Tag Archives: color me obsessed

I hate Big Star, and it’s okay.

BigStar-NO

As a lifelong fan of The Replacements (their life as a band, not mine as a human), I am seemingly required to love the band Big Star, the Alex Chilton-fronted band which put out three albums in the early 70s about which most indie rock fans genuflect and drool.

I’ve tried. Truly I have. Giving the albums many a long-drive-in-the-car listen back in the mid-80s, in the 90’s, at least once a decade. Most recently on a two hour drive, my wife (also a lifelong Mats fan) and I gave it the old college (though we’re both drop out) try.

And not that long ago a friend who’s music opinion I truly value gave me a song-by-song intro to the band. What to listen to first, second, third.

But still I felt nothing.

I watched the Big Star documentary thinking maybe their story would make me care. Nope.

The story was irrelevant. It was the music that didn’t click for me.

Why? (Hold on to that for me.)

In a nutshell, Chilton’s voice is grating and unemotional. Flat like a can of soda left open over night. The production is the worst of everything early-70s wrapped into one, back when I thought rock and roll was over, before punk resuscitated it.   It all sounds like a bad version of what was popular on the radio at the time, which was already bordering on the unlistenable. When listening to Big Star I hear everything that almost made me give up on rock and roll back when I was a teen.

Though I will readily admit the songwriting is good. You certainly can’t tell when Chilton is singing, but hand the song “Thirteen” over to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, or listen to what This Mortal Coil could do with “Kangaroo” or “Holacaust” and you think songwriting genius. The Bangles cover of “September Gurls” is a pure pop treat that would make Nick Lowe grin. Many amazing songs–I’ll be the first to admit it–when performed by someone else. But those same songs performed by Big Star. They leave me cold.

And please don’t bring up historical significance. Because someone like Robert Johnson has ten thousand times the influence but it would take a gun-to-the-head to make most rock fan give a Johnson tune a spin.

This dislike of Big Star was a secret I held close for years. How could such a huge fan of The Replacements loathe the songwriter who was supposedly one of Paul Westerberg’s biggest influences? How could the director of The Replacements documentary utter such blasphemy?

But the answer finally came to me. Easy. It’s okay. Not every band can speak to every person. And there should be no shame in hating a band you’re supposed to like. Music is subjective. Not every song, not every band, can speak to the same person in the same way. It’s art. Not fast food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me disliking Big Star, just as there is nothing wrong with you loving them.

I’ll say it now. There are lots of bands I’m supposed to like that bore me to tears. The New York Dolls. Iggy and the Stooges. Hell, I’ve never been able to tolerate an entire Ramones concert because after a few songs they all begin to sound the same. Or the Johnny-come-lately Mats rip-off band Beach Slang–I freakin’ detest Beach Slang while so many other Replacements fans I know are ready for groupie-like devotion. Does this make me a bad person? Does this make me less of a music fanatic? Does this make me an musical idiot? No, no, no. It makes me honest about how music affects me, and it does, in ways even I can’t begin to understand. Music is my religion. But because I get more enjoyment out of Miley Cyrus than I do the New York Dolls is okay. It’s all okay. What you like. What I like. It’s personal. Like toppings on a pizza, the team we root for, our favorite junk TV, our brand of beer.

So what exactly am I saying here? Simply this: “I, Gorman Bechard, love The Replacements, but I hate Big Star. ”

And if you shame me because I’m missing the Big Star gene, that’s on you. You’re the one who should be ashamed.

