BraveWords Scribe Greg Pratt Writes A Fat Wreck Documentary, Offers Update And Preview
April 7, 2016, 2 years ago
It was only a matter of time, but this meeting was bound to take place (via phone) - Greg Prato chatting with Greg Pratt. Although both write for BraveWords and go by frighteningly similar first and last names, yours truly is based in the United States, while Mr. Pratt can be found in Canada. The reason for this chat between Prato and Pratt? Pratt has written the upcoming documentary about the Fat Wreck Chords label (which has given us recordings by the likes of NOFX, Propagandhi, and Lagwagon, among many others). Titled A Fat Wreck, the Shaun Colón-directed doc will premiere on April 16th and 17th at the Dallas International Film Fest, followed by a showing on April 18th and 19th at the Nashville Film Fest, and then a viewing at the Newport Beach Film Fest with the date TBA (you can purchase tix to all by clicking on the doc's official site -AFatWreck.com). Read on to experience the day that Prato met Pratt…
BraveWords: Let's start by talking about how you got involved in the documentary, and some background info about it.
Greg Pratt: "How it started was I wrote a story about the history of the band Propagandhi - who are one of my favorite bands, ever. And it was this really long, book-length story that went on forever. This was maybe four years ago, and I was really happy with it. And then I got a message one day I think through Facebook, and it was this guy saying, 'Hey, I'm a filmmaker. I'm down in Texas and me and my team read the story and we really liked it. We want to do a documentary about Fat Wreck Chords - which is the label Propagandhi was on for their first four albums. And he said, 'We'd like you to be involved and to be the writer of the documentary. Are you into it?' You get a message like that, and you think it's a lunatic, or you don't think it's going to happen. I just thought, 'This probably won't happen.' So I basically said to him, 'Yeah, I'm into it. What's next?' Cut to a short time later, they launched a Crowdfunding campaign. They had a goal, and within 24 hours, they had quadrupled that goal - just an outrageous amount of people really excited about this and pledging. And they were like, 'We're buying you a plane ticket, you're going to California, and we're filming the movie.' And I was like, 'I guess this is on!' I've been involved with it for about two-and-a-half-years now, and that's how it started."
BraveWords: How is it similar or different to previous punk rock documentaries?
Greg Pratt: "It's similar in that it's a documentary and they all sort of have the same feel to them, and the same ups and downs, and the same arch to them - in a sense. What I really like about this movie - and it's really important to me coming to it from a journalistic standpoint - is that Fat Wreck Chords wasn't involved. So they had no say in what went in and what didn't go in, and what we covered and didn't cover. They gave us their approval and they were very cooperative through it all - they were awesome and amazing. But they never asked for any kind of editorial authority. And that's really important to me, because if you're watching a documentary and it's either being funded by the source or the source has editorial approval, that makes it to me a little bit 'BS.' It would be like this story that you're writing, if I was like, 'I want to see it first before it runs, and I want to make sure that there's nothing I don't disagree with.' It's just not how journalism should be. To me, that was really important, and I think that's something that makes the documentary stand out is that it's a documentary about Fat Wreck Chords, but we have a bit of criticism toward the label in there. It's not just a puff piece. Granted, there's not much, because try as we may, everyone has good things to say about the label runs. But yeah, we had the freedom to put whatever we wanted in there. I think that's what sets it apart from other documentaries - where the the source may be more involved in the movie."
BraveWords: What are some of your favorite scenes?
Greg Pratt: "One of the more interesting moments in the label's history was when Propagandhi - on their fourth and final album for the label - actually called out the owner of the label, Fat Mike from NOFX, in a song. And they put a picture of him in the liner notes! It was just one of those things where everyone, when they first saw the album was like, 'Whoa. What kind of band calls out the boss of the record label who's funding the record? That's awesome - that's punk rock!' But as crazy as that situation was, no one really talked about it much after. That was the band's last album with the label. Obviously, when you talk shit about the label, your relationship is clearly deteriorating - although they've come together since then and they've worked on some reissues. So the relationship - as far as I know - is fine. But it was an interesting thing to have happen, and to this day, people still wonder, 'Why did Fat Mike allow that to happen?' And we got that in there - we've got both sides of that in there.
“To me, as a huge Propagandhi fan, that was really awesome. And there's a part of the movie where everyone is talking about what a family Fat Wreck Chords is, and it's cliché to say - you hear that phrase a lot. But it's just very touching, because going into this movie, I didn't really realize two things about Fat Wreck Chords - one, what a strong sense of good business ethics they have over there. When we started filming, everyone said, 'They're the only label that ever paid me, paid me consistently, paid me decently. They've never told me what to do.' They just operate in a different way, and it's a really admirable way. The other thing was that it was such a strong sense of family. It's punk rock, and I think a lot of people that are drawn to punk rock are drawn to it because they had a rough start in life. For a lot of people, it seems like this became their family, because maybe their real family life wasn't that great, or they were searching for something, and they found this great community of just great, awesome, creative people. It's just really touching to see that all this stuff existed behind the scenes."
BraveWords: Since heavy metal fans primarily read the BraveWords site, do you see any similarities between metal and some of the bands on Fat Wreck Chords?
Greg Pratt: "Yeah. It's a bit of a stretch, but there are a couple of bands for sure. Propagandhi, they did a split record with Sacrifice at one point, so there's some metal cred there. They're not a 'metal band' per say, by any means, but they have tons of metal riffs and metal inspiration, for sure. A band like Lagwagon were once known as 'the Iron Maiden of punk rock' - they were doing the kind of dual/melodic leads way back in '91/'92/'93, before that stuff became overdone in punk rock. A lot of the stuff is really melodic and some of it is quite poppy. So I'm not sure if the average BraveWords reader would love, say, a band like Masked Intruder. But first of all, I think BraveWords readers are intelligent enough and have a diverse enough taste in music that they also might be into this stuff. But even if you're just a full-on metalhead who has loved nothing but metal, there's no reason why you can't put on a recent Propagandhi album and bang your head to it."
(Top photo: Greg Pratt and director Shaun Colon)