A Band Called Death

Synopsis: Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early '70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hoped of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death's music - and band name - too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made it way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossible ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell...the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.
Production: Drafthouse Films
  3 wins & 2 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.5
Metacritic:
77
Rotten Tomatoes:
94%
NOT RATED
Year:
2012
96 min
$125,856
Website
503 Views


RADIO HOST 1:
The New York Times,

this past Sunday, there

was an article about

the first black punk rock group

called Death in the '70s.

And they found these old recordings.

And they have an album

that they put out now.

They have pictures of these guys

back in the '70s. One of them died.

And now I'm dying to hear

this f***ing group's music.

- Should be good.

- RADIO HOST 2:
What were they called?

RADIO HOST 1:
They were called Death.

RADIO HOST 3:
Death.

(WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE???

PLAYING)

HENRY ROLLINS:
The quick version

of the Death story is almost like the tease

at the beginning of a movie trailer.

Three black guys, in the '70s,

from Detroit, Michigan, blood brothers.

Three black cats from Detroit,

played heavy, punk, rock 'n' roll.

ALICE COOPER:
It's pretty hard to

be black playing rock in Detroit.

'Cause they were sort

of stereotyped into...

You had to be Motown, if you were black.

Death's music was definitely

ahead of its time.

They really predated

what we know as the punk movement.

Nobody was making music like that in '73.

They have to be properly credited

as being visionaries.

(SINGING)

ELIJAH WOOD:
You have a record

that is so perfect in its innovation,

it makes it all the more shocking

that it didn't manage to find a way

to come out then.

They're kind of like the Unknown Soldiers

of rock.

BEN BLACKWELL:
They were recordings

that were simply put away.

There's been hardcore history sitting up

in that attic, and no one's known about it.

Thirty years after the fact,

we're just now discovering this band

that had been sort of lying in wait.

It's such a great story and it's, uh...

It's punk rock.

Welcome to my neighborhood.

2240 Lillibridge.

This is where Death was born.

- This is our old friend...

- No.

- ...that we grew up with.

- This is Kathleen. She lives right here.

- They telling the story about Death.

- Okay.

- You remember Death.

- I'm still here.

No!

They telling the story about our old band

that we used to drive you all crazy

with all of our loud music.

Yeah, I remember that.

I remember that, yes.

Oh, yeah, there you go!

(ALL LAUGHING)

David... David... You know what?

But you know what?

That was my boy, though. That was my boy.

He was all right.

My name is Dannie Hackney.

I played the drums, and I was born and

raised in the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan.

Well, I remember when I...

You all were teenagers, uh...

- DANNIS:
That's right. That's very right.

- Yeah. Right, yeah?

I'm Bobby Hackney.

I am a bass player.

My parents, Earl Vonlee Hackney

and Majora Florida Hackney,

two beautiful people.

I was the youngest of, uh, four boys.

Our oldest brother was Earl.

David was born the second.

And then it was Dannie.

And, um, I came along.

EARL JR; I am indeed the eldest,

and that was ingrained in them also,

because I'd say,

"Never forget, I'm second in command

to Moms and Pop."

DANNIS:
Spirituality plays into our life

right from the beginning of our roots.

You know, our dad was a Baptist minister.

We're preacher's sons.

(LAUGHS)

EARL JR.:
Being a minister's kid

taught us the Word,

from Genesis to Revelation.

I mean, we all became versed in the Word.

BOBBY:
He always told us, you know,

if you try your best in life

to keep your promise to God

and give God time enough

to keep His promise to you.

DANNIS:
My old man instilled into us

to back up your brother.

So all of our lives we

grew up with this idea

that, you know,

we gotta back up your brother.

We made a pact with each other

that we would never fight,

we would never do anything

to hurt each other.

We were all close.

I mean, we all were very, very close.

BOBBY:
Moms, you got so many

grandchildren, you can't keep up now.

- MAJORA:
I don't try.

- (ALL LAUGHING)

I got eight kids.

I'm proud of every one of them.

- BOBBY:
That's right. That's right.

- Love every one of them.

- Your son, David...

- BOBBY:
You're gonna see everybody came...

I don't know what David's doing up there,

but there's a lot of good things going on

in our lives, because of all his things.

- Um, yeah.

- It is.

Yeah, I know that out of... David...

We talk about Dave all the time.

- I know. You said... I know.

- You know, me and Viv, we talk about Dave.

- Yeah.

- Some of the things he did.

- Oh!

- (ALL LAUGH)

DANNIS:
I mean, we were kind of crazy kids.

We thought of some games

that was really weird.

I remember one time we was having

a squirt gun fight.

You know, Dave hid behind the garage

and pissed in his.

(LAUGHS)

You know, just...

Just some of Dave's pranks, you know.

EARL JR.:
David was kind of creative

when it comes to the...

I mean, he would put together

some makeshift stuff

that just would work that...

That you wouldn't believe.

(LAUGHS)

DANNIS:
He took the telephone one time

and pulled wires and he pinched wires,

and the next thing you know,

you pick up the phone, it's...

(ECHOING) Hello.

(LAUGHS)

And, you know, we actually

have tapes of this.

David used that to scare people.

(DIALING)

(LINE RINGING)

(MAN SPEAKING)

(DAVID'S VOICE ECHOING)

(MAN SPEAKING)

(DAVID SPEAKING)

(MAN SPEAKING)

(DAVID SPEAKING)

(MAN SPEAKING)

(DAVID SCREAMS)

(DIAL TONE BEEPING)

(WOMAN SPEAKING)

(DAVID SPEAKING)

(WOMAN SPEAKING)

(MOTOWN PLAYING)

BOBBY:
Uh, growing up in Detroit...

it was just a... It was a great time.

It was that Motown time.

You know, that real time when Motown

was churning out all those amazing hits.

You know, it was just such a bustling town.

Well, the presence of music,

that all started with my mom and dad.

They were always music fans.

- (ALL CHATTERING)

- Just in right here,

my mother used to have a little clock radio,

little gray radio right in that corner over there.

Every morning we would sit at the table,

eating breakfast, listening to CKLW.

MAN:
All right.

- And they played everything.

- MAN:
Mmm-hmm. Yeah, back in the day.

Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger.

And I'm thankful to my mom and dad,

'cause they never held us back

from listening to music.

They would always tell us,

"Enjoy everything."

DANNIS:
There's so many people

who brought music into the house.

I mean, it was my dad who sat us down

and made us watch the Beatles.

BOBBY:
The minute I saw Paul McCartney

singing and playing that Beatle bass,

you know,

I wanted to play bass and

still wanted to sing.

Then David tuned in to John Lennon

playing the guitar and...

And it was David who rallied us to, you

know, be a band and get together and...

And that made him the leader.

BOBBY:
That's your first drum.

DANNIS:
This is my first drum.

- MAN:
What? Jesus Christ.

- Very first drum.

(LAUGHS) Right here.

So I used to put two knives,

two butter knives, on here

to make it sound like a snare.

DANNIS:
One time we had some good luck

in our family

and our mother got a settlement

from a car accident.

And suddenly we had some money.

And she gave us kind of a choice

of what we wanted to do.

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Ike Barinholtz

Isaac "Ike" Barinholtz (born February 18, 1977) is an American comedian, actor and screenwriter. He was a cast member on MADtv from 2002 to 2007, Eastbound & Down (2012), and had a regular role on The Mindy Project. In his film work, he is best known for his acting roles in Neighbors (2014) and its sequel, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016), Sisters (2015), Suicide Squad (2016) and Blockers (2018), as well for as co-writing the screenplay for the 2016 comedy film Central Intelligence. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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