Starring: Fat Mike, Erin Burkett, Joey Cape, Laura Jane Grace, Chris Shiflett, Joe Sib and other people
Written By: Greg Pratt
Directed By: Shaun Colon
Studio: Open Ended Films
Movie Website: http://www.afatwreck.com/
The latest subject to get a documentary is independent punk record label Fat Wreck Chords, started by Mike Burkett of NOFX and his girlfriend at the time, Erin. A Fat Wreck: The Punk-u-mentary was made by fans, for fans and it’s worth seeing if you like punk and that “Fat Wreck” sound.
A Fat Wreck was filmed by first time director Shaun Colon. He successfully raised money to get this film financed on Indiegogo and Fat wasn’t part of the filmmaking process. The record label itself, has officially been around for 25 years so it was only a matter of time for someone to make a movie about it. You get a brief history on how the label started through interviews with Fat Mike, his ex-wife Erin and other people that worked there. The label started out in a basement, like most record labels do and grew in the 90s when punk was getting more popular. The key aspect of Fat Wreck Chords that has always been the case is Fat Mike signs like-minded bands (usually). They need to have the same beliefs and they have to party a lot, at least that’s how it was.
The documentary focuses on the first few bands that Fat Wreck signed, and they go into each one for a few minutes. It started out with obviously NOFX, but then Lagwagon, No Use for A Name, Strung Out, Propagandhi, Good Riddance, etc. Once the documentary focuses on those punk bands, they tend to skim around after that with the other bands on the label. There’s lots of candid interviews with various musicians, discussing how they got on the label, how they like the label, and things like that. It was interesting to hear how Strung Out got signed. they pretty much carpeted Fat Mike’s house in order to get signed.
It was great to hear from Fat Mike and what his take was on a lot of stuff. He certainly gives it to you straight (when he does). He didn’t used to do a lot of press but has done a lot more in recent memory. I still thought a lot of stuff about the label, Fat Mike, and the others bands could have went into more thoroughly. I’m sure Fat Mike’s emergence in TMZ (pee drinking, hippy shirt, etc.) and crap like that could have been talked about. The whole Ben Weasel / Screeching Weasel stuff could have been a topic for the documentary. Maybe no one wanted to talk about it? Fat Mike did talk about when Propagandhi called him out on him doing Punk Voter and supporting Kerry and their so-called feud. I suppose if you want to know more Mike, you can read their book or watch Backstage Passport 1 and 2.
The way it was edited kind of bothered me because they would play two seconds of the band’s song and then go into other songs. I just wanted to hear more of the songs! When they were going into each band, it almost seemed like that’s all the documentary was going to be. Just a few minutes of each band & release and then onto the next. But then they stopped doing that. I kind of felt like something was missing from the doc and everything was just being glanced over. I thought the second half the documentary was better because it was just an overall look of the label. It wasn’t broken into segments of each band. Their highs and lows, where they had to downgrade their staff. Some staff were interviewed but seemed like they were missing a few people.
I liked how the documentary used puppets to illustrate some of the stories that people were telling. Made it more interesting than just someone telling their side of things. Complaints aside, A Fat Wreck is still a good documentary that gives you the basic history of the label. I honestly thought the movie could have used an extra half hour to go into more things because it seemed somewhat short. I didn’t review the Blu-Ray and just the movie so not sure what content is on there like deleted scenes or extended interviews.
A Fat Wreck: The Punk-u-mentary will be available on Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD on November 22nd. While I thought the documentary had it’s faults, I still think punk & Fat Wreck fans will enjoy this.
Bottom Line: A good retrospective documentary film about one of my favorite record labels!
Running Time: 88 minutes