 

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Filed under Alex Chilton, Big Star, Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion, the replacements, Uncategorized

An open letter to my Color Me Obsessed fans

Hello,

I think I can probably qualify as a pretty big Replacements fan. I’ve loved them since about 1983. Have gone to every tour since, including every solo tour. So having watched and listened to Paul and company for that long I find myself not bothered one microscopic bit by this co-called break-up announcement. Why? you might ask. Because it’s the fucking Replacements. They live to fuck with us. That’s part of why we love them. Is there a more sarcastic genius on the planet than Paul? NO, there isn’t. So, my advice: everyone unruffle your panties, sit back, and wait. In the mean time, enjoy the music as you always have, enjoy the onslaught of live videos posted on YouTube, and be patient. What makes for great rock and roll is that you never know what’s going to happen next. And here we are…

Gorman Bechard
director, Color Me Obsessed

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Filed under Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion

I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks…

Let me try to explain what that means to me.  It would be like an extremely devout Catholic meeting the Pope.  Like a Chicago Cubs fan not only seeing their team make it into the World Series, but sweeping the other team.  Like a Jets fan seeing their team go undefeated.  Like buying that Powerball ticket and being the lone winner of a few hundred million dollars.  It’s a dream.  It’s unreal.  It could never happen.

But two weeks from now, on a Sunday evening in Toronto, they will take the stage.  Will they play a perfect set of their most beloved songs?  Will they be in cantankerous moods and play only parts of inconceivable cover songs?  Will they rock?  Roll?  Will they have mellowed with age?  Will they tear the non-existent roof off the fucking joint?  It doesn’t matter.  It’s a Replacements show.  We’re not supposed to know what to expect.  As long as they show up.

There are of course the naysayers.  Those who say, “This isn’t The Replacements, it’s just Paul and Tommy.”  To them I say, “shut the fuck up.”  Bob is gone.  Slim is ill.  And Chris just doesn’t want to be a part of it.  But still, this is Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson taking the stage and playing the songs that changed our lives, that in many cases defined our lives.  If you have issue with it, don’t go.  (Though I truly believe the naysayers are only naysayers because they can’t get to one of the three shows. Put a ticket in their hands and they’d be singing a different tune.)

I think about those I know who’ve never seen the band.  Those who came late to the show (and coming late is a hell of a lot better than never showing up at all), or those who were too young to see the band during their day.  The excitement they must be feeling as they think, I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of all the times one of their songs has figuratively saved by life.  The blaring of “Here Comes A Regular,” and it somehow making me feel just a tad better, because I was not that guy in the song.  The loud out-of-tune howling of “Unsatisfied,” knowing that I was not alone in the world.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the joy songs like “Color Me Impressed” or “Can’t Hardly Wait” or “If Only You Were Lonely” have brought me over the years.  Always played a little too loud.  Often played on endless repeat.  Songs that still make me feel alive to this day.  Songs that make me feel young, invincible, loud, brash, horny, crazy.  The soundtrack to my personal life.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the inspiration the band has given me.  Whether writing a book or working on a film, they were always there in the background.  The soundtrack to my professional life.  Stuck?  Put on a Mats tune. Need to wake up?  Put on a Mats tune.  Done?  Put on a Mats tune.  They were even characters in my first novel.  Not that this band needed to be fictionalized, they were always larger than life.  But what other band would God’s daughter claim as her favorite?  She is divine.  She knows everything.  She knows rock & roll.  Ilona Ann Coggswater would be so happy for me.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the times I’ve seen them live.  One of my favorite musical moments, Paul Westerberg coming back alone for the encore at the Beacon Theatre.  A balloon in hand.  Sucking in the helium.  Singing “Hello Dolly” acapella, then leaving the stage, leaving us all wondering “what the fuck?”  The audience cleared out, and when the last fan had left the building, the band burst back onto the stage, and ripped into a rollicking encore, leaving all of us to rush back in from the street.  If was a moment I’ll never forget.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of my wife beautiful Kristine, by my side for thirteen of the fifteen times I’ve seen them.  Married for twenty years now.  Often times people would ask our secret.  I would ask Kris, “What’s your favorite band?”  She’d answer “The Replacements.  What’s yours?”  And I’d answer “The Replacements.”  And that would be the answer to the question.  We’re seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

And of course, I think of being able to direct “Color Me Obsessed, a film about The Replacements.”  Meeting and interviewing so many like-minded fans, some famous, many not, people who knew them, worked with them, produced their albums, wrote about them, were influenced by them, spent more time with them than any of their teenaged friends.  An honor.  I was humbled by the love, the devotion.  I never felt more connected to people in my life.  I was not alone.  And I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

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DVD release dates!

