Director: Mat de Koning
Featuring: The Screwtop Detonators, Dave Kavanagh, Nici Ward, Will Stoker, Matt Doust
While I had seen and photographed the Screwtop Detonators a couple of times (1) (2) but I never really followed them closely as there were a lot of bands that I was seeing at the time and still do as it can be years in between seeing some bands for me. The Bittersweet Kicks were active around the same time in Melbourne and I ended up seeing them more as they played at my local a lot more (until they got banned for good with the help of Spencer P Jones, but that is another story).
I am not close friends with the band members, but some of them are on my friends list on Facebook whatever that concept means these days. I will try not to let that influence my judgement on the documentary too much but having someone I know in it is different than just someone I know making the documentary.
The director was originally friends with the band and just started hanging out and filming them as something he did. Must have had a good video recorder as I did not have any decent video recording capability until I got an SLR with it inbuilt until 2011 and I had just been taking photos for around the same amount of time.
As happens in a lot of times with new bands you get someone wanting to act as their manager in this case Dave Kavanagh who thought he could use his connections and talent to make them into a big name. You cannot doubt that he was sincere about it but a lot of time when someone offers to help it is more for something they will get out of it than you will.
The band does get one US tour out of it with a lot of dates and a good experience. I would not have liked to be the members of the band watching themselves at the screening seeing the stuff they did and said 12 years ago as it would have been extremely embarrassing.
What also happened on their first tour is their roadie decided to leave the tour as it wasn’t working out for him as he was a shit roadie. He turns up later in his own band Will Stoker and the embers and even the promo photo for this doco is of his band.
As happens with a lot of bands they decided to move to Melbourne to make a go of it on their own, which meant dumping Dave as their manager. While Melbourne is good for the gig opportunities, it also means you have a lot of competition. I was well aware of them during that time but only saw them a couple of times while they were active in Melbourne.
Nici Ward, the partner of Ben from the band is also a musician but that was not shown in this documentary. They did manage to find the exact clip that demonstrated how level headed and sensible she is. It could have made an interesting counterpoint including her musical endeavours as the women in music I know do not tell do fall into the bullshit of having to live the rock and roll lifestyle to prove themselves and then end up dying of cancer in their 50s or drinking beer through a hole in their neck.
Most of the bands I know have to have another job to support their musical career as Australia is just too small. Bob Log III may live in Melbourne but has to tour most of the year overseas. Don Walker struggles to sell tickets in regional RSLs while the Cold Chisel cover band down the road sells out.
I do know that Nici worked hard in the crepe stall including on Black Saturday when she was outside. Ben and the other band members would have worked just as hard in other jobs and also trying to make a go of it with the band. So I understand their decision to break up the band and for Ben and Nici to move back to Perth.
There is a resolution with Ben Ward now being in a band called Leeches, some of the other members moving onto other projects and the one member who stayed in Melbourne playing in a few bands. Will Stoker is still performing but has not played a gig for a while.
The Q&A after the screening had the director and some of the members of the band including some who had not seen each other for 11 years.
Editing the film was a massive undertaking due to having 700 hours of footage and when the director finally decided to knuckle down until it was finished took another four years.
I can’t remember many of the other questions but Will Stoker said he did not regret anything that he did that was shown in the documentary.
It does make me think more about doing something myself in terms of a documentary. I have enough photos of bands after 12 years of taking photos of Melbourne. I will be contributing to the Fred Negro documentary coming up. I don’t really have the finances to start anything at the moment or a subject.
I would recommend this documentary to all new bands starting out to see what you will go through if you want to stick it out in a band for a significant part of your life.