‘The Doom Doc’ Film Makers On UK Doom Scene & Upcoming Premiere

By on 16 May 2017

Conan

‘The Doom Doc’ is an upcoming documentary about doom, sludge, stoner and all things slow and heavy. Telling the story of Sheffield DIY collective Holy Spider Promotions, director Connor Matheson speaks to Black Sabbath‘s Bill Ward, Crowbar‘s Kirk Windstein, Conan, Primitive Man and Slabdragger and a host of upcoming bands from the UK underground like Kurokuma and Under.

Check out the latest trailer for the film below…

Made on a budget of £2000, Connor and his crew have immersed themselves in the culture surrounding this thriving subgenre, exploring issues like drug use, mental health and the effects of gentrification in what’s looking like one of our most anticipated films of the year. We got in touch with Connor to find out more about the film’s creation, and its premiere, which will take place in Sheffield on July 9th.

How did the idea to document the UK’s doom scene come about? What was it about doom and the culture surrounding it that interested you?
“The idea gradually developed over time. Initially it started while I was working a godawful job at a call centre in Sheffield with my friend, Perch. We were getting sick and fed up of having managers cracking the whip and having to listen to people telling us how they can’t possibly live without their dishwashers all the time and we just wanted to do something positive and creative again. We started up a little arts collective called DEADidea which was geared around making music videos for underground bands and we filmed a lot of up and coming bands in the Sheffield scene.

“Soon after that we went to film my friend Joe’s band, Kurokuma at a DIY venue in Sheffield called the Lughole. Our other friend Ryan took live sound out the desk so we could get good quality audio and during that gig the PA got blown. The gig was just so heavy, the sound was so loud and the DIY environment at the Lughole just added to the feeling that we were witnessing something quite special. We decided that night to make a short film on our local doom scene and started following Joe’s promotion project, Holy Spider Promotions. From then on things just snowballed – it wasn’t long before it expanded out of Sheffield and we were getting interviews with the big bands in the scene. But from the offset we didn’t want the film to be just a ‘who’s who’ of doom, sludge and stoner. We wanted to follow real life people and find a story worth telling and it was really important to us that we included underground bands in the film who aren’t particularly well known, basically to help boost the scene.”

You’ve managed to score some interviews with the likes of Conan, Crowbar, Primitive Man and even Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward, but is there any one interview that stands out as your favourite, and why?
“It’s hard to say what my favourite interview is, because all of them were a pleasure to do, but one that I really enjoyed was when we interviewed Slabdragger. We travelled down to their studio, The Cro’s Nest in London and stayed there all night recording crushingly heavy sludge and talking about the current scene in the UK. It kind of felt like I was just jamming with my mates back in Sheffield and it had a really good vibe.

“One of the greatest parts of this project has been getting to colaborate with such good artists in a scene that isn’t about the money or glamour, but is about people doing it just for the love of fat riffs.

“Bill Ward also was a great interviewee, but him living in LA and us making this film on less than £1000 made it hard for me to get over there myself to conduct the interview! So our friends at Doomed and Stoned hooked us up with Hugo and Liz who then filmed it for us.

“Getting to travel down to Skyhammer Studios to speak with Conan was also an awesome experience.”

Slabdragger

The film also examines issues like drug use, mental health and gentrification. Without giving too much away, why did you decide to touch on these subjects, and how do they tie into the film’s overall theme?
“Well, the film follows Holy Spider Promotions here in Sheffield as they try to put on a killer all day festival called Doomlines at the same time as the more mainstream, Tramlines Festival. All these themes kind of naturally came up as we were following their story so we decided to focus and explore them in a little more depth, especially in the interview segments.

“For example we talk about gentrification due to the trouble DIY venues are having at the moment staying open round here, mental health because some interviewees have mentioned such issues and drugs… well, it is stoner music after all… But overall we wanted to show how doom fits into wider society and the positives and negatives promoters and musicians face whilst trying to keep the scene alive today.

“We also got advice from various people about how to piece the film together and we decided it was important for this to not just be a series of talking heads – it needed depth and context that we thought a lot of similar music docs lack.”

The film seems to have been a real labour of love. How long has the project taken to complete? What are your fondest memories of working on the project?
“The project has taken about a year and half in total and we’ve faced hurdles such as smashed lenses, a lack of funds and even one of our crew members getting sectioned. To be honest, there was a point near the start when we lost a lot of data through a hard drive failure that we were unsure whether we could carry on. It was around this time we put together the crowdfunder on Indiegogo to ask for financial help, and we ended up smashing our target in seven hours. The passion, drive and huge support from the doom community has really pushed things forward to the point where we are now – none of this would have been possible without the community’s hunger for the final film and everything seems to have worked out for the best.

“The most fun recording we did would have to be when we filmed Lunar Maria and Kurokuma play in someone’s basement at a house party in Sheffield. The night before me and Perch had been helping some friends put on a free party in Halifax and were very tired and hungover, but soon as we got to the party everyone was going absolutely mental and it was like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. It was pretty tricky to film, dodging people’s limbs and trying to deal with the dark lighting situation but it was such good fun. Both bands aren’t as big as some of the other bands in the rest of the film, but for me this night really summed up what the music is all about and the DIY ethos that keeps it alive and thriving today – people just making music for the love of it and nothing else.”

Groak at The Lughole, Sheffield

What can we expect from the premiere on July 9th?
“The premiere is going to be fucking awesome. We have a great venue in the Showroom in Sheffield – one of the best independent cinemas in the UK – an amazing guestlist and a unique story to tell. There will be a Q&A session after the screening with myself along with Joe from Holy Spider and Rob Graham from Wet Nuns, who both feature a lot in the film. Also this is going to be the only chance for the public to watch the film this year. After this premiere we are submitting to a few festivals around the world like SXSW to hopefully bring the film to an even wider audience, but they require that the film isn’t distributed at all. We really wanted to give the doom fans chance to see the film before anybody else and say thank you to the people who put into the crowdfunder, so that’s really what this premiere is about. If you want to see the film you need to get tickets fast from the Showroom website before it sells out!

“There’ll be plenty of people who star in the film there and the Showroom has a bar so everyone should be able to relax with a drink after. There’s also an after party in the works which everyone who has bought a ticket will get free entry to.”

‘The Doom Doc’ premiere screening and Q&A session takes place in Sheffield on July 9th. Tickets are available here, and you can find more information here.

You can find ‘The Doom Doc’ on Facebook

About Kez Whelan

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