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Thursday, May 26, 2022
Nothing fishy about this documentary

Fishbone: 80's punk band Fishbone broke musical and racial boundaries, all while gathering a cult following through goofy style, social commentary and damn good shows.

Nothing fishy about this documentary

When people think of music documentaries, many unfortunately think of VH1's ""Behind the Music,"" with its backstage infighting, manufactured drama and clichés of self-destructive artists. It's enough to turn people off of the genre entirely, something the directors of the film ""Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,"" Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson realize all too well.

""Neither Chris or I are huge fans of music documentaries in general,"" Anderson said. ""I don't know that we ever thought we'd be making music documentaries, but if you're going to make one, Fishbone is a great band [to portray].""

Despite their reluctance to tread into music non-fiction, Metzler and Anderson now find themselves as feature filmmakers in the genre ready to show off their work. That path takes them to the Wisconsin Film Festival Sunday, where they will screen ""Everyday Sunshine"" at the Chazen Museum of Art.

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Before setting off for the festival, Metzler and Anderson spoke with The Daily Cardinal about their venture into the feared music documentary genre and what made the story of the 80's punk band Fishbone so ripe for the telling.

Anderson was quick to explain why Fishbone's story is so much more interesting than typical music industry tales.

""We thought that was a fun story and something a lot of people could identify to more than your typical kind of rock star story,"" Anderson said. ""You can also tell this larger story of the black community in L.A. and then also these fun, individualistic artists dedicated to their craft, and what kind of sacrifices they've made along the way to play the sort of music they want to play.""

Widely credited with desegregating the almost exclusively white punk clubs of Los Angeles, Fishbone is regarded as a trailblazer in the city's music scene. This shines through in many of the subjects interviewed for ""Everyday Sunshine,"" with a star-studded roster of friends and contemporaries of Fishbone, as well as many current musicians who cite Fishbone as an influence.

""Too many people love Fishbone,"" Metzler said. ""We wound up doing so many interviews we ended up leaving people on the cutting room floor, which was unfortunate.""

George Clinton, Questlove, Gwen Stefani and Flea are just a handful of the names the filmmakers were able to squeeze into the film. Famed Fishbone fan John Cusack planned to do the film as well, but couldn't fit it in his schedule. According to Metzler, the far-ranging list of talking heads speaks not only to Fishbone's popularity, but also to the versatility they showed on stage and in the studio.

""The thing I think is interesting about Fishbone's unique story is that they blended so many different genres of music,"" Metzler said. ""Whether you like rap or jazz or rock or metal, you can always appreciate something about what Fishbone was doing.""

""Everybody's either influenced by Fishbone or friends of Fishbone,"" Anderson added, ""So you can talk to gangster rappers, but you can also talk to punk rockers and heavy metal musicians and such.""

Adding to the filmmakers' excitement is their experience with the Wisconsin Film Festival itself. Metzler has previously screened his documentary ""Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea"" at the festival in 2005, while Anderson, who went to college in Wisconsin, is very familiar with the festival and the crowd it attracts.

""When I was a student at Beloit College I spent many weekends up in Madison going to shows, so Madison's special to me,"" Anderson said.

Metzler was complimentary as well, praising the Wisconsin Film Festival for its commitment to finding unique voices.

""You look at the diversity of their programming and see this is a bunch of cool, offbeat films we fit in well with but also award-winning highly respected [films],"" Metzler said.

With its noteworthy story and Fishbone's strong following, ""Everyday Sunshine"" sounds like it will fit right in with both those offbeat flicks and award winners. If nothing else, Metzler and Anderson have put a clear emphasis on making it an experience to remember—even if it is a music documentary.

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