A Film By Keirda Bahruth

Punk Globe Interviews Producer Rick Ballard
About The Bob Forrest Of
Thelonious Monster Documentary
By : Ban Tasers
Guitar-slingin' Action-Hero, Rick Ballard, runs Acetate, the coolest DIY, real rock'n'roll label, left alive. Home to some of the most essential bands on the planet, Acetate releases discs by the Hangmen, Mad Juana, Chelsea Smiles, The Factory, Charley Horse, Throw Rag, Black Halos, Prima Donna, Dragbeat, Rhino Bucket, Warrior Soul, and Sour Jazz!!! His partner, the film-maker, Keirda Bahruth, and he have also spent six years making this poignant documentary, " BOB AND THE MONSTER", about indie-rock songwriter, Bob Forrest's notorious struggles with addiction and transformation into a sobriety counselor and powerful influence in both the music and recovery communities . Their stirring film is currently wowing audiences on the festival circuit, so while Keirda is hard at work, promoting the movie to the indie-cinema folks, we implored her collaborator, producer, Rick, to give us the inside skinny on the flick and all the latest news from the Acetate Records underground!
PUNK GLOBE: For each of you, Is this your first feature film? Discuss your early inspirations, and introductions to both underground film-making and punk rock... How did the two of you meet, forge your alliance, and agree to form this multi-media juggernaut?
RICK BALLARD: We met while Keirda was doing Music Supervision on the movie "Pauly Shore Is Dead". She was looking for a song to replace "Rico Suave" or something ridiculous… She had a Film/TV background, used to work at Saturday Night Live and wanted to venture into documentaries. I started Acetate Records in 1999 and had been doing it for years, so it seemed natural to do a project like Bob and The Monster together. We share a lot of influences and common ground, movies like "Dogtown", "About A Son", "The Unheard Music" (the X documentary) were definitely inspiration to get this done… still waiting for the juggernaut part to happen.
PUNK GLOBE: To folks unfamiliar with Thelonious Monster, what album, or even individual songs, would you recommend, as a primer, or introduction to Bob the songwriter?
RICK BALLARD: Download "Try" and "Yes Yes No" from their first record, it’s on Epitaph. And "Sammy Hagar Weekend" is great, that’s from the record that John Doe produced, "Stormy Weather". I love "The Cereal Song" and "Boy At A Busstop" from the Bicycle Thief record. Thelonious Monster put out a full length record in 2004 called, "California Clam Chowder", full of great songs.
PUNK GLOBE: Why didn't FISHBONE ever cross-over, and whatever happened with that whole cult-kidnapping drama everyone heard about in the nineties, what's Angelo up to now, and have you seen the movie about them?
RICK BALLARD: I recently saw the documentary that Chris Meztler made on them called "Everyday Sunshine". It's great, a really fun movie. We just saw them play with Wu-Tang at SXSW, all original members, from what I can tell, they are touring and smokin’ every band they share the stage with.
PUNK GLOBE: There was this whole mystique around the Jane's Addiction movie, "The Gift"...I finally found it on VHS at a second-hand store, and to me, it seems really gratuitously tacky, and exploitive, like it was totally sensationalizing junk addiction...what was your take on it? I was particularly troubled by what seemed like real down and out addicts, sort of being shamelessly exploited by a titillated Perry, who possessed this voyeuristic fascination. Where is Casey N. nowadays?
RICK BALLARD: I haven’t seen that in 20 years, hard for me to say…
PUNK GLOBE: the Big Machine got behind the Chili's, and they finally connected with MTV programmed college kids, and conservative jocks, in the midwest, it seems like their mainstream success was a shock to many of their old associates from L.A. punk rock. Was it a struggle for cerebral songwriter, Bob, to see his pals ascend to big-time, corporate stardumb?
RICK BALLARD: I’m sure it was, RHCP, Fishbone and Thelonious Monster were all on the same plain at some point in the beginning, then, the Chili Peppers exploded. I think Bob thought Thelonious Monster was next, but it didn’t work out that way.
PUNK GLOBE: Whatever became of Chuck Mosely, the Faith No More vocalist?
RICK BALLARD: He just sent us a copy of his new CD, it’s really good. He actually has a song called “Bob Forrest” on it.
PUNK GLOBE: The weird thing about the Chili's is how much of their appeal seems based, at least, in part, on the misperception of them as macho, girl groping, misogynistic, butt rockers, like dudes you'd meet passing the beer bong, on the front porch of a rape-row frat-house, in Columbus, Ohio...when they seem to actually, be fairly evolved, even somewhat enlightened, cultured, highbrow, you know, thoughtful, as individuals, in real life...whereas, much of their audience, in the midwest, seems to be responding to the socks on the dicks and jumping up and down, their image as marauding, fist fighting, frat-boys. Are they hip to this contradiction?
