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- Posted on Oct 15th 2009 4:30PM by David Chiu
"It made me happier," Cobain wrote, "than playing in front of thousands of people each night, rock-god idolization from fans, music industry plankton kissing my ass and the million dollars I made last year."
The Raincoats' punk music has earned the respect of American alternative rock acts such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Now their story is told in an upcoming documentary called 'The Raincoats, Fairytales -- A Work in Progress', which is being produced by the band's founding bassist and singer Gina Birch.
"The making of the film has been in the pipeline for a very long time," she tells Spinner. "I was always planning to make a DVD of Raincoats footage, the videos and various bits of archive material. When I watched other bands' DVDs, I noticed that the ones I liked best had a film about the band on them too."
And while she's still working on the film, Birch is currently performing with Da Silva as the Raincoats on a small US tour that ends Friday Oct. 16 at Brooklyn, N.Y's Knitting Factory. Birch says she also plans to interview Sonic Youth members Kim Gordon, Steve Shelley and Thurston Moore for the documentary during her visit to America.
"The film will weave together films made from the '70s onward," she says, "both of our live footage and segments from Super 8 films that were made at art school as well as new creative sections -- with work about gender, feminism, clothes and creativity."
The Raincoats' history goes back to 1976 in London where Birch recalls meeting Da Silva in art school. "Ana and I have always been very different characters," she says, "but the chemistry between us has made for an interesting and sometimes difficult body of work. We have similar ideas and about the bigger issues we mostly agree!"
With Palmolive on drums and Vicky Aspinall on violin, the Raincoats released their self-titled 1979 debut album that has since been regarded as one of their best. "For us, punk was about challenging aspects of rock music that annoyed and alienated us," says Birch. "Our musical skills were extremely limited, but we took risks and tried to make a sound that interested us."
The group first broke up in 1984, but renewed interest in the Raincoats' music came in the early '90s because of Cobain, whose record label DGC reissued the first three Raincoats albums. Birch and Da Silva were scheduled to perform some dates with Nirvana in the UK but Cobain's death in 1994 put a stop to that.
"It is a great honour to have found that the work we made has been an inspiration to people whose work we love and respect," Birch says. "It is very sad that it didn't happen, because we would have loved to have spent time with Kurt Cobain, but the shows would have been scary."
The Raincoats' last studio album was 'Looking in the Shadows' in 1996 and Birch and Da Silva have been independently working on other projects -- Birch has directed music videos and Da Silva released her solo album, 'The Lighthouse,' in 2005. "We haven't planned any new material together," says Birch on the possibility of making another Raincoats record, "although we have talked about maybe bringing one or two new songs each from our solo work to the new shows."
As for the documentary, Birch hopes to finish it by this spring. "It's been a great experience to be able to pull together elements of over 30 years worth of work," she says, "and to realize that even things that have seemed very disposable have value."