The third day of filming for CMO brought us back to NYC. A really cold day, February 2, 2010. Just me and Adrian making the drive.
We began with someone who’d become one of CMO’s patron saints, Jesse Malin. He was our first official rock star. We shot the interview at his bar Niagra, on Avenue A and 7th Street.
Jesse was great! He told stories that seemed to connect with Jack Rabid’s, of seeing them on their East Coast Whirl back in 1983, of jamming with Paul Westerberg after their set at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. He spoke of how the band seemed like a real gang, nothing phony about them. And when asked what he would tell a younger rock fan to turn them onto The Replacements, he said:
“It’s real. It’s real rock n’ roll. It encompasses everything that rock n’ roll and punk rock should have. Great songs. Great energy. Rebel music. A fuck you. A comradery of the people. A great sense of humor. And a unique style. A unique sound. Fearless. Timeless in a way.”
We interviewed Dave Minehan in his Wooly Mammoth Sound Studio. Not only had his band The Neighborhoods opened for The Replacements (and the Clash) way back in the day, Dave had played guitar on the first Paul Westerberg solo tour. So he was well-versed in Mats history. His stories were varied and funny. He not only loved the band (He “drank the Kool-Aid,” as he put it), he loved their every album. A rarity. In fact one of my favorite quotes in the film is his comment about Don’t Tell A Soul. (Of course, you’ll have to wait to see the film to know what it is.)
As I had long ago decided that Color Me Obsessed would cover The Replacements from when that first demo tape went from Paul’s to Peter Jesperson’s hands, through to their breakup at Grant Park on July 1st, 1991, my biggest predicament with Minehan came when he recalled an amazing tale about touring with Paul in London and running into Joe Strummer at an outdoor flea market. Luckily, we have a lot of knobs on that old answering machine on the CMO website. Click the volume control and you can hear the story.
If I wasn’t sure after interviewing Jack Rabid, that I indeed did have a movie here. Dave cemented it. We talked for over 90 minutes, and I left feeling that I had found my musical twin. The guy’s got great tastes in bands!
Jack Rabid. He popped my documentary cherry. I had never interviewed anyone on film before. And honestly it had been over 25 years since I’d interviewed anyone at all. (My past as a music “journalist,” using the word lightly, creeps up.) So well-spoken, he recanted tales of this band that I so loved. This band that had probably saved my life, more than once. I wasn’t alone. There was other intelligent life on this otherwise seemingly barren planet. (Musically barren, at least. And I was in Brooklyn, currently home to the worst rock scene the galaxy’s ever known.) He talked about their first NYC gigs, the first time he heard the song Hootenanny, and concluded (as you can see in the first trailer), “Sure, they were just a band. But weren’t the Rolling Stones just a band?”
And listen, I know from a sales and cultural viewpoint, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan should stand alone. But they don’t. There’s a fourth member to that elusive group. And here’s why. The Replacements rocked harder than the Stones ever could, they epitomized what rock always was, always would be. They could out fuck-you Mick and company to a laughable degree. Likewise, Paul, Tommy, Bob, and Chris had personalities as distinct as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And like that band, they could break your heart one minute, then rock your soul the next. And as great as Dylan was with the word-play, Paul Westerberg could beat him at what was seemingly his game any day of the week.
They were just that good. Perhaps this film will help everyone understand that.