The second part of our interview focuses on the band's latest movie project, 'Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk.' They helped produce it with filmmaker and longtime friend, Corbett Redford.
The day after the Omaha show, my son Daniel and I started the drive back home to Tulsa, but stopped in Kansas City to see the movie. We went to a great independent theater there, Screenland at Tapcade, and when it was time for the movie to start, we settled ourselves in for a fascinating evening.
There's so much to absorb in this movie, but it's compelling all the way through. There is a great deal of history that is lovingly captured and discussed. We feel we need to see it again and again, so It's good to know that a deal is in the works to distribute for home viewing, and that, according to Corbett Redford, "the DVD, Blu-Ray is being worked on, designed, mastered and readied for manufacturing."
So many people were interviewed for this movie that I couldn't possibly list them all. The interviews were often just as interesting, funny, or emotional as the vintage footage of events from the beginnings of East Bay punk. It was a touching movie with many emotional moments (at least for us). Two or three of the people who were interviewed in the movie came close to tears as they were talking about the past and their connection to the famed 924 Gilman Street.
For Green Day fans, as well as fans of many of the other bands involved in those early days of East Bay punk, there is rare and wonderful vintage footage that really gives a feel for what those early days were like.
Operation Ivy at Gilman, 1988 — Photo by Murray Bowles
The writing by Corbett Redford and Anthony Marchitiello is exceptionally fine — it tells a story that could have been overwhelmingly complex in an articulate, accessible, and moving way. The narration by Iggy Pop, the animations (credited to Tim Armstrong, J. Bonner, and Alex Koll), the cinematography and photographic direction by Greg Schneider, and the hand lettering (credited to Aaron Cometbus) are simply delightful and absolutely enrich the content of the movie.
I loved the way some of the newer interview footage had a "distressed" look to be more compatible with the footage it was matched with in the film. As Corbett said when I mentioned this to him, "The distressed VHS happened as our crew filmed EVERY interview with an old VHS camera! So that wasn't an effect, it was real! We decided as a crew that VHS and black and white Xerox were going to be our two main go-to 'themes' - so Greg went and bought a VHS camera, and voila!" There were obviously a lot of eyes on this film making sure that every little detail was as perfect as could be. There's no question in my mind that it was made with hearts full of love.
Here's part two of our interview:
Mike: The spirit of the movie is that it was made by the people in the community, and if you took Green Day out of it, it's still an unbelievable documentary. We basically stepped aside and let the movie get made the way it should be made. We realized that should be the anchor — the beginning, that's the beginning. [We wanted] for people to understand the different ingredients it took to make where we are and … to make the beginning…
Green Day at Gilman, 1992 — Photo by Murray Bowles
Billie: For us, when I was talking to Corbett, it was — 'Let's do a documentary that could inspire the next generation to create their own scene and not just talk about how you had to be there.' Because almost every scene documentary I've ever seen has a 'glory days' thing about it, where, with this one, you see the people like Michelle Gonzalez, who's a teacher and an author, and Miranda July, who’s a filmmaker and artist, and there are people who are activists, still playing music and active in the community. We approached it like, 'Let's not turn this into a piss and vinegar fest.'
Billie: And if it wasn't for Tim Yohannon, even though we had big differences in the past, we wouldn't have had a place to play because he, with other people, created and made Gilman Street happen - and that I'm super grateful for. So if there's a story that you watch out for, it's what Tim Yohannon has done for the bay area scene and globally also.
J'net: And Corbett did a great job realizing the vision of the movie.
Mike: Corbett kind of did the impossible. You talk about a bunch of people in the scene — you know everybody's in that scene because we're all latchkey kids and come from some fucked up background, right? So then you have to get all the bands to agree to put their music on it this many years later. We had no doubt that he's an incredibly intelligent person and an artful person, but he fuckin' did it.
Tre: He's always been super resourceful, and it's kind of like now he's all grown up.
Corbett Redford, director and producer of 'Turn it Around: The story of East Bay Punk' — Photo by Corbett Redford
Mike: All we had to do was talk him off the ledge a couple times. I mean, we'd go in his office, and it looked like 'A Beautiful Mind.' There's writing everywhere and he's like (Mike demonstrates hyperventilating). It started off he didn't have a beard, and then he turned into Father Time.
J'net: Did the fact that he's so well-respected in the community and such a genuine person help him to get buy-in from the people who participated?
Mike: And the other people he recruited, like Kamala Parks and Anthony (Marchitiello) and Eggplant and Tim Armstrong, are highly respected and helping to make this thing. And it's like, 'Wait a minute, this isn't like a Warner Brothers movie. This is people who were actually in the scene making it.' And when they would vouch for him, it became even more helpful."
We're pretty sure we spotted a cameo of Mr. Redford himself, but I won't put a spoiler here by hinting where to watch for him! For the same reason, I'm not going to tell you details of my favorite parts of the movie. When the opportunity arises, you should pick out your own favorites, and next time we're sitting in line for a Green Day show, we can compare notes.
Bottom line, whether you watch the movie because you're interested in the captivating history of East Bay punk or because you want to see how Green Day got their start or both, you aren't likely to be disappointed. The movie is great entertainment but also left me inspired to be the best I can be at whatever I choose to do. The passion that went into the scene way back then, and into the making of the movie itself, left its mark on me. I hope you'll find that it leaves you feeling the same way.
Art by Jesse Michaels; handwriting by Aaron Cometbus; layout by Designed by Monkeys
To find scheduled screenings of "Turn it Around, the Story of East Bay Punk," visit www.eastbaypunk.com/screenings . If there are no screenings near you, contact your favorite local theater and request that they book it. They can do that by simply selecting the Theatrical Booking option in the "Select Recipient" dropdown on the Contact form.
Read part three of our exclusive interview with Green Day here!