Director and writer Scott Crawford graciously took the time to answer questions about his new documentary film Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-1990), the film making process, inspiration, and the birthplace of hardcore punk.
Scott Crawford is currently touring with the Salad Days, and the film will be screened Friday February 27th in Los Angeles, CA at the Regent Theatre in downtown LA at 8:00PM. Click HERE for tickets.
Check out the Salad Days Facebook page for tour dates and news.
Q: How did you go about deciding which musicians would be featured in the documentary and what is the most challenging part of capturing each performer’s essence on film?
I interviewed over 100 people for the film and it was important for me to show the different personalities involved in making such a vibrant music scene. I also wanted to show a side of people that perhaps some weren’t used to seeing. DC was always thought of as being this humorless, serious community—but as you’ll see in the film, it’s a city with genuinely funny people.
Q: If you could go back to the beginning of this project and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think the hardest thing for me to let go of was the fact that I couldn’t fit every band and every piece of music I would’ve liked to included. The challenge was to create a story that anyone could relate to—whether they knew much about that period or not—while keeping the fans/historians happy and not getting bogged down in my own geeky inside-baseball stuff. That was a bit of a struggle for me. But ultimately I went with much of my own experience and interests during that period. In other words, it’s a story big enough for a dozen films on the subject to tackle so stick to what you know and what you witnessed firsthand.
Q: What did you learn about yourself as a musician and director while shooting footage for the Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC documentary?
This was a story I wanted to tell for much of my life. It was a decade that informed decisions I made (both personally and professionally) but I never really stopped to consider them all. So the film was a chance for me to really take stock of the choices that I’d made in my life and connect the dots for many of them.
Q: How did the title Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC originate?
“Salad Days” is a song by the band Minor Threat that addressed the changes of the punk scene in the early 80s. It’s considered their swan song in a way. The term is a Shakespearean phrase that refers to one’s youthful inexperience or innocence. I maintain, that your best days (or your “salad days”) don’t have to be behind you, they can be right in front of you.
Q: What common myths/misconceptions do you think exist about the punk/hardcore music scene? And what led to DC becoming the birthplace of hardcore punk?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about hardcore punk during the 80s was that it all nihilistic, misanthropic noise. A number of films have helped create that impression but focusing on just certain aspects of the culture and I think that’s a shame. The punk scene that I was a part of in DC never seemed that way to me. It was a bit more cerebral and thoughtful than other cities at that point I think. It was a community that focused on trying to grow and evolve both musically and spiritually throughout the decade. Let’s not forget, the Bad Brains wrote “Attitude” in this city (‘Hey, we got that P. M. A.!”). That said, we weren’t choirboys either and the scene it’s fair share of growing pains as the audiences’ continued to grow.
Q: Did you have an opinion of how the film would progress before you started? Were there any unexpected twists you didn’t expect?
I was able to keep to the outline and story arc that I wrote before I started. But there were a number of twists and turns along the way—sometimes you discover something while filming that requires you to pause and wander down a different path to see where it’ll take you. Anytime that happened I happily followed it to its conclusion. When I spoke to the members of Minor Threat about the nature of their breakup, their different takes on it were fascinating and a story unfolded that I wasn’t entirely prepared for. Conversely, there were a few people that I spoke with that either didn’t have much to say about their place within the scene or simply wanted nothing to do with the project, which was a disappointment.
Q: Which phase of filmmaking do you like best? Which do you find most challenging?
It’s hard to say what was the biggest challenge—every day presented it’s share of them. But the satisfaction came from finding a solution to each of them and moving onto the next one. There was never a moment where I doubted the project though. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so energized by anything I’ve ever worked on before.
Q: Who are three musicians or filmmakers that have inspired/influenced you?
That’s a tough one. In terms of documentary films, DA Pennebaker would be an obvious one for me. His aesthetic and storytelling ability are without equal for me. Musically speaking, everyone from Woody Guthrie to Joe Strummer continue to inspire me. Having been born/raised here and spending 4 years of my life making a film about DC punk rock in the 80s, it would be hard to deny the cumulative influence of the city and its music on my life.
Q: Where can my readers find out more about the film online?
They can check our website at saladdaysdc.com as well as our Facebook page at FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/saladdaysdoc and on TWITTER @saladdazed.