RICK BALLARD: You don’t really get to qualify your audience or decide who responds to your music, once it’s out there, it’s for everyone, whether you like that or not. Then again, when you're putting socks on your dick, you gotta expect something…
PUNK GLOBE: Why didn't all these giant celebs bail out FLIPSIDE MAGAZINE?
RICK BALLARD: It’s a shame that it’s gone, there’s a long list of magazines that I miss.
PUNK GLOBE: Rick...I know you as a rocker and a record mogul, how did you manage to find time to become an indie film-maker, as well?
RICK BALLARD: When we started, it didn’t seem that far a cry from what I have to do with the label - shooting videos, EPKs, recording live performances, etc. But I was so wrong, making a documentary is an entirely different beast, it’s a monstrous undertaking. I tried to keep up with the rocking and moguling while it was all happening, but it wasn’t possible, towards the end. Rocking and moguling are very demanding.
PUNK GLOBE: When did you first meet Bob F., what about him moved you to want to tell his tale?
RICK BALLARD: I saw Thelonious Monster at Raji’s in Hollywood a few times in the early 90’s, but I never knew Bob personally. Keirda, the director (and my wife), gave me a copy of Bob’s post-Thelonious Monster band, "The Bicycle Thief", where he kind of lays out his story and I really connected with it. But the idea to do the documentary was all Keirda, she was looking for a project and had a moment of clarity. Six and a half years later…
PUNK GLOBE: Discuss the making of the film, the challenges, the uplift narrative, sounds like a happy ending...
RICK BALLARD: Well it took a long time to make, and for the first 4 years, we didn’t really know where it was going, we knew something was there, but the story hadn’t completely revealed itself, yet. But we just kept trudging forward, compiling interviews and live footage, knowing that it will all come together and it did. It was really important to get the feel of the time period right, mid-eighties Hollywood is a very specific feel. We were very fortunate that people had video cameras then and some were very generous about letting us use their footage to tell the story. I think it's a movie with a positive message more than it has a “happy ending”.
PUNK GLOBE: Who did the claymation?
RICK BALLARD: This French company called “Lapin de l'espace” (Rabbits from Outer Space) - check ‘em out on YouTube they do some gnarly animation. What they did for us has to be seen to be believed, it’s insane. People in the theater flip out when they see their work.
PUNK GLOBE: Where can people see the film? When will it be available on disc?
RICK BALLARD: We premiered at SXSW and are playing all the film festivals that we can - New York, DC and Sheffield are coming up and some more we’re not allowed to announce yet… We’re hoping to get it commercially released by the beginning of 2012 - keep an eye on the website – www.bobandthemonster.com
PUNK GLOBE: I was on Love-Line once, with Brian Eno...So what did you think of Doctor Drew, he strikes me as fairly humorless in regards to Charlie Sheen...
RICK BALLARD: I’d love to hear that. I don’t know, I guess most doctors are fairly humorless. I haven’t followed what he has to say about Charlie Sheen, but Bob has some funny shit on his Twitter about it, he basically challenged him to a duel.
PUNK GLOBE: Courtney Love seemed so mellow and sincere in the trailer, humble, humane, grateful... is she, like, nice to some people?
RICK BALLARD: She was very gracious to us, she’s known Bob for 25+ years, as have Anthony, Flea, Angelo & Norwood from Fishbone and the Jane’s Addiction guys. They sound like old friends because they are and Bob has a unique ability to really connect to people, he’s easy to get to know.
PUNK GLOBE: What is Bob up to now, as far as his music goes, does he still want to make and release longplaying record albums? What do you think he's doing, right this minute?
RICK BALLARD: We’ve recorded a few things for the film with Bob and Josh Klinghoffer (who was in The Bicycle Thief with Bob and is now John Frusciante’s replacement in the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Josh also did the score for us, so hopefully, we’ll put it all together, as a soundtrack. I just heard Thelonious Monster is writing songs, maybe a new record is in the works.
PUNK GLOBE: What’s he up to right this minute?
RICK BALLARD: Well he’s got a newborn baby boy, so he’s knee deep in that, or on the phone helping someone going through a crisis… either way he ain’t sleeping.
PUNK GLOBE: Does he make peace with his kid?
