So this year’s New Haven Underground Film Festival featured a documentary by Lexie Shabel, entitled “WE LIKE TO DRINK: We Like to Play Rock’n’Roll.” The film’s title is lifted from a song by the subjects of the doc: The Unband. For those of you unfamiliar with that tenuous thread that can oftentimes separate full-on indulgence from benevolent mockery, The Unband, along with similar bands like Nashville Pussy and The Supersuckers, stagger along that line like a seasoned drunk at his eighteenth DUI.
I, for one, remember them fondly from that slice of my past in Northampton, Massachusetts. In a college town populated by hipper-than-thou poseurs and patchouli-drenched hippies, they were about as divisive as “local heroes” could be, and established a local notority long before taking their act out on the road, inexplicably with the likes of Dio and Def Leppard. Which is the point, not only of Shabel’s film, but the book written by Unband bassist Michael Ruffino, “Gentlemanly Repose,” as brutally funny a book as I’ve read since those halcyon days of Raoul Duke.
So raise a toast: there’s something to being unappreciated by one big chunk of American pop culture consumers while being grossly misinterpreted by another.