Sunday 24 May 2015

Documenting The Desert Sound - An Interview with Joerg Steineck - Director of LO SOUND DESERT

Sometimes realizing or finishing your dream project can take a lifetime to complete. Or at least a huge part of your life. Take the forthcoming documentary – Lo Sound Desert – as an example. We've seen the amazing trailers over the last four years or so. It's a documentary that promises to tell the story of the legendary Desert Rock/Stoner Rock scene that we all love and admire.

The hugely talented individual behind this project – Joerg Steineck – is finally ready to unleash Lo Sound Desert upon to the world. However he needs one final push to give this project the impact that it truly deserves. Joerg has launched a Crowd-Funding Project to raise €9500 to put the finishing touches to this movie that all Stoner Rock fans should see.

Joerg is no stranger to Stoner Rock Documentaries or Fuzzomentary should I say. As he also directed the brilliant Truckfighters Fuzzomentary – which is one of my fave music documentaries sorry Fuzzomentary of recent years.

I've was given the chance to interview Joerg recently and here's what went down. So put some of your favourite Stoner Rock tunes on. Light a bong and drop out.

1. Hi Joerg. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today?

Sure, I'm fine- thanks for having me!

2. We are here to talk about your latest film and your potential labour of love – Lo Sound Desert. Can you tell our readers what the film is about?

This labor of love (and the opposite) tells the story of two generations of the original desert punk and rock scene in California, more specifically of the Coachella Valley.

It's about punk rock kids who were forced by the narrow-minded authorities of their communities to retreat to the wastelands to be able to do what kids are supposed to - make loud music and have parties. Eventually the fast punk rock music changed due to intense jamming and became more laid back and extended. This led to what people nowadays call desert rock.

3. When did you get the idea to make the movie? What influenced you to do a film on the Desert/Stoner Rock scene?

I was studying film in San Diego and while searching for projects, hooked up with some desert guys, Arthur and Mike from Unida. They were looking for someone to shoot a music video for their new band House Of Broken Promises.

A few years earlier I had discovered a band named Kyuss that had stimulated my visual imagination on how this region may look like… just by the way they sounded. When I came there I was surprised that this picture actually didn't change. It was just more beautiful and colorful than expected. - Speaking of nature and music: the diversity of music styles was the actual element of surprise. But I guess the natural beauty of the desert got me from there on as well, and this whole idea about a feature documentary began to evolve.

4. Did you expect that when you started doing this movie back in 2006 you would be doing this 9 years later?

Of course not. And I'm not sure if I would do it again, because sometimes it felt like running against walls.

5. Why has the film taken so long to be released as I saw a trailer for the movie back in 2010 or so?

In the beginning it was pretty tough to find the right people with the most original stories and their most original footage, which is important for documenting such a unique scene. That may have changed a bit now, after that … call it "desert rock boom" that evolved over the last years, and people became more open minded to being exposed. But I think maybe there was a tendency for people from the desert to keep good stuff tucked away, because it was just a big part of the music culture: they had to hide their goods from the authorities - their music. And a perfect place to hide things is in the desert itself. So as an outsider it took me a while to get a look behind the facades. I needed a few years for that. But I think it was worth to dig that deep.

Another problem was the financing - I had two little rendezvous with media/film companies which wanted to make the film more commercial than I had in mind, so I kept funding it myself with some exceptions (the funding campaign in 2011 - which allowed me to finish shootings in California, and the campaign running at the moment).

Also- if there's only a minimum budget involved then it is a slow and painful process to deal with major companies: this can take a while, and it obviously did.

6. Has the film been a struggle to complete at times? Did you ever feel like abandoning it? Or was the desire to get if finished as it’s a story worth telling?

Exactly that. There were a lot of setbacks, and sometimes I really was ready to abandon the whole project, but then again - I always felt this - this is a story that needs to be and finally WILL be told. So it's either me or someone else, and after having devoted that much time to it already, it simply wasn't possible for me to give up. And now I'm pretty stoked that I didn't and something like this came out of it.

