6B - The Michigan Daily - Wedc#, 4e - Thursday, March 14, 1996
Jackopierce members celebrate perpetual Mardi Gras on the road
By Shannon O'Neill
For the Daily
It's a gloomy, overcast Fat Tues-
day in Ann Arbor, when most people
are imagining themselves down South
wallowing in the balmy mist of deca-
dence and sheer gluttony known as
Mardi Gras. So what is a band from
Texas doing thousands of miles away
from bacchanalian overkill, in a dreary
For the members of Jackopierce,
playing a sold-out show at the Blind
Pig is a mini-Mardi Gras in itself.
When Jack O'Neill and Cary Pierce
started out as an acoustic guitar duo in
1988, it was their independent spirit
that spurred them on not only to cre-
ate music and an independent record
label, but a loyal fan base among
college students as well.
"The college grapevine has been re-
ally helpful," Pierce said. "You've got
40,000 people all living in a mile radius
of each other, and it's great to find out
that a lot of people really like music the
way we like music."
Now awaiting their second major la-
bel release, the duo has expanded to
include bassist Clay Pendergrass and
drummer Earl Darling. This addition
has only broadened the acoustic sound
of their 1990 release "Someday You'll
Understand" to their 1994 release on
A&M,"Bringing on the Weather." The
,positive chemistry of the band mem-
bers carries its own celebratory tone,
even while confined to a tour bus atmo-
"I think this band has a dynamic
that's right on," O'Neill explained.
"We've gone through a series of other
players, and this is like a creative force."
This is a long way from the two
college guys who met at Southern Meth-
odist University in Dallas, and spent
their time playing covers of their favor-
ite bands together.
"We started playing together for fun,"
Pierce said."We were going to go to the
bars anyway, so we might as well be
providing the entertainment and get free
In a time when much of the music
industry is driven by what sells and
radio airplay, Jackopierce is uniquely
separate from this battlefield. Instead,
they are influenced lyrically and musi-
cally by their creative introspection and
everyday life, as heard in songs like
"Jacob" and "Late Shift." With musical
influences ranging from Neil Young to
New Order, their evolution into a band
took place through the songwriting pro-
"I think any artist definitely begins
by drawing from their influences as far
as songwriting goes, or presentation, or
style," Pendergrass said. "You just lis-
ten to beautiful music, and you absorb
that and distill it, and hopefully make it
into something that's closer to your
Though the band jokingly refers to
their beginning as stemming from
"pure vanity reasons," music has
played a significant role throughout
"Only now do I realize as a kid how
intense I was into music," O'Neill
explained. "Every night of my life I
would go to bed listening to music,
a rock show."
Jackopierce's growth from an
acoustic guitar duo to a complete band
has not only broadened their sound,
but their musical horizons as well.
"It's been a year of living and tounng
as a band, and creating as a band,"
O'Neill said. "I can't wait to see what's
happening a couple years from now,
because I think we'll definitely be to-
The input of creative ideas from the
entire band has contributed to a meld-
ing of lyrics and music on their latest
"It's good to have a marriage of both,
and I think we write a lot just fAB
coming up with musical ideas thatyoull
match somehow with a brilliantsongf'
So, after touring all over the world
for the past year with bands like Blues
Traveler and the Dave Matthews Band,
most bands would be counting the days
until they could rest. Surprisingly,
Jackopierce is more than happy to con-
tinue touring. In fact, life on the r
has become the norm.
"Touring is your life," O'Neill said.
"You've got to thirst for it. The whole
reason you exist is to go out and play
music, and the fact people come and
check you out is a real trip."
It's refreshing in these stale times to
find a band playing music because
they love it, not simply because they
are manufactured to fit the newest
music fad. Life on a tour bus may not
exactly be Mardi Gras, but for
guys in Jackopierce it comes pretty
Jackopierce is "Bringing on the Weather" ... and boy, does it look hot!
every day I would listen to music. I
knew the history of rock'n'roll back-
wards and forwards by the time I was
ten, and my parents turned me on to
all of it."
This love ofmusic and performance
also adds to the band's appeal. It's
obvious they are happy to be where
they are, and not above working hard
both to please themselves and their
ever-growing fan base. This genuine
spirit transmits itself in their ener-
getic live shows and their down-to-
earth perspective. After all, it was
only recently that they traded their
RV for a tour bus.
