OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | February 6, 2011
Directors: Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler
Writers: Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler
Starring: Laurence Fishburne (narrator), Norwood Fisher, Angelo Moore, Chris Dowd, Dirty Walt Kibby II, David Kahne, Ice T, Larren Jones, Kendall Jones, Flea, Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Perry Farrell, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, Vernon Reid, Tim Robbins, Jason Lee, Questlove, Dazireen Moore
Let’s start at the very beginning…and the Black history of Los Angeles leads effortlessly right into the meeting of the original core members of Fishbone at a predominantly Caucasian high school. From there John Norwood Fisher (bass, vocals), Phillip “Fish” Fisher (drums), Angelo Moore (vocals, saxophone), Kendall Jones (guitar), “Dirty” Walter A. Kibby II (vocals, trumpet) and Christopher Dowd (keyboards, trombone, vocals) plunged right into the white LA punk scene of the early 1980s. As a band, they were a pure democracy; everyone with their own personality and input, creating a sound that is still to this very day an unclassifiable hodgepodge of musical styles. (To quote Ice-T: “It wasn’t rock, it wasn’t metal, it wasn’t hip hop, it wasn’t funk; it was just some different shit.”) They were signed to Columbia Records while still in their late teens and became fairly successful in the “alternative rock” scene.
Fishbone’s success came at a time that funk, reggae and ska were becoming everyday influences on the “alternative rock” scene; but that “fad” would only last for so long. They were such a unique live music experience and they never recorded an album that truly captured their live energy. Things started to fall apart when several members of Fishbone were arrested for kidnapping while attempting an adult intervention of one of their band mates. Original members started to leave the band and things spiraled out of control. Soon Moore and Norwood Fisher were the only original band members remaining; nonetheless, Fishbone is still trudging along but not without difficulties and differences.
In Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler catch up with several founding members of Fishbone to discuss the band’s past, present and future. It is an amazingly intimate and expressive portrait of the long strange trip of Fishbone’s history. Some of the footage — especially the band’s arguments and debates — is absolutely priceless.
Mixing cleverly animated recreations of past events with archival footage and present day interviews, Anderson and Metzler sculpt a strong tale (narrated by Laurence Fishburne) that can easily transcend the legions of Fishbone’s past and present fans. Speaking of fans — Flea, Ice-T, Gwen Stefani, Perry Farrell, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, Vernon Reid, Tim Robbins, Jason Lee and countless others gush about the sheer awesomeness of Fishbone. I too am (or at least was) a fan. I am fairly confident that I caught every single Fishbone concert in Philadelphia between 1988 and 1993. Those concerts remain to be some of the best live musical performances I have ever witnessed. I have never seen a band seem so chaotic and disorganized, yet Fishbone’s musicianship was always impeccably tight. Their stage antics were total anarchy, yet they never lost track of the song. I can say with the utmost confidence that there will never be another band quite like Fishbone; and if you have no idea what I am talking about, you really need to watch Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone and listen to their first two albums In Your Face and Truth and Soul.