BAM Q&A with Robert McGinley Oct 30, 2014

by Erin

Shredder Orpheus played last year at BAM as part of their "Skateboarding is not a Crime" series. Director Robert McGinley answers some deep questions on the BAM blog about the ideas and mayhem behind the making of Shredder Orpheus:

Could you tell us about your involvement in Seattle's skate, music, and art scenes at the time, and how this project came about?
During the 80s I served as On the Boards' founding artistic director and had a blast developing OTB's new performance programming, which included utilizing the space for punk rock shows (Dils, Dickies, Dead Kennedys, Sub Humans, etc.). I had a brief stint writing reviews for the Seattle rock magazineThe Rocket and covered a lot of local new wave and punk music, so I knew my way around the scene. Around 1987 I co-produced a skate punk band called Agent Orange (they sounded a lot like a precursor to Green Day) that tore the theater/dance floor apart (by the way, it was a challenge cleaning up the sweat, puke, and urine after these shows before dance class the following morning, not to mention a Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane show the following weekend!).

If I wasn't doing a show I would meet my skate buddies downtown, sneak into parking garages, ride the elevators up 12 to 14 stories, and skate the ramps down—kind of like urban snow skiing on skateboards. It was insanely fun (sick), not to mention illegal, so the added danger of avoiding arrest by police and/or security ramped the adrenaline high. We were chased a lot but somehow we avoided getting caught.

What drew you to the Orpheus myth as a centerpiece of the film?
First of all, the Orpheus myth is Western Civilization's oldest love story and at the time my favorite films were the Orphée films by Jean Cocteau and Black Orpheus. I was also a total Joseph Cambell/Carl Jung mythology freak and the quest for undying love in the underworld always fascinated me.

Usually protagonists in the Hero's Journey stories are warriors, but Orpheus is a unique hero: a transformative artist and musician that could manipulate consciousness as well as as animate material objects. I found the music-driven love and death story embodied in the Orpheus archetype irresistible.

The soundtrack is incredible! Could you talk a bit about Roland Barker and the other musicians who were involved?
I shot and produced a music video for the seminal Seattle band The Blackouts, when I first met Roland Barker, who played keyboards and sax. Members of the band went on to join Al Jourgensen to become the industrial rock band Ministry. When Roland finished his stint with Ministry, he began composing electronic pieces that were very trance inducing, and I grabbed him. We put together aShredder band for the film to execute the score consisting of Dennis Rea (guitar), Amy Denio (bass), and Bill Reiflin (drums; Roland's bandmate from the Black Outs/Ministry). It was a great collaboration working with Roland and an incredible group of musicians. Writing lyrics for "Worm Song" and watching Bill Reiflin play drums in the studio was icing on the cake. Other interesting musical influences include composer percussion artist David Van Tieghem (check out "Ear to the Ground") and the consummate percussion performance artist Z'ev. These two were inspirational to the development of percussion ambience built into the scenes and the sound score.

Read more at the BAM blog.