Ryan Short and Adam Pease - Mudhoney: I'm Now [documentary] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Ryan Short and Adam Pease

Mudhoney: I'm Now [documentary] (2012)

King of Hearts Productions

Mudhoney's I'm Now wastes little time on platitudes. While a lot of rock documentaries spend half of the running time saluting the subject, the fact is, people watching rock documentaries are already fans and don't need to be told how great a band is. They already know. So instead of wasting precious time on congratulatory non-narrative material, directors Ryan Short and Adam Pease tell the story of Mudhoney in an academic form. It's telling that despite the lack of (and perhaps downplay of) inter-band drama, the I'm Now is as informative as it is entertaining.

Despite its 102 minute running time, I'm Now whips along, starting with the band's punk rock and hardcore origins. Once Mudhoney is actually formed, the pace really rips through, using important concerts and album releases as buoys for the narrative.

Wisely, Short and Pease allow the main Mudhoney guys–Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters, Matt Lukin and Guy Maddison–to tell their own story. For the most part, concert and hangout footage is interspersed with the members of Mudhoney recounting their signing to Sub Pop, their surprise when people in Germany wanted them to play there, their exit from Sub Pop, and their small tussle with heroin. Instead of focusing on juicy but irrelevant gossip such as who banged who and who hated who, the documentary leans more toward a music conessour offering and lets the band explain why they changed certain sounds at certain points, how different studios affected their sound, and just why they wrote some of the things that they wrote. Also, the origin of the term "grunge" is explained, which is fun.

Several notable figures do pop up to explain context, such as the band's manager, Sub Pop employees, members of Sonic Youth, Keith Morris, and David Fricke. But nicely, these small clips enhance and provide a few factoids rather than take the place of the band explaining themselves.

Of course, being a band rooted to "grunge," Nirvana gets some necessary (or at least demanded) mention, but thankfully, it is kept to a minimum. By contrast, Lukin's Melvins origins are diminished and the band, who have connections to Mudhoney and grunge as a whole, are minimized.

Most surprising is that there seems to be very little band drama here. There are no tales of infighting or Ramones-style passive aggression. Perhaps it didn't exist in the band because everyone was easygoing, or perhaps they wanted to let the music speak for itself. For a band like Mudhoney, it's a wise choice.

Highly Recommended for fans. Also recommended for people who want a brisk, informative intro course on the band.