It’s a tale as old as time, or at least as old as the music business.
Hot, ambitious and talented young Band X taps the pop zeitgeist, has a hit song that encompasses the sound of “now.” Record company guys in suits with ponytails and coke spoons tell Band X it is great, the company sees a bright future for Band X and signs it to a record contract.
Band X gets a taste of the dream, egos expand, arguments both petty and important ensue and Band X promptly implodes. In its wake, it leaves a black hole of hurt feelings, perhaps some addiction problems, untapped musical potential and a bunch of fans who, years later, wonder, what happened to those guys?
Kent rock band DINK’s story comes pretty close to that archetype.
The band consisted of friends — guitarist, programmer, vocalist Sean Carlin; vocalist, guitarist Rob Lightbody, guitarist vocalist Jer Herring; bassist Jeff Finn; drummer Jan Eddy Van Der Kuil along with light and visual projectionist guy Mark Hughes and soundman Andrew McCallister.
The band’s single Green Mind and its kinetic video became an MTV hit and topped the alternative dance charts. The song was also featured in the Mark Wahlberg stalker film Fear and the mostly forgotten video game-inspired kung fu flick Double Dragon.
For those who may not recall 1994-95 clearly, Green Mind was a timely mix of an industrial-flavored but funky groove, rocking power chords, some hip-hop influenced samples and a catchy rap-sung vocal. It’s the kind of recognizable era song and sound that a film director might use to instantly set the period for a 1990s coming-of-age movie.
Coupled with its wild, disorienting video that mirrored DINK’s live shows, the song and its follow-up Angels — used in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence vehicle Bad Boys — it briefly appeared that DINK would put Kent back on the musical map.
So what happened? Well, local film director Jorge Delarosa, a member of the Kent-based Slow Mutants electronic media production company, has made a rockumentary called Gangrene: The DINK Documentary. It will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday at the Venice Cafe in Kent.
Following the screening will be a Q&A with Delarosa and members of DINK. Later at 9:30 will be a performance by K.I.N.D. featuring former members of DINK. (See what they did there?)
Delarosa was a 15-year-old fan in Kent who wore out his Cassette Single of Green Mind back in the day, but shortly thereafter forgot about the band like many folks.
Fifteen years later, Delarosa met Carlin running sound backstage at a show and asked him the proverbial “What happened to you guys?” and received an exasperated “It’s a long story.” But it didn’t stop there.
Delarosa decided to film a documentary about the group that dovetailed with a documentary class he was taking at the time.
The tagline says that the film is “Part rock ’n’ roll documentary, part psychedelic trip, this is the story of 7 friends from Kent, OH. They had it all in the palms of their hands …”
Delarosa sees the film not just as a chronicle of a band that most folks outside of Kent consider to be a 1½-hit wonder.
“First and foremost, I hope the film entertains the audience. It’s a cautionary tale about ego and decision making, Delarosa said by email.
“These guys did everything right to get to the top, and when it seemed like they got there, they made every wrong decision.”
Delarosa spent a month interviewing the band members, save one.
“Rob Lightbody outright refused an interview,” Delarosa said of the singer-songwriter who he discovered working as a locksmith 50 feet behind Delarosa’s house.
“I realized I had to separate the band members right away. All together, they didn’t want to reveal a critical point in the film, which is titled ‘The Pozo Lounge.’ I loosened their tongues with beer,” he said.
You have to watch the film to find out what happened at the Pozo Lounge, but given that Carlin called Lightbody to apologize and all the band members apologize to Lightbody on camera, we can surmise it was not a proud moment in their young lives and apparently irreparably damaged both the band and its members collective friendship.
Visually, Delarosa also wanted the film to resemble a Dink show so he pored through more than 800 photos and all the reviews and archival MTV and FX footage he could find to make a very stylized, non-static film.
“When the band performed live, they had these far-out visuals projected onto them by Mark Hughes, who was very much a member of the band,” he said.
“I wanted the film to feel like one of DINK’s live shows, and I’ve been told I was successful. As each band member narrates the story, there is coinciding imagery happening behind them. Sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face. It’s really a trip to watch! But the story itself is very linear from beginning to end.”
If you can’t make the screening, Gangrene: The DINK Documentary is available as a DVD online at slowmutants.com along with several other films produced by the collective.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml and/or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.