Hit Play: I’m with the Band

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Second to denim, dutil.’s culture revolves heavily around music. Whether it’s releasing a limited edition vinyl featuring our favourite up-and-coming bands, or turning our shop into an electrifying venue for live shows, rock and roll is deeply woven into this company’s fabric. With that, it’s time to Hit Play on everything about life in a band (I didn’t include Almost Famous on this list because it seemed too obvious, but if you haven’t seen it, leave immediately). We’re talking giant papier-mâché heads, 90s rom coms, the usual stuff. Grab your tambourine and get in the van, because we’re going on tour.

Watch: Frank

I think perhaps the most telling thing that can be said about my taste in men is that I find Domhnall Gleeson more attractive than Michael Fassbender. This not to say that I think there is any right or wrong type of person to be attracted to, or that one of those dudes is in some way objectively better than the other. It is simply in the spirit of full disclosure: a significant part of my enjoyment of the film Frank stemmed from the opportunities to stare longingly into Domhnall Gleeson’s confused blue eyes. And if your potential enjoyment is rooted in a similar intention to stare into Michael Fassbender’s, do know that they will be concealed behind an enormous papier-mâché head for almost the entire duration of the film.


Anyway, this is a very superficial start to a recommendation of a film that is excellent for far more and better reasons than its proliferation of thin men with guitars. Frank is fascinating and bizarre and hilarious. The short sell is that it’s the story of an unassuming English boy who joins a very strange band, moves to Ireland, and grows a large beard. In longer and more abstract terms, it is a cacophony of great music, angry sex, and an almost inexhaustible supply of Maggie Gyllenhaal being deliciously, viciously mean. It is also one of the most frank (ha ha) and intelligent discussions of the romanticization of mental illness as a component of the creation of art that I’ve seen committed to film. It is also the only film – or in fact work of fiction generally – I can think of that features both a theremin and a hot tub (though in the spirit of further full disclosure, I haven’t seen Hot Tub Time Machine).

Read: Frank Sidebottom: the true story of the man behind the mask

In what seems to be the spirit of this series, I went down a bit of a Frank rabbit hole in my research. I knew that the film had been inspired by a true story, but I didn’t know to what extent. Jon Ronson’s (one of the writers of the film and also of This American Life and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed fame) Guardian piece about his time as the keyboard player for the real Frank is an enlightening read, whether you’ve seen the film and/or know anything about the man himself or not. It also kind of made me cry? But I woke up in a weird mood and the first thing I did today was buy and eat Reece’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal, so it’s possible I’m not operating at peak capacity. Either way, it’s a good read, and I imagine the e-book it’s an excerpt from is as well (I’ve added it to my list).

Chris Sievey as Frank Sidebottom in 1992. Photograph: ITV/REX
Chris Sievey as Frank Sidebottom in 1992. Photograph: ITV/REX

Listen: Song Exploder

Song Exploder is the ultimate commute podcast. Conveniently parceled into bus-friendly 15 minute installments, each episode is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful tidbits about everything from pop to power ballads to what I think the kids used to call indie rock. Did you know, for example, that MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” was intentionally recorded at exactly the same tempo as Dancing Queen? Or that Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino drew inspiration for her song Feeling OK from the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack? It’s basically like zoning out to your favourite music while simultaneously listening to a podcast, which is something I, in my over-stimulated, media-addled state, have been trying to figure out how to do for years. It’s also great if you’re in the market for a new favourite song (I was as surprised as anyone to discover that mine is Carly Rae Jepsen’s “When I Needed You”).

-Shauna Wootton
Featured photograph by Eszter Biro