"Touring is a way of life, it's what
we do," Pierce said. "I think a lot of
bands simply don't want to work. I
like to work, I love to play, I love to
write, I love to be out there realizing
what we've been doing in our bed-
rooms. This is the band I want to play
in and tour behind, and turn this into
Sherlock makes it big outside of Hollywood
By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Each year dozens of directors
their feature film debuts. These b
creative men and women hope to
noteriety fortheirown unique cinen
style, while the movie-going publ
tempts to label them as the
Hitchcock, Scorsese or even Taran
With 1995 filled with high-p
first films from newfound aut
one film and its enormously g
*director slipped through the crac
American cinema. That direct
Ceri Sherlock, and the amazing
Hailing from Wales, with a b
49ground in British theatre, the BBC
"in various universities, Ceri She
made his imprint on the film ind
with "Branwen," ah adaptation
j;stage play which was derived fr
' 12th century Welsh myth.
As Sherlock described the film,
Ita film about nationalism. It's abou
fdilemma between public politics
personal decisions and how they af-
fect people's private lives."
make In Ann Arbor to promote and dis-
brave, cuss his dynamic debut, Sherlock gave
Qgain an insightful interview in which his
matic enthusiasm over "Branwen," and the
ic at- filmmaking process as a whole, was
next glowingly obvious.
ntino. Alternately filming in Wales and
rofile on the problem-plagued streets of
eurs, Belfast, "Branwen" was produced on
gifted atight, though not minuscule, budget.
ks of "That's not to say I was like Robert
or is Rodriguez," Sherlock said, referring
film, to Rodriguez's incomprehensible
$7,000 budget for "El Mariachi."
back- Aside from staying within the con-
C and fines of their means, another problem
rlock facing the crew was the actual deci-
ustry sion to shoot in Belfast, whichis con-
of a trolled and terrorized by the Irish
om a Republican Army. "To shoot in
Belfast, that had big consequences.
"It's Nobody wanted to insure us. Finally,
ut the we did get the insurance, but it was
s and only about a third of the budget. So it
"To shoot in
Belfast, that had
No one wanted to
insure us ... It was
- Ceri Sherlock
Director of "Branwen"
was quite scary."
Yet another obstacle in the plan-
ning of the film was the research,
which entailed interviews with mem-
bers of the IRA, who were then in-
volved in armed conflict. These first-
hand accounts of the Republican
Movement allowed Sherlock to tell
the story from a more personal per-
Sherlock credits the widespread ap-
peal of such IRA-themed films as "In
The Name of The Father" and "The
Crying Game" with enabling his film
to be produced without making the
world wrought with paranoia about
the IRA's incessant brutality. "In
terms of'In The Name Of The Father'
and so on, there is a feeling of a kind
of sentimental blindness to the acts of
atrocity and the kind of mafia-like
behavior of the IRA," Sherlock said.
Beyond depicting activities of the
IRA, "Branwen" also gives audiences
outside the United Kingdom a look at
the more diverse populations that in-
habit the British Isles. After all, the
film was included in the Program In
British Studies' film series,
Sherlock finds irony in calling a
film series by that name when the
dominant, stereotypical tea-and-crum-
pet-consuming English have a diffi-
cult time acknowledging that Britain
is, indeed, multicultural. "It doesn't
acknowledge that we live in a
multicultural society, that not
everybody's skin is white, that not
everybody's beliefs are exactly the
same," he said.
Also strange to Sherlock is the fact
that Americans are completely fasci-
nated with all things British. From
"Absolutely Fabulous" to the Royal
Family to Oasis, Bush and Elastica, a
second full-fledged British Invasion
is under way.
"I find it extraordinary, the influ-
ence of Britain, but it's partly a lan-
guage thing. We share the common
difference of a similar language."
One societal structure Britain abso-
lutely does not have is the ruthless Hol-
lywood system, which Sherlock has
already encountered in his relatively
short film career. His closest brush
with Hollywood, however, was a posi-
tive one. "Branwen" was the official
British selection in the Best Foreign
Film category of the Academy Awards.
Though it failed to make the final
five nominated films, Sherlock was
flattered and extremely proud of the
accolade and therecognition. Sherlock
stressed, as any great artist would,
that the real satisfaction in life is not
found in the awards, but in the cre-
ative process. Nonetheless, an Oscar
makes a nice mantelpiece.