7. Who were your favourite people to interview? You must have interviewed your musical heroes whilst doing this project.

I don't like stress (-who does?), so even though a guy like Josh Homme was surprisingly laid back and mellow, that interview was a stressful situation for me because everything had to work properly and according to plan (not because he said so but because of the circumstances during his tour and the many people involved).

A more relaxed, private interview atmosphere - with only few people involved and that doesn't feel like a scheduled process is what I prefer. You can dig deeper into the personality of someone when everyone feels comfortable. So I'd say I didn't have favorite people but favorite interview situations. Sitting alone with someone in Joshua Tree National Park and discussing musical backgrounds would be one of the highlights.

8. You have started a crowd-funding project to finish the project. With a set standard of €9500. Been very successful so far. Almost half way there. Was it hard decision to start a crowd funding project?

Unfortunately it wasn't a hard decision as it is the only path to releasing the film - there's no plan B. And I'm not aiming at friends and relatives - I did that already in order to finish the film, so this NEEDS to be realized by the people who want to see it.

9500 might sound like a lot to people not familiar with clearing music rights and everything else important in order to release a film, but it's actually a small sum. I really hope for a surplus to additionally pay for festival fees for example. I didn't know before either, that's probably why I started in the first place...

9. When can people expect to see the film if the crowd-funding project is successful?

Right after a successful campaign and paying the music rights we will send the film out to festivals. We might initiate theater screenings as well, but this also depends on a surplus of the campaign. The general commercial release will take place after this but most likely in winter 2015.

10. You made a film about Truckfighters back in 2011/12. What a fantastic film that was. How did that idea came about.

Thank you, I'm glad you like it. The "Fuzzomentary", as we sillies termed it, is actually a by-product of Lo Sound Desert.

At that point I was completely fed up with the film (having to re-edit it entirely because a main character didn't want to be on board anymore ...luckily (…) later he changed his mind again), and there was this band I had been listening to, and I kind of liked them. So we met at this very small German festival to make an interview for Lo Sound Desert (I was pretty sure I'd never need it for the film, but I told them I would - sorry guys!) and I saw them playing live and for free on a tiny stage in a wooden, fully packed barrack. It was hot, the floor in front of the stage was filled with sand, so after a while the whole room completely filled with dust. I probably had a little desert flashback - and the guys actually killed it!

This was one of the most energetic shows I ever witnessed. You can find parts of it in the film as well. And things went from there.

11. What was that overall experience like filming one of the best Stoner/Fuzz Rock bands on the planet?

See above ;)

12. Did it surprise you how well received the film actually was. As it’s highly thought of within the Stoner Rock/Fuzz community?

I don't really know if it was well received by the majority of people. It's not a typical band documentary. Some people asked me why there isn't more live-stuff in it for example, and I can't really respond satisfyingly to that, because I think there's still too much serious stuff and too little nonsense in it. It certainly has a specific kind of humor that some people may not like, but then again there are a few who really dig this. For these people it is actually made. I can say that for Lo Sound, too- it definitely has its own approach.

13. Once the film is finally finished and released upon to the world. Will you be taking a break or will you be starting on other projects?

Lo Sound Desert has been finished for almost a year now, and I've already dipped into a few other things, like my own music project or a fictional film story I'm working on. Besides that I'm trying to invest more time into illustrating and animating. We'll see. For sure I will not start another documentary on bands anytime soon.

14. Well Joerg, Thanks for doing this interview. I wish you all the best with the film and the rest of the crowd-funding campaign. Before you go – do you have any words of wisdom or advice for someone who is thinking about starting to make a movie on their favourite musical genre or band? Since you’ve done both.

No, this always depends on the situation. Maybe be aware that creative people are not always easy, and if you're trying to make something creative with other people's creativity - that might lead to delicate situations. And if you start something like this, do it the best way you can and FINISH IT.

I want to thank Joerg for doing this interview with ourselves at Sludgelord HQ. You can still donate to the Crowd-Funding Project to see this project finally released.

Words by Steve Howe and Joerg Steineck

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