Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What the moment of impact looks like.

Man, what a long day.

Hardball opened last night, and so this morning, on 3 hours of sleep, I grabbed a train out to New Haven to take a quick look at Yale Repertory where I have a show going in a few months. Then, jumped back on the train and got back to NYC, where I then jumped in a cab and just barely made my plane and got back to LA in just enough time to get home and tuck my son in bed. I still have several more hours of work ahead of me tonight, in order to be ready to see my next show's runthru tomorrow in San Diego. But I had to write this first before I sit down to work again.

On the plane, I took a little time out to watch the new documentary DVD on the amazing punk band from Sweden called Refused. The film is called "Refused Are Fucking Dead" and it really profoundly affected me in this weird way. I'm still thinking about this film hours later. But let me start back at the beginning.

Now you may ask: "Exactly how punk rock are you, Lindsay Jones?"

And the answer is: well, not all that much. I got a steady job, a wife, a kid, I live in a decent neighborhood and try to fly business class as much as possible.

Now, was I ever really punk rock? Well. I wish I could say I was. But no. I really admire the music and attitude. But no, I really couldn't do it.

Why? Well, interestingly enough, it's like most things in life. It's all about the maintenance.

See, you gotta hold that attitude 24/7, and after a while, it just gets hard to keep it going. You need a break. No one can be angry all the time. It'll make you crazy.

This is the lesson contained in "Refused Are Fucking Dead".

See, this band Refused made one of the single greatest punk records ever. It was called "The Shape Of Punk To Come" and let me just say, if you like rock music and you have never heard this record, then you have not truly heard rock music. It's the most amazingly intense record that I have ever heard and every single song is a sonic masterpiece. It's not just punk, it incorporates classical, jazz and electronica elements seamlessly into the most ferocious rock that you have ever heard.

So anyway, the band had a plan, which was to make the greatest punk record ever. And they did it. But they used up so much of their energy and goodwill trying to make the record that by the time they were supposed to tour to promote it, they all hated each other. Well, not just each other. They hated everyone. They hated the audience. They hated being a band. They hated music.

But they went on tour anyway, hoping against hope that it would all just blow over.

It didn't.

Four dates into their U.S. tour, they played a show in a suburban basement in a house in Harrisonburg, Virginia. They played two songs, and then the police showed up and pulled the plugs of their amplifiers out of the wall. The band was so happy that the police had stopped the show, they all began crying spontaneously. The band was over. Right then. Forever. Refused are fucking dead.

The film basically dissects each of the band members recollections of what happened and even though they are so happy that the band is gone, the final show haunts all of them. You can see it. These guys are literally living with their own ghosts. It's kind of haunting and awful to watch.

Here's the preview of the film. It really does not do the film justice, it makes it look like it's a concert film, which it is not. But at least you can see glimpses of what I saw.

Now, fortunately, this DVD does also come with some concert footage as a separate feature, albeit of some seriously varying quality. See, the thing is that being a punk band and all, you're not gonna have MTV filming you. Instead, it's like some 16 year old kid with his dad's video camera.

BUT! Watch this sequence. This is the band opening a show with "The Shape Of Punk To Come". As you watch them start, keep your eye on the audience. They look confused at first, not knowing how to react, and then within 10 seconds, the entire room is a tornado. This is how good this band was.

The sound quality is not great here. But when this band kicks in, you can see what they were really like. They were so incredibly intense, there was no way it would last. But thank god that they finished the record.


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