Bloodied but Unbowed: As real as it gets

During my time working with Adobe, I seem to keep getting drawn into the movie business crowds. Our creative tools seem to be a favorite amongst many film producers who in turn are always super enthusiastic about showing us the awesome new ways they have used them for special effects, turning movies into truly interactive experiences and more. Celebrities like James Cameron (Avatar), Peter Beyak (Extreme), Colleen Nystedt (Exhuming Mr. Rice) and others seem to be genuinely stoked about our technology and what they can do with it. Once in a while, I am blessed with the opportunity to meet someone from the lucky group of people who are living their dreams. Translation: working on something they are truly passionate about = living your dreams. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had the immense pleasure of having lunch with Susanne Tabata. Susanne is an accomplished film producer (just Google her name for a plethora of credits). What I am most impressed by though is that she is so real for a person who has just released what is destined to be a one of a kind documentary film chronicling the pivotal years of early punk rock in North America. While the film “Bloodied but Unbowed“starts in Vancouver, BC, it weaves tentacles outwards and the effect of the Vancouver punk movement from 1978-1981 is still influencing artists globally as told by people like Randy Rampage (DOA, Annihilator, Stress Factor 9) and Duff McKagan (Guns & Roses, Velvet Revolver, Jane’s Addiction). According to Alternative Tentacles, the Vancouver sound pulled out a “Yeah, that’s the shit!” from the likes of Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, John Doe, Randy Bachman, Dave Grohl, Pete Seeger, and many many more! As someone who played bass for Stress Factor 9 with Randy in 2007, I can tell you the sound is still relevant. My own band still embraces this stylistic sound which is ingrained into the song “Howie the skid” (not yet released).


Susanne Tabata (on the left, yeah that is obvious as it gets)

Here is the bad part now. I haven’t seen the film. Like me, there are thousands of people who would die to see this (all screenings were select and sold out in advance). Susanne did confide in me during lunch that there may be a flash screening (short notice, one time shot to see it). If you want to get the invite, you best be logging on to Bloodied but Unbowed’s Facebook and Twitter pages and keep watching for the invite.

Tom Harrison, the Provinces rock critic and a tough cookie to impress ( he still won’t review my last CD ), writes:

“The film is more like a memoir based on key figures and what they said then and now. I applaud that. Initially, I feared it would take a journalistic angle – the “us versus them” slant. That’s a familiar battle and not only tiresome but narrow. This was a widespread cultural phenomenon, not merely a musical one. The story is told from a punk point of view with a brief explanation of what started it and hints of what ended it.

Ultimately, the punks won that battle, or reached a pact in an ongoing war. They didn’t win with their music as so little of it was heard beyond the punk scene, but with their attitude, which changed the thinking of so many and which was taken up by the bands who danced down the trail the punks had blazed”

The Georgia Straight also heaped praise on Tabata by writing Bloodied but Unbowed takes a loving—and long overdue—look at one of the most fertile scenes in North American music history, with Tabata mixing rare archival footage with modern-day interviews with those who were on the frontlines”.

What also excites me is that this film seems to be taking on a life of it’s own. So many people like me never got a chance to see it as the screenings were sold out (I was performing in New York on the date anyways). The grassroots swell of interest only can be attracted by something that is truth. Punk rock, to me, has always been about the search for the truth and a fight against complacency, mixed with cynical humor of the mainstream life of being a herded sheep; an organic pain collector hurtling towards certain oblivion. Punk rock just embraces this fact first, then asks “so what are you gonna do now?”

I know what I am going to do. Go and see Bloodied by Unbowed the first chance I get.

I suspect Bloodied but Unbowed is destined for a long life as a cult classic. I cannot wait to get a chance to see it in a theater or even on DVD. Until then, I can only hope that the cutting edge film producers keep using Adobe software so I can get in on the V.I.P. lists.

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