Geoff Edgers’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

What happened, though, was that when we started getting doors slammed in our faces, once we found it impossible to proceed, Rob and I, we just kept going.

 

 

Do It Again is a documentary by Geoff Edgers, an arts writer for the Boston Globe, and director Robert Patton-Spruill. It deals with Edgers’ desire to reunite the original lineup of the Kinks with Mick Avory, Pete Quaife, Dave and Ray Davies. As any true fan of the Kinks can tell you, this is a tall order. The Davies brothers are known almost as much for their monumental fights as they are for crafting some of the most enduring pop of the 60s, 70s and 80s. The Kinks created the musical template for later bands such as Oasis and Blur, and their music seems to be in the record collection of every band for the last 40 years. They were a major part of British and American charts for nearly 30 years, with hits including “Lola,” “Waterloo Sunset,” “Celluloid Heroes,” “Superman,” “You Really Got Me” and “Come Dancing.” By the mid-90s the band parted ways, with both Dave and Ray pursuing solo careers.

Part of the charm of the movie is Edgers’ earnestness and his Don Quixote tenacity in chasing this dream. Edgers, who makes no secret of the fact that he is a huge fan of the band, uses the film to document the quest and perhaps open a small door into the psyche of the filmmaker, the band and those who, as the Kinks put it, “just spends their life, living in a rock ’n’ roll fantasy.” During the documentary he interviews musicians strongly influenced by the Kinks, as well as the Kinks themselves. In his quest he seeks out advice and information from dozens of artists including Warren Zanes (The Del Fuegos), Robyn Hitchcock, Yoko Ono, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Paul Weller (The Jam), Sting and Zooey Deschanel, and an impressive roster of music industry heavyweights such as Clive Davis. Edgers questions each on whether they think he has a shot at getting the band back together and what Kinks influences they have; he also asks if they would sing a Kinks song with him. Most say yes except for Paul Weller, who comes across as only slightly south of iceberg, and Warren Zanes (a man with similar Kinksian sibling issues in his dealings with his brother Dan from the Del Fuegos) who plays the rock music Ph.D. card to the hilt.

The documentary makes no secret of the fact that a Kinks reunion is a very long shot (and by June of this year, an impossibility with the death of original bassist Quaiff). It acts more to shine a light on a brilliant band and our infatuation with recapturing the essence of a great rock ’n’ roll era. During the making of Do It Again, Edgers was going through his own issues with a job on the edge of redundancy (at this time, the Globe’s parent company was threatening to shut down the paper), a likely midlife crisis, and some fairly obvious unfulfilled musical accomplishments of his own (the big high school talent night which was to star his band fell victim to a fire alarm). As we move through the various interviews and across the Atlantic to confront the obstinant Ray Davies on his home turf, the viewer begins to realize that the reunion is as much a recapturing of Edgers’ (and our own) past as it is to reunite the sparring Davies. As we travel with Edgers on his quest, we learn about a great band, how they have affected us, and maybe just a bit about what fantasy looks like when it turns to reality.

We caught up with Geoff Edgers, in St. Louis for the 19th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival, and took the opportunity to ask him a few questionsthough we drew the line at any duets.

The movie focuses on your quest to reunite the Kinks, which eventually failed, and it also focused some on your journey. What do you think you achieved with this film and with The Kinks?

I wanted to make the great Kinks film with me not in it. I wanted to make a film just about them because they deserved and needed it. I thought the best way to make it more than your typical rock doc was to have them reunite. It is so naive and silly to say that now, but that’s what I really believed. What happened, though, was that when we started getting doors slammed in our faces, once we found it impossible to proceed, Rob and I, we just kept going.   

That was my original mission: to get The Kinks back together. It seemed logical to me. Warren Zanes, who is in the movie, said it really well at a screening we had: “There is a great Kinks film to be made; this is not it. What this is is the great fan film.” I agree with that.

For me, I’m extremely bored when I am watching me. There are two moments that I just love: when we finally get to Clive Davis, because I feel my breath exhale and viewers realize that there are going to be other people in this movie, and when we go to England because we know what’s coming. I know we are going to see Ray. I loved that. I felt like I was part of another world when I was at that Kinks convention.

Probably the most touching scene in the movie is the interview with Dave Davies. It was interesting to see and hear his honest assessment of the band his relationship with his brother.

Isn’t that a moving moment? That is a really great interview. Dave is really open. It was very hard to get him and it took a lot of logistics, but the reality is that, once Dave was in that room, he gave it all. It was really heart wrenching to talk that way and to sing. It was incredible to me, life changing.

What did you learn from doing this movie?

