- Vogville presents South by Liftoff, Shaw TV Channel 4 Feb. 18, 19, 23 and 24. For more info liftoffband.com.
ROCK band Liftoff are the subject of a new hour-long documentary made by Vancouver music producer Jonathan Fluevog.
The band, featuring North Vancouver's Gord Gemmell on guitar, travelled to Austin, Texas last spring to see what kind of action they could stir up at South By Southwest with Fluevog following them with a camera. Fluevog spoke with the North Shore News about the band's Texas adventure and what to expect in the film premiering this month on Shaw Television.
North Shore News: What's your connection to Liftoff?
Jonathan Fluevog: I'm a record producer and this marks 20 years in the music industry for me. It's my studios' 15th anniversary as well. I worked with them as a producer in my studio and we were talking about opportunities. The band had sort of reached their potential as to what they can accomplish locally and they needed to start growing. I said, "You know what? South By Southwest (SXSW) is a great place to start growing your band and meeting people who are going to help you move forward and we all went down to SXSW (in March 2012). Just three months before I'd got my first video camera and was really into shooting videos. I'd been working on my Vogville Presents show featuring stories on local artists and all the rest. I went down there with the intention of following them and actually doing a documentary with not a whole lot of skill. It turned out absolutely fantastic.
North Shore News: It was a learning experience for everybody?
Jonathan Fluevog: For everybody and that's kind of the beauty of the whole thing. It's really honest. This is the story of a band that went down and went through a bunch of difficulties while they're down there getting there and all the rest of it. It's an interesting story. Nobody knew what to expect going down. North Shore News: What was the experience like at SXSW?
Jonathan Fluevog: We caught a flight from Seattle and when we got on the plane 90 per cent of the people on the plane were musicians. There were so many people heading down for the same reason. They were going down there to hopefully have their hopes and dreams come true and make some connections and move their careers forward. In Seattle I did an interview with a band and I asked, "What happens if you don't accomplish what you want?" And what I found out really quickly was people were hoping (to realize goals) but if they didn't accomplish that there was a community that understood we're all in this together. We get to Austin, we're in the airport and the first person we see waiting for his luggage is Jack Black. And then hey isn't that Jack White over there. All of a sudden you're seeing all of these musicians and there's this feeling of camaraderie about the whole thing. Everybody's there and they are all trying to do the same thing - you're all there to make music. Once you're at the bars you walk down the street and out of every nook and cranny you've got people playing music. You've got a guy playing a harmonica, you've got another guy and girl pushing this cart down the street connected to a huge system blasting techno music. Then you've got a metal band set up on the street corner and in every single bar you have a band playing. If there ever was rock'n'roll noise pollution that was it. Everything is coming at you - how does anybody get noticed? Like, wait a minute, "I thought there was some kind of structure that was going to happen." How does anyone get anywhere when everybody is doing the same thing? It's just noise, but what you find out is if you're good you do stand out amongst the noise. The first day we were at the festival Liftoff was upstairs in this club. We set up and there's nobody there. There's a band that plays before them and there's a few people, not many. But when they get on after the second song all of a sudden the room starts to fill up really quickly. And you know (lead singer) Carmon Leeson was crazy: all of a sudden he's yelling out the window with his blowhorn, "Come on get your asses up here." And people actually came up and then you have all these people dancing on the stage with them and by the end of their set the place was packed and that was a real common tone. I'd never experienced anything like that before.
North Shore News: How much of the trip did you record? Jonathan Fluevog: I filmed 17 hours a day for every single day we were down there. I shot anything and everything and through it there's a lot of incredible footage. I'm not interested in how events affected a person's life so much I want to know how they affected the lives of people around them and their life. So when I'm doing interviews, I'm asking people what they are going to take away from the festival that is bigger than themselves and I'm getting some really interesting answers.
North Shore News: How did you manage your days around 17 hours shooting?
Jonathan Fluevog: That was a very body-aching experience. I remember after the first day going, "Oh my God, we're going to be here for seven days of this?" Just so sore every single morning. You drag yourself out of bed get into the shower. I remember the third day my arms were so sore I was shaking as I was shooting. There were no breaks -it was just go, straight. And that was the tone of the festival for everybody, not just Liftoff. Everybody said the same thing, you get up in the morning and you just go. We had a meeting in downtown Austin I believe it was 7: 30 a.m. and there were bands playing. It's like the Internet, it never stopped.
North Shore News: Where can people see the documentary?
Jonathan Fluevog: It's part of the series on Shaw. Shaw is going to air it four times on Vogville Presents and then they might air it the next month a few times as well. I thought we would get it out on Shaw and then release it as a normal documentary after that and then submit it to all the festivals that we can and try and get it out there. It's on Channel 4 Feb. 18 at 9 p.m., Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., Feb. 23 at 5 a.m. Feb. 24 at 6 a.m.
North Shore News: What's the next step after it airs on Shaw?
Jonathan Fluevog: What we'll do is submit it to the film festivals see what kind of action we get and then the next step would be to submit it to Netflix and Apple TV and places like that. And those are places where people will sit down and watch an hour-long documentary. It's really challenging to get people to watch an hour documentary on their computer screens so those outlets make more sense.
I'm going to go down with my camera and the band for South By Southwest again this year. Well see what happens.
© Copyright 2013