Some of my favorite highlights include vignettes with wild personalities you could spend all day listening to, outrageous interludes, some badass girls in part two, and tapping my feet to the sounds of Night Beats, Gory Details, John Wesley Coleman, Shapes Have Fangs, and Tav Falco and the Unapproachable Panther Burns. (Some of them featured in our favorite shows last year, an all day blowout in Dallas this summer, and a wild fall wedding.)
Official Mondo Fuzz description:
From the 13th Floor Elevators to the Butthole Surfers, Austin, Texas is known the world over as a rock ‘n’ roll Mecca. Many a gang of feral outsiders has spawned in the neon-splashed Lone Star puddles of its musty clubs, experimenting with different tri-chord permutations in hopes of striking upon the Now Teen Sound that makes the kids move in a way they’ve never moved before, the primordial sound of a generation clawing out from the elemental soup and discovering its voice when the Devil slaps it on the ass to howl baby’s first words through vibrating amplified steel….”LOUIE LOU-EYE”
Working from the philosophy that a band’s essence is best captured during live performance, this low-fi odyssey into the current Austin garage scene is structured like a concert film mixtape. Shot guerrilla style in dives and house parties, the filmmaker was generously granted access to the working musicians forging their visions in the shadows of the self-proclaimed Live Music Capitol of the World who go overlooked by the larger tourist festivals that typically favor established, touring bands.
Fetishistic attention is paid to the aesthetic codes, occult symbolism, and exotic plumage of the new American mating rituals on parade in the modern haunts of youth. By turning an anthropological eye on this subculture, the film works like a nature documentary on guitar-thrashing teens in their natural habitat, and snaps a fading Polaroid of Austin, Texas in 2013.
You can keep up with this film on their Facebook or Twitter.
Here are some questions with creator (and Tijuana Bible member) Andy Ray Lemon.
HB: I love the clips mixed in with the footage. I’m usually too scared to repurpose stuff to make new art because I don’t wanna get sued. Has anyone ever been pissed off that you used something?
ARL: Nope, knock on wood. The bands featured in the film approved use of their music, but as far as unauthorized video clips, I consider it Fair Use and don’t tend to sweat it. When a rapper makes his first mixtape, I doubt he’s worrying about getting sued over sampling. He’s just concerned about capturing what he/she hears in his head as closely as possible, using the resources available to achieve the right tone for the piece. And that’s how I went about Mondo Fuzz, like a concert film mixtape. Instead of crate-diving for drum breaks, I had at my disposal the second largest video rental store in the country (after the great Scarecrow in Seattle) where I worked during the movie’s production. You gotta do what you can with what you got. I also had friends and co-workers playing amazing music like Dikes of Holland, The Well, John Wesley Coleman, and Those Peabodys to name a few, right next door to my job.
If you’re not afraid of making an underground film, I’d advise anyone intimidated by copyright laws to shoot first, ask forgiveness later.
It’s easier to ask for than permission. I just shot the bands performing live, then approached them with the edited footage later, and almost all were into it. Attempts to legally suppress art by larger entities are usually exercises in futility in the era of digital folk cinema, and frequently backfire by raising the work’s public profile. I credited all sources and plan to release the film for free online under a creative commons license and through the bands’ merch booths. If you’re not looking to profit financially, most people leave you alone – even on pay-what-you-want internet distribution models like Girltalk’s Night Ripper, not one person sued him, and those were obvious mainstream samples, not fringe VHS horror. But if someone wants to sue me, knock yourself out. You know what they say about getting blood from a stone… If all else fails, there’s always the bootleg market or the Third World, where as anyone who’s seen Turkish Exorcist knows, they don’t give a shit about American copyright law.
HB: I read in an interview that you started playing guitar “late.” Were you a musician of any kind before that? (The way you described it sounded so similar to my husband. We have piles of instruments around this house and he’s sang/played drums in bands off and on for over half his life but only recently really pursued the guitar. I am trying to figure out some simple Ramones songs but my tiny fingers hate it.)
ARL: True. A history of my own musicianship: Was taught the glockenspiel in my birthplace of Houston at age 4, by the mother of the Octopus Project’s drummer, randomly enough. Grew up in San Antonio and played violin in grade school, then French horn in middle school, where I did not distinguish myself. Assumed I sucked at music and quit before high school marching band, as celebrating jocks in song didn’t appeal. The musical options kids are given in the classroom, at least in Texas, are glorifying war (marching band) or a thinly-veiled God (choir), or if you’re lucky to be in some “progressive” city, Jazz Band! Or Strings, where you’re made to feel inferior to all the old Masters; not once was the homework assignment ever to, say, write your own song. That’s why bashing out chords on a Vox clone years later was so liberating. Fuck John Philip Sousa! Which is not to say that putting the Ramones on the curriculum is the answer either, like Paul Green’s School of Rock.
Rock ‘n’ roll should be sought out by autodidact scholars of trash on the bad side of town. It should never be in the same sentence as ‘curriculum.’
HB: Tell me about Youth Racket Tapes. I just found a Tumblr and YouTube and mentions alongside MF.
ARL: It’s a DIY label I initially started to put out Tijuana Bible’s first EP Bubblegum Babylon and Teen-age Cavegirl. Our latest release was a cassette run of the Mondo Fuzz soundtrack, as a promo item. I’ve got a number of projects on deck, like producing a girl group comp. I’m a sucker for garage comps like those by Crypt and Pebbles. Interested bands can contact [email protected]
HB: Who built the Tijuana Bible website? I have to ask. I’m a web designer/developer and I’m fascinated by it.
ARL: The design was mine and my friend Leroy Rosales implemented it and did some artwork.
Mondo Fuzz is Andy Ray Lemon’s debut film. He’s been involved with the Austin Underground Film Festival, Spider House Cafe, Austin Psych Fest, and more. You can find out more about him on the Mondo Fuzz Facebook bio.