WASHINGTON – It’s a 4-minute ride in a D.C. punk Wayback Machine.
The just-released trailer for “Salad Days: The Birth of Punk Rock in the Nation’s Capital,” by local filmmaker Scott Crawford, combines never-before and rarely seen video and photographs of the D.C. punk scene from the early 1980s, and modern interviews with the musicians who played The Atlantis Club before it was the original 930 Club.
The vintage still images recall the first days of the Washington-area punk scene, which is now acknowledged as one of the most influential ever.
The trailer features vivid images of now long-gone venues in their prime, including Ontario Theater, at 17th Street and Columbia Road NW, and d.c. space, at the corner of 7th and E Streets NW, shown with its black-lettered window sign offering “food, drinks & show.”
“We’re proud as hell of the fact that what’s coming out this town is good. And we knew it. Everyone knew it,” recalls Marginal Man guitarist Kenny Inouye in the trailer.
Ian MacKaye, whose bands of the time included Teen Idles, Minor Threat and Fugazi and who co-founded the do-it-yourself Dischord Records, was recently interviewed by Crawford for the film.
“In Washington, D.C. there isn’t a rock and roll industry to speak of,” MacKaye said. “In this town, the canopy is government.”
Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters and Nirvana, at the time living in Springfield, Va., was forever influenced by the D.C. scene.
“I learned how to play drums by listening to (Minor Threat’s) ‘Out of Step,'” said Grohl, in a casual interview for the film.
The charismatic Washington scene captured the attention of people outside the nation’s capital, including “Saturday Night Live” comedian Fred Armisen, who says, “I’m in love with Ian MacKaye, I still am.”
The trailer (and eventually the film) traces the various stages of the hardcore punk scene.
Alec MacKaye’s studded, black leather jacket with band name Untouchables stenciled across the back — displayed today for the film’s camera — is likely to flashback on the early days when angry young “Georgetown Punks” symbolized the local scene.
As the scene grew, “emo” or emotional hardcore, developed.
“As far as I’m concerned, punk had been emotional from day one. Last time I checked, anger is an emotion, too,” says Ian MacKaye.
Shows at the time were physically and emotionally exhausting.
“There was nothing left. When they left the stage, they were broken. All the instruments were broken. All the mics were broken,” recalls Amy Pickering, of the band Fire Party.
In addition to the images and sounds of years past, the current interviews show now-grown-up scenesters today, including Minor Threat/Dag Nasty/Bad Religion guitarist Brian Baker lounging on his couch and Black Market Baby singer Boyd Farrell sitting in front of his fireplace.
With many of the interviews completed, Crawford says the Kickstarter funding will go toward upcoming editing, animation, graphics, mastering, color correction and sound editing.
Crawford hopes the film will be released in mid-2013.