A new documentary premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival sheds some light on one of the most dynamic and shamefully over looked bands of the LA/Hollywood alternative rock scene. The alternative band Fishbone is the subject of the documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. The film takes a candid look at the band’s beginnings in high school to their getting signed and wowing the LA alternative/punk rock scene. The movie does a tremendous job of not only explaining how this group of high school friends came to form one of the most influential alternative bands in LA, but it also shows how the city of Los Angeles, race, family and brotherhood all played a part in shaping the band’s sound and intense eclectic style.
While watching the film you can’t help but root for the band as they hold onto their integrity and friendship while becoming a mainstay on the alternative circuit. Bands such as Jane’s Addiction, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt and rapper Ice-T wax poetic on how the all African American sextet influenced them with their heady mix of funk, punk, ska, soul and metal. The documentary travels back in time as the five friends are bussed from South Central LA to the San Fernando Valley where they meet their sixth member, frenetic frontman Angelo Moore. The band forms, starts playing shows and before you know it they are signed. The film details the strong cult following the band created and their influence while juxtaposing the idea, that some in the music industry did not quite know what to make of an all Black band that could easily shift from punk to funk to metal to jazz, all within the context of one, four minute song. While race has been a hurdle for Fishbone, the film points out that the bands democratic structure which helped shape their eclectic sound, did nothing to musically focus the band, thus making mainstream success elusive. Some unforeseen circumstances, (such as their founding guitarist joining a cult with his father) also contributed to the band not fully realizing their commercial potential.
The band now consists of two original members (founding bassist Norwood Fisher is still with the band) and the film shows the group playing gigs in 500 seat venues that are half filled. The documentary also pulls no punches on how tough it has been to deal with the eclectic and sometimes erratic sensibilities of Angelo Moore. Throughout the film however, the themes of brotherhood, loyalty and family become the focal point of the Fishbone story and it is that sense of family that is depicted in tact when past members of the original lineup, reunite on film to talk about old times.
The documentary will be screened at film festivals throughout the country for the rest of the year, with the hopes of a theatrical and dvd release next year. The other underlying hope is that the band will use their sense of loyalty and brotherhood to reunite for a tour in the new year. Only time will tell if the old wounds have truly healed. For now check out the documentary when it comes to a festival near you and rejoice in the fact that no matter how dark the days get, everyday is indeed sunshine when you are dealing with the music and message of Fishbone.