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The Ultimate Trip is Death

8 July 2013
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Did everyone look cool in the 70s, or was it just these three?

Last week, my wife and I went down to the historic Texas Theater in historic Oak Cliff (you might remember seeing it in the Oliver Stone conspiracy fever-dream JFK) to see the Texas premiere of A Band Called Death, a documentary film about three brothers in Detroit who essentially invented punk rock before punk rock existed.

The film pretty much checked off all the boxes for me to love it — well-produced documentary with a fantastic story, awesome music, great production values, produced by Scott Mosier (of View Askew fame). Scott Mosier even did a Q&A after the show, which was unimaginably cool. 

I won’t ruin the film for anyone, but the band (called Death, as you probably figured out) didn’t have much in the way of success when they were together, despite producing some of the best music in the era. They weren’t really even heard outside of their own little circle until sometime around 2010, when record collectors discovered the band and started playing them, and their own kids discovered their music and started performing it live. Now, the two surviving members of the band are touring and finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Two lessons I pulled from this story: one, you can produce something great that’s not appreciated right away, and that’s OK. I believe it’ll find its audience eventually. Just concentrate on doing good work and getting it out there, and someone will find it and appreciate it.

The second lesson actually came from the Q&A with Scott Mosier, where he pointed out that if Death had just walked across the river to a club where the MC5 or Iggy and the Stooges were playing, they probably would have found a lot more immediate acceptance for their music. Maybe that thing you’re putting out there isn’t finding the right audience because you’re not looking in the right places — branch out and give people a chance to discover your work.

Anyone else seen anything great lately?

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