Louder Than You Think Film Review Gary Young

Movie Bunker Score:

Louder Than You Think: A Glimpse into the Impact of Pavement and the Complex Life of Gary Young

The Unfavorable Setting That Sparked Creativity

In the luscious documentary film, “Louder Than You Think,” directed by Jed I. Rosenberg, we explore the captivating story of Pavement’s drummer, Gary Young. Set in Stockton, California during the 1980s, a time characterized by its daunting reputation for being an unsafe city, Young paints a vivid picture of the circumstances he and many others faced. With a multitude of criminals, drug dealers, and thieves saturating the city, Stockton felt like a valley with no escape. However, amidst the turmoil, a unique form of expression was born: music. Young recounts how the frustration and anger of the inhabitants led to the creation of music, and it was within this backdrop that Pavement emerged. When teenage guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg approached Young to record an album in his DIY recording studio, they set in motion a chain of events that would forever change the landscape of lo-fi indie music.

Revolutionizing Lo-Fi Indie Music

Pavement, touted as one of the pioneers of the lo-fi indie music scene, disrupted the notion that lo-fi equated to low-quality. Rather, it was a deliberate and conscious strategy to cultivate a distinctive sound. Although the recordings were imperfect due to their home recording system, the band welcomed noise and distortion as integral components of their musicality. Drummer Gary Young, with his eccentric habits and disruptive behavior, played a significant role in drawing attention to the band. It was through his unconventional approach that Pavement gained recognition and left an indelible mark on the indie rock genre.

A Deep Dive into the Production Process and Genre

For those already familiar with Pavement, “Louder Than You Think” offers a rich and enlightening exploration of their albums’ production processes and sheds light on the broader landscape of lo-fi indie music. Director Jed I. Rosenberg, together with co-writer Greg King and producers Jeffrey Lewis Clark, Brian Thalken, and Kelly Thomas, painstakingly curated an array of footage, photos, and audio material to provide an immersive and engaging documentary experience. Furthermore, through in-depth interviews with band members Stephen Malkmus, Scott Kannberg, and Bob Nastanovich, as well as contributions from Young’s relatives, collaborators like musician Kelly Foley, Matador records co-founder Chris Lombardi, and musicologist Adam Harper, viewers gain invaluable insight into the band’s journey and the cultural impact of their music.

The Human Complexity of Gary Young

While Pavement’s influence on the music scene is undeniably noteworthy, the most captivating aspect of “Louder Than You Think” lies in the exploration of drummer Gary Young’s deeply human story. Rosenberg skillfully captures the essence of Young’s multifaceted character, which transcends the realm of music. Young’s unpredictable behavior, fueled by his indulgence in alcohol and drugs, both on and off the stage, became synonymous with his persona. From interrupting performances to distribute vegetables to the crowd, to falling off roofs while attempting headstands, Young’s antics became part of Pavement’s legacy. Through interviews and poignant visuals, audiences witness Young’s battles with addiction and self-destructive tendencies, culminating in a greater understanding of the man behind the music.

A Survivor with a Heavy Burden

Stephen Malkmus aptly describes Gary Young as a superhero, someone who can withstand bullets and radiation, possessing an extra eye yet continuing to persevere. The film provides ample time for viewers to witness the present-day Young, now in his seventies, bearing the weight of his tumultuous journey. Despite severe scoliosis and numerous health problems, Young demonstrates an astonishing resilience. However, beneath the surface, it becomes evident that he carries a profound sense of sadness and unhealed wounds. Constructing a narrative of compassion, the documentary explores how Young’s creativity and genius were inseparable from his self-destructive tendencies. Pavement’s success and influence on the indie genre came at a high cost to Young’s personal well-being, leaving viewers both in awe of his achievements and devastated by the toll it took on him.

Unlocking the Essence of Gary Young

Through the eyes of friend and musician Kelly Foley, who collaborated with Young on the album “Hospital” after his departure from Pavement, we gain a deeper understanding of Young’s essence. Foley reveals that Young always possessed an unwavering self-awareness, acknowledging from a young age the path he was destined to walk. This captivating portrayal in “Louder Than You Think” paints an authentic and intimate picture of a man whose influence shaped an era of music. It dismantles the notion that creative brilliance and personal fulfillment necessarily go hand in hand, leaving viewers emotionally shattered yet profoundly moved by Young’s incredible yet turbulent journey.

Redefining the Documentary Experience

“Louder Than You Think,” which had its world premiere at SXSW 2023 on March 13, offers a groundbreaking cinematic experience. Director Jed I. Rosenberg, along with a team of talented individuals, succeeds in capturing the essence of Pavement’s music and the enigmatic life of Gary Young. Through an impeccable curation of archival materials, personal accounts, and innovative visual aids such as puppetry, the documentary captivates audiences and offers an unprecedented look into the band’s legacy. It is a testament to the profound impact music can have, not only on a collective audience but also on the individuals who create it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What distinguishes Pavement from other lo-fi indie bands?

Pavement stood out from other lo-fi indie bands due to their deliberate use of noise and distortion, which became an integral part of their unique sound. Rather than compromise quality, they embraced imperfections and unintentionally crafted a new sonic aesthetic.

2. How did Gary Young’s unpredictable behavior affect Pavement’s image?

Gary Young’s unpredictable behavior, often fueled by alcohol and drugs, became synonymous with Pavement’s image. While it garnered attention and added to their allure, it also contributed to the band’s eventual downfall.

3. What insights does “Louder Than You Think” offer into the production process of Pavement’s albums?

“Louder Than You Think” provides valuable insights into the production process behind Pavement’s albums. Through interviews with band members, collaborators, and industry experts, viewers gain a deeper understanding of the creative processes and artistic decisions that shaped the band’s music.

4. How does the documentary capture Gary Young’s complex personality?

The documentary delves into the complex and multi-faceted personality of Gary Young. It explores his self-destructive tendencies, battles with addiction, and the impact these factors had on his personal life and musical career.

5. How does “Louder Than You Think” contribute to our understanding of the indie music scene?

“Louder Than You Think” unravels the history of Pavement and their significant influence on the indie music scene. By examining the band’s innovative approach to lo-fi indie music, the documentary sheds light on the broader cultural impact of the genre.