a hint that he was interested in scoring films (I will elaborate on that in a later post).

After many phone calls to Wayne Coyne’s (The Flaming Lips) friendly PR rep, a date was set in Hollywood at the end of the month. When I first saw Wayne he was in a crowd and he stuck out. A natural performer and although he is not at all an anti-rock kind of guy he shared his appreciation of what he described as the mysterious element of the bands of that era. His hair was kind of crazy and he had on multi-colored shoes and was generally very happy and chatty. It was hard not to laugh when he spoke; he is naturally very funny and made many jokes. I would quote them here but I’d rather not spoil the movie for anyone. It was a great pleasure to meet him; “Clouds Taste Metallic” is one of my favorites. Ronald Jones, the guitar player on that record, is one of my guitar heroes.

At this point in June, 2005, I’m emailing and calling more people and making some progress but the frustrating aspect was how far away most of the key players are located mostly in England. Finding links to Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) and Jim and William Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) seemed impossible. I found out through more research that Alex Ayuli of the mighty AR Kane wasn’t far from me, I’d contacted him and he was a short drive away in Southern California. AR Kane is an incredible group, and possibly the most bafflingly under recognized band that I was covering. The song “Up” is certainly a favorite and I think everyone should check out “69” and “i” because they are both stunning works of art. It was a very hazy day, as we sat in his yard he gave an excellent interview. Alex is a very fascinating guy and amazingly talented musician. He was kind to put me in touch with the great Robin Guthrie, (Cocteau Twins) one of the most genius guitar players and producers out there, it would be a few months before I would meet him.

When I’d first heard Ride’s “Nowhere” sometime in the 90’s, I felt like I was riding waves listening to it. I sat on the floor staring at the compelling deep blue ocean photo on the cover and my imagination was going wild. One of the great albums of all time, sweet melodies, hooks, thunderous drumming and guitar playing that was out of this world. The album was so solid it was almost like a greatest hits but it was actually a debut! The songs sit so perfectly together by the time the guitar riff in “Dreams Burn Down” kicked in I’d thought that this was one of the most powerful albums I’d ever heard.

Needless to say when I read that Mark Gardener was going to be in town I’d dropped everything. I found out the day of, so I rushed down to the club he was playing at with no plan. I was a little apprehensive before, the club was dark and crowded, and I had no camera and no questions. My goal was just to meet him and plan an interview in the future. Looking around in the dimly lit club it dawned on me, what does he look like now? Any of the pictures that I’d seen him in he was boyish looking with really long hair dressed in nondescript clothing. Seeing him in the club he was definitely more mature, dressed in a casual suit and his hair was now very short. There were a few people around him when there was a momentary break I told him about the project and was relieved to find him very positive about it. When I got home that night I blasted “Nowhere” all night until I fell asleep.

July was mostly very quiet except for meeting the great writer Jim DeRogatis who was as cool as his prose. It was in August that things really started to progress.

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