Sorry it’s been a while…

First, spent a lot of August in Minneapolis filming EVERY EVERYTHING, THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART.

Second, really started hard editing of BROKEN SIDE OF TIME, part two of my Alone Trilogy.

Third, was in Key West, one of my favorite places on earth, with Kris, celebrating our 20th anniversary.

But today, the pressing matter is the DVD release date for both COLOR ME OBSESSED and WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

NOVEMBER 20TH!

MARK IT DOWN!

Now a little on both releases…(click the title to pre-order)

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THE ARCHERS OF LOAF LIVE AT CAT’S CRADLE

To me, the Archers of Loaf were the single greatest band of the 90s. They saved my love of music after The Replacement broke up, and I truly felt no band would ever fill those dirty Converse All Stars.

I will always remember the first time I saw the Archers live at a CMJ showcase at Tramps in NYC. Within 30 seconds I knew I had discovered my new favorite band. And that’s never changed. I do honestly believe WEB IN FRONT is the greatest song ever written. Ever. It makes me happy. The band makes me happy.

But of course all good things must come to an end as they did in 1998. A true story: I knew the band, and knew WHITE TRASH HEROES would be their last album. The day it was released I drove some 45 minutes to pick it up, and listened to it blissfully for the first time on the ride home, having to pull over as the last song came on, because knowing it was the last new song I’d ever hear from them I began to cry. I sat in a bank parking lot the tears flowing uncontrollably as the final refrains of that amazing title track played on my car’s speakers.

Jump forward to 2011. My first rock documentary, COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, was doing quite well on the festival circuit. I knew I wanted to make a second rock doc. And one afternoon my wife informed me that the Archers were reuniting for a tour, and I knew I had my next subject. I won’t go into the details of talking the camera-sky band into the project, but after seeing their two LA performances I knew I had to do everything in my power to forever preserve this energy for future generations. Especially in a time when going to a rock show usually means seeing a wimpy band who looks even more bored than the texting crowd members who are more interested in talking or being seen.

Cat’s Cradle was the obvious venue. So I got together some of my favorite crew members I’d worked with in recent years. Jan Radder and Sarah Hajtol, who were my right and left hands in making COLOR ME. Adrian Correia who did such an amazing job shooting my FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) — the original FWB movie. As well as Cory Maffucci and Andrew Ross. We had seven cameras in all, with me on Eric Johnson’s side of the stage, Sarah on Matt Gentling’s, Jan with two cameras behind drummer Mark Price, Adrian roaming the audience, Cory watching over the Red One capturing our wide shot, and Andrew on the catwalk covering the crowd.

I shot the interviews myself a few months later in their hometown of Asheville, then I went home and cut together the truly mind-blowing footage to Brian Paulson’s astounding mix.

I’ve made a number of films, written a bunch of books, but never in 30 years did I have more fun doing anything. This is my proudest moment as a filmmaker, because not only do I feel I have made a great film, I know I have helped preserve an important part of rock history, proof that rock once had balls, and at times, still can.

I love this band, and have never found a replacement for them. I doubt I ever will.

And FYI: the set list from the film can be seen as the background to the poster. The DVD 12 contains 6 additional songs from the two Cradle shows, and 4 extra interviews with the band members.

COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS

Just want you to know how proud we are of this DVD release. On it you’ll find 6 hours of extras including 19 deleted scenes, the complete interviews with Grant Hart of Husker Du, famed rock critic Robert Christgau, and Sound Opinions hosts Greg Kot & Jim DeRogatis, a behind the scenes interview with me, and another with Hansi Oppenheimer who originated the project years ago. Plus there are two commentaries, one from me, and the other from our Minneapolis producer Jan Radder. Throw in 4 trailers, and you have one hell of a DVD!!!

Color Me Obsessed was a blast to make. And for anyone wondering why there’s no band or music, that was the concept from the start. We never even asked to speak with the band, never asked to use the music. Never. From the get-go I wanted to turn the rock doc genre on its ear. And for a band who shot a stereo speaker for 4 minutes for its first music video, I think this approach is appropriate and more than fitting.

