A new documentary produced by Murder Mountain Records aims to showcase the musical talent of Bellingham in a unique way.
According to Murder Mountain founder and director Bug Jerome—also known as Evan Williamson, who is a junior at Fairhaven College—the idea behind “The Microscope Experiment” was, with the help of a small sound and video crew, 13 local bands would come set up, sound check and perform two takes of a song within an hour. Then, using multiple cameras and angles, the bands were recorded and videotaped.
“We basically placed the bands in a Petri dish, though there were no actual fans watching, there were cameras that were in their faces observing. This is a very unique situation; usually bands are either live or in the studio,” Jerome said. “This was a chance to try something different and be able to observe the results as well as let future viewers of the DVD experience them as well.”
The bands included in the video are Octagon Control, The Mission Orange, The Growers, The Lonely Forest, Crossfox, Whitney Ballen, David Stray Ney Band, Sweaty Sweaters, Armonikos, Braille Tapes, The Russians, Yogoman Burning Band, and Ladies of the Night.
“This was one of the hardest things I have ever done without pay,” Jerome said. “But it was also one of the most cool [things] to be able to work with over 50 people without the pretense of money. It was also great how the bands had the confidence that we would be able to pull of the production of this video, even though we've never attempted anything like this before.”
According to Jerome, 10 hours of coordination was done prior to the event, mainly arranging when the bands should arrive and making sure that directions were clear to everyone. Then the day of, bands were recorded from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in A.J. Hawn's garage. Hawn, a sophomore at Fairhaven, was the director of sound for the video.
“I really appreciate A.J. letting us use his garage,” Jerome said. “He stayed up to date on everything pre-filming and probably worked the hardest the day of.”
The crew spent 140 hours in post production. Jerome said that synching the music to the video was one of their biggest challenges.
“Everything had to happen on clockwork, and everyone pulled it off awesomely,” Jerome said. “No one paid us, everyone who participated did this as a volunteer and it came out great.”
According to ASP Films, which is showing the movie in coordination with Murder Mountain, the film will be shown at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 in Fraser 4 and is free to attend.
“[Jerome] approached us to show the film and we thought it was a good idea, so we took him up on it,” ASP Films coordinator Paul Whelan said. “We think this is going to be an amazing event and we hope students come see this no budget, local film making.”
Each band will receive 50 copies of the finished DVD that they can sell to fans. Jerome said he hopes that by doing this, bands will introduced to new fans. By buying a copy of the DVD, viewers will be exposed to 12 other bands, and hopefully take an interest in them.
“I think this is cool way to expose bands, and get some advertising out there for them,” Jerome said.
Murder Mountains was started in January 2005 by Jerome and has worked with over 30 Northwest bands in the past.
“I'd always been really interested in music growing up, especially the underground scene. Nowadays I work with whoever is the most active in their music,” Jerome said. “Two years ago we built a studio to work in.”
According to their Web site, Murder Mountain offers recording, mastering, CD distribution and promotion services.
“I encourage interested people to get in touch with me,” Jerome said. “I know some people play for a hobby and to relax, but others play because they really want to. For those people tip-toeing in the music waters, use the great community and networking you have available here.”