Q&A interview with Director Michael Grodner on “The Icarus Line Must Die” – a narrative feature set against the backdrop of the current LA underground music scene. (more info here)
Arthur Glover: So prior to making this film, did you have a background in the LA rock scene?
Michael Grodner: I’ve been working in the LA music scene for a number of years. As a music video director and as the creator of Dirty Laundry TV, a music web series where we interview bands in a laundromat while they do their laundry. I’m also involved in putting on indie and punk shows at places like The Smell, The Echo and the Teragram Ballroom among others — so yeah, for the last ten or so years it’s a world I’ve become acquainted with.
Q: Did you ever seen Icarus Line live at any point before? What was it about the band that drew you into making a film about them?
MG: I have. Joe’s one of the best front men I’ve ever seen. It’s like he was born to do it. That — and the music he was creating is what initially drew me to him and the Icarus Line as the subject for a film.
Q: Why do you think music biographies tend to be in black and white? Control, the film about Ian Curtis, came to mind when watching this.
MG: We were inspired by the No Wave films of the Lower East Side from the late seventies/early eighties. Movies like Amos Poe’s The Foreigner & Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger The Paradise came out of this period — both of those were shot in black and white — so it was an aesthetic we were going for. There is a certain cool vibe you get from black and white — since most everything you see nowadays is in color. Black and white feels more underground.
Q: So they were an active band from 1998 to 2015. From what you’ve gathered, what do you think was their peak years as a band? They did have a lot of revolving members.
MG: I suppose when Penance Soiree came out in 2004 was what people consider as the Icarus Line’s peak period as a band. But I happen to think their last album, All Things Under Heaven, is fantastic, too. So, you know, take your pick.
Q: This was your feature direction debut. Do you think music will always be a point of topic in your future films?
MG: I don’t know if music will always be a point of topic in my film (I have a science fiction film and a horror film in the works). But I think music will always play a crucial role in the films — despite the genre.
Q: What do you think of the LA rock scene nowadays? Is it still as good?
MG: The Icarus Line came up during the same period of time when there was a rock renaissance going on country-wide with bands like The White Stripes, The Strokes, Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeah getting peoples’ attention. It was a vibrant time in LA, too, which I don’t quite see right now in the “rock” scene despite there being some good bands — but hopefully a resurgence is right around the corner.
Thank you for interviewing!