There is no formula for success in the music industry. Some bands make it, while others just fade away. Then there are some bands who are stuck in the middle, neither mainstream or indie, they linger in a limbo of notoriety forever.
Such is the case for South Central L.A.'s genre-smashing group of black punk-funk rockers, Fishbone. In “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,” which premiered at L.A. Film Festival Saturday, the story behind the influential, yet troubled, band reveals their successes and setbacks as they tried to keep up with their peers Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the words of LA Weekly's scribe Ernest Hardy, “Co-directors Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson have penned a cinematic valentine to the group via astounding archival concert footage, rapturous testimonials (Perry Farrell, Flea, George Clinton, Gwen Stefani and others) and original footage that often breaks your heart in this charting of the group's thwarted rise and chaotic fall.”
Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone plays tonight and Wednesday at the LA. Film Fest at the Regal theaters at L.A. Live, with a Q & A with the filmmakers and the band afterward.
Read excerpts from an interview with co-director Chris Metzler and watch footage from the movie and vintage Fishbone videos:
Interview with co-director Chris Metzler from indieWire:
On coming to the Fishbone story…
We were always surprised there wasn't already a Fishbone documentary out there, just knowing their unique place in rock n roll and the fact that they influenced artists across genres from punk rockers and metal heads to jazz musicians, and hip hoppers.
So that was the inkling that led us to check out a Fishbone show one rainy night in San Francisco when the band was playing at a club down the street. Watching frontman Angelo on stage, you could see a mad genius at work. Singing his ass off, a middle aged stage diver, honking his saxophones, playing the theremin! The theremin?! We soon fell in love with their personalities on and off stage and knew this would be a wild film to make so we jumped right in. Plus, we really liked the idea of exploring the social and cultural forces in LA that gave rise to a Black rock band from South Central. That these guys were outsiders that really didn't fit in anywhere and so they just decided to blaze their own path and do their own thing.
We felt it was vital to show the history of the band and how it also parallels some of the social history of Los Angeles. They were really unique as they demolished the walls of genre and really influenced a lot of today's biggest rock and rap stars. But we also were struck by the personal dynamics between the members, especially Norwood (bass) and Angelo (singer, sax, theremin). They are almost complete opposite personality types – both wonderfully crazy in their own ways – but are tied together through the music. They struggle with dysfunction as aging punk rockers but also have an admirable eternal optimism that keeps them going and making their compelling and funky art.
On gaining access to the band…
A big challenge was gaining the trust of the band and working hard to capture genuine verite moments that could engage an audience when a lot of the life of a musician can seem rather boring, whether on the road, in the studio, or at home. You know, airports, long bus rides, doing soundchecks, waiting and waiting and waiting… then magic! In the end, amidst sleepless days and nights and lots of caffeine, the personalities of all of the guys, from the past to present members made it all enjoyable.
On bringing the film to LA…
The easy answer would be to highlight the fact that the film is about a classic L.A. rock band that was both unconventional yet hugely popular in the 80s and 90s. And a lot of the film reflects what was going on in L.A. at the time, so if someone is interested in Los Angeles history or music, then the film is already ready in your sweet spot. But beyond that, we think all of the guys in the band have strong, eccentric personalities that shine brightly in the film and infuse the film with humor and emotion that anybody can relate to even if they have never heard of Fishbone.