bless Film Four and their, ‘If It Looks and Smells Like Spinal
Tap, Then It Probably Is Spinal Tap’ season – This months
offering is the excellent Dig!
by Ondi Timoner, starring Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor and
members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, the
rockumentry (cringe) follows the fortunes of the two bands.
a saying that you can democratise everything except talent. Watching
'Dig!', Ondi Timoner's award-winning documentary, you know that its
star, Anton Newcombe, would no doubt agree. As
singer/visionary/leader of 1960s revivalists The Brian Jonestown
Massacre, Newcombe has seen between 50 and 100 musicians share the
stage with him. But no one was ever in doubt whose band it was.
Courtney Taylor, singer with The Dandy Warhols, describes Newcombe
as "the craziest and most talented musician I had ever
met" and 'Dig!' tells the story of their bands over a
a mutual admiration society, playing shows with each other and
telling anyone who'd listen that the other band was the future of
rock 'n' roll, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols
went on to prove the theory that you make your own luck. The Dandy
Warhols got signed to a major label, toughed it out in the corporate
world and struck the big time when their song 'Bohemian Like You'
was used in a mobile phone ad. The Brian Jonestown Massacre were the
darlings of the underground, wrecked their industry showcase gig by
having a full-on fight on stage (spectacularly captured here) and,
when they finally got a high profile record deal after countless
albums, watched it all fall apart as Newcombe descended deeper into
was there to capture all of this and her film is a great addition to
the 'rockumentary' genre. Consistently funny and brutally honest,
'Dig!' contrasts the rising fortunes of
's career-minded outfit (the self-proclaimed "most
well-adjusted band in
") with Newcombe's talent for self-sabotage at every possible
opportunity. He reckons that The Dandy Warhols are sell-outs while
he's the keeper of the flame. Both singers, as someone says
on-screen, kind of want to be the other, but by the close you'll be
convinced who the most talented one is.
film is of course lopsided because Taylor and his cohorts can't
compete with the rubbernecking which Newcombe and his minions
inspire. But that fact only serves to make 'Dig!' an even more
important lesson in how to and how not to have a music career. Many
have said that the film is a real-life 'This Is Spinal Tap' and,
echoing the David St Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel relationship from that
film, apparently Newcombe and Taylor are on speaking terms once
again, while the former has fallen out with the director. Whatever
his feelings about her and this film, Timoner has shown that with
the right idea and a lot of heart you don't need a lot of money. And
that's a compliment that also applies to Newcombe himself.