UNDERGROUND INC. Film Review — Underground Music Commercialization

Underground Inc

An overhead shot shows a stage filled with band members. They are shirtless and are in the middle of playing a show. As they begin to play, everyone in the audience jumps around and dances. The shot pans over the large jam packed crowd. The people are shoulder to shoulder, with little space available to move. However, this does not stop them from rocking out to the band on stage. They are jumping, head banging, and overall, just having a good time.

This is a scene from Underground Inc., from Vision Films, made by filmmaker Shaun Katz. This film looks at the rise and fall of the underground alternative rock scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s. It explores how this genre of music rose to the mainstream, and how much of the talent got buried due to art colliding with major music corporations.

Underground Inc
Underground Inc
Underground Inc

Throughout the film, we see clips of the various bands mentioned. They are onstage performing for crowds in small concert venues and in large arenas. The bands rock out on stage, yelling into microphones and moving around. People jump from the stage into the crowd while the band remains performing, unphased by what is going on.

Underground Inc. Lets the Musicians Tell the Story

The majority of the film allows us to see and hear directly from the people who were working in the alternative music scene. Everyone— from musicians, to producers, to people who worked with record labels— share their experiences.

David Wyndorf, who was a member of Monster Magnet, sits at table with a background of bookshelves, amps and speakers. He talks about everything from playing shows until one in the morning, to the band’s experience working with a major label. He shares an anecdote about how they once made a song that had almost no meaning just to prove to the label that they could sell anything, after being frustrated that their album was not selling.

Jack Natz of Cop Shoot Cop is in a bedroom playing bass, the walls adorned with different artwork. He talks about how the bands could make whatever music they wanted, film whatever videos they wanted, but if they did not sell albums the bands would be dropped.

Then, Jeremy Chatelain, outdoors in front of tall mountains, shares about his time in the rock band Handsome. He describes how the band would just constantly argue about what they needed to do to make the band famous.

Underground Inc

As these and other musicians share their stories, it becomes clear that are similar to one another. In this way Underground Inc conveys how the underground rock music scene became commercialized once major record labels became interested and began signing all of the different bands.

In this writer’s opinion, Underground Inc would be perfect for those who listen to alternative rock music, and in particular the bands that were popular during the 1980’s and 1990’s. This film is especially perfect for those who are interested in learning about the music industry and how music labels can affect the success of bands. Underground Inc. is for those who are curious about what the alternative rock music scene and what happened behind the scenes.

 

Underground Inc
Underground Inc

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Director, Producer and Cinematographer: Shaun Katz

Producers: JB Sapienza and Adam Lovett

Executive Producers: Lawrence Trackman and Gary Trackman

Editors: JB Sapienza and Shaun Katz

Composers: Alex Newport and Mark Bradridge

For more information visit the Underground Inc. website

Images Courtesy of Underground Inc.

Alicia Kobasic
Alicia Kobasic

About the Author: Alicia Kobasic

Alicia has been writing stories as far back as she can remember.  More recently, she stokes her love of stories with crime shows—if they are about creepy serial killers all the better!  Her deepest passions, however, are for the rock bands like Palaye Royale, Waterparks and Badflower. Once Alicia graduates from Bowling Green State University, look for her landing her dream job as a music journalist traveling the world.

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