A number of critics seem to agree. Rolling Stone called it one of “the seven best new music documentaries of the year.” The Village Voice called it “the rock version of Rashomon.” David Carr, the NY Times columnist tweeted “You can feel The Replacements in every single frame.” And the raves go on and on (even check the IMDb user comments).

For fans, you will be reaching for your Mats albums the moment the end credits roll. (NOTE: the film doesn’t end with the end credits. There’s more!)

And for music lovers not familiar with The Replacements, you will be armed with everything you need to discover them and fall in love with them as we did so many years back.

As CHARTattack said, “the film is a shockingly refreshing and invigorating experience for anyone who ever care about any kind of music at all.”

All for now…

Hope you enjoy the films!

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Filed under archers of loaf, Color Me Obsessed, documentaries, filmmaking, the replacements

Upcoming Screenings

Upcoming screenings of COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS:

June 20th – Star Theatre, Portland, OR

June 23rd – Cafe Cinema, Virginia Beach, VA

July 5th – CBGB Fest, NYC

July 15th/16th – Hollywood Dormont, Pittsburgh, PA

July 23rd thru 29th – Cinefest Film Theatre, Atlanta, GA

July 27th – Cafe Nine, New Haven, CT

July 28th – Indie West Fest, Ventura, CA

Follow the film’s Facebook page for details and additional screenings.

Upcoming screenings of WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THE ARCHERS OF LOAF LIVE AT CAT’S CRADLE:

June 15th – NXNE Festival, Toronto, Canada (World Premiere)

June 18th – Sled Island Festival, Calgary, Canada

July 5th – CBGB Fest, NYC (US Premiere)

July 7th – Cat’s Cradle, Chapel Hill, NC

Follow the film’s Facebook page for details and additional screenings.

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The Black & White Rules of Indie Filmmaking – part 6

6. Your Audience

When people ask me who I make my films for, my answer is “me.” I make my films for myself. I know people who find this answer obnoxious, or flat out rude, or who don’t believe me. But you CANNOT create a work of art to make someone else happy. You will fail. Which is why so many Hollywood films suck.

You are your own audience of one. Does your film make you laugh, or cry? Does it move you in the way you intended it to? Are you completely proud of it? Is it what you forever want to be known for? Are you happy to sign your name to it? Would you defend it to the death as you would your child? If you can answer yes to most, if not all, of these questions, then you don’t have to worry about making your film for an audience, because the audience will find you.

Great and passionate art always rises to the top of the heap. Will everyone like your film? Absolutely not. You don’t want everyone to like your film. Because if everyone does, it’s most likely commercial crap. In fact you want some people to love it unconditionally, and some to detest it more than any film they’ve ever seen. Then you know you’ve got something special. What you certainly don’t want is people saying, “it was okay.” You want an audience to be as passionate about your film (either love or hate) as you were about making it.

In my first documentary, COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, there’s an interviewee named Robert Voedisch who really polarizes many of the men in the audience. Not the women. The women seem to adore him. But he makes some men angry. Especially the more macho types. And I finally realized why. He so painfully reminds them of the geeky kid they were at fourteen, their ego now puts up a wall. He makes them uncomfortable. He makes them squirm. In Voedisch, who so blissfully lays himself emotionally naked in the film, they see who they once were, and they never want to return there. Voedisch unleashes their deep hidden secret that their macho self was once a geeky kid who hid in his room and played rock and roll records because he was too scared to talk to girls.

