Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

Fishbone has always been a band that divided the line between commercial success and cult following as well as brilliant musical geniuses and insane genre adventurers. More to the point, they, in all right, should have been the band that broke into mainstream along, if not before, with their peers and followers. This sentiment is the universal ideology given by their fans and friends in Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. Deeper than that, the documentary is a look at six friends, their influence on the scene around them and the challenges and conflicts of the remaining members as they continue to create their art.

Much like Anvil: The Story of Anvil, the band is introduced at their commercial peak as they perform to a large energetic crowd while fellow musical peers discuss the excitement of a Fishbone performance and the potential of the band's success. This naturally cuts to a shot of the band 15 years later, in Hungary, performing to a significantly smaller and less enthusiastic audience, minus the senior couple dancing. That as well as the idea of two friends keeping the dream and music alive are the only elements connecting a Los Angeles ska-punk-funk-rock band to a Canadian metal band.

The story, itself, is presented in a non-linear fashion with cuts into the present lives of vocalist/saxophonist Angelo Moore and bassist/vocalist Norwood Fisher, thus presenting two very different yet intriguing stories. The main story is that of a band that should have, by all rights, been the biggest band in the world due to their popularity and unique influence on a number of various artists. In this story, they are youthful and hopeful about the future until the band begins unraveling through attempted kidnapping charges and departures from various members. This, of course, plays into the second story where you have two friends clashing over personalities and ideas to the point where their lifestyles are even radically different from each other.

A couple of issues that have been brought up by a few fans were a need to see more of the band's writing process and a look into the variations on the band after the original six members separated. While I would also be intrigued into the writing process, I would have rather seen more studio time with the band, if possible. There has always been the universal agreement that their live performances outshine their studio recordings. While there were the occasional shots of them recording, it would have been interesting to delve into why these two worlds were never able to be in sync with each other besides the glaring obvious reason of location. As for the subsequent lineups, while it would have been excellent to look into how each member would fill the role of a departing member, leaving the story to the original six allowed it to be a much tighter story especially as the original lineup dwindled and, also, allowed for an on-stage appearance from estranged former guitarist Kendall Jones into the world that is Fishbone to be more exciting.

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone is both a love letter to the band and their fans as much as it a very interesting look into a band's overall dynamic as the members grow older and eventually separate or become frustrated with their surroundings. As a longtime fan of Fishbone (since the age of 12), it was definitely great to see the band finally get their story onto a screen. Filmmakers Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler adequately presented the band in such a light that provide explanations as to why people still hold the band close to their hearts and, to some extent, answered why they were never the massively commercial band they should have been without falling into the trapping of being fans with cameras. While Fishbone has managed to stay far more relevant and less tragic than Anvil, one can only hope that this film will bring the band back into a wider musical consciousness just as a small, fan filmed documentary did for a legendary Canadian metal band.

"Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone" - documentary trailer from Tilapia Film on Vimeo.

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