A new documentary set for release in early 2012 on the Seattle music scene during the grunge era will focus on the passion of the players, behind-the scenes drama and current insights by lessons learned from featured performers. They include longtime West Seattle resident Carrie Akre of Hammerbox, Goodness, and The Rockfords, pictured here with Chris Friel, also in the cast with brother Rick, Duff McKegan of Guns N' Roses fame, Dave Krusen of Pearl Jamb and Candlebox, Adam Czeisler of Sweet Water, DJ's, photographers, and others. Numerous production meetings took place at West 5 Lounge and Feedback Lounge in West Seattle.
New grunge pop documentary "The Hash After the Bash" features West Seattle's Carrie Akre
Not just a rehash of grunge/pop rock era, producers promise
During nearly 20 production and planning meetings in West Seattle at the Feedback Lounge in the Morgan Junction, and the West 5 Lounge in the Alaska Junction, bothers Paul and Brian Michaels followed their dream to create a documentary on the grunge-era music scene. Paul produced while Brian directed. A private screening is planned for December. Then the film will be submitted to the Seattle International Film Festival.
Prominently featured is popular vocalist and guitar player Carrie Akre of the Seattle bands Hammerbox, Goodness, and The Rockfords fame. She lived in West Seattle's Westwood Village neighborhood beginning in 2004 but moved to Minneapolis last month. Akre performed at the West Seattle Street Fair in 2007.
The film is called The Hash After the Bash and subtitled The Untold Story of Seattle Rock 'N' Roll. For the uninitiated, the title is not a drug reference to hashish, but refers to the club the Offramp Café where Pearl Jam played its first official show in Seattle, October 22, 1990. Well, then they called themselves "Mookie Blaylock" after the NBA 6' guard.
"Back in the 'heyday' at the Offramp, at the end of the evening after the bands were done playing, they would roll out breakfast buffets," said Paul Michaels, 42, who lives near the UW. "I use that term loosely because it consisted of hash browns, scrambled eggs and soft rolls for 50 cents. It became known as the 'hash after the bash'. We named the film that as kind of a tribute to not only that era and that specific event but also as an insider nod to those who were part of it."
In the film's trailer with a montage of performers' quotes, Guns 'N' Roses icon Duff McKegan, also of Ten Minute Warning, says, "Ordinary people just were a little afraid of that change that we represented."
Sweet Water's Adam Czeisler says of the era, "...Just the whole energy and excitement. The whole thing was bigger than just the actual music."
"It gave me opportunity after opportunity to get my life together," says Dave Krusen of Pearl Jam and Candlebox.
"Really key to the story is following your passion," said Michaels. "We felt strongly that the 'grunge Seattle story' has been told numerous times and felt instead of just focusing on the history of the scene we wanted to look at how that time period affected people's lives and how living in Seattle continues to affect their lives.
"That time period is really a jumping off period," he continued. "The lens is 'now' and pointing foreword toward where they are going pursuant to rock and roll. They are still evolving. This (film) is definitely not a history piece, like 'wasn't it great? Too bad it's over'. This is a piece about people who continue to play out of a passion."
Michaels' passion became ignited in 1979.
He explained, "I was in my early 20's when the Seattle music scene really started to explode. I was a drummer in multiple bands. Both of my parents were very musical and I was very fortunate they had good taste, from the Beatles to Carol King, the Who, Led Zeppelin. Then older friends in late 70's exposed me to punk rock and I heard The Clash. Their London Calling album literally changed my life and made me want to play music and just be part of a band."
Through his bands Michaels met many of this documentary's featured artists, like Carrie Akre.
"She was crucial for us," he said of Akre. "There were three tent poles we used to choose the artists (in the film), talent, relevance to the music scene, and credibility. And I think anybody you talk to will testify how amazing she is as a singer, solo artist, human being, just an extremely generous, kind person."
"I like being kind to people," Akre, the mother of a 3 year-old son, told the West Seattle Herald during an interview from Minneapolis where she and her husband are settling in. "I'm sort of for the underdog. When people want to come up and are appreciative of me I think that's the highest compliment.
"Paul (Michaels) contacted me and gave me the lowdown on what he and Brian were working on," she said. "They were longtime fans. It was interesting to reconnect and I was receptive to the project. Paul was more of a fan during the time of Goodness. Our first band, Hammerbox, was probably closer to the heyday of true grunge. I liked reminiscing about those times. It was almost cathartic to do so."
She recalled that she was seldom disrespected for being a female performer in a genre some may say was male-dominated.
"I personally have always been kind of a loner so in some respects I fit in," she said. "Performance-wise people would say, 'I don't really like chick singers but I like you.' I think, 'Great! You came over to my side'. In some respects I found it very powerful (to be a female performer). You can do things with vocals you can't with a male voice. I picked up the guitar but was not a 'guitar person'. Some talented guitar players eat and breath it like Danny Newcomb (lead guitar) in Goodness and (Pearl Jam's Mike) McCready. They play it for hours and hours. I am not that person. I do this to write songs. I hate to practice. Singing, vocals to me are my instrument. It is almost like acting, how are you portraying your words that day."
So, did Akre partake of those storied breakfast buffets?
"Absolutely," she acknowledged. "I definitely had some of those breakfasts."