Interview – Color Me Obsessed director Gorman Bechard
– by Shawn Conner
Hailed for their songcraft, worshiped for their stick-it-to-the-man attitude, beloved for the recklessness of their live shows, The Replacements have attained near-mythic status.
Gorman Bechard‘s new documentary will no doubt add to the myth. Made without the participation of the band, Color Me Obsessed doesn’t even draw on videos or live footage. Instead, Bechard – a writer and filmmaker with six novels and several movies to his credit – has assembled footage of interviews with fans, including musicians, famous names like Dave Foley, and your average 40-something nostalgic still carrying a torch for the band’s breakthrough 1984 album Let It Be.
Bechard, who has been touring his doc to various cities, brings Color Me Obsessed to Vancouver for a screening and post-show q-and-a at the Waldorf Dec 2. (To enter to win two passes to the screening, leave a comment below naming your favourite Replacements song. We’ll make the draw noon Thurs Dec 1.) We reached the long-time Replacements fan at home in New Haven, Connecticut, to talk about Replacements burn-out, the band’s reputation and Pat Sajak.
Shawn Conner: Is this the career trajectory you’ve planned, or is this just where things have taken you, from novel to film to documentary?
Gorman Bechard: It’s all where things take me. Right now I have four films in development and I’m finishing up another novel. It’s sort of, I hate saying this, but it’s what I’m in the mood for in the moment, or what really starts snowballing.
When we started the doc, we had a bunch of different projects we were floating around, and this one started to snowball out of control, and we just went with it.
SC: Well it has a ready-made audience, but how big is that audience?
GB: I don’t think it’s just for Replacements fans. My favourite responses are from people who are not Replacements fans. Because the film is about the passion you feel for a band, and how a band, no matter what the band is, becomes a part of your life. I don’t care if you were living in New Jersey in the ’80s and you’re a 15-year-old girl and you fall in love with Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi will be part of your life until you die.
That is what this film really speaks to; how music affects us. Some of the best comments I’ve had were from people who’ve said, “I had no idea who the band was but I loved this movie, it’s about passion.”
SC: You’re film isn’t concerned about the band’s story so much, is it?
GB: It definitely covers the story of the ‘Mats, right from handing over the demo tape, every single ‘Mats legend, story, everything is covered in this film. It is also very much the definitive biography of the band – a lot more than if they’d been in it. You have people with nothing to lose telling the story.
SC: Are people coming up to you and wanting to share their Replacements stories?
GB: Absolutely. I’ll get emails, or people will come up afterwards, or they’ll ask me some of the same questions that I ask people in the film, like why this band, tell us about your favourite gig, tells us your favourite song, things like that.
SC: Did you come away from this experience liking them as people more or less, or liking their music more or less?
GB: Surprisingly I ended up liking them even more, which is pretty amazing to me. Because I really, really love this band. They were always my favourite band and to come away liking them even more is crazy.
SC: I know you’re not that concerned with the gossip-y elements of the story, but over the years I’ve heard anecdotes and friends tell me things that have left the impression that generally these were not nice people… except Bob [original guitarist Bob Stinson]. Did you find that?
GB: Not really. Especially Bob – he came across as a saint, as just the nicest guy. And for every person I had who called Tommy [Stinson] a little snot, I had someone who said he’s a great kid.
SC: What kind of obstacles did you encounter making the film? You bypassed talking to the band and trying to use live footage, so that must have made things easier.
GB: When we were trying to get famous people and going through their agents, but really, for the most part people came out of the woodwork. It took on a life of its own.
SC: How come you couldn’t get Pat Sajak [reportedly a huge Replacements fan]?
GB: We tried, but we were not anywhere near the same place, and we couldn’t afford to fly to Vegas. That would’ve been funny, just him being on-screen.
SC: Were there any other famous Replacements fans you discovered?
GB: The ones that are in the film we knew about; definitely Sajak was probably the big surprise. But going into it we were pretty much were well-versed in who loved the band.
SC: Is there another documentary to be made, one with rare footage and old interviews with the band?
GB: There’s hardly anything. That’s a huge thing right there. Secondly, I hate saying this – it’s the same reason I don’t like The Ramones movie, End of the Century. If you were to do it that way, every frame of the movie would scream “This would be great if only Bob was alive.” I watch End of the Century and I think man, if they’d only made this movie two years earlier, when Joey was alive. Here you have the heart of the band, but he can’t speak for himself. You can put all that stuff together, but all it’s going to be is a VH1 special. For me, this band deserved something more than a VH1 special.
SC: So what are your plans for the movie? How many screenings are left?
GB: They keep growing. We have New York this week, Minneapolis, Omaha, Vancouver, Brussels – which is cool because we’re playing with Grant Hart – and we’re probably doing some screenings early next year. But then we’re going to come out on PPV in late spring or early summer.
SC: So if people want to see this they have to get their ass to a screening! Nice. Oh and I wanted to ask, Dave Foley [of Kids in the Hall] is in the movie?
GB: I’d always known him as a big [Paul] Westerberg and Replacements fan, and he was super nice and one of those people I was thrilled to speak with. One of my favourite quotes from the movie is, someone once asked them [Kids in the Hall] if they wanted to be the Beatles of comedy. And one of the other guys, Kevin McDonald, said “No. We want to be The Replacements.”