For the past eight years, Los Angeles metal band Graf Orlock have been culling samples and dialogue from action movies like Predator and Lethal Weapon into a manic concoction of noise, punk and grindcore that they call “cinemagrind.” The group twists seemingly innocuous dialogue from these badass flicks into lyrical diatribes on the decay of society, making them stand out from the rest of the grindcore pack.
On their new work, Los Angeles, they have created what may be their masterpiece: a 7-inch EP focused entirely on Michael Mann's 1995 sprawling cops-and-robbers epic, Heat.
Over beers at Good Microbrew & Grill in Silver Lake, the quartet's founder, Justin Smith, says they picked the film because of its memorable representation of L.A. “It looks at the simultaneous shittiness and awesomeness of L.A.,” says Smith, who also plays guitar.
“We've toured the U.S., most of Europe and Southeast Asia, Australia and Japan — this city is an urban anomaly. There's fucked-up things about it, but it's amazingly interesting demographically.”
He adds that the film's struggle between bank robbers and cops — particularly the intense showdown between the characters played by Robert De Niro and Al Pacino — resonated with him, because of LAPD's important role in the city's history.
But it wasn't just the gunplay that struck a chord. “There are scenes in a crappy apartment or a crappy diner; it's a movie that is [distinctly] L.A., not Hollywood. Most movies get it wrong, and not even in an interesting way.”
The internal struggles of the movie's characters also resonated with Smith: Pacino as the overworked cop with a failing marriage, Val Kilmer as a young, romance-minded outlaw, De Niro as a loner. “All of these are stereotypical movie archetypes, but sorted through this crap filter that is Los Angeles,” Smith adds. “There's something to be said for personal autonomy and commitment, which I think are good qualities for a person to have.”
However, he recognizes that the film's suspense elements and stylized violence are what many viewers remember. For this reason, Los Angeles is sheathed in a jacket peppered by bullet holes shot by Smith himself.
“They were shot with .22, .32 and .45 caliber bullets in the desert. Each of the three covers [for the EP] is a target of antagonists in the film (a stolen armored truck, the murderous Waingro, Pacino's crew of cops), so it makes sense. Also it is totally awesome.”
We have to agree.
Graf Orlock's Los Angeles is out today.