Hard Core Tribute
Meet director Bruce McDonald and celebrate a punk rock cult classic
by Ashley Carter & Sam Sutherland
Originally published on August 8, 2008
Lead singer Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) and guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith\r\nRennie) are longtime friends who lash on their reunion tour.
Hard Core Logo is one of the best Canadian films ever made and might well be the best rock ’n’ roll movie you’ve never seen. Released in 1996, it got picked up by Quentin Tarantino for distribution stateside and has become one of the most popular cult rockumentaries on either side of the border. Massive Canadian rock act Billy Talent even swiped its name from a character in the film.
So for fanboys/girls and unacquainted alike, JUICEBOXdotcom is holding a tribute night August 14 at The Revue. Bands will cover songs from the movie, followed by a screening of director Bruce McDonald’s personal print of the film.
Plus, there’ll be tons of prizes and a postshow Q&A with McDonald. It’s the best night of (contained) rock ’n’ roll mayhem you’ll ever find, all for 12 bucks on a Thursday night and for a good cause (proceeds will support educational programs at The Revue).
Participating bands include members of the Flatliners (the youngest band ever signed to American punk institution Fat Wreck Chords), Maximum RNR (local punk ’n’ roll legends), the Wooden Sky (MTV-certified alt-country darlings), Spookey Rueben (former Exclaim! cover artist and MuchMusic mainstay) and some unannounceable but very special guests.
McDonald’s latest, Pontypool, will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. But we caught up with him to talk strictly Hard Core Logo:
R Magazine: So… why is Hard Core Logo the best Canadian film ever made?
Bruce McDonald: [Laughs.] It’s always nice to hear that phrase. I think every once in a while all the forces just come together. Right time, right place, right guys—just everything works. Partly the architecture of it—the dirty Beatles, the working-class Spinal Tap—maybe the architecture of the characters, they’re very archetypal. It’s a great love story between these guys, a deep friendship, and there’s a great chemistry between Callum [Keith Rennie] and Hugh [Dillon]. They had this really intense curiosity and mutual respect for each other, coming from different worlds: the music industry and film.
R Magazine: How do you feel the film has held up over the last 10-plus years?
Bruce McDonald: I haven’t really seen the film since we made it, but I’ve had a lot of chats about it. It’s something that people kind of carry around with them, and they’re genuinely excited to share their experiences with it when they run into me. I’m very proud of it. A lot of movies I’ve seen about musicians, especially rock musicians, they’re either parodies or the bands are painted as idiots or lovable oafs. Whereas these guys really gave the characters and the world they were in a great sense of stakes and reality.
R Magazine: Did you anticipate it developing the cult status that it has?
Bruce McDonald: Not really. It’s funny, these 12-year-old neighbours of ours are big Billy Talent fans and huge Hard Core Logo fans. They’re 12! It’s their favourite movie! I just love that. One of the really enduring things about the movie, and one of the reasons
we’re doing this night, is the songs.
R Magazine: How did those come together?
Bruce McDonald: Initially, when we wrote the script we didn’t intend to have much music in the film at all, because with all these rock movies the music is always so lame. So when Noel [Baker] and I wrote the script, it was designed so that you’d just hear the first few chords and then—boom—back to the film, because it was more about between gigs. But then a local producer, Peter Moore, started putting together these great tracks with [the band] Swamp Baby. I would just drop by every once in a while to have some scotch or listen to them. It’s going to be pretty exciting to have some bands coming at these songs at The Revue.
R Magazine: Has a night like this ever happened before with this film?
Bruce McDonald: Not that I know of. But it’s a fun idea. It’s entering that realm of Rocky Horror Picture Show or Dark Side of Oz, where you have this film/music component that alternates and becomes a fun, social night of like-minded people getting together to rock out.
R Magazine: Have you ever been to The Revue before?
Bruce McDonald: Oh yeah, I’m a big fan of The Revue. I’ve seen many, many, many movies there. It’s great to see movie theatres becoming more like the good-old days, like vaudeville. You have a performance, a movie, some strippers maybe, whatever.
R Magazine: So we should probably get strippers for the Hard Core Logo night…
Bruce McDonald: I totally think so. I just made a note to self.
Check juiceboxdotcom.com for the unabridged interview, including news about Hard Core Logo 2, how Tarantino got involved and what all the stars are up to now.