One of the most amazing things about a genre or culture of music is when hundreds and thousands of it's loyal fans and followers can band together and all fully support a developing piece of it's history. Doug Brown, a filmmaker from Toronto, is the spearhead for this unity by creating the first feature length documentary about the history of grindcore. "Slave To The Grind", is a film that has had a profound presence on the internet, and has weaved it's way through the grindcore scene worldwide. Teaser trailers, kickstarter campaigns, and the genuine, humble and enthusiastic attitude of Mr. Brown himself have been shared and passed around by fans, musicians, and labels over the past year. The anticipation of a professional documentary about our favorite genre is exciting enough, but Doug's obvious passion and dedication to making sure the story gets told correctly solidifies to me that "Slave To The Grind" will be a masterwork. Eager to find out more information, and do my part is spreading the word, I decided to interview Doug via email. Please enjoy.
Operation Grindcore: Hello sir! Please introduce yourself
Doug Brown: My name is Doug Brown. I’m a schoolteacher; grind freak, record collector, filmmaker, and concert goer. I have a wife and daughter that I love very much, but do not like grindcore…
OG: Explain the genesis of "Slave to the Grind". Where did the idea first come to you?
DB: My last documentary was on collectors and why they collect. While it was a great experience, I found that my topic was too broad. I interviewed people who collected everything from My Little Ponies to Cadillacs. I knew that I wanted to continue investigating topics that influenced my life, and I knew that I wanted to do it on something more specific. Collectors are very passionate people, and I find that grind fans are too – so it was a logical next step. Plus, I collect grind records – so it made sense. Outside of my personal love for grind, It was about time for there to be something retrospective on the genre.
OG. What was your first exposure to the grind, and how your passion for it grew over time.
DB: My first grind album I wouldn’t even consider fully grind – Soilent Green’s "Sewn Mouth Secrets". I would likely call it sludge-grind, though that damn guitar tone is filthy. I still love S.G. to this day, and I was happy that Ben was the first interview that we got for the film.
Soilent are a great entry point for those not fully ready for grind. Keep in mind it was 15 years ago when I first heard it, so my tastes have gotten more aggressive since then. I grew up on thrash, then got into death metal, then death grind, and now I’m digesting grind at an absurd rate.
OG: To my knowledge there hasn't be any in depth documentation about grindcore ever before. A little in books like "Choosing Death", but never about just specifically grindcore itself. Is this lack of exploring into this genre surprising to you?
DB: It is and it isn’t. To me it’s all about timing. When "Choosing Death" came out it was a huge step for heavy metal documentation. I remember reading that book front to back in awe of all of the stories and anecdotes from the musicians. In the last 10 years a lot has happened historically. Jesse Pintado passed away. Seth Putnam passed away. Brutal Truth got back together, then broke up again. Dave Witte recorded another thousand albums.It just seemed like the right time for a film. An original title for the film was ‘The Complete Fucking History Of Grindcore” – but we realized that there was two things wrong with that. 1) There was no way we could capture all of history (Yes, we will include history…but I think people will be happy that this film will be about passion more than anything) and 2) By the time people watch it, history will have changed.
OG: I've been loving the trailers that you've been posting. You've interviewed so many people I actually want to listen to. Like Dave Witte! Tell us about that, experience. Obviously he was a big part of one of our favorite albums.
DB: Dave Witte is one of my favourite drummers of all time. I’ll admit, doing that interview was one of the first times I was nervous to meet someone. As you will see in the film, he is an unbelievably relaxed, controlled, and pensive person. Beyond loving grind, Dave has played with an unbelievable breadth of musicians, in an absurdly diverse quantity of styles. Being able to talk about all of it was a treat. I’ll admit that I got a little side tracked when interviewing him. I know it won’t make the film, but we chatted beer, jazz, and cats. It was totally badass in the nerdiest way.
OG: Do you talk about the genre's that were created out of grindcore's influence at all? Like powerviolence, goregrind, deathgrind, etc?
DB: For sure. It’s important to investigate the reach of grind. This said, I know that the film will be 90 percent grind, but expect a slew of offshoots. Also expect bits on proto-grind, (The genres that contributed to the sound).
OG: Talking to the pioneer's, Napalm Death, must have been a high honor. You mentioned Shane Embury was one of your longest interviews, is he an opinionated fellow on grindcore and were it is now?
DB: I am going to not say much about this interview. Mainly because it is so fucking good I don’t want to spoil it. Embury is the man.
OG: The wide spread support for "Slave to the Grind" is incredible. I've seen everybody from Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Fuck The Facts to the littlest up and coming bands spread the word of your movie. This kind of support has to really goes to show not just how excited people are for it to come out, but just how much people love grindcore, and care that it is properly documented. Response?
DB: What is particularly exciting is know that people truly want this film made, and more importantly, people have been assisting me to make it properly. I’ve received nearly 2000 emails since December from fellow grindheads, musicians, and label owners sending me positive vibes. I’ll admit that it has far surpassed the reach that I anticipated, but I’m not shocked by the strength of the underground.
OG: You've got some very alluring merch up for grabs on your kick starter to help fund production. Kickstarter has been a pretty polarizing way of funding yourself. Is that the suggested way to go? Seems like a win-win to me.
DB: I believe that Kickstarter is good to kick start a project that might struggle getting funding in a traditional way. I’ll admit it was a huge decision for us. We knew that making a film on grindcore was going to need a lot of support from the community. From day one we have been asking for fan filmed footage, audio from up and coming bands, photos shot by fans… It only made sense for it to be funded by the fans. I’m not going to lie – I know it has frustrated some people, though I need the world to know that we had meetings where execs offered us money to make this film. In fact, more money that we will likely get from the Kickstarter campaign. BUT, there was limitations on content, swearing, and they would have say on the final cut of the film. No way in hell were going to allow this to happen. Like Kickstarter or not, for us to make this film in a timely manner AND to have control of the output is dependent on this campaign. Many extreme music genres are already ostracized, and while I am not trying to make Grindcore mainstream – I do believe it should be humanized. The last thing I was to do is make a, ‘These bands scream and are abrasive – Isn’t that silly?’ film, which many investors wanted us to make. So fuck it – we went with a Kickstarter. If anything, having so many people pre-order it is just going to egg us on to make it as good as we can.
The perks are set up as exclusives. The only way to get the bonus featurette and the uncut interviews is by donating in advance. In turn it will help us make a better film, and fans can have a little more than those who will buy the film when its actually released.
OG: You definitely seem like a guy who'd connected to what's happening in the underground. Your "Underground Shout Out" posts on the "Slave To The Grind" FB page obviously say that. Are you a lurker of bandcamp like all of us? Interested and connected to the the smaller bands and scenes?
DB: Oh, I’m a huge lurker – I have been for years. I can’t tell you how hours of my life have been spent on Grindcore Karaoke, Bandcamp, and blogs like Operation Grindcore. I often buy a 7” directly from bands and small labels, which is something I suggest that everyone does.
From a documentary stand point; I am starting to think geographically. I love that there are mini scenes popping up where there are a 5-10 grind bands able to play regularly. While I live in a city with an amazing metal and punk scene, It’s a shame that we have so few grind bands.
OG: Are there any bands active right now that you find particularly impressive?
DB: There are endless bands that impress me. I was recently sent an unreleased recording of the next Organ Dealer release. If you are a deathgrind fan, you will dig this. I’ve also been enjoying a band called Deboned quite a bit.
OG: Now, we've actually done an interview before for a very short lived column on OG. Point being, I know you are an avid vinyl fan. Any great scores as of late?
DB: Killer score – I just got a first pressing of "Ready For Freddie" by Freddie Hubbard. I’m a huge jazz head as well, and I likely spend just as much on Jazz as I do on grind.
I also just got a collection of nearly 1,000 classic rock albums. Mainly things I have, but I’ll be doing some upgrading and swapping with friends. I have a lot of albums…
OG: What even are Mr. Brown's favorite grindcore albums?
DB: Ugh… this is tough. And I bet I will miss a few. I own an absurd quantity of records, so I’ll do 15 (IN NO ORDER)
1) Terrorizer – World Downfall
2) Insect Warfare – World Extermination
3) Napalm Death – From Enslavement to Obliteration
4) Rotten Sound – Exit
5) Nasum – Human 2.0
6) Noisear – Subvert The Dominant Paradigm
7) Lock Up – Necropolis Transparent
8) Brutal Truth – Sounds From The Animal Kingdom
9) Repulsion- Horrified
10) Pig Destroyer – Book Burner/Prowler at The yard (pending on the day)
11) Fuck The Facts – Die Miserable
12) Assuck – Anticapital
13) Discordance Axis – The Inalienable Dreamless
14) Dahmer - Dahmerized
15) Antigama – Warning
OG: Do you think we'll ever see a "Slave To The Grind Part 2" in the future? I'm sure there is more that can be told haha! And you know we'd love to see it!
DB: No. We are going to do this once, and do it right. There is a lot to be told – that’s for sure. We are currently offering a ‘bonus film’ with anyone who pre-orders the film on Kickstater. This is our way of addressing that we will have way too much footage to cram into a feature. It is also a way of thanking those who had faith in the project from day one.
OG: What do you think the next great grindcore subgenre will be?
DB: Murderviolence (which I actually read on a forum the other day as someone said ‘if Slave To The Grind doesn’t include any Murderviolence bands, they are fucking too mainstream. I hope it was a joke, as I was very confused) .
OG: Any final words?
DB: I said a lot… is anyone still reading?
Slave To The Grind Kickstarter: HERE