RICK BALLARD: Come see the movie - You’ll know more than you ever wanted to! You’re referring to his oldest son, Elijah, yeah, they seem to have a good relationship now. Elijah’s living on the East Coast, in Philadelphia, but he met up with Keirda and Bob at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto. That kid is an amazing singer/songwriter/guitar player – “amazing” like “Townes Van Zant-amazing.”
PUNK GLOBE: I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've read loads of positively glowing reviews-the only mild criticism anyone could muster-up, was that Bob Forrest comes across as near saintly, in the film. Any response?
RICK BALLARD: There’s a lot of good will out there for Bob, he’s a genuine guy, but this isn’t a love letter to him, there’s a lot of fucked up things that happen, and we don’t shy away from any of it. I think the film tells the story pretty well… The best compliment is hearing from the people who were there who say that we got it right.
PUNK GLOBE: Is the Frenchie who appears in your flick the Joneses and Jeff Drake affiliated Frenchie?
RICK BALLARD: One in the same, also played in The Hangmen, Thelonious Monster, The DI’s, Paging Beto, the Purple Gang and a million other bands…
PUNK GLOBE: Describe the South By Southwest experience... Other Film festivals?
RICK BALLARD: The film part is much calmer and smaller than the music part. But they overlap, so about halfway into it, there’s nothing but a million white passenger vans going 5 miles an hour. SXSW was the perfect place for us to premiere. And most of the places we’ve played have a good music scene or history Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, and we have New York, Sheffield and Washington DC coming up - overall it’s been a really cool experience.
PUNK GLOBE: What will your next cinematic project be about?
RICK BALLARD: It’ll be about driving to a theater and paying 12 bucks to watch one someone else made. I don’t know, there’s a couple things in the works. Which basically means I have no idea, we’re still riding this wave.
PUNK GLOBE: Ever meet Anthony Kiedis' old man, Blackie?
RICK BALLARD: No, read about him in Anthony’s book, tho. Looks to me like Nick Cave stole his look.
PUNK GLOBE: Did Amy Wichmann know Bob? Whatever happened to her boyfriend, Tex, from the Hangmen?
RICK BALLARD: I see Tex around Los Angeles here and there, he was doing great last time I saw him. I’m sure he and Bob have some war stories, don’t know about Amy, though.
PUNK GLOBE: What if someone wants Bob's help and they're not a celebrity? What message do you hope people who see this film will come away with?
RICK BALLARD: Bob helps people, celebrity or not, and mostly not. That’s not what he’s about. He has his own facility called Hollywood Recovery Services, you can call him anytime 323-461-8500. The message in the film is to never give up, and stay mad for living, that’s what I hope people come away with.
PUNK GLOBE: How do you finance all these exceptional creative endeavors in this war-economy, the label, the recordings, the film, promotion, etc.?
RICK BALLARD: We do so much of the work ourselves, with the record label and the film. It’s a lot of sweat, late nights and lack of sleep, more than anything. We live by the DIY ethic. We run the business out of our garage, with our 3 year old daughter running around, playing and hanging out. The film did need some money though, some thing we just couldn’t do, and we were fortunate to have a couple people help us out, when we needed it.
PUNK GLOBE: Tell me about your current music operations, other projects in the works...whatever I neglected to ask you about?
RICK BALLARD: Prima Donna is back in the studio, finishing a release for later this year, and The Hangmen have a new record coming up. Ron Heathman from the Supersuckers is in the band now, so that should be a killer release.
PUNK GLOBE: What is Falling James doing, now?
RICK BALLARD: Right now? Sleeping, it’s like 4am… He’s still writing, but I haven’t seen him since he sat behind us at the Rolling Stone’s show at the Hollywood Bowl.
PUNK GLOBE: Will Poison Ivy ever make anymore music without Lux, does anyone know how she's doing?
RICK BALLARD: I have no idea, but I hope she’ll play again one day.
PUNK GLOBE: What is Corey Parks like?
RICK BALLARD: She’s bad ass and a great bass player.
PUNK GLOBE: Two more questions I have to ask: When will Dragbeat make another album, and will a Coma-Tones retrospective ever be released, maybe on Acetate?
RICK BALLARD: I’d love to do records with them. Dragbeat has an EP, most of which is recorded, we just need to get around to finishing it. I’ve talked to Jimmy James and the Coma-tones guys in the past about doing something, they recorded a full length demo/record in their rehearsal room and it’s so raw and tough, just needs to be mixed. I’d love to release something to commemorate the band and what a great singer Gio was…
PUNK GLOBE: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and also for all the great work you do! www.acetate.com www.bobandthemonster.com