While they have been cited as an influence on bands like REM, The Replacements and The Flaming Lips, Memphis power-pop band Big Star never quite reached the big time themselves. Helping shed some light on this highly underrated and undervalued band is a new documentary, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, now available for rental via iTunes.
Here Magazine had the extreme pleasure of catching up with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens earlier this week to discuss the documentary:
Many of the reviews that I have read about the documentary comment on the overall sadness that permeates the film. Do you feel that sadness when watching the film?
I think that some of the emotions people are picking up on in the film derive from the music itself. Big Star’s music always had a melancholic edge to it. The music sets the tone for some of the scenes in engaging and emotional ways. I have heard from quite a few people who have found the film to be rather emotional however I don’t feel sadness as much as I find it emotionally comforting that the music I made with Alex [Chilton, deceased 2010], Chris [Bell, deceased 1978] and Andy [Hummel, deceased 2010] is cradled in such affection.
You must feel an enormous sense of pride when watching the film as well though, having people speak of the music you created as having influenced or affected them so greatly.
To a lot of people, Big Star was a personal discovery. Big Star were the kind of band that people could call their own as opposed to a band like Fleetwood Mac who were just massively popular. For the people who discovered Big Star in the ‘70’s, it wasn’t simply a matter of a few clicks on the internet and there we were. You had to intentionally seek us out and because of that, word on the band grew organically.
In the movie, Alex is deemed as anti-star and that, to those outside of the band, it seemed as though he sabotaged his chances at success. Do you feel it’s an accurate depiction of him?
I don’t think Alex was sabotaging himself as much as he was simply cutting his own path, doing what he wanted to do. Alex was an amazing, free spirit; that is how he lived his life. His music followed that same path.
Article published in the July 18, 2013 edition of Here Magazine