Fishbone is perhaps the best known black rock band that almost made it big. Back in the late 80s, it was a couple of white high school homies who introduced me to them. Though my school had a rep for producing a student body with a high nerd quotient, my class in particular had surprisingly diverse set of music fans—straight-edge punks, hardcore-music loving skaters and New Wave prepsters all represented. In addition to my staunch devotion to my Rakim, PE and De La Soul tapes, the sounds of English Beat, the Specials, the Smiths, Bad Brains, Fugazi, Billy Bragg and LA’s Fishbone also touched me to varying degrees.
Now with Everyday Sunshine, a new documentary directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler and narrated by Laurence Fishburne, we get a glimpse of what really prevented Fishbone from realizing its infinite potential.
Perhaps Fishbone never made it over the hump because categorizing the music proved difficult. Angelo Moore, Norwood Fisher and crew did a mix of punk, rock, ska and funk but so did the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That’s where the similarities end perhaps. RHCP have managed to record a catalog of easily recognizable hit songs but most would be hard-pressed to name one major Fishbone song.
Fishbone’s live show is what makes them so memorable. I saw them perform at Yale in 1990. Their energy was incredible, horns blazing and all, even though I never really warmed up to the slam-dancing in the nearby mosh pit.
Large Up‘s Jesse Serwer sums up the group pretty well: “Fishbone, meanwhile, had become something much broader than a ska band, if that’s what they ever were. They were like the black Faith No More or Primus but way funkier, meshing punk, funk, metal and Caribbean vibes like the whole lineup of the Afropunk Festival wrapped into one band.”
Everyday Sunshine, which opens at the ReRun Theater in Brooklyn today and at the Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 21, aims to explain why the band soared and fizzled. Arguments and bad business moves, a bandmate turns born-again Christian and a kidnapping. It was almost like whatever could go wrong did go wrong.
These days, Fishbone still performs and they want to make that point clear. They even have a new EP set to drop on Oct. 11 called Crazy Glue. You can pre-order it at Pledge Music. Fisher, who was iffy about doing the doc at first, told Indiewire recently:
My first reaction was that I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do a documentary on the band because I felt like it was like doing an autobiography and I felt like we needed a little bit more time before we wrote that story. It’s kind of like putting a period on something, and I feel like we’re still writing the paragraph. So at first I was like, “Nah, I don’t think so.” And we’ve had a few people begin the process and not complete it, but they gave us their previous work and after seeing it, you got the feeling that at least they have follow-through. That helped a little bit. I thought, that should be done when we’re like 60 or 70. I’m still waiting in my mind.”
We don’t have to wait any longer to get reintroduced to Fishbone’s music.
Watch the trailer below and go see Everyday Sunshine when it hits your city.
Who is going to see Everyday Sunshine? Let us know why in the comments.
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- Movie Review | ‘Everyday Sunshine’: ‘Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone’ – Review (movies.nytimes.com)
- Black Rock Biopic Hits Theaters (theroot.com)
- Gweek 022: The Fishbone Documentary (boingboing.net)