• I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney

    Released By: King of Hearts Productions
    Released On: 08/06/2013
    Director: Adam Pease, Ryan Short
    Cast: Mark Arm, Dan Peters, Steve Turner, Matt Lukin, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard
    Year: 2012

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    The Film:

    The story of the Seattle Band known as Mudhoney should be better known. Emerging in early incarnations as an American hardcore outfit, they evolved into the band that would largely be regarded as the major influence on the Seattle/Sub Pop scene; Green River. Taking the name from serial killer Gary Ridgeway, Green River achieved moderate success before splitting off into what would ultimately become two bands. But while it's pretty safe to say that everyone has heard of the group that members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament went on to be a part of, the immensely hugely ridiculously popular Pearl Jam, Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Steve Turner would spend the next quarter century doing well as an indie band while somehow avoiding the massive success of the bands (Nirvana, Soundgarden) that they inspired.

    Documenting such a long and varied career is a difficult task, but I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney takes the first step properly in assembling the key players to tell the tale. Guitarist and vocalist (and obvious template for all things Cobain) Mark Arm talks about his early childhood, moving from an Air Force base in Germany and getting bitten by the rock n' roll bug; an affliction that would lead him to the first two Stooges albums and set his life on its current course. Guitarist Steve Turner explains his introduction to popular music as learning songs by The Beatles until his life was changed at a Black Flag concert. Original bassist Matt Lukin (the real standout as far as entertaining interview subjects go) talks about his career prior to Mudhoney as bassist for The Melvins, and drummer Dan Peters discusses the hardcore influences that got him into playing music.

    Moving on from the individual members to the story of the band itself, Steve Turner reveals the pivotal moment that set the band on their way; the introduction of fuzz pedals that resulted in the sound (and title) of 1988's Sub Pop release Superfuzz Bigmuff. Coupled with the moderate indie success of the single "Touch Me I'm Sick/Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More" single, Arm talks about being flown to Berlin, Germany to perform for enthusiastic fans, the first realization that the band was headed in a positive direction.

    In what is regarded as the launch of the Seattle Scene, Sub Pop's Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman talk about how they grouped Mudhoney with TAD and newcomers Nirvana for "Lame Fest" at Seattle's Moore Theatre, a sold-out event that flipped the finger at the prevailing hair metal movement and paved the way for what would become the peak of the scene heard around the world as bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden sold millions of albums; while Mudhoney simply sold decently, with the members of the band continuing to work day jobs to support their musical aspirations.

    I'm Now does a good job of not focusing on the downer aspect of Mudhoney's dodging of success, and instead focuses on the band's staying power as they moved past the demise of the "Grunge" movement, through lineup and label changes, drug use, and a number of other pitfalls that tend to take out less experienced bands. Rounding up an impressive collection of interviewees to help document the events, such as Keith Morris, Jack Endino, familiar face David Fricke and members of Sonic Youth, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam definitely keeps things entertaining as well, and a decent amount of live footage and home movies keeps things moving along at a steady pace. With so many stories to tell and so many milestones to cover, it's impossible to get every detail in there, but directors Pease and Short have done an admirable job.


    I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney comes to DVD with an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer that looks pretty good. Obviously with a large collection of different source material there are going to be some inconsistencies, but it's perfectly watchable with no noticeable artifacts or compression issues. The Dolby Digital stereo track is well done also, with the interviews remaining coherent and balanced with live footage throughout the film, though some of the lower quality footage does have some inherent issues with different levels and hiss.

    Special Features include 13 minutes of Bonus Tour Footage, made up primarily of backstage and interview clips. A music video for I'm Now is also included.

    The Final Word:

    A well-executed documentary that even casual fans of the band should check out. Definitely recommended.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Paul Casey's Avatar
      Paul Casey -
      Sounds cool. Not super familiar with their music (only heard Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew a few times like 20 years ago), but I love their scene in Black Sheep. Plus, less heralded genre stalwarts are always very interesting. Nice review, Mark, I'll try to check this out.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Glad you liked it. I sure did. I always thought it was weird that the innovators of the scene got the least credit...but then you look at how few people worship the Stooges, and it makes sense.
    1. Dave Starry's Avatar
      Dave Starry -
      Sounds like a good documentary; I hadn't heard about this before. I was at that LameFest show in Seattle in June of '89 where Nirvana were at the bottom of the bill -- amazing to think of now since they were the only band of the three that night who went on to commercial fame.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I thought that Nirvana was the most commercially appealing, overall, but Mudhoney were and are so great. I'm pretty jealous you were at that show, Dave!