"They should have been the band that went way beyond any of us that were influenced by them." - Les Claypool, Primus
If you're old enough to remember Fishbone from their early '90s heyday, chances are you already worship them. Though they never broke through to the mainstream, their funk-punk-ska-soul fusion influenced a slew of the most popular bands of their era, including Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt and Primus. And last year's documentary about them, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, is now streaming via Netflix -- and it's worth a look, whether you're a fan or not.
The film, which was directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, and which is narrated by Lawrence Fishburne, traces the band's history from their birth in South Central Los Angeles to their fractured present-day lineup, but there's a lot more to the film than just their biography -- though their hardships are a worthy topic all on their own.
The all-black band made a name for themselves in the mostly-white L.A. punk scene, got signed to the majors when they were barely out of high school and came thisclose to making it big but never did. Meanwhile, many of bands they came up with did break through to the mainstream, passing by Fishbone on their way to the top. The band battled racism, brainwashing, kidnapping, homelessness and of course, egos. And what do they have to show for it? Not much, it turns out, aside from their musical legacy, which might be major but which doesn't buy you a house in the Hollywood hills.
A who's who of rock stars sing the band's praises, including Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Flea and Ice-T, which are interwoven with present day band interviews as well as archival footage of their ridiculously high-energy live shows. Unlike most of their peers, Fishbone never wavered from the fierce democracy at their center, always catering to than their own musical vision above all else, which may have been pure but which also sabotaged them. Commercial success has eluded the group for virtually their whole career. The friendship between bassist Norwood Fisher and frontman Angelo Moore is particularly touching, as is the gang-like mentality the band had in their early days as they rose to cult heroes as a group of outsiders.
Everyday Sunshine may not be the best rock doc in recent memory, that'd be Anvil: The Story of Anvil, but the two films do have a lot in common. Both are about perseverance in the face of failure, and both are worthy pieces of the rock documentary canon, shining a light on a pair of bands that eluded larger success but which have left a lasting legacy. You can stream the film via Netflix or check it out on DVD.
Here's the trailer: