“You had weavers, you had craft communities”
Jodi Wille in 2012. Photograph by Joe Mabel
From Full Stop:
FullStop: Music fans also seem be people that get it the most intuitively. How did the relationship with Drag City come about, and why do think it’s been so easy to bridge the gap between the film and indie audiences?
Jodi Wille: It’s so easy to bridge it just for the fact that The Source Family put out so many influential records that have been coveted by devoted and discriminating psych collectors since the late ’80s, when Byron Coley and the Forced Exposure people got into the Yaweh 13 records not even knowing who the Source Family was. There were just wild rumors running around for years, and then Byron was able to piece something together from what was available. It was more than anybody had ever written, but was wildly inaccurate. When the book by Isis and Electricity came out, five indie labels rereleased Source Family music within one year. We got the band back together and had events in Los Angeles in 2007, their first show in 30 years. They had this big show at the Echoplex with Sky Saxon from the Seeds, and bands like The Entrance Band and Hecuba. That was kind of a pivotal show, which some people have written about as bridging the new and old psych in this kind of multi-generational thing. It was really exciting. Electricity was leading audience members in the star exercise. So you had all these jaded hipsters standing up and participating in this ancient magic ritual with huge smiles on their faces, really enjoying it. Not just ironically enjoying it, but actually getting into it. It was beautiful.
The reason that we went with Drag City was partially because I knew Dan Koretzky, who has been a friend of mine for a number of years. He was a fan of my book and I’m such a huge fan of the records he’s put out, so we really just appreciated the work we were both doing through our companies. He’s put out Harmony Korine’s film Trash Humpers and he put out Dragonslayer, so I knew that he had a track record, even if it was small. The offers that we were getting from other distributors were just underwhelming. For me and Maria, we worked really hard to be able to creatively control our film fully. Nobody ever told us what to do when we were making the film and that’s why it turned out the way it did. We really wanted to control not just the creative aspects of the film, but the sales and marketing and distribution aspects. With Drag City we were able to work with them collaboratively on every aspect from the poster design all the way down. Dan has a great relationship with this booker name Toby Leonard, who runs the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, and he’s friends with a lot of the people who run the best art houses in the country. So even though we had a very small distributor, we had this network of like-minded people who are all doing independent culture in our own way.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the band is playing to a group of high schoolers in Beverly Hills. Was there more concert footage from high schools that didn’t make it into the film?
I have to tell you: first off, there is more footage of the Beverly Hills high school concert. We just haven’t had the chance to put it together yet, but it exists. There is more footage of Father Yod playing these other schools too, but the audio has been lost. But the footage itself is insane. Just the thought of this thing happening is so bizarre, I can barely fit it in my brain. But if you see the full Beverly Hills concert it’s a whole different deal. In the film the point we were making was that the Source Family was playing out at a lot of schools and Father Yod was not only sharing his teachings, but he was recruiting, in a loose way. In the movie it seems like he was recruiting more hardcore than he really was, but the Source Family was not ever about hardcore recruiting. They were ultimately a lot pickier about who they would let in. But anyway, there is more footage and I hope that one day we can hire someone to put together the whole Beverly Hills concert — because it is so great.