With his extensive past in enter-
tainment and fine arts, Sherlock chose
to pursue filmmaking and attended
film school at University of Califor-
nia at Los Angeles. Citing his influ-
ences as Ingmar Bergman and
Federico Fellini, among others, and
showing his admiration for American
films like "The Piano," "Leaving Las
Vegas" and "Seven," he has much
advice to offer those attempting a
career in film.
"Compromise as little as possible.
Don't be nice, I'm frequently accused
of being much too nice. Stick your
ground, remember your ideals. And
Sherlock seems to be doing just that.
With one film about Edward
Muybridge, a 19th century photogra-
pher who murdered his wife's lover,
in development at a major Hollywood
studio, slated to star his friend An-
thony Hopkins, and another in pre-
production in Wales concerning a
single mother raising a child with
Down's syndrome, Ceri Sherlock will
likely be long remembered in the film
More specifically, Ceri Sherlock
will become synonymous with wit,
intelligence and brilliant filmmaking
for many years and films to come.
Timothy Leary in 1971 (when he was still sane ...?).
Film to cover Learys 1ife
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Los Angeles Times
Tune in. Turn on. Drop out. The
mantra of the'60s will soon become the
focal point of a film about the man who
coined the phrase and epitomized the
lifestyle - Timothy Leary.
Just as Leary, 75 and dying of pros-
tate cancer, anxiously anticipates his
third act, he spends part of his days
recounting the "experiment" pegged as
a turning point in America's history.
If the public's perception of Leary and
LSD is irresponsible behavior for an irre-
sponsible time, it couldn't be further from
reality, says Ted Field, chairman and
chief executive Interscope Films, which
produced the recent box-office hits
"Jumanji" and "Mr. Holland's Opus."
"The irony is, Tim, a brilliant Harvard
psychologist, came to embody that slo-
gan and that time. But the fact is, he
began an experiment using drugs be-
cause he felt that psychotherapy had
stalled," Field says. "In what became
known as the Harvard experiment, he
used prisoners to see if these mind-
expanding drugs would alter their be-
havior positively and help cure the re-
cidivism rate ofprisoners slipping back
into thesystem afterrelease. When some
divinity students learned of the drug
and the experiment, they used it to see
if they could come in contact with God.
"And that's the irony. It was this
responsible project at Harvard, done
under rigorous sanctions, that went
awry. You have to ask yourself, 'How
did an institution like that ever allow
this in the first place?' But Leary be-
came the experiment's victim and
wound up as a political vanguard."
And the subject of Interscope's up-
coming film about a certain segment of
the radical's life.
There is irony, too, that this subject is
such a pet project of Field, who says he
never used drugs and even served on
the board of D.A.R.E.
"Considering the political climate of
the moment, I'm sure this film will be
vilified as apro-drugpiece from thepeople
who brought you (gangsta rappers) Tupac
Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg," Field
adds. "I defend my rap group music un-
abashedly just as I will this film., But
again, 'Leary' (the working title), will
have a neutral point of view about,an
experiment that went awry and how it
changed a whole generation." :
Randall Johnson is writing the scriptof
Interscope's anticipated $15- to $20-mil-
lion movie, which could start production
as early as June. At the moment, Field and
his production chief, Scott Kroopf, are
searching for the right director and the
actor to play Leary-"a tremendousturn
for an actor," Field says.
A few days ago, Leary says, his
friends Tim Robbins and Susn
Sarandon paid him a visit. He is a
fan of Sarandon, with a large painted
portrait of her hanging in his den. Leary
says Robbins told him he would like to
direct the picture. And that would suit
Leary fine: In Leary's mind, Robbins
gets what he is all about.
Interseope confirms that Robbins'is
one of several names being batted about.
Others include Tim Burton and Oliver
Stone, anotherwhom Leary calls "friend."
Who would play the man remains
determined, although Oscar contenier
Nicolas Cage's name has popped up.
Leary says he'd like to see the role g to
Christopher Walken becausehe lovedihis
performance in "True Romance," onq of
Leary's 10 all-time favorite films. N
Asked at his home about the nation
of a movie made on his life, Leary Mys
wryly: "I think there should be 100
movies made of my life ... everyo's
lives. These are the Harvardyears. A
then we'll have the golden years" in
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