Where to start with Bad Brains: A Band in DC? A documentary about punk rock pioneers Bad Brains, a band formed in 1977 in Washington, DC. They’ve broken up and gotten back together, changed singers, and drummers but The Bad Brains most classic line up is singer H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bass guitarist Darryl Jennifer, and drummer Earl Hudson.
Interviewing folks like punk rock legends Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins who spoke highly of their influence and ingenuity. Dave Grohl who gave credit to drummer Earl Hudson saying he didn’t steal from him but got the idea of the drum intro for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from Hudson’s intro in “How Low Can A Punk Get?” Also all three members of the Beastie Boys were interviewed and the film was dedicated to Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch.
There were so many great moments of this film; with illustrations that tied the moments together we couldn’t see. The most memorable being the recording of “Sacred Love” on 1987′s I Against I singer H.R., in jail on possession charges was able to record the songs vocals by unscrewing the mouthpiece on the prison pay phone, but not before ripping out the first page of the bible he carried everywhere with him to roll up and smoke like a joint because it was so resin-coated he could get high off of it.
The film also touched on a very sensitive topic, which was that the band is notorious for being a homophobic band. The light shed on the incident points to H.R. as the lone culprit calling Randy J. “Biscuit” Turner, the lead singer of the band Big Boys, a faggot. Which brings us to the crazy world of H.R. It would seem as though he is a medicated schizophrenic. But whatever he may be diagnosed with, we’ll probably never know, what I do know is that he drives his bandmates mad. In a scene after a show in Chicago where H.R. basically refused to sing Darryl Jennifer yells at him and repeatedly calls him Judas. H.R. just sat there smiling with a dazed look on his face. This and other examples left me feeling sad for this amazing group of musicians that are plagued by this uber talented but ultimately crazy lead singer.