Fish Stories

The Band That Almost Made It

Sep. 29, 2011
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Fishbone was the band bussing created. Funk encountered punk when the future Bones were bussed from LA's South Central to the San Fernando Valley in the late '70s. Within six months of graduation, the Mohawked, Mod-suited band were signed to Columbia. The hyperkinetic ska of their debut earned critical accolades and their off-the-chain shows won fans.

In their documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler chronicle the band from their early days of gate crashing LA's largely white hardcore scene through present-day career maintenance in the face of dwindling audiences. Hovering over Everyday Sunshine is the question of why such a fresh, promising group failed to follow other '80s alternative acts into the '90s mainstream.

With animation adding color to the archival footage and contemporary interviews, plus the resonant narration of Laurence Fishburne, Everyday Sunshine offers several possible answers. For one thing, Fishbone were musical omnivores, melding punk, ska, funk, soul and metal into a sound confounding the pigeonholes in a marketing-driven culture of pigeonholes. Perhaps they were too complicated for the masses, some observers offer. Then there were personal problems resulting in the departure of two original members. At the time Fishbone were dropped by Columbia in the mid-'90s, the record industry gorged itself in an unprecedented frenzy of greed and unrealistic expectations. If you weren't platinum, you were gone. And maybe, when all was said and done, America wasn't ready for a black band wearing Mohawks and playing rock?

Everyday Sunshine is an unusually interesting rock documentary about one of the most distinctive bands to emerge in the '80s. It will be screened Oct. 21-24 at Times Cinema.

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