Watching Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone is like the retelling of the story of Anvil: The Story of Anvil minus the upbeat ending.
Still, the documentary sheds a light on one of rock’s most undervalued acts. Using a combination of new and old interviews with band members and fans including Flea and Les Claypool, behind-the-scenes footage, animation and live performances, it’s a tale worth watching for longtime fans of the 33 year-old group and those who need to be schooled.
Immediately, Everyday Sunshine rewards the viewer. It offers a deeper understanding of what went into the group’s formation. For years there was the cursory history of the members coming together due to desegregation busing instituted in the Los Angeles area. That fateful experience brought together Norwood Fisher, his brother Fish, Angelo Moore, Kendall Jones, Dirty Walt Kibby II and Christopher Dowd.
The mixture of personalities, environments and open minds creates a sound that’s punk, funk, soul, ska and jazz. Back in 1993, I witnessed the members run through a jaw-dropping 16-minute version of “Everyday Sunshine” that pretty much touched on all those styles.
From those early days of going by creative instincts alone while influencing so many on the SoCal music scene (Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt), the band makes some commercial strides but mainly has to fight through perpetual resistance – too black for rock radio and too rock for black radio. The toll of that situation weighs heavily on them. Later, personal issues tear away at the band’s existence.
Norwood sums up the inherent and eternal struggle within its ranks. “Fishbone could be a band that doesn’t use profanity, goes and does the festival circuit, plays the oldies and rakes in a ton of dough. But we chose to try to forge new ground, go into unchartered territory on some levels. You might not have an easy time doing that. It’s like we are where we are because we chose the path that we walk.”
Angelo compares it to a married couple that wants to get divorced but stick around and work things out because of the “kids” they have together, aka the music.
By the end what’s left of the original lineup is Norwood and Angelo coming to a truce of unfettered artistic freedom versus commercial necessities and the determination to keep going because Fishbone is their lifeblood.
The DVD includes audio commentary from the filmmakers and the band, deleted scenes, interview outtakes, unreleased photos and concert footage from throughout the group’s entire history and more.