Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reel Indie Film Fest Review - Born To Ruin

On Day 16 of recording four members of the Toronto based indie band Wildlife are seated in a room with keyboard player Tim Daugulis serving as the focus of attention. Quickly its evident that the film has started in the middle of an intervention. Dauglulis has the habit of getting blind drunk, falling down and hurting himself.  He knows it, doesn't care about himself, but does care if it effects the relationship with the band. The other three band member in the room singer, guitar player and songwriter Dean Povinsky, co-song writer and bass player Derek Bosomworth and drummer Dwayne Christie all drinkers themselves just want him to be a bit more careful. Derek adds that he himself is the only one that has drank every night since they arrived in Connecticut to record their sophomore album On the Heart at Tarquin Studios. The only band member not present is lead guitarist Graham Plant who is older than the other members and the one that has the most problem with Tim's behaviour.

The scene then shifts back in time to Toronto for the pack up and departure to the States by the band to recored their pivotal sophomore album. The plan for this album is to show that Wildlife has matured as they reflect on their first album that featured songs about partying and having a good time. They have a unique opportunity to work with renewed producer Peter Katis who has worked with the likes of The National and Tokyo Police Club. They also have scheduled a short session with Gus Van Go known of his hands on approach and sports the Stills, Hollerado and the Trews in his stable.

Director Brendan McCarney followed the band for three months to make the film. Each band member gets their moment to shine and the others give their comments on their mates.  The core four have been together for 6 years while keyboardist Daugulis has been in Wildlife for three. McCarney uses a lot of hand held shots for the project. Days are spent perched on the putrid green couch in Katis' converted house studio listening to track and going over the smallest passages in a song. Guitarist Graham Plant is first on the hot seat as he tries to get a passage correct on a tune as the rest of the band looks on from the green eyesore. Next up is drummer Christie attempting to get the beat right in a two person session with bassist Bosomworth who eventually leaves Christie on his own to figure it out.

Just as the band gets used to and the film begins to saturate with the mechanics of Katis' studio its time to shift to Brooklyn. Where Gus van Go provides an outside perspective as he comments that there is not really one leader wondering aloud if a democratic approach is really the best way to run a band. Its also in Brooklyn where Daugulis realizes as the sessions are ending that he has not contributed to the album.  Dean and Derek have recorded the keyboard parts, he hasn't had any input in the songs, plus he hasn't spoke up in any of the in studio discussion. With reality hitting him squarely in the face Daugulis embarks on a one person on camera beer shotguning session that basically signals his departure from Wildlife.

Born to Ruin is an appealing look at the record recording process.  It also benefits from the fact that the band used two producers allowing for a comparison of van Go and Katis' styles. It's rewarding to see the creative process up close. The nuances of each individual instruments recording technique  including Derek Povinsky vocals to be pieced together later to create a finished song. For those who like a behind the scenes look at the making of an album Born to Ruin is worth a look.

***  Out of 4.

Born to Ruin | Brendan McCarney | Canada / U.S.A. | 2014 | 79 Minutes.

Tags: Wildlife, Indie Rock, Peter Katis,  Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport Connecticut, Gus van Go, Williamsburg Brooklyn, Intervention.

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