by Erick Pressman
SF Docfest kicks off this Thursday evening with the Bay Area premiere of Every Day Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, followed by a post-screening Q&A with the filmmakers and the band. Fishbone will also be performing live at DNA Lounge after the screening.
Here’s what SFist’s punk expert Erick Pressman had to say about the film:
1993 is a year that will always stick out to the me because it was the year I had to awkwardly face down my entire family and their friends in an ill-fitting Ralph Lauren suit at my bar mitzvah. I had to study for this nightmare of a day constantly, and one of my only breaks from the tedious chanting came on Saturday nights when MTV ran its infamous Headbanger’s Ball from midnight till 2AM. One of these nights, I saw a video that blew I pre-adolescent, rookie punk rocker mind. It was Fishbone’s video for “Swim”.
Sandwiched between bands like Slayer and Soundgarden were six African-American dudes playing some of the hardest jams since Bad Brains, dressed in fucked up street wear, and moshing from a stage in a gigantic swimming pool. You could say I was “hooked” from that moment on.
I caught the band live a few times as I grew up, and understood how “next level” of a band they were even then, but it wasn’t until Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone popped into my DVD player Saturday did I truly understand truly how special of a band Fishbone are. The documentary starts by addressing the geographical segregation of Los Angeles in the late 70s, and how the bussing of students from South Central Los Angeles to the San Fernando valley was the reason that Fishbone ever came to be. The band members take you on tours of their neighborhoods and the places they lived in practiced, and talks about how daring it was for six black kids from the hood to jump into the white dominated Southern California punk scene. From there, the band addresses their almost rise to fame, and subsequent plummet to obscurity following original band members leaving due to creative differences and weird religious cult involvement.
Perhaps the most incredible part of the DVD is the story of how throughout all the turmoil, original bassist Norwood Fisher and frontman Angelo Moore have kept the band going in some form, and vividly portrays both how they compliment and struggle with each other. To any musician who has been playing in bands for any amount of time (even if your band is nowhere near the level of Fishbone in either talent or notoriety), this was the most relatable part of any music documentary ever made, and this portrayal is the closest any non-musician could ever be to the dynamics and challenges of being creative collaboratively.
Interviews and testimonies from the likes of No Doubt, Keith Morris (Circle Jerks), Mike Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE), Tim Robbins, Branford Marsalis, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Bob Forrest (Thelonius Monster), and Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction, Lollapalooza creator) add extra insight to what it was like to witness Fishbone in their early punk years as well as their mid-90s alternative rock days for those of you who weren’t there, and bolster the bands credibility, but its not like they need more than they haven’t already earned themselves. I highly recommend not missing this SF DocFest Opening Night feature at the Roxie, followed by the opening night party featuring the band themselves kicking your ass with their blend of ska, punk, metal, and funk. Don’t sleep on some of the realest music ever created.