INTERVIEW: TERRY AND LOUIE + THE EXPLODING HEARTS DOCUMENTARY
photos courtesy terry six, ardavon fatehi and justin maurer
Ardavon Fatehi: Terry approached me about five years ago. There was a lot of interest in making a doc about the Exploding Hearts and Terry wasn’t entirely comfortable allowing just anyone to tell that story. At first I was very reluctant. I just didn’t know if this story should be told. I didn’t know if it needed its own documentary. My career was also really starting to take off down here and I didn’t think I’d have the time needed to commit to such an endeavor. So originally, I passed. Not too long afterwards I got in a pretty bad car accident and spent the better part of a year bed ridden and in a wheelchair. It was during that time that the doc had begun under some capacity and Terry again asked me to join. At that point it just made sense. I had the time to get involved and wasn’t really sure if or when I could get back on set. I knew it would take a lot of time and energy to tell it right. I’m not sure what happened with the woman who was originally making the film, I think we just drifted apart and I kept going on with the project. At first it was just me doing everything myself but over time I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with a team of professionals who are all highly skilled and just as committed to making this film as I am. I can’t begin to state how excited I am for the direction this is all heading in.
Terry, was it difficult talking about the death of your friends and bandmates on camera?
Terry Six: It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve chosen to do in my life. My brain went into auto pilot and my voice did the rest. I recall as I was re-telling the events, that the entire room fell silent. I couldn’t hear the hum from the camera lights, the rattle from the refrigerator, nothing. Just my thoughts pouring out from my mouth. I felt like I was right back in that moment fifteen years ago. It made me miss my friends even more.
Ardavon Fatehi: This question isn’t for me and there’s no reason that this response should be included, but I can just tell you that being there with Terry while we filmed that was also personally one of the most emotionally difficult moments in my life. Terry and I have certainly spoken about the day before. I was at his parents’ house with him a few hours after the accident, but Terry has never really opened up to me about it. And for obvious reasons no one has ever forced him to. We waited a long time to shoot Terry’s interview. I think Terry had the time to prepare for it and really reveal himself. I don’t believe that would have been something that was possible even a few years ago. I’m not a psychologist or anything and I could be totally wrong, but I think this movie being made, and Terry getting back together with Louie and playing those songs again, especially in front of people, has been a real cathartic experience. And when he did his interview he was so candid and vulnerable, it was a side of him I haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe ever. For years Terry has been so strong in all of this because he had to be for all of us. When he spoke about our friends during the interview it was powerful and profound, yet so honest and earnest, I felt myself sinking into the ground. I hid my face behind the camera to block the tears I was wiping away hoping he wouldn’t see.
Ardy, why does The Exploding Hearts story need to be told?
Ardavon Fatehi: You know, that’s a question I asked myself a lot at the beginning. It’s something Terry and I spoke of at length before anything even started happening. You have this band that has only grown more and more in popularity, recognition and influence over the years as a new generation has been exposed to their music. I’m not sure if that’s remarkable or if it makes total sense. But either way there’s been nothing new from this band in decades, yet they aren’t forgotten despite the fact that there isn’t much material—music, video, or interviews—out there on them. And what little there is isn’t easily accessible. Yet here they are, still very relevant and still very alive. All of that adds to a certain mystique about the Exploding Hearts. So little is known about them but still so much word of mouth that spreads around, it’s completely folklorish in nature. That’s something that’s not really possible in our society anymore with social media and all the technology and recording capabilities at everyone’s disposal. The late 90s/early 2000s may have been the last time in our modern world where mystique is even possible now that we live in this exhaustingly catalogued digital age. I find all of that very interesting and it is something I explore in the film, but that alone doesn’t justify the telling of this story. The last thing I wanted to do with this movie is list a bunch of facts on a timeline surrounded by some quirky sound bites and cool graphics as is so often done in music docs. I think that’s such a banal approach to telling the Exploding Hearts’ story. Nor did I want to regurgitate a cue-the-tears VH1 Behind The Music approach designed to cater to fan service. To me that would be such a disservice to these boys and everything they stood for. I think that there’s a strong human element within this story that delves into so many different themes surrounding tragedy and loss and guilt. How people overcome such adversity or if they ever really do? How can a horrific moment in a single day affect us as we grow as people? Can we ever really move on or are we forever tied to that past and the burdens of grieving it brings with it? To me these questions extend beyond just the individual but to a community that was sincerely damaged by what happened July 20, 2003. I wasn’t sure how prevalent this would all be but it’s something I’ve continually encountered in all my interviews and research. I believe exploring themes like these instills a great deal of humanity into this story. One which also follows an arc as we travel though the events that started in a Portland suburb back in the 90s that has somehow lead us to here and now. To me that’s a story worth telling. And that’s a story which will resonate with audiences beyond the band’s general fan base. And that’s why it’s important and needs to be told.
