The oracle came to Angelo Moore in 1989. It was during a tour with his band Fishbone, as they waited to cross the U.S.-Canadian border in the misty, early morning hours. Moore suddenly found himself face-to-face with the great bluesman B.B. King, who had a profound message for the musician: "You're going to be doing this for the rest of your life, man."
Moore could feel the air around him shift. He knew this was his moment of truth and revelation. King wasn't the Devil bartering for Moore's soul. He was just passing on some wisdom.
"I didn't know if it was good or bad. I just knew that B.B.'s words were like some extraterrestrial shit," Moore recalls now, humming the theme to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. "Every time I tell somebody that, I think about B.B. King and the crazy-ass chill I had when he told me that shit. Crossroads, man. This is it, motherfucker!"
Moore and the band have come to accept this, pushing onward through a career of wild ups and downs, keeping the three-decade dream of Fishbone alive and joyously on-edge, fusing punk, funk, ska and metal into a furious whole. They live the life of "the famous but not rich," Moore likes to say. But even though Fishbone has never enjoyed a hit record, the group has left a significant mark on generations of fans and followers, with albums like 1986's In Your Face and 1988's Truth and Soul inspiring later acts from No Doubt to the Roots.
The struggle to create and survive is a central theme in Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, a loving but unflinching new documentary on the African-American band and its frequently moving tragicomedy. They've played to overflow crowds and near-empty rooms, been celebrated and dropped by the finest record execs, all while pushing boundaries as band members come and go.
Fishbone's original six-man lineup was an explosive force on the '80s underground music scene of Los Angeles. Even as teenagers sharing club stages with the likes of Jane's Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Thelonious Monster, Fishbone stood out.
"They were the best group in L.A. at that time," remembers Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell. "They had the energy of the Chili Peppers, but they were so talented. They were jumping around but they also could rip on their instruments. Most of us were just jumping around."
The documentary captures that crazed first decade of Fishbone, mingling interviews with footage of the band onstage, Moore singing and playing the sax, then pausing to dive head-first into the crowd.
It was later that things got hard.