The Forrest Gump of OC Hardcore
No, Orange County Hardcore Scenester isn't the American Hardcore of the '90s Orange County scene. Nor does it try to be. It's less of a documentary and more of a memoir set against a collage of camcorder footage not yet on YouTube (highlights include pre-Rage Zack de la Rocha and the Offspring playing to a room of seven people). Filmmaker Evan Jacobs remembers when the OC DIY punk aesthetic shone in the national spotlight, as he encyclopedically rattles off bands, labels and personnel faster than can be Wiki-searched, portraying the underground's rich tradition from 1990 to 1997 informatively, if not nostalgically.
OC Weekly: Can you say who's going to perform at the screening?
Evan Jacobs: There is going to be a short performance by somebody. I can't say who it is going to be.
Is OC hardcore from 1990 to 1997 still relevant for somebody who didn't live it?
The take-home message is that these people I had the chance to get to know did something important. This is just another documentary telling the story of American punk rock. In that regard, I think it is relevant to anybody who cares or wants to know more about that story.
The sheer amount of old footage here is incredible. Tell me about how you found and compiled it all.
A great deal of it was sitting in my closet. I've also kept close ties with a lot of the people from that time. I told people I was doing this, and they'd tell me they had tapes. Once I had a very long rough edit, I started being more selective. I became really selective for the final edit simply because a movie can only be so long, right?
I think I saw, like, two women in the entire film. Was OC hardcore a boys' club?
Sadly, yes. Girls were around, girls contributed, and the ones who were there were extremely important. It was just a reality that, at least as far as Orange County was concerned at that time, for the most part, it was a boys' club. When I go to shows now, there are a lot more girls present, which is the way it should be.
Did you ever worry about the first-person format coming off as self-aggrandizing?
The film isn't 107 minutes of me saying, "I did this; I did that." If it were, I should be shot! I start off talking about myself, but very quickly, the film talks about other people—and it stays with other people. I just happened to be around them, luckily, in a Forrest Gump-like way, so that enabled me to tell this story very personally.
You talk extensively about the rise and fall of a lot of bands and labels during that time. What was the worst fall for you to watch?
It broke my heart to see Network Sound, which was a combination of New Age and Conversion Records, fall apart. These guys weren't businessmen. Once punk rock broke in 1994, this was a game-changer. This music became more of a commodity. Eventually, they weren't able to keep up with a scene they'd helped pioneer.
The recording-industry paradigm is so different now. Could the OC hardcore movement have happened in the digital age?
I think it could have because I don't think anybody in hardcore at that time really made a lot of money doing it. Not that people do that today; it just seems more like a possibility than what was available in the 1990s. In those days, it was very rare to make a living as a touring band.
This column appeared in print as "And . . . Scene."
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