The Bands Shone Through for the IDOBD Story

Over the last year we have been working on the film we are always asked the same few questions by folks who were in the scene:  “How did you pick the bands?”, “Why did you pick those bands?” or  “Why not my band?”.  Before I address those, let me say that we have hours and hours of footage, so if your band isn’t in the feature there is a high chance it will be in the DVD extras or in other content surrounding the film where people can hear your story.

The fact of the feature is that the bands kind of chose themselves as the movie developed an story arcs took on a life of their own. We started out interviewing and talking with friends of ours from back in the day. We had a list of 30 names that we wanted to talk with, and we made sure to include people in the media and local music industry that would be more impartial. In fact, at first the only interview we knew we had to have was with Tom Colletta.

To my surprise, it was the guys like Tim McCoy that we interviewed for close to 2 hours that spoke about so many of the other musicians and bands that got Michael Venn and I excited to interview people that we didnt previously think of before, like Jon Nolan. I never got to see Say ZuZu back in the day, and to my delight the interview with Jon Nolan was one of my favorites. Not only did he talk about some of the great new talent in the area, he spoke of a few more musicians from all the genres who have gone on in their careers beyond The Seacoast, making a name for themselves and enjoying their success. It was because of Jon that we discovered the focus of the film – “redefining your definition of success” – and our title as one day after reviewing a very early promo edit he said “Yeah, we were all in danger of being discovered”.  How I wish cameras were rolling!

Jon was our 3rd interview and because of Tom, Tim and Jon plus meetings and emails with hundreds of people our interview list was over 125 people long! With each interview requiring an average of 10 hours worth of time including planning, coordinating a professional crew, doing the interview, importing the footage into the computer, logging the footage and financing all of this out of pocket (and out of the love of the scene) we did have to limit the amount of interviews we did. We feel we got a cross section that helps to tell a story that viewers around the world can relate to.

There are also people that did great interviews for us but perhaps said the same idea as many others that were already helping to tell another part of the story. We had to make the tough decision to not include someone in the feature and perhaps use their footage in the extras –  as documentary filmmakers we need to be true to the subject of the film and if we don’t find the story that a large audience can connect with then no one outside Portsmouth will see our film or hear your music and story. Michael, Karlina, Jon and I (the producers) want this film to reach far beyond the Seacoast and bring our passion to the world.

We hope our film is the first step in bringing attention to this great music scene and that everyone feels how this story resonates as much as we do!

The Musical Standouts VO or Director’s Note from IDOBD

We can all make a quick list of great guitarists from the area but we should all thank the predecessors to most of the bands we talk about in the film. For example, those from other musical genres like TJ Wheeler or Ed Gerhard who were amazing examples of local musicians who make a living at playing music.

Guitarists like Rick Twombly and Jon Nolan created the styles that define their bands, but I was always amazed at how Jon McCormack’s guitar filled the sound spectrum. Like many of the other virtuoso guitar greats here in Portsmouth like Bryan Killough and Tim Therriault, whose electrifying leads and chord progressions are amazing journeys into a story told in tones, Jon’s guitar filled every gap left by the other instruments around him. With 2 singers, 3 horns and the rock-solid rhythm section of Dan McGary and Chris Hall there wasn’t always much to fill - but that wall of sound helped Fly become the “must see” live act.

Mark Damon is my current favorite bass player because he is on stage and having a ton of fun just like I had once dreamed for myself. As a bass player I was in awe of Jon Lesesse and Drew Wyman and how they could walk the whole damn neck of the bass in just one song and make something so complicated sound more soothing than confusing. Chip Brindamour would play the funk out of his bass and Tim McCoy would dive into a riff that just made you pop up and dance.

I remember Scott Kinison’s thundering drums. I was more in awe of him because of his size, unlike Mike McNeil who was a wild man tearing up those skins while his hair bounced around like like a thousand drumsticks ready to make a crash. But it was Sean Daniels and Steve Ruhm that showed you didn’t need to go be Swiss to have amazing timing. They each had styles that helped congure up their bands’ unique sounds.

The vocalists were the physical embodiment of each band: from the double – and sometimes trio – of vocalists in Fly Spinach Fly, Percy Hill and Heavens to Murgatroid to the screams of a man known as Iron Lung, each frontman brought their own personality to the stage. It was Jeff Bibbo who lived the life of many other tortured artists and who brought that out in his lyrics and it was how he followed it up that created one of the most unique singing styles ever heard. And of course there were many people that could sing and rock the tambourine or the occasional egg shaker.

It was Andy Happel’s classically infused rock and roll violin with Thanks to Gravity that stood out in the crowd and helped to show how diverse and talented the musicians are around Portsmouth.

I would be remis if I didn’t give the lifetime of fun-loving music award to Tom Colleta for adding that Star Trek sounding instrument that, like Nigel Tufnels guitar, you can’t touch. The Theremin is the most unique instrument for the most unique man and his legendary support for the music of this area should never go unsung. Other supporters - and some of them rockers as well - like Kevin Guyer, Jim Teirney, Hank Decon, Chris Decato, Gary Fox all supported and continue to support area musicians in many ways and thank goodness for our first lady of music Denise Wheeler for helping to keep sexy in style when so many others lost that battle.

As usual you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone, and I am thankful for all the music that has filled our lives and excited to see many others that feel the same and hopefully these musicians we loved can make another go at it. Whether it’s reuniting or forming new bands lets all be thankful for their talents and support them as they bring joy to our lives.