Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Personal Look at John Roecker & His Upcoming Green Day Documentary

John Roecker is a fucking rarity. He somehow skirts the line of being one of the best humans I've ever met on the planet and yet, one of the more depraved. A sweet man who's been incredibly supportive of my career, but also the man that insisted I touch his original painting by John Wayne Gacy. He has an active Facebook presence, yet is extremely proud to have never sent a single text message to anyone. When we once spent an hour trying to gently guide a humingbird out of his house, we had to move his actual human skeleton out of the way to do so. I suppose it's through these types of clashing duality that his art and films are able to perfectly capture the low-fi, punk rock aesthetic that so many people constantly fail at.

How I met John: Live Freaky, Die Freaky
In 2004 I was still living in Middletown, Ohio and paying extra attention to anything cool taking place in Southern California as I was plotting my inevitable move there. Around this time the name John Roecker and his film Live Freaky Die Freaky began to pop onto my radar. As soon as I read the cast list and description of this incredibly fucked up premise, not only was I sold, but I immediately purchased a LFDF shirt for myself via the Machete Mfg website.

Flash forward a few years and I was living in Fullerton, CA while attending CSUF. Though I should have been studying, I spent most of my time working and hanging around Black Hole Records. It was then that I began to hear rumblings of LFDF actually coming out. In early January the store received some publicity material announcing the release date of January 17th, 2006 and I immediately took to the internet to see if there was to be a premiere. Because if so? There was no way in hell I was going to miss it.

LFDF Flyers
On January 5th 2006 I was calling everyone involved and finding out any info I could. Once I discovered where it was to be held and who the production company was that was putting it on, I immediately went to work. I called Epitaph (the label) and begged for tickets, I called Wellspring Media (the distributor) and offered to work the show. I even called the venue pretending to be an invited guest's assistant so that I could find out the exact time and location in case I was to attempt to sneak in the back.

Finally, I hit the jackpot. I got hold of the social media manager of the show and told him that I represented Black Hole Records and that we were interested in promoting the hell out of the DVD sales. He bought it and invited my then-girlfriend and I to the premiere.

The night started when John Doe (from X) and Rancid came out to do some acoustic songs. They played everything from classics from their back catalog to Ramones, Clash, and Green Day covers. It was pretty epic to see the biggest band in punk rock on such a small stage with the who's who of Punk royalty watching them. Then they played Live Freaky, Die Freaky. A gross, drug-addled, account of the Manson murders drenched in stop-motion puppet-sex and musical numbers. It was fucking genius. I sat there and watched these people bask in crude, John Waters' style humor and love it. Standing there was legitimately the first time it occurred to me that I could make my own movie.

When the night died down, I cornered John and drunkenly told him how inspired I was. A few days after the premiere I drunkenly sent the LFDF website an email asking them to tell John if there was any project he ever needed help on, to please look me up.

Rodney Redbottom:
Rodney Poster
A few years went by and MySpace fell by the wayside being replaced by Facebook. Eventually John popped up on my feed and I sent him a request. Not long after, we began messaging back and forth, updating one another on our various projects. It was then that he told me all about the new band he was working on with Dylan Melody, appropriately titled, Roecker/Melody and that they were about to have their first show at the Redwood. I told him I'd love to come and he asked me to shoot it for him, to which I instantly agreed. A few nights later my buddy Joey Harris and I shot their amazing first show.

Rodney Redbottom Premiere
About the same time, I was in the beginnings of pre-production for my upcoming flick Rodney Redbottom and needed a star. Moreover, I needed a star that was willing to work with fucked up material and do it for free. After holding a few casting sessions, it dawned on me that Dylan's baby-face would work perfect for the role. I got hold of John and got Dylan's info from him. Fortunately for me, Dylan agreed and knocked the role out of the fucking park. After we had wrapped and I finished the final edit and was working on the poster, I was unable to come up with a clever tagline. It was John that came up with "Whips, Paddles, Bondage, Grandparents."

Heart Like a Hand Grenade:
My Green Day CD Collection
I've always dug Green Day, though admittedly, the last few albums haven't really moved me. That being said, few records that I own mean more to me than Nimrod. I remember the day I borrowed that album from the only other person in school that listened to Punk. I played it for days straight and bought my own copy the following week. From there I eventually worked backwards to Insomniac, Dookie, and so on (though someone stole my copy of 1,039/Slappy). Their self-deprecating sense of humor and I don't give a fuck style defined the poppier side of Punk for me.

Now, I do remember talk of John shooting a Green Day documentary while the band was recording their album American Idiot, but when I didn't hear anything about it for a few years I assumed it had fizzled out. I couldn't have been more wrong. Evidently not only was the doc done, but it had actually screened in a (to my understanding) four hour cut at The Egyptian on March 25th, 2009. How that slipped under my radar I still haven't figured out. A few people have reported that night that John mentioned that it may be released on the album's 10th anniversary. That ended up not being too far from the truth.

Green Day Wall
On June 18th this year John hit me up and explained to me that he didn't like the old intro to the film and asked me to come over and see if we couldn't figure out another way to tackle it. A few days later I headed over to his place to see if we couldn't crack an idea. We met up and discussed several options on the table, but ultimately chose a more low-fi approach to the idea. The following week I contacted my buddy Andrew Heaberlin and we went over to John's house with a truck full of equipment. Andrew lit, I operated, and John directed, and although I won't spoil it for you, I was pretty happy with the way the raw footage turned out.

Everywhere Oct 15th
So there you have it. On October 15th, 2015 this documentary, more than 10 years in the making will finally see the light of day, on one of the biggest and most famous screens in the world, The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA. I know this article is basically a Roecker-suck-fest, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm incredibly grateful to be part of a film of one of the bands that helped so many people in the world get into Punk Rock. Be sure to come and check out a legit piece of music history through the distorted lens of one of the most creative, solid, and just plain weird motherfuckers I've ever had the pleasure to call an inspiration and a friend.


Click Here To See Showtimes in your area!

1 comment: