So you want to have some fun? We’ll break out the big guns…
Amid the drama, chaos and confusion of the nineties grunge explosion, one band steeped in individualism, determinedly plough their own furrow and stood apart from the rest of the pack. Probably because they weren’t actually a grunge band, but were a lean, mean, rock’n’roll machine forged in the collective fires of the world weary LA punk scene, who only became part of, and associated with the whole grunge thing through circumstance and timing.
L7 were like a snotty child in the bottom frame of the Seattle version of that old Sesame Street gag about the kid who was doing its own thing rather than running with the pack. They were loud, they were abrasive, they played hard and they didn’t care what anyone thought of them because they wouldn’t bend or break and were going to do things their way regardless of what the suits, bean counters and corporate lackeys who, behind the curtains pulled the levers and pushed the buttons that controlled the music industry, wanted them to do. Their ascension to the top of the “grunge” mountain was rapid as was their less than spectacular fall from grace and their eventual disappearance.
Pretend we’re Dead is L7’s warts and all story of their tenure in rock’n’roll land that doesn’t hold back, doesn’t pull its punches and is told in their own words and from their perspective. It isn’t some scripted story filled with clichés and happy endings (although it does have a happy ending, but more of that later). It’s the truthful, gritty tale of a band who put it all out there and gave it everything they had, and for a brief moment in time shone brightly before being snuffed out by lacklustre label support, fate dealing them a crappy hand and a dynamic shift in the musical landscape which oddly enough should have seen them become huge, but because of the scene they were associated with by default saw the exact opposite happen.
That’s not to say that bad decision making and their personal choices and actions didn’t play a part in what happened to them, they did and the band are brutally, and at times painfully, honest about their own roles, and the part that they each played in L7’s downfall. Playing out as a linear video fable with the bands narrative guiding you through the journey, Pretend we’re Dead is a beautifully constructed and lovingly put together snapshot of a hardworking, hard gigging band who had the world at their fingertips and just as they were about to achieve everything that they ever dreamed of, had the rug pulled out from underneath them. Packed with a plethora of extras, Pretend is a that all too rare monster, a film that shows the reality of life on the road, that’s packed full of far more down’s than up’s, but ends on a high that tantalisingly hints at the fact that the best is yet to come. They can pretend all they like, but L7 are far from dead. Thoroughly recommended… Tim Cundle