(With Tyler Maas) With the Milwaukee Film Festival wrapping up this weekend, we thought it would be fitting for us Inglourious Basterds to pop a bag of microwave popcorn, turn down The Shining lights, and look Back to the Future as we showcase Milwaukee’s musical contributions to the silver screen. So here is The Good, […]
(With Tyler Maas)
With the Milwaukee Film Festival wrapping up this weekend, we thought it would be fitting for us Inglourious Basterds to pop a bag of microwave popcorn, turn down The Shining lights, and look Back to the Future as we showcase Milwaukee’s musical contributions to the silver screen. So here is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly history of Milwaukee bands in the movies. See what we did there? Dodgeball.
It would stand to reason that Milwaukee’s soundtrack champions would be the Violent Femmes. The alternative giants have had songs featured on numerous motion picture soundtracks ranging from the seminal opus on America’s unhealthy fast food addiction, Super Size Me, to the seminal opus on America’s unhealthy distaste for Canada, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
The band’s first foray into film came with the beautifully haunting and moody “Color Me Once,” which fit the gothic classic The Crow like a snug leather trench coat. () It was pretty much downhill from there, though, as the Femmes’ eclectic collection apparently made the band the perfect choice to set the mood for everything from teen sex romp (“I’m Nothing” in Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas) to supernatural pre-teen suicide tale (“Kiss Off” in Purgatory House). And who can forget the dramatic scene in the Rob Schneider classic Benchwarmers where Richie gets his first foul tip to the joyous strains of “Blister in the Sun?” Riveting.
In the late 90’s, Milwaukee’s own Citizen King scored a Top 40 hit with the song “Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out).” The band was able to ride the upbeat single for years, including appearances on the soundtracks to 2000’s heartwarming tale of stealing cars and driving them fast, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and the escapades of misfit superheroes, The Specials. And though the band never recaptured the commercial success of “Better Days,” Citizen King managed to land additional songs on the soundtracks to 2gether, MTV’s agonizingly ironic made-for-TV jab at boy bands, The Animal, yet another Rob Schneider gem, and Mystery Men, which also featured the song “No More Heroes” by the Violent Femmes.
Decibully – The Puffy Chair (2005):
This low-budget indie flick about transporting a recliner cross-country both stars and was co-written by Mark Duplass (who currently stars in FX network smash comedy “The League”). Prior to finding success and an actor, few know that Duplass played in Polyvinyl Records band Volcano! I’m Still Excited. Decibully’s inclusion in The Puffy Chair’s score may be a case of (then) Polyvinyl label-mate nepotism, or more likely Milwaukee’s favorite psychedelic folk rockers deserved audio inclusion in a movie that also features songs from the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and Of Montreal. Decibully’s song “Megan & Magill” from 2005 effort “Sing Out America!” plays over the van stereo during the endearing excursion.
New Sense – Fifty Pills (2006):
New Sense was something of a Wisconsin Indie All-Star side band. Boasting members from accomplished alternative rock band Paris Texas, the aforementioned one-hit wonder Citizen King and the also referenced Decibully, the pop project released an EP and a full length during their short early-2000s tenure. It’s a pity that New Sense’s most lasting legacy comes in the form of Comedy Central early afternoon time slot immortality. Fifty Pills, a shoddy and altogether cliche “comedy” about a kid going to desparate measures to stay in college, includes some New Sense cuts. Beyond leading lady Kristen Bell, the Milwaukee band’s involvement is the only redeeming aspect of the movie.
The Promise Ring – White Oleander (2002):
Featured on the soundtrack of ultra-depressing 2002 foster care film White Oleander, The ironically-named “Happy Hour” by emo pioneers The Promise Ring further cemented the Milwaukee band’s mainstream viability. The up-tempo song’s repeated chorus question “Where are we living now?” proved a good fit for a chick flick anchored by Michelle Pfieffer and Rene Zellweger.
Temper Temper – “The O.C.” (2005):
An unlikely pairing, to say the least, Milwaukee dance-punk outfit Temper Temper had its song “Trust Me” featured on an April 21, 2005 episode of hit FOX drama “The O.C.” The Milwaukee band’s musical involvement was a welcome departure from the on-going Seth and Summer saga, the contrived dialogue, and Peter Gallagher’s totally distracting eyebrows. Alright, so The O.C. isn’t a movie. But how else did you expect us to work in a Peter Gallagher eyebrow reference? It’s not as easy as you would think!
The Wildbirds – Road Trip: Beer Pong (2009)
And finally, Tyler is pretty sure he heard a song by The Wildbirds in a scene from Road Trip: Beer Pong. Yeah, we actually watched this thing.