“I’m Now” – An Essential Chapter in Rock History

Seattle is known for many things, not the least of which is spawning Grunge. Most of the bands in the Seattle music scene had very little to do with the ultimately hackneyed word; A word which is far more marketing term than musical genre. Nonetheless, in the early nineties, the title was thrust upon any band in Western Washington with a distortion pedal. One such band was Mudhoney, who inadvertently become Grunge poster boys. They were lumped in with a whole bunch of other bands with which they had nothing in common other than an area code. If it had not been for this stupid, meaningless catchall title, perhaps Mudhoney’s career would have gone much differently. Perhaps they would have had the success they deserve.

Of course, Mudhoney is successful, relatively speaking. But they should have been huge. They probably would have opted out of having crazy, drug-fueled parties at the Edgewater Hotel where groupies were violated with fish and branded with cattle prods (a la Led Zeppelin). But damnit, they should have had the option. At the very least, they should have been credited for being at the forefront of a musical revolution. Yes, they’re that good.

If you live in Seattle, you might be able to score a ticket to the June 8th premiere of “I’m Now”, the feature-length documentary which spans Mudhoney’s entire history and finally gives credit where credit is due. The Triple Door will hold two screenings of the film that night. It’s a beautiful theater and a great place to see this unforgettable film (review follows).

“I’m Now” (2012)
Directors: Ryan Short & Adam Pease
5/5 Stars

If you aren’t a Mudhoney fan when you start watching King of Hearts Productions’ new music doc, “I’m Now”, you certainly will be by the closing credits. The band has a lot to be bitter about. But they aren’t bitter. In fact, they couldn’t be more gracious. These are guys who love to play music and consistently found a way to keep doing it.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are interviews with other Seattle music scene notables including Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. But none of these famous faces are as captivating as the band members themselves.

Each of the guys is interviewed separately, getting the chance to tell the story from their individual perspectives. They’re well spoken and clever, and never do they seem at all arrogant or inaccessible.

For me, one of the most refreshing moments is when front man, Mark Arm, speaks candidly about his drug and alcohol issues. He acknowledges the rock n’ roll cliché in which he found himself. But he didn’t have to surrender to any higher power to get through it. It’s not a juicy, “Behind the Music” tale. He just isolated the problem and took care of it. Fuckin’ A.

But it’s not just the interviews that enchant. It’s also the live performances. The footage from these shows is intimate and electrifying. Much of the b-roll is from the band’s own archives, but filmmakers, Ryan Short and Adam Pease, also followed Mudhoney on a recent tour. In 2008, this documentary team cut their teeth on a film about another unsung Seattle band, Tad (“Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears”). With a long resume of music videos, they certainly know how to film a band. As a result, “I’m Now” is the most riveting and reverent music documentary since Julian Temple’s “The Future is Unwritten”. Short and Pease have made an explosive piece of art, fueled by the raw power of Mudhoney’s music, that delivers sweet comeuppance to all the folks who did the band wrong over the years. Treat yourself to the aural and visual intoxication of “I’m Now”. I promise you won’t have any regrets come morning.