This band’s story is a journalist’s dream. Three African-American brothers in Michigan creating the beginnings of punk rock in the ’70s when Motown and disco was all the rage, but no one actually heard about them until 2009 when someone finds a rare copy of a single on vinyl and it spreads around the Internet? *takes a deep breath* That’s amazing.
I squeezed my way into the photo pit during their set at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2009, because I loved their story so much and I wanted to see this band for myself. Some of those photos made it into my recap video which you can see here (at 1:12):
And somehow during the festival, I managed to get a photo with them.
Then earlier this year, I got an email saying Drafthouse Films acquired the documentary about them called A Band Called Death and was set to screen it during SXSW. I was excited. I immediately added it to my schedule.
What I learned watching the film is that there’s more to this band’s story, and it just kept getting bigger as the documentary went on. If I was reporting about Death, I would have loved compiling all these twists and turns, but luckily all that hard work was done for me by directors Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino.
I give these guys major props for using the limited resources available to them to make a riveting documentary. The history was mainly told through photos and talking head interviews, but it’s the personalities of the Hackney family that really grabs the audience’s attention.
This film made me laugh, made me cry and even made me clap with the rest of the audience when the band prepared themselves to play on a stage as Death for the very first time. Definitely one of my favorite films from the festival. Apparently I wasn’t alone as it won an audience award in the 24 Beats Per Second category.
After the screening and Q&A, I reintroduced myself to the band, showed them the photo from Fun Fun Fun Fest and took an updated photo.
The guys were super nice and appreciative that I returned two and a half years later. They signed my vinyl and then we went our separate ways until their showcase later that night.
I’ve come across a lot of bands through journalism, so I can say that these guys are the real deal. Their story sounds unreal as it’s revealed in front of you, but it is real and it’s soooo good. And it really shows that patience, sticking to your guns and the love from your family can bring you to your dreams. Even if you’re not there to witness them come to life.
A Band Called Death will be available on VOD May 24 and in select theaters June 28.
You were like…
You and your friend at the end of the semester…
OMG, this is exactly what it was like for my cousin and me when we took Mythology together.
At least we passed.