Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart gets the documentary treatment
It was an epiphany, a moment as euphoric as the one where Mary Tyler Moore stands on that Minneapolis sidewalk and tosses her hat up in the air.
Last year, director Gorman Bechard was in town, shooting interviews for his acclaimed documentary, Color Me Obsessed: A Film About the Replacements. After filming fans, foes, the impressed, and the skeptical, Bechard came to Grant Hart. The former drummer for the 'Mats' main rivals, Hüsker Dü, knocked him out. Everyone knew Hart wrote great songs and played like a more precise Marky Ramone. But who knew he was so funny, smart, and, all right, discursive?
"Grant, to me, was our greatest interview," Bechard says. "He was really eloquent and told amazing stories, even if they had fairly long digressions. We then hung out together in Brussels last summer, where we were screening Color Me. And he was even funnier. I decided, right there, he was going to be the subject of my next movie."
The director, who's already started shooting the loquacious drummer for his screen bio, Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart, credits an offbeat source as the inspiration for his movie.
"One of my favorite documentaries is Errol Morris's The Fog of War, in which [former Secretary of State] Robert McNamara talks and talks about his part in the Vietnam War," says Bechard. "So I wondered, 'Who is rock 'n' roll's Robert McNamara?' After filming Grant, listening to him go on tangents, never being boring, I realized he was that guy."
I ask Bechard if he's concerned about his free-form tactics on the new shoot. As opposed to his upcoming concert film focusing on indie-rock architects Archers of Loaf, the Connecticut-based director has no plan or outline for this movie. Nor does he have "witnesses" to tell the tale of the great Minneapolis punk band. Is he worried about just letting Hart talk, talk, and, uh, talk?
"Are you kidding?" he asks, before dissolving into throaty chuckles. "Filmmakers dream about getting a subject as witty and eloquent as Grant. My only problem will probably be, how to cut down all the amazing hours of talk to 90 minutes!"
Bechard says, too, that plenty of Hart-penned Hüsker songs will dot the film, to keep things lively.
Now it's true that Hart can digress from a story with the exuberance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. But when he wants to zing a certain someone? No problem staying on track.
"I'm really glad to tell my side of the band's story," Hart says. "One reason? I read Bob's memoir and it contained a lot of bullshit. Mould does have this tendency to be truth-challenged."
So, See A Little Light wasn't accurate reporting?
"Not exactly," says the drummer. "In the film, I hope to dispel some of the myths in there. For instance, Bob and I are neither arch-enemies nor bosom buddies. Knowing Gorman's films, his Fog of War intentions, this should give everybody a more complex look at my relationship with Bob than he depicted. In other words, I'm not just the stoned, shoeless drummer."
Refreshingly, this other big gun from the Hüskers doesn't hold back on his thoughts or feelings.
"There's so much about that book I didn't like," he says. "It reads more like a political tract than a memoir. And Bob can be very immodest about the old days." He snickers.
Besides participating in Bechard's marathon interview sessions, Hart is also excited about his upcoming solo album, The Argument, a musical interpretation of Milton's Paradise Lost.
"It's going to be a collection of songs that are my take on the poem," he says. "But hopefully the tunes will be able to stand up on their own. And you can enjoy them without looking at the libretto. The poem is fascinating. In it, of course, Milton talks about stuff everybody knows, like the fall of angels. But there are also ideas about the rise of science and the power of prophecy. Now, I don't want to get all religious on you. But as far as its release? It would be nice to have this [double vinyl] album ready to place under the tree toward year's end."
Still, as he readies for his close-up, Hart is not averse to answering one more Big Question: Can fans ever expect a full-fledged Hüsker Dü reunion?
"Well," he says, "never say never. But I would have specific conditions. It can't be merely for profit. Or to assuage anyone having a mid-life crisis. I got into music for philosophical reasons and because I love it. Unlike some people, I don't want to shift the importance of that just so I can make a buck. So, as with most things, I guess we'll just have to see."
To contribute to the making of this documentary, expected to be released in June 2013, go to its Kickstarter page at EveryEverything.com.
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