Leftover bits of Greg Prato interview with Chris Thorn

March 10th, 2010 by Vincent

“…As you may have noticed, I recently did an article about a forthcoming Blind Melon/Shannon Hoon documentary for the Rolling Stone site - for which I interviewed one of the group’s guitarists, Christopher Thorn. Well, there was quite a lot of quotes/info that couldn’t fit into the article, so here are the leftovers - enjoy!…”

Greg Prato, 03/10/2010 on his myspace page

Posted in Christopher Thorn, Blind Melon, Greg Prato |

10 Responses

  1. Vincent Says:

    For those having troubles to connect on Greg’s myspace page, here is the article:

    Doc in the works?

    The movie originally started out…there was a girl named Colleen [Hennessy], when we got back together with Travis, she was a fan and a movie-maker, and she wanted to be a part of the whole process. So we gave her full access to day one with us…actually, Danny Clinch was there, he filmed the very first day Travis jammed with us. And then she went on tour with us and every recording session she was there, and every fight, and putting Travis back into rehab - she was there for every one of these crazy details of us trying to put this band back together. Originally, the movie came from that point of view. When we fired Travis, I said, “Look, there are these videos that to me, were Shannon’s life work.” It took us a while to get the footage - some people in the band didn’t want the footage out there, some people did. Ultimately, it was Nico, Shannon’s daughter, and Shannon’s girlfriend, Lisa - it’s their footage. And we needed their blessing to move forward and use this footage. But I knew that this footage was just absolutely magical shit, that nobody has ever seen. It’s so intimate. I was given the unfortunate task of looking through every single videotape that Shannon ever took, because we were a little nervous that there was some…let’s just say, “x-rated” things in there, that we wanted to make sure would not embarrass the band or embarrass Nico or Lisa. So about two months ago, I had all the footage sent to me, and watched I don’t know how many hours. It probably took me a little over two weeks every day - eight hours a day - watching tape after tape. What happened was Danny transfered everything into a digital format, and I sat there and watched everything. It just absolutely blew my mind - stuff that I had forgot about that Shannon had recorded, and some of the most powerful moments, and I knew we had this footage. Danny and Colleen - who are working on this together - are so excited. We just found an editor, who I think is starting in the next couple of weeks. I want to say, my numbers could be wrong, but I want to say it’s like a hundred hours of footage that then Colleen and Danny are getting down to ten hours of footage, and then that is being given to this editor to make a full-length documentary. I think the storyline…after we fired Travis, I said to Danny - after I knew we were getting Shannon’s footage - “I gotta tell you man, us getting back together is a footnote. What Shannon would have wanted is this footage to be used in a detailed way.” I think even if you’re not a fan, you’re going to be blown away by this movie. I think it’s some of the most intimate footage that you’ve ever seen before - of somebody going through an incredible period of time in his life, when he goes through being successful, and then watching it unravel. All of it is right there. All the way to the very last phone call he made with Lisa the morning of the day he died.

    Is it from the beginning to the end of the band’s career with Shannon?

    It literally the beginning to the final phone call he made to Lisa, that at this point, it might not be in the movie. I talked to Lisa about it, and she said, “Look, there is some stuff that feels really personal to me, and there’s some stuff that I want to hold onto.” I said, “That’s your decision - you always have to be comfortable with what we’re doing.”

    Standout scenes?

    I’m so overwhelmed. It’s just incredible - whether we’re opening up for the Stones…it’s just the most intimate moments. Us getting a record deal, us hanging out writing songs together in the Sleepyhouse, making our first record together. And making the second record is very well-documented - in addition to Shannon filming, a guy named Max came down and filmed. In addition to that, I was taking super-8 for most of our career, so there’s a lot of great stuff of when Shannon and I went up to Mammoth, California - eventually Rogers joined us - we went up there to write songs for the ‘Soup’ record. There’s some just great footage of us hanging out in the house, writing songs - you hear the songs of the ‘Soup’ record, but you hear them in demo form. It was just the three of us - Shannon, Rogers, and I, and at some point, Jena [Kraus] came and hung out. We snowboarded during the day, then we worked on the demos at night. I had a recording studio built that I could take on the road with me, so we drove that up to Mammoth. Danny just sent me a really funny still-shot from the video, of one night, Shannon said, “I want you to give me a haircut.” I thought, “Alright…I’ve never given anybody a haircut before, but I know how to work a pair of scissors.” There’s a great scene of the both of us looking in the mirror, and I’m chopping off his hair. Funny stuff like that. There are just so many moments like that, that I’m overwhelmed by the amount. I mean, the movie can be three hours long, if we need to fit everything in. I don’t know how this editor is going to whittle it down to an hour and a half movie, because there is enough footage to last a very, very long time. Every live show in Europe, every show in Mexico, every show in the United States - whether it’s opening up for the Stones or Neil Young - or club shows…he filmed every single show. It’s overwhelming the amount of footage. But the footage to me that is special - I forgot what an instigator Shannon was! How much he wanted to make people laugh. So that’s one thing that I learned from watching this footage, sitting there by myself - just going, “What a little instigator.” He was always stirring shit up and trying to make people laugh. I think that’s the part I miss the most about him - he was one of the funniest people I knew.

    Movie or DVD?

    I don’t know - I think it depends how it comes out. I think in a perfect world, it get shown in some film festivals, and the word gets out that people actually know that we have a movie out. And the worst case scenario is we make a killer DVD that only the fans know about, and we get the word out to the fans, and they have this incredible history of the band, and they will be blown away by the footage that will be in this movie. It’s a lot different than somebody from the outside coming in and taking footage - compared to Shannon basically narrating his life. I was talking to Danny about it, and he said, “He’s basically narrating his life - he’s narrating the movie for you.” As you go along, he explains to you, “Oh, we’re opening up for the Rolling Stones.” He tells you the date most times on the film, the day, where you are. Very specific - the details are incredible. And it’s shot really well - he became quite a filmmaker. And that came from Danny Clinch saying that to us, which I thought was really impressive, as Danny is such an incredible filmmaker.

    Title?

    It’s too early. There has been some stuff floating around that I’d rather not say - until we actually land on a title. But yeah, we’ve actually involved the fans in that. We sent out a little email to people, or posted something on the forum, saying, “Does anybody have any suggestions for titles?” We’ve got a bunch of titles coming back, but it’s going to be a hard one. We want a great title - we want something that’s not too negative, although it’s a sad story. I think when you’re watching the movie, you’re going to be laughing more than you’re going to be crying. Because like I said, Shannon was so fucking funny. Whether he’s putting sushi in Rogers’ shoes or I’m going to the bathroom and he’s trying to tip over the Jiffy John. Constant hilarious shit like that. It’s sad in the end, because we miss him so much, but I think people are going to be laughing and smiling when they watch this movie. And I think people are really going to see…I mean, our fans know what an incredible talent Shannon is and was - I don’t doubt that - but I think for the casual listener who maybe only knows “No Rain,” I’m excited for them to go, “Wow!” Shannon was a poet first, and he was one of the most incredible songwriters of our generation. I mean that - it’s not me trying to “sell him,” I mean that. When I hear those songs, I’ve never found anybody to write songs that have touched me so much, and I was in a band with the guy, and I can say that about him.

    Release date?

    I don’t know - I’m as anxious as anybody. I’ve been sort of hounding Danny, and now that we have the editor in place, I think the next step is to edit like a 15-minute trailer. I’m not that familiar with this process - I make records, I don’t make movies. But I think the process is you make a trailer, you try to get people excited, and then you go out and try to find somebody that wants to become partners with you and invest some money. It’s a really expensive thing - I mean, this is something that’s been maybe three years in the making. Colleen has spent at least three years of her life going through this footage - shooting us getting back together, going through every minute of every piece of footage. It’s an expensive task to put together a movie. Danny warned me from day one, “Look, we’re not doing this so we can make money. We’re not going to make money on this - don’t think that’s what we’re doing.” And I said, “Hey, none of us want that. That’s not the reason why we’re doing this. We feel like we owe it to Shannon - who took this footage, labeled it, packed it away, because he wanted people to see his life.” I just felt an incredible obligation to Shannon, to get his story out. Like I said, if there’s one thing I know, this is what he wanted. Nobody ever would have filmed as much as he filmed - it’s incredible. I don’t know anybody who has filmed as much of their life as Shannon did.

    Video footage will be from several different sources?

    It’s a collage of everything. Danny obviously shot stills for all of our career - Danny is the first person that we took a publicity shot with in 1991 or ’92. And we became best friends - he traveled with the band in Europe. So Danny has the most still photographs of us. And then you add in my wife, Heather, who was there from the very beginning - even before we met Danny - so she’s got great shots of us doing showcases. And then when Glen met Brooks, she also became a photographer and was one the road with us, and has tons and tons of footage. There’s tons of still footage, and in addition to that, you have super-8 that I took, thousands of hours of Shannon’s videotapes that have all been transferred, and you have some stuff that Max took when we were making the ‘Soup’ record, which was shot I believe on 16 or 35 millimeter - really beautifully shot stuff. And then you have some great stuff that Danny shot when the band first got back together. And then Colleen really covered it - she was in the trenches with us, when we went back out there, and she has incredible stuff. What’s great about her perspective of the stuff that she has is she has the fans’ reaction, and she went to the vigil two years in a row - hung out with Nel and the fans. So a part of the story is going to be this incredible fanbase that we have, and these incredible fans that never forgot about us, and continued to listen to the songs, and continue to be touched by the songs that we wrote along with Shannon. So the footage that she has is also priceless - it’s just really riveting stuff. I think people people are really going to be blown away. Colleen shot the first time we all saw Nel - Shannon’s mother - after thirteen years of Shannon being gone. It’s a heavy moment. She’s there at all those moments - the first time Nel calls Travis to give her blessing, to say, “Yes, I believe in you. I know you loved Shannon and you’re going this for the right reasons.” All that stuff is captured by Colleen.

    Still searching for new singer?

    I think that we are slightly actively looking, I would say. I went back to producing records, which I love. I built another studio at my house, and I’ve been making records. It’s hard - it’s a tough thing. I don’t want to ruin the legacy of the band, but I also really miss going out, hanging out with the fans, and playing the songs. The songs are just a part of my growing up. And I absolutely miss my band. People don’t understand - your band can almost be closer to you than your own family. The shit we went through together - we’ve been through the top and the bottom together. I feel so close to those guys and I miss them dearly. For me, for selfish reasons, I want to find a singer because I want to go out and hang out with Rogers and Glen - Brad I see on a regular basis - but I miss Rogers and Glen, and I miss our chemistry that we have together on stage, I really do. It really burns me up that we’re not out there playing right now.

    What are you looking for in a potential singer?

    You can’t have a guy that sings in a baritone voice when Shannon was a tenor and sang high. So that’s always been our biggest problem, that Shannon had such a unique voice. I mean, if Shannon sounded like Eddie Vedder - and this is not an insult to Eddie Vedder, he was the first to sound like this - but there are a hundred copycats of Eddie. We don’t have that advantage. We have a singer that was so unique, and Travis did a great job, but he’s out of the picture now. It’s really, really tough. I’d love to find that singer, and if I found that singer and felt good about it and felt like we were doing it for the right reasons, then I would do it in a heartbeat. I have to say, the one thing that is misunderstood that bothers me more than anything is when I read that we got back together for the money. That makes me more mad than anything - I get so frustrated, because the truth is just the opposite happened. We did it because we wanted to go out and play these songs for the fans. We lost our ass last year. We paid for everything - we financed the record, we made sure the ticket prices weren’t $25, we kept ticket prices low as a gift to the fans. We did all that stuff. I get these Google Alerts, and I read something about, “Oh, these bands must have run out of money.” You know, it just burns me up. I make way more money as a record producer, staying home. I go out and play music because I want to go out and play those songs, hang out with the brothers and hang out with the fans. I just wish that was clear. When people think that we did it for the money, it just really bothers me, because the opposite happened - we actually went into debt from doing that tour. And I’m OK with that, because it was an opportunity of a lifetime - I would have never in a million years ever imagined I’d get to play those songs. And for me it was cathartic - it was something that I needed to do. Even though we lost our ass financially. We had an incredible time, and I would do it again. [Potential singers are asked to submit an MP3 or YouTube link — singing a Blind Melon song of your choice — to blindmelonsinger@gmail.com]

  2. Kevin E Says:

    Thanks Chris. It was a pleasure meeting you and the boys several times and everything you say about the tour was true. I was a hero for night during that tour when you played the outdoor gig in Stamford. You all hung out with my kids who were left in total awe for days….priceless!
    I would have paid anything for that moment……….
    Thanks for the memories of making something happen that nobody ever dreamt could ever happen again. It kills me to think about what Shannon is missing out on this life.

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