Documentaries and behind-the-scenes features that delve deeper into the lives of the artists we love seem to becoming more and more popular these days thanks to the DVD technology. More bands seem to be jumping at the chance to document their album productions and the results vary. Last year, Third Day created one of the more interesting behind-the-scenes looks at an album's production with the supplemental DVD for their project Live Wire. Taking the fans into the room where the band collaborated with the producer and discussed the progression of their songs was intriguing to say the least. This Summer, on the DualDisc version of their new album, Switchfoot gave a brief but detailed look at the grueling process the band went through to record Nothing Is Sound. Watching the songs come to life and be nurtured by the band members to fruition was something seldom seen and exciting for fans to behold. But to take it all further, hard rock band Project 86 gives a rare look into one of the most detailed accounts of recording an album I've seen yet, in their debut DVD release Subject To Change: The Making Of '...And The Rest Will Follow'.
Subject To Change is aptly titled as the raw and rough hour-long documentary gives fans a front row seat for the production of the band's fifth album ...And The Rest Will Follow. Opening with some jam session footage that showed three-fourths of the band inventing songs on the spot, the feature takes a quick and dirty approach with its narrative. Choppy beyond belief, the film is artsy in its direction but at times slightly hard to follow. There are times where the camera pauses for a few seconds on a specific moment in the album's production process and you're interested to see what happens next, but are whisked away quickly to another moment. While this may get frustrating at times, it's something that is understandable due to time restraints on the project. After all, we are talking about a several week long process being condensed into one hour of narrative.
From seeing the boys stranded on the side of the road the night before heading out to Canada to begin production on the record, to watching their producer GGGarth vent frustration upon the band, the anti-glamour of the musician's life is well-represented. We get a glimpse into the band's struggle with GGGarth's criticisms and frontman Andrew Schwab's honest confession of his reliance on the Lord for guidance, as well as tasty bits of the actual tracking process for the new songs. It's captivating to watch the evolution of the album and its songs. And it helps to be familiar with these songs going in to watch the DVD (which thankfully I can say I was). It helps to understand the development and metamorphosis the songs go through. Finally, we're treated to snippets of the band performing new songs like "Sincerely, Ichabod" live for the first time at Spirit West Coast.
The only problem I had with the flow of the documentary is it seemed to be excessively choppy at times to the point where some moments just felt too foreign for the viewer to feel included in. It also would have been cool to see more live footage, or even a song or two of high quality live footage and sound. The special features are rather slim, with just an ever-so-brief montage of fan footage from the Purple Door 2004 fiasco (a mud fight that caused months of headache for the band to smooth over), over a hundred photos of the band including candid shots, and the music video for "The Spy Hunter." It would have been nice if all of the band's music videos had been included, but considering how Subject To Change's main focus is the making of their new record, perhaps they're being held back for a future release.
Those concerned about the DVD's content due to the documentary style of the film, should know that the extent of the language is just a couple uses of "suck" and "crap" and one "Oh my God." It's an honest look into the album's conception and with that comes the humanity of the band's frustration and trials. It's refreshing to find the band is level-headed in the end.
As a whole, Subject To Change: The Making Of '...And The Rest Will Follow' is a Project 86 fan's dream. The DVD is a backstage pass to the making of the band's strong fifth installment and a worthy homage to its birth. I wouldn't recommend the release for casual fans, but those itching for ...And The Rest Will Follow's street date will find solace in Subject To Change.- Review date: 9/16/05, written by John DiBiase
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