September 18, 2009
I just got home from watching a free screening of Let Them Know : The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The director, Jeff Alulis, was in the house to do a Q & A and enjoy some punch (I’m not kidding, punch!) with us after the screening.
This isn’t a movie review, I don’t do movie reviews. I just wanted to tell you a little about it because I loved it. Here’s the synopsis from the Let Them Know site.
(It’s) A lasting tribute and testament to over 25 years of BYO, Youth Brigade and the DIY spirit that has inspired and continues to inspire so many to change the world… Told through interviews and rare footage of the explosive LA punk rock scene from the 80’s until now, Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records is a full length documentary feature film that looks at the last 25 years of the influential L.A. Punk band Youth Brigade and BYO Records. This movie documents the early L.A. punk and D.I.Y. scene. Riots, harassment from the law, amazing bands, crazy stories, and best of all, The Sterns Family’s earnest desire to change the world through punk rock are captured in this moving documentary.
Founded by brothers, Shawn and Mark Stern from the band Youth Brigade, the BYO was part political movement, part business venture that began as a way to organize punks to take positive action to help sustain their scene and their way of life. The ideals upon which BYO was founded helped countless bands put on shows, release records, and otherwise get their music out to the world. It allowed for the making of the landmark punk documentary Another State of Mind and it spawned BYO Records, which stands today as one of the oldest surviving independent punk rock labels in the world. BYO, Youth Brigade, and the Stern family are three intertwined entities that comprise one of the too-often-overlooked chapters in the history of punk.
Interviews with Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat, founder of Dischord Records), Fat Mike (NOFX, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, founder of Fat Wreck Chords), Steve Soto (Adolescents, Manic Hispanic), Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio), Gary Tovar (founder of Goldenvoice Promotions), Brendan Mullen (founder of The Masque Club, author of “Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and The Germs “), members of The Bouncing Souls, Swingin’ Utters, 7 Seconds, and many others involved in the So Cal Punk Scene.
My first punk rock concert was 7 Seconds and The Circle Jerks in 1986 at The Siboney Club in Toronto. I was just 14 years old, the concert changed my life. I fell in love with punk rock and everything it stood for. Over the years my friends and I went to many, many, many, concerts in Toronto and beyond. The Toronto Hardcore Community (TOHC) was a tight one. Hell, I even co-starred in a music video (hat tip to 2 Pump Louie and Skinny).
I miss those days of picking up the phone and dialing the Hardcore Hotline for concert listings, hanging out at the Record Peddler on Carlton and later Yonge, going to the Bistro and Dees. I especially miss the people both on stage, in the pits and in the bars. If I started a list it would go on too long and I’d forget people.
The punk rock ideology really left a lasting impression on me, it still does. The idea of going at things full on and with little fear is key. We all make mistakes, but we keep on going, we push forward with new ideas until something sticks. We do it ourselves, because waiting for others is pointless. Youth Brigade are such a perfect example of a band that inspired the Do It Yourself (DIY) movement.
Whether you like punk music or not isn’t the point here. The point is that you need to do what you’re passionate about. Keep on doing it, don’t listen to anyone who stands in your way. Even if they all stand in your way, pull a Johnny Cash and just do it.
I want to thank Vanderbilt for screening this film, the Nashville Scene’s Jim Ridley for running the editorial (I would have missed this otherwise), the handful of cool people who actually showed up to see the film (you missed out Nashville, and we call this Music City – tsk tsk!), and Jeff for sticking around to chat and take questions. Word of note Jeff, it’s un-punk to turn down an invite for a beer (no hard feelings) :). Maybe I’ll see you bowling, I can buy you a beer then.
So, are you following the herd or doing something yourself?