What has been your most memorable experience traveling and shooting interviews so far for this doc?
Ardavon Fatehi: This first time I went on the road to shoot interviews was quite a memorable experience. I filled up a car full of gear and spent a month driving up and down the west coast by myself shooting 3 to 5 interviews a day. I set up the lights, the cameras, ran sound and conducted the interviews then afterwards spent time scanning old photos and digitizing videos. It was a lot of work and it was just great to see people I haven’t connected with in years. On top of that it became very clear to me that so many people never really had the chance to process all of their emotions and pain from 15 years ago. We were all so young when it happened that I don’t think we really knew what to do. It’s as if all these feelings were swept aside and buried as we felt forced to grow up and move forward with our lives at the time. Getting people in front of the camera and exploring their pasts, really for the first time, brought all of those suppressed emotions out into the forefront. It did it to me too. I never anticipated this would be such an emotional journey for me, even being on the other side of the camera. But I’ve learned that there was so much I never fully recognized or processed that was still there buried beneath years of other memories. So it was really difficult to discuss this period in people’s lives and not go through our shared pain every single time with each interview, reliving that pain over and over for that month on the road. At times it was hard not to step out from behind the camera and give my friend who’s clearly hurt from my pestering questions a hug. That was real memorable, and it will stick with me. I guess I was naive in assuming this whole endeavor wouldn’t be painful or have much effect on me. As rewarding as this has all been, it’s been just as equally demanding. I think at the end of every shoot I thought to myself, ‘Fuck you, Terry, for asking me to do this.’ [laughs]
Ardy, anything you want to tease about the doc to whet your potential audience’s appetite?
Ardavon Fatehi: I can say that we’re really excited about this project—we’ve been working tirelessly to acquire all sorts of never before seen footage, pics, and more. We hope everyone else is equally excited about it and stays engaged and patient as we finish things up the DIY way.
And the show coming up will incorporate a teaser of the doc plus a set of music by Terry and Louie?
Ardavon Fatehi: There are a lot of different things happening at the same time and we’re real excited to be teaming up with the beautiful slimeballs over at Cretin Hop to put together a showcase featuring all the fantastic work everyone has been doing. Terry and Louie have a new record coming out which is fucking amazing and this will be their official record release party. In addition to playing the new record they’ll be performing a set of Exploding Hearts songs to celebrate a new extended trailer for the film we’ll be premiering. On top of that it’s Cretin Hop Hop’s 7-year anniversary so there’ll be tons of prizes and exclusive giveaways that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. I know it’s still early in the century, but I’m confident in declaring that this will be the party of the century. January 19th at Zebulon—tickets will be on sale online. Hopefully they aren’t sold out by the time this goes to print. Guestlist spots are already full, so don’t even ask.
Ardy, when can we expect to see the Doc in theaters?
Ardavon Fatehi: 2019! We’ve received a lot of great feedback and lots of excitement from fans anticipating this movie. This has been massively energizing. On a project like this, you spend a lot of time working it alone or with a small team and sometimes it’s difficult to gauge whether or not people really give a shit and we quickly learned upon releasing the teaser that there is tons of enthusiasm surrounding the film and I just wanted thank everyone for their support. I’ve been instructed by my producers to ask everyone to please like, follow, and comment on all of our social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and more. For an independently produced film like this, any sort of online engagement really helps raise our profile and helps spread the word and hopefully increases the potential of getting the movie widely distributed. The goal is to make a film that tells the story of The Exploding Hearts and that it does right by these young men whose time ended too soon. Yes, we hope it gets into festivals and a lot of people watch it and most of them like it, but really all of that is secondary.
Terry, all over the world I have seen Exploding Hearts t-shirts, buttons, heard songs being DJd and even have seen Exploding Hearts tattoos. What do you think Adam, Matt, and Jeremy would think about the lasting legacy of the music you guys made? Any closing words for fans of Exploding Hearts music?
Terry Six: I think they would all be very happy. I’m trying my best each and every day to preserve our legacy with my upmost sincerity and honesty. They deserve to have their hard work come to fruition, and with the documentary film coming out, hopefully it will shine a bigger light on the untold story that fans will really appreciate. Most people who know the Exploding Hearts just know the music, and maybe they know vague second or third hand stories that may or may not be entirely true. This film sets the record straight by not only giving answers to unanswered questions, but it also shows people that we were just kids with big dreams of getting our music out to the world. Ardavon is succeeding in humanizing our story on film.
TERRY AND LOUIE AT THE 7TH ANNIVERSARY OF CRETIN HOP WITH DJs RICK BARZELL AND ROGER MARS PLUS AN ADVANCE SCREENING OF THE EXPLODING HEARTS DOCUMENTARY TRAILER ON SAT., JAN. 19, AT ZEBULON, 2487 FLETCHER AVE., SILVER LAKE. 9 PM / $12-$15 . 21+. GET TICKETS HERE!