Another moment that I truly love in COLOR ME OBSESSED is Bil Mac’s pause. I ask the simple question: “What’s your favorite Replacements song?” He answers “Go,” and then says nothing else. I hold on his look of absolute conviction for six seconds in the film. This pause so bothered everyone who worked on the film: my closest friends, the people whose opinions I trusted and valued most. The pause had to go. Well, so I wouldn’t have to hear about it endlessly as we all discussed the various cuts of the film — what worked, what was repetitive, what was out-of-sync — I cut away at the pause until it barely existed. By the last time we all watched the film in preparation for the sound mix, looking for typos, weird cuts, anything wrong, it was down to about 24 frames. One second. But that was because I knew, the day before the sound mix, when even my assistant editor Sarah Hajtol was finally given a day off, I’d be putting the pause back in all its six second glory. In my gut it worked. It belonged. After the rapid fire pace of the first twenty minutes of the film, it was a breather. And it stands as one of my favorite moments of the film. The pause bring an air of importance to Bil’s response. It’s as if I were asking the Pope if he believed in God. That’s what the pause does. How can we not believe in The Replacements after that pause?

What I’m saying is: Find the Voedisch in your film. Find the big pause, and all the little ones. Find the elements that drives your film forward. And don’t worry if they pisses the hell out of some people. If you know in your gut they’re right, that they fit, then follow your gut. YOU, as director, are signing your name to this film. NO ONE ELSE.

Some audience members will fall in love, other will squirm uncomfortably, and you will have done your job as an artist.

Next up: Be Organized!

My filmography.

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A few rules on how not to be a filmmaking douche bag…

I’ve been on the festival circuit now on and off since YOU ARE ALONE broke in 2005. Lately even more so because I seem to have hit a nerve with COLOR ME OBSESSED. And I’ve realized that a lot of my fellow filmmakers are, well, douche bags. Plain and simple.

“What makes them so douchy?” you ask. Well, two things in particular in regards to festivals.

1. Most festival are limited in the amount they can spend on bringing filmmakers to their weekend of film. So, it’ll usually be a handful of us mingling. Now, I will always try and see everyone’s film. Attend the Q&A’s. Even ask questions. I try to get involved. I’m there to work. Festivals might seem like a vacation. Ask my wife, they’re anything but. You have to be on, you have to schmooze, you have to be selling yourself and your film every moment. Part of that involves seeing other films, supporting other filmmakers. I’ve even been told by fest directors that every time they turn around they see me walking into a screening. And nothing makes them happier. But what pisses me off (and even more so fest directors) are the filmmakers who take all the travel perks, come into town, screen their film, do a half-assed Q&A (you can always tell the douche bags by their Q&A’s), then sleep, drink, sightsee…basically do anything BUT watch other films. They expect you to watch their masterpieces. But can they return the favor? No. Of course not. (And these are usually the same film school assholes who at their Q&A expound on how filmmaking is such a collaborative art form, and how great it is to be involved in the filmmaking community. HORSESHIT!) These filmmakers annoy the piss out of me because they don’t realize filmmaking is a job. Instead of being thankful for being flown and put up in a strange town, they believe it’s deserved. Such is their sense of entitlement. Of course these are always the one “hit” wonders who soon discover filmmaking isn’t for them, and are soon making bad cappuccinos at Starbucks. Karma is a beautiful thing!

2. The other inexcusably douchy thing filmmakers do all the time: cancel on festivals at the last minute. I know one fest director who paid for flights and rooms for three members of a specific filmmaking team, only to have them not show. And look, I know shit happens. But fellow filmmakers, unless someone VERY close to you is dead or in the hospital dying, likewise for yourself, or unless you house burned to the ground, THERE IS NO EXCUSE. You’re fucking over not only a fest director who liked your work enough to invite it to their fest (and remember the director of a small fest today, is often running a much larger fest tomorrow), but also the audience who might have wanted to ask you a few questions. And mostly you’re fucking yourself in so many unpleasant ways. The fest director has identified you as a douche, and will never go near one of your films again. They’ll spread the word to other fest directors that you are Douche of the Year on their short list. Plus you lose the chance to mingle with potential fans, potential buyers of DVDs and VOD. And you miss out on sleeping through the screenings of the other filmmakers, which you would have skipped anyway.

Actually the more I think about it. The festival, the other filmmakers, and even the patrons, are better off without you there. Stay home. Practice your barista skills. They’re going to come in handy for you one day.

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Filed under film festivals, filmmaking, independent film, rants