|SiGN UP! join
the DigsNews mailing list + we'll keep you posted about updates and other DIGS-related news .
figure out what to rent at the video store?
to the discussion
and get recommendations. Or talk about your fave actors, movies, music, or whatever else
|flick pick |
Half Japanese, The
Band That Would Be King
Directed + written by: Jeff Feuerzeig
Starring: David Fair, Jad Fair, Penn Jillette, Maureen Tucker, Gerald
Look for it at the video store under: documentary
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: true?!?,
/ 5 the rating system
Told through a combination of interviews
with the band, their family and friends, and various music industry
personalities, and interspersed with performance footage, this lovingly
detailed documentary pleads the case for Half Japanese as the best
unsung rock band ever, so defiantly indie that they don’t even care
that you’ve probably never heard of them. Eccentric brothers Jad and
David Fair began Half Japanese as teenagers, recording songs from their
Maryland bedroom, self-releasing limited edition records and cassettes,
and all along, basing their music on just one tenet: Forget about
learning chords; just play music. Learning to play guitar, in the Fair
world, was as simple as realizing that the fat strings play low notes,
the skinny string high notes, and to play faster, you move your hand
faster. What’s amazing is that despite their devotion to NOT properly
playing any instrument, the Fairs – and in particular Jad, who
continues to make music today – managed to become such indie world
legends, inspiring countless later lo-fi bedroom-punk bands and the
fanatical devotion of music critics everywhere.
five minutes as we watched this movie, my boyfriend would murmur,
"This can’t be real," over and over again, a mantra
of incredulity. (He refused to believe my assertions that Half Japanese
really exists, until I showed him their entry in the Trouser Press
Record Guide). Indeed, there’s a lot about this documentary that
brings to mind that classic rock mock-umentary, This is Spinal Tap
– skinny, bug-eyed, bespectacled Jad Fair is every bit as
(unintentionally) hilarious a rocker as Christopher Guest’s Nigel
Tufnel, and there’s a deadpan earnestness that’s so unabashed that
the cynics among us can’t help but think: this must be satire.
Ultimately, you may not end up convinced that Half Japanese really is
the Band that Would Be King – the music is frequently un-approachably
a-melodic, and Jad’s vocal stylings decidedly on the grating side of
the listenable scale – but what you will get from this well-crafted,
well-informed documentary is a good look at what independent music
meant, back in the days before independent became mainstream. Hunt down
this hard-to-find video or DVD when you’re feeling utterly jaded about
the money-grubbing world around you, and get reassurance that there are
still a few token souls out there doing what they do not for some end
result of fame or money, but for the pure and noble joy of the process.
lounge . nourish
. host .
. home .