Paul Rachman (American Hardcore)

Interviews | Sep 5th, 2006

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How long did it take you to work on the documentary? What was your process?
It took 5 years to complete. It was very “DIY”. Steven Blush and I did everything. Booking the interviews, finding the photos and footage and I did all the editing.

How did you gather up such an impressive collection of live footage and other old footage documenting the hardcore scene?
I had shot a lot of footage myself back in the day. The other stuff was found through our connections with the people in the scene. Literally people had tapes in shoeboxes in their closets.

How did you determine which bands to focus on? Were there any bands or particular people that you wanted to include, but who didn’t want to be associated with this film? Did Glenn Danzig just growl at you and wave a battle axe menacingly?
Glenn never turned us down, it was just impossible to connect. We did as much as we could and when the film got into Sundance then we needed to stop. I think it is well balanced for the time period 1980-1986

Who did you most enjoy talking to? Conversely, was there anyone you felt uncomfortable talking with?
These were very comfortable conversations, not really traditional interviews. Jack Grisham of TSOL was very good to interview.

Was there any debate on what bands were considered hardcore and what bands were considered punk rock?
No, we knew what hardcore punk was during this time.

I liked that you pointed out that much of the hardcore scene was a suburban phenomenon. Why do you think suburban youth at the time connected so well with the music?
Well it was locally bred. Kids were bored in the early 80’s in the burbs and suddenly there were these local scenes so it made sense that it connected.

What was the most memorable moment of growing up in the 80’s hardcore scene?
My first bad brains show. – Amazing.

American Hardcore ends with the inference that hardcore sputtered out by ’86, and yet some say the best hardcore came out in the next wave – Slapshot, Murphy’s Law, Sheer Terror, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today. Understandably, the focus is on the beginnings of the music, but the argument could be made that it didn’t happen in a vacuum, but was part of a continuum. Your thoughts?
Yes hardcore went on but the ethics changed. The second wave of bands, for instance, were appearing on more commercial record labels, they had managers and stuff like that. The early bands really set a standard for the purity of their message and the way they go it out. Themselves, their own way, however hard it was.

What do you think about the metalcore, emocore, screamo, ad nauseum, that’s all the rage today?
It’s good that the genre lives on in new ways and with young people today. This music was always youth oriented.

You’ve directed a lot of music videos in the past. Who did you most enjoy working with? Any interesting stories you could share?
Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog, Pantera are all very memorable videos for me. I don’t have time to get into stories here but there are some. I mean I was working for record companies, that sucked.

IMDB shows that you were an editor on Crossing Over with John Edward. Is that guy just a lame-ass preying on the gullible or is he truly a creepy necromancer who will rise the dead and kill us all?
Crossing Over was my get out of debt gig!! I had done an indie for hire feature in Hollywood and when I came home to NYC, I was completely broke low and behold. My background is as an editor so I needed some work to get out of debt and that show needed editors, because it took John Edward about a whole day to do one show.

It was not magic or mystery; it was like hit or miss. “Uh I see a dog, who has a dog here in the third row”….

Do you have any plans to make a sequel to American Hardcore to document its second wave and later variations? Do you have any interest in making a film about straight edge?
No plans right now. I think I might go back to a narrative film next and look for a new doc subject. I would need to top American Hardcore with a doc so it needs to be an interesting subject.

When do you expect the American Hardcore DVD to come out? What bonus materials will it include?
I think in February it will come out and there will be at least an hour of deleted scenes that are great, as well as some full length songs from some of the raw live footage we show.

American Hardcore will be released in NY & LA on September 22nd and will be premiering at the Toronto Film Festival September 13th. To find out more about the film, check out the website:


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