I fell in love with a documentary at a media screening last night, and I wasn’t expecting to. I also came out of it with a new-found respect for a local band.
“Winning America” is a sweet little thing made by the folks at Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, and produced by Jon Siddall, Brent Hodge and Sheila Peacock. It’s about a Vancouver band called Said The Whale - an alt-folky-rock group of four guys, one girl – as they take on the juggernaut of Austin, Texas’ music festival, South bySouthwest, for the very first time.
The doc, as the press bumf goes, is “The journey of a Canadian band trying to make it in the States.” Awww, yeah, how tremendously…yawn, right?
This is a good document of a time in a band’s life when playing SXSW means everything. It’s not about debauchery. It’s about a trip and a tour that the members know will be special…and bonkers. It’s about a band putting their life savings into their pursuit of bringing other people their music, even if it means they have to sleep curled around a baby cot or drive all night.
It’s about the reality that yeah, unfortunately, you still need crappy dayjobs. It’s about really, honestly, feeling like every gig – even in empty record stores or crappy parking lots – is important. That you have to work hard. That if you turn one person into a fan, they’ll bring another friend to the next show. That you never know if someone important is in the room. That you can make lemonade out of lemons – when your gear and clothes get stolen or you get attacked with mustard by a woman – AND get a batch of really shitty tattoos to prove it. And at the beginning, it’s also a bit of a love letter to BC…in a cool-not-cheesy way.
“Winning America” is about a labour of love – something that I totally get and which tugs at my filthy-martini-drenched heartstrings. Said the Whale are also really likeable. Not just nice, polite Canucks, they’re entertaining: Ben’s hysterical – at the screening he was high-fiving everyone and handing out popcorn – Tyler’s so focused, Jacycelyn’s cute, Nathan’s silent…except about insects, and Spencer? Not only is the guy a major Flaming Lips fan, he can rock a bad bandana. There’s even some laughs. It’s just really sweet TV.
For now, “Winning America” will be airing on CBC in British Columbia at 7pm on July 23rd. But it’ll be up online shortly after and I’ll put the link up for all y’all in the US, UK and “abroad”. In the meantime, I suggest you check out the chaps and chappess in Said the Whale – their new album is currently being recorded and will be out in March. Check out their choons.
ps, If you watch and wanna know what Spencer said to piss the woman off, email or tweet and I’ll tell yer. It wasn’t that bad.
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