"We Jam Econo" on the Minutemen

I got to see the documentary “We Jam Econo” on the early 80s band the Minutemen (d. Boon, Mike Watt, George Hurley) tonight at Yerba Buena Center (it’s on all week to July 28, so check it out!). Consists of interviews, most notably with Watt, interspersed with live footage of the band from various shows. It’s an inspiring blast of the DIY spirit, three smart guys who cared and fought and created.

“It’s so much different now – the culture for music, and if you’re a young person, so much easier to be in a band. It’s so funny when people talk about the ‘good old days,’ you know? Because in a lot of ways they were lame-ass…. Nowadays you’re kept in your place more by your mind, more by the herd mentality, than actually having the materials and wherewithal to do things.” – Mike Watt in the film.

Keith Schieron, the film’s producer, was on hand after the screening to answer some questions. He said a DVD release should be out later this year or early next, and it will have two discs with a lot of extras (like the Minutemen videos, three live shows, more interview material). Sounds awesome – a must-have!

Update: A bit more on the Minutemen: funny enough, a NYT op-ed piece by Sarah Vowell ran on Saturday, July 23, that touches on We Jam Econo. Here’s the link to “Lock and Load”:

Then there’s the story of their album “Double Nickels on the Dime,” a jab at Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55.” Watt recalls, “We said, ‘Well, we’ll drive 55 and be crazy with the music instead of crazy with the cars.'”

And more: I saw the Minutemen play a couple times on the east coast in 1985. The first time was at a club in New Haven, in April that year. I remember seeing some guys starting to set up the instruments for the Minutemen’s set, and for some reason it took us quite a while to realize that it was d. Boon and George Hurley out there doing the setup. Boon had shaved his hair, while George had the classic look with the long front locks hanging down. I think it was Thurston Moore in the film who recalls that George kept drumsticks in stuck into his socks, and that image came right back into my mind. The show was good, but I don’t remember lots of details. I do remember Boon handing out bumper stickers that said something like “U.S. out of Central America” and he told us to stick them on any Cadillacs we came across.

Then I saw them again in October at Irving Plaza in NYC. This was a big show; the place was packed. It sticks in my mind as one of the more joyous rock shows I ever went to; the crowd was in love with them, and they were having great fun. Boon and Watt were together musically and I seem to remember a few spots where they’d lean on each other physically during the show, just seeming like a dual pillar of strength.

It was an awful blow when we heard soon after that Boon was dead.

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