BY SARA BUTTON
The 9th annual Thin Line Film Festival is nigh and we know y’all are so excited about seeing Denton’s sweethearts, Midlake, on the big screen. Midlake: Live In Denton is set to premiere in Denton on February 18th, 2015 at the Campus Theatre as part of Thin Line.
We recently got to chat with director Jason Lee and Midlaker’s McKenzie Smith and Eric Pulido about what we can expect from the documentary, other Denton locals named Jason Lee, and what is on the agenda for Midlake this year. Read below for more.
MCKENZIE SMITH AND ERIC PULIDO
WDDI: Can you give me a brief synopsis of what we can expect to see in this documentary?
McKenzie Smith: It is the band playing a hometown show at one of our favorite Denton venues, Dan's Silverleaf at the beginning of our touring cycle for our latest album, Antiphon. Jason and Eric (Noren) did an excellent job of capturing footage from around our town and intertwining that footage into the live concert footage. It's definitely more of a concert film featuring our fine city, rather than a documentary on the band.
Eric Pulido: The film is less of a documentary and more of a concert film with footage of Denton spliced in. We wanted the film to feature our beloved city just as much as the concert itself. Jason and Eric (Noren) did a great job of capturing this and creating a very special piece.
How long have you been working with Jason Lee? How do you know that dude and what is he like to work with?
Smith: We met Jason 11 years ago via our label head, Simon Raymonde. From the beginning Jason showed true enthusiasm and love for what we were doing and we were humbled by his willingness to help us and want to work with us on an artistic level. Jason is one of the most creative and talented people I know.
Pulido: We've known Jason for about 11 years. We met because he was a fan of the band (introduced to us through our label head and former Cocteau Twin bassist, Simon Raymonde) and we crossed paths at SXSW 2004. Jason talked about interest in doing a video for us and he followed through, coming to Denton and making a music video for our first single off 'Bamnan and Slivercork', 'Balloon Maker'. He also used our music in his stereo skateboard film 'Way Out East' which Eric Noren actually helped film. That began a working relationship and ultimate close friendship that we've enjoyed through the years. Jason is a great person to work with and it’s been cool to have collaborated on so many different things.
What are some exciting things happening with Midlake this year? Any new tour dates on the horizon?
Smith: Midlake is taking some much needed time off from recording and touring.. After 17 years of going nonstop, I think we deserve it! With that said, none of us are sitting on our laurels. Everyone has side projects they are working on and other business ventures, as well as spending time with our families. It's nice to be hanging around Denton right now.
Pulido: No, we've enjoyed the break since spending so much time on making and touring Antiphon. We have a couple other film screenings (London and LA) coming up and are excited about that. We've all been digging in to other projects and it's been a nice change for everyone. I started a new collaborative project called 'Banquet' that features other artists that I know and love. It’s my version of a poor man's Traveling Wilburys.
What other films are you looking forward to seeing at this year Thin Line Festival?
Pulido: There are several, but we love to run and 'Transcend' looks like it'll be a band favorite.
WDDI: Hey Jason! How did you come to know Midlake?
Jason Lee: Simon Raymonde sent me the band's album Bamnan and Slivercork and I was hooked.
What made you think they were a worthy subject of a tour documentary and why did you chose to have it set in their small hometown of Denton in lieu of say one of their larger, European festival shows?
Good people, good music. And it made sense to film the band playing in their hometown, and to incorporate footage of Denton as an homage to the town.
Did you work with anyone local for the production of the documentary?
Dan's Silverleaf was very supportive about us filming there. And the town was very welcoming as well.
What's your personal favorite band doc? We're guessing Stop Making Sense..
Hard to say, but in terms of music-related movies, my favorite would have to be "True Stories."
We’ve noticed that you have producing credits on five different projects, two of which you also have directing credits on (Shredd & Untitled Jason Lee Short). What do you prefer to do from a behind-the-camera angle?
Directing is fun. I'd like to do more of it. It started from being a photographer and liking that creative process.
Will you be showing the doc at any other film festivals?
It will also screen in London later this month, as well as in LA.
Did y'all have any unforeseen mishaps during filming of the documentary?
Fortunately it all went pretty smoothly. I would have liked a bit more exterior footage to choose from but we didn't have much time. I'm happy with the result though
Which of the Midlake dudes do you think would win in an arm wrestling tournament?
Mckenzie (he has solid drummer arms).
You've been to Denton a handful of times - what's on your agenda whenever you drop in to town?
To be more involved in the community and to help the town expand (we've got some cool things happening now). I also want to build a concrete skatepark in town.
Did you know that there is another (probably more than one) Jason Lee residing in Denton? From what I've heard he gets a lot of friend requests and general confusion around y'alls name, and the fact that you travel to Denton sometimes. Do you have any pointers for him?
Embrace the name.
What's next on your agenda?
Buy property somewhere around Denton and just keep on truckin'.