Just Getting It Out There: An Interview with Filmmaker David Markey

Published on March 30th, 2008 in: Interviews, Issues, Movies, Underground/Cult |

Popshifter: Is the music an escape then? Because it seems from your work that for you films and music are very much connected. Or is music completely different from films for you?

Dave Markey: Well, music is very different now. The music business has completely changed. I’m excited about the Internet because people can hear bands they could never get into before; it’s extraordinary to me.

Popshifter: That’s interesting, because from articles about you I get the feeling there is a lot of nostalgia among your fans for the pre-Internet age. There is a trend of people feeling that getting into music and films was more authentic and real somehow and you were more involved.

we got power 1
Cover of the first issue
of We Got Power fanzine
October 1981

Dave Markey: It’s true, because then you had to do the footwork. You had to go to the record stores and pick up flyers, now someone will send you a link, you can click through to the Wikipedia page, everyone is informed right away. I think it’s a good thing, but the culture is just totally different, and there’s no comparison.

People can romanticize the past now, the purists. A lot of bands now may not have that consciousness. I consider myself very lucky that I was around in L.A. in the early 80s and be involved in that music scene. But I don’t look to go back to it now; my life is exciting now, but it’s absolutely different.

A similar scene could build up now but it would be different. I guess I’ll see. I don’t have a big career expectations for music; I just want to play some shows. I’ve been out of touch with Julie [Lanfield] and Phil [Newman] for 24 years and it’s a thrill to re-establish the connection.

It’s like going to your high school reunion, which I never did, but with the Internet we can all go to our high school reunions. Everyone I know gets contacts from people they knew when they were young, and it’s because of computers and it’s amazing. I guess it’s not all good, but it’s where culture is at now and you can’t deny. You can go on and on about the good old days, but I think these good old days. . . it depends on your state of mind.

Isolation is when people don’t leave their computers and stay there. It’s remarkable to think about the time before cell phones even, how that changes a situation for a band. It’s amazing how fast information travels and that’s pop culture now. For an artist like me it’s great, because I can put up my work for a lot of people who haven’t seen it before; they can see a band they’ve never seen before and a film they wouldn’t see otherwise. They can open up their world.

Popshifter: You have a really strong Internet presence; have you built it up that way intentionally?

Dave Markey: I’ve done a lot of work on that myself and I know how important it is. I don’t have a company backing me, and I know how important it is to get the word out there now. I’ve been very directly involved in it. It is a lot of work.

sin 34
Sin 34, 1982
Photo © Jordan Schwartz

But then again in the old days it was a lot of work too. We would drive to San Francisco, pile our stuff up in a van, and not even really think about anything, and just go for the adventure. I like to think I still have that adventure but maybe in a different way.

I don’t try to “keep up” with new trends, or stay young. I’m trying to act my age, and I think it’s really pathetic when someone in their forties listens to something 14-year-old kids listen to now. You’re like, “No way, I’ve known you for 20 years: you loved the Clash like I did and you can’t say the same thing about whatever band it is now; it’s just not the same thing.” But on the other hand, I think it’s important for every time to have its own time.

Popshifter: How do you feel about the retro and revivalism going on culturally now?

Dave Markey: Retro is a part of it, and what was around then is around now. It’s really bogus when it’s really crafted by a big record company—a forced revivalism—that doesn’t really interest me. Obviously people like things, and people like certain tastes and flavors, and I’ve always just done what I like. I just like doing work, getting it done and getting it out there. It’s always a thrill and it’s always exciting, like with this film.

Click to read more from Dave Markey on. . .

Romanticizing the past
The tragic world of The Reinactors
Mainstreaming and revolution in art

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