Originally created 12/01/05

Film looks at the music and influence of Minutemen

Nearly 20 years after its tragic end, the San Pedro, Calif., punk combo the Minutemen are coming to the Soul Bar.

The band, which dissolved in 1985 after the death of singer, guitarist and primary songwriter D. Boon, has enjoyed a reputation as a cult favorite, a secret kept secure by a network of enthusiastic fans. Two of those fans, documentary director Tim Irwin and producer Keith Schieron, felt that 20 years of obscurity was enough. They recently completed the film We Jam Econo, a look at the music and continuing influence of The Minutemen, and are touring it around the country for low-key screenings.

Mr. Irwin said the screenings, and the filming for that matter, operate using the Minutemen ethos of "econo."

"We did that out of necessity," he said with a laugh. "I mean, we had to do this with what we squeezed out of couch cushions. But that's how the band operated, and that always inspired, still inspires, us."

Mr. Irwin's pre-Econo experience had mostly been in the arena of skateboard and BMX films. He said it was an affection for the Minutemen's music, and the discovery that he was not alone in that love, that inspired him to pursue the project.

"They, for me, just became that band that hits you at the right time in life," he said. "But even beyond that, they were special. They weren't like their peers. They didn't look punk rock and they didn't sound punk rock, and people respond to that."

How many would respond, Mr. Irwin said, surprised him. Much of the movie is comprised of interviews with the famous and infamous members of the early '80s punk scene. He said during the initial round of interviews, there was time scheduled for 12 interviews. He expected to get perhaps seven of those.

At the end of the week, he had 17 in the can.

"I've been working on documentaries for a while, and that never happens," he said. "It comes down to the Minutemen and the respect they demand."

More difficult, Mr. Irwin said, was securing the permission of Mr. Boon's close friend and Minutemen bass player Mike Watt and then having him talk about his late friend.

"Everyone knows that Boon and Watt were close," he said. "But I had no idea how close. These guys were tighter than anyone I've ever known. That was something I wasn't aware of and I ended up having a really hard time putting him through that pain."

Although the filmmaking process made him more aware of the scope of the Minutemen nation, he said screening the film has really brought it home for him. He said they premiered the movie in a large theater in San Pedro and he was worried about empty seats. Instead, they turned fans away.

"I was thinking we would make this film and a few people would see it," he said . "I had no concept of how many people knew, and loved, this band. I didn't know that people would want to see it in Georgia, for instance. But now it has played in 70 venues and at each one, people respond to it."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


WHAT: We Jam Econo

WHEN: 9 and 11 p.m. today

WHERE: The Soul Bar, 984 Broad St.

COST: $5, free popcorn. Call 724-8880.


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