We finally watched DIG! tonight. It was as good as my friend Chris led me to believe. I’ve always liked the Brian Jonestown Massacre when I’ve heard their music although I’ve never bought any of their records. I like the whole retro sparse Velvet Underground drone thing, so they are right in that pocket. I didn’t know any of the backstory of their crazy reputation or anything about Anton Newcombe. The movie makes him seem a lot like a cracked genius, but as much as I enjoyed the film it was immediately suspect on its balance. When your film is a narrative about the artistic tension between two people and one of them narrates the movie, that’s an issue.

Anton, as one might could predict, disavows the film. Most of what he says in there makes sense, so maybe he has some valid points. Whatever happened between the making of the film and now, it couldn’t have been too traumatic for relations between BJM and the Dandy Warhols because they played together in PDX and Seattle yesterday and the day before. I’ve always liked the Dandy Warhols music as well, even if they lack the raw mad genius of BJM.

I do give Anton the credit for being the kind of person who sits down and gets it done in the studio. He and his band have been freakishly prolific over the last decade. I do also see how the filmmakers have to cut something together out of their 1500 hours of footage, and it helps if a narrative emerges. It’s a little unfair to criticize them for making choices – that’s what everyone has to do to make a movie or an album or whatever. It seems like Newcombe would be one of those guys that would be horrible to have as a friend or colleague. As a Dandy said in the film (my paraphrase), “I’m not sharing a dressing room with them, I don’t want to be around them, but I’ll keep buying their records.”

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

6 thoughts on “DIG!”

  1. Mark Forman says:

    Interesting timing-I just downloaded to BJM albums off of their website for free. I agree that BJM is the more talented of the 2 bands even though DW is cool too. BJM far more edgy/dark/conflicted.

    Besides how can you not love a band that’s obsessed with the early Stones-the greatest rock band ever? I look forward to watching this DVD as well.

  2. I caught this film late night last week on IFC or Sundance, can’t remember which, and immeadiately logged on and ordered a few albums. They should be here anyday along with a documentary on X, couldn’t resisit the Amazon “you might also be interetsed in…” suggestion. Glad to see you posted about it.

  3. dave says:

    Mark, the newest show is all about this. I like that they meld that early stones influence with Velvet Underground drone. That’s what makes me happy listening to them.

    MG, it was Sundance that I recorded it from, so probably that’s what you saw. What was the documentary on X? I’m way late to that party, being fairly ambivalent about them until the last few years when I’ve been trying to make up for lost time.

  4. Mark Forman says:

    MG-a fellow “X-Man” cool. I saw the original band in Tucson at a dive called Tumbleweeds. Held 100 or or so. I said something obnoxiou to a “punk chick” outside, she burned me on the neck with her cigarette and I slapped her in response.

    Ahh, the good old days… I think. In the words of X,”I must not think bad thoughts…”

  5. Turns out the film about X is not a documentary per se but a film about X, with the members of X, but also seems to have story line to it. Have not watched it yet. It is called “X: The Unheard Music”.

  6. Chris C. says:

    Awesome, glad you liked it Dave. At the film festival screening that I saw it at 2 years ago, there were BJM fans at the doors on the way out of the theater handing out flyers with Anton’s statement on it.

    I still avoid BJM shows just like Catpower shows (and formerly Wesley Willis shows) because I think the whole “hey let’s go watch the freaks implode on stage” thing is ugly and juvenile. The audience behavior always sucks, whether it’s egging Anton on to a fight or yammering over Chan’s mumbling or feeding Wesley’s obvious dysfunction (RIP, in his case).

    While we’re all on the topic of music movies, two good ones that I saw this year at the film festival:
    Brothers of The Head ( IMDB / website )
    The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound To Lose ( IMDB / website )

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