Fishbone's Ska-Punk Casts A Long Shadow In New Film

Fishbone's Ska-Punk Casts A Long Shadow In New Film
Photo by Ann Summa

The documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone flirts with a balance between history and character as it looks behind the scenes at a group that failed to achieve large-scale commercial success, but inspired many groups that did.

Directors Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler paint a portrait that feels like an accurate representation of the music scene spanning multiple modern decades. They were able to pull this off, in large part, because of all the footage of the band taken over the years.

"When you're doing a documentary, one of the biggest challenges is finding old footage," said Metzler. "It's difficult at first because you don't really know what's available. So all you do is start spreading the word, and then eventually lots of fans came out of the woodwork and started e-mailing us about things.

"It just so happened that Angelo [Moore], the lead singer of the band, spent some of his money on a camera and passed it around between friends and family," he added.

The documentary centers heavily on remaining original Fishbone members Norwood Fisher and Moore, who are living from paycheck to paycheck while still touring with the band.

Fishbone's debut EP, released in 1985.
Fishbone's debut EP, released in 1985.

"Angelo is this really magnetic guy and is very open and honest about his feeling, so you really just kind of connect with him, and that's what makes him great onstage, too. When he's onstage, he gives it his all, and pours his soul into it, and that same thing happens in regular life whether he is on or off camera," said Metzler.

He continues: "Most definitely Angelo and Norwood are focused on the future. These aren't guys that are living in the past. They're really about enjoying the moment and planning for the future, whatever that may be."

"When you're a trendsetter and a groundbreaker," Metzler added, "sometimes the rewards that you get are a little bit more intangible, and in the end, Fishbone did the thing that they wanted to do and enjoyed doing it. In the end, maybe that's the greatest reward."

While members of Fishbone are not household names, their names are mentioned in other interviews from people such as Gwen Stefani, Perry Farrell, Flea, Ice-T and George Clinton.


Fishbone's Ska-Punk Casts A Long Shadow In New Film

"The thing that was really cool about making a documentary about Fishbone is that everybody wanted to be in it - whether they were friends of Fishbone or they were personally inspired," Metzler said.

"All of these people that we interviewed...these are people who just wanted to sing praises of the band, but they were there with the guys when all of these things were happening, so it is their personal friends telling these stories," said Metzler.

"Fishbone has been around for 30 years and they were a part of so many different kinds of musical scenes from punk rock, ska, alternative, to metal, and so many different moments of history, and you really want to put yourself in that moment. "

Helping to set the scenes for the early moments when there were no recordings is narration done by Laurence Fishburne, with animation of the band playing.

"One of the reasons why we asked Laurence to narrate the film is that he was a bouncer at different punk-rock clubs in Hollywood in early '80s and that was how he was exposed to Fishbone and later became friends with band members over the years," said Metzler.

"We tried to use animation whether it was the punk rock era or whatever, really to get the feel of that time period. In case you didn't grow up then or you weren't a part of that scene, you get a feel of what the guys in Fishbone experienced."

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at 14 Pews, 800 Aurora.

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