I don’t want this to come off as cliché but, one, I learned if you want to do something or make something or create something, just keep going, even when it is easy to stop. If you just keep going every day, whether it is writing a book, running a marathon or whatever, at a certain point you’re going to have the material. I am not saying the material is going to be great, but it will be there. So many times in my life I started writing something in particular and just given up because, you know, I have my jobs or my kids. This is the only thing that I have creatively done that I kept going, even when everything was telling me to stop. It was an important lesson for me. Two, I confirmed my belief that the best stories have endings that you don’t know how they will turn out. You just start working on it: you don’t know structurally how it is going to work. You just keep going.  

Do you still work for the The Boston Globe?

I do. I still have the same job I had before, Arts Writer. My wife and I are still married. We had a baby boy in April, my daughter is now eight, and the film has been at almost 50 film festivals since it opened in Rotterdamall over the country and all over the world.

How does it feel to meet your heroes?

Well, I always like to have a purpose when meeting my heroes. I remember meeting Brian Wilson years ago; my wife and friend were there, we had backstage passes and they forced me to go backstage. I gotta tell you, I didn’t want to go, and the reason I didn’t want to go was when I went backstageyou know Brian Wilson is a special case; he is an emotionally damaged manit was just awkward. We just stood there looking at each other; no one had a purpose. I like to have a purpose, and with these these interviews, I knew why I was there: I had cameras there, they had agreed to do [the interviews]; the only area, the wrinkle, was “Will you play with me?” There was a psychology to itreclaiming your rock star/rock band pastthere is that, but I will tell you what my conscious thought was: I was thinking of Hunter S. Thompson, and I was thinking of trying to apply a gonzo reporting technique to rock documentaries.

I’ve seen so many rock documentaries. There is Tom Petty with a guitar on the wall behind him, saying, “Brian Wilson, he is our Beethoven,” and I just feel that is not very exciting. So I thought one thing that would be really interesting would be to go to the celebrities, and in the middle [of the interview] I would ask them to play a song; they wouldn’t really know it was coming, and we would see what happens. I think that made those interviews more interesting. Sting was interesting on his own, but Paul Weller, he was kind of boring,  just “blah blah blah blah” All he did was do that rock hero talk about obscure records, whatever, and I think by asking him to play a song with me made that interview much more entertaining. I disagree with the idea that it was self-indulgent; it was actually my attempt to bring the audience more into the film.

I liked the look on Paul Weller’s face when you asked him to play.

I know he comes off like an ass a bit, but he didn’t get up and storm out; he just has that laugh that you are talking about, that look on his face that is just so funny. When I see that, I think, “Ah, this is so great; I know it’s coming,” but he doesn’t stomp out. When we were all done I went down and got him to sign my picture release. He was pretty good, you know.

The film deals with your money problems and lack of finances. How did you pay for this movie?

Well, the movie probably cost about $130,000 to make, with $30,000 of that for licensing. For the other hundred thousand I had two investors who gave me $60,000; I raised about $20,000 on the internet, through kickstarter.com, mainly. I spent about $30,000 out of my own pocket from my home equity line; I’m trying to work that off. There were also a couple peopletalk about generosity. My childhood next-door neighbor’s husband, who happens to be a huge Kinks fan, sent me a check for $2,000. A Kinks fan in Philadelphia, a wonderful woman, when I went and showed the film at the Philadelphia Film Festival, she handed me a card and when I opened the card there was a check for $2,000. She said to me, “Thank you so much for understanding what it is to be a fan.” I also had people who gave me $5, $10, $15 and more. I can’t believe that people are doing this.

I don’t think $130,000 is a lot of money to make a film, and I think if you look at it, it looks pretty good. 

Do people respond to this movie because they are Kinks fans, or for some other, deeper reason?

I’ve seen about 15 screenings of this movie. I sat in rooms with a thousand peoplesold outand I have sat in rooms with 30. Generally, people respond for a variety of reasons. There are Kinks fans, but there are also a lot of people like my wife being dragged to the Ray Davies concert who kind of get connected to the story of family, or the part about dealing with the bills, or people who took a job as an attorney instead of following their dream of creative writing; they are now 50 years old and sad. There are a variety of reasons, and I hope people connect with one or more of those.

Do you feel you have made up for the fact that you missed that high school talent show?

I think when you make a movie you heighten things. I don’t feel as pathetic as maybe I am portrayed… I don’t really walk around moping about high school and my band, but I do miss playing music, and I did really love learning to play all those songs again when we were doing the movie. But, you know, that was a long time ago; that was back in the ’80s. I don’t think that the movie was some catharsis made me feel that I can stop doing stuff, or that I have accomplished everything. | Jim Dunn

 

Do It Again will be shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival’s Tivoli Theatre on November 20, 2010 ,at 8:15 p.m. For further information, visit the SLIFF website, and for more about Do It Again visit its site

 

 

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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