MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM is an immersive journey through the New York music scene of the early 2000s, featuring never-before-seen footage of iconic artists including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Interpol and LCD Soundsystem.
We got the opportunity to talk to the directors, Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, to discuss more about the making of the film.
How did you come about making this film and why this specific era ?
Dylan:We came about making the film because the starting point for the film was Lizzie Goodman's book Meet Me in the Bathroom. We very fortunately, we're able to read an advanced copy of it. I think the moment we read it, it took us back to that time in our own lives. It was such an interesting period in time because it was that moment just before the world changed in terms of technology, in terms of culture, politically. We love the bands to begin with, but it seemed like an opportunity to make a music documentary that had a bit more scope that was about as much about the time and everything that was happening in the world and how much the world changed as it was about the artists and musicians.
What’s your favourite part of the movie without giving too much away?
Will:That’s tricky. It's funny. I think of it as bits of archives that I really like. And that's maybe an easier way of thinking about it. For me, I think the parking lot show in Brooklyn, which comes like a year after 9/11, feels like a really big moment in the whole story. Lots of the bands that we cover were playing that, and it felt like a big moment in their story and in the city story as it shifts from Manhattan to Brooklyn. And I also think just because lots of the archive was shot from one person with a camera, but that was one of the moments where there was a lot of different people filming and lots of photographers there. And it felt like a special moment.
How did you gain all the footage for the film, was it just reaching out to people ? As so many things people may of not seen before
Dylan: I mean, it was a really long, challenging process because before we started making the film, we obviously spent some time writing the film and what the story we'd ideally like to tell would be. And then you go into the process of trying to find... Because the film is 100 % archive, trying to find archive that helps us tell the story we set out to tell. And it was everything from starting with the bands themselves, then they would point us in the direction of people who were hanging around at that time.
We would go on to the way back machine and go onto the forums from the early days of the internet. So we could look at who was who in the scene and who was going where. And then even just seeing something in a photograph would lead us onto something else. Will noticed a mini disc player in one photograph and we were like, Well, we need to find the journalist who recorded that interview and see if he's still got that mini disc. So it was a mammoth process and there was a team of us working on it. And it wasn't we didn't get all the archive and then go, Right, let's start the edit, We were getting archive in throughout the two years of doing the edit.
So it was constantly you'd have moments of anxiety where we were like, Are we ever going to find something to tell this part of the story? Then you have a breakthrough and then another problem to solve. So it was very much an ongoing thing.
Was there any footage in the film that you didn’t expect to receive?
Will: It's interesting. I think we had an idea of the types of footage we were going to get, but a lot of it about, not far from an hour of the film is archive that hadn't been seen before, hadn't been seen by anywhere before. And so I guess there's a lot of unexpected footage. We always hope to get some early footage of The Strokes and relatively late on we got the footage of them hanging around on the subway when they're pre being signed as a band, playing their first or second shows.
And that stuff came about from someone, a photographer who had a lockup with a suitcase full of tapes that she hadn't looked at since filming it. So that stuff was amazing to see and what we hoped for, but we didn't expect that we're going to get all of that and Paul Banks on 911, that footage of him in the aftermath of it on the streets was incredible to see, really.
But yeah, I mean, lots of it was amazing to see because you just didn't know what you were going to get. Like Dylan said, it was an arduous task of trying to locate stuff. Then occasionally, you get stuff that you hadn't been expecting in it, and that is always a high point in an edit.
How did you figure out how you were going to put all these different stories into 100 minutes?
Dylan: That was always a difficult thing because the book that was the inspiration for the film is 800 pages long and it spans 11 years. We knew we could never go into as much detail as that, but what we could do is create a time capsule that brings that time to life. We knew that we had to narrow down the scope of it and actually the part of the story that was more interesting to us was the origins of the bands in the first three years that the book covers. Really, we had a guiding principle in telling the story that they were coming of age stories.
So we looked at which of the eyes fitted in with them would be the most satisfying story arcs. Whether that's Karen coming from outside the city, the shy girl who discovers this scene and then creates a persona and becomes a performer within it. Or James Murphy, who blossoms later in life, almost by accident. We're just looking for the way that the different artists contrast it. And also there's this idea of a New York scene, but actually, a lot of the bands within it were quite disparate.
It was more the music press putting the label of scene on it. But if you look at the strokes and Interpol are completely different aesthetically and in terms of music. And then Yeah Yeah Yeahs and all the Brooklyn bands were much more an art rock scene than a straight out rock and roll scene. And then James and DFA and Tim Goldsworthy and all those guys. At the same time, we're kind of bringing the world of dance and rock music together. So we went for the artist that would kind of allow us to tap into the satellite bands around them, but which clearly had different sounds and were doing different things.
Do you wonder if anything like this could happen again? Especially with there being so much out there
Dylan: I mean, that's a question that we asked ourselves a lot and it was the question we wanted to leave the audience with as well because when you look, that time was so specific because it was just this moment on the cusp of technology transforming the world, culture changing, politics becoming more divisive. And in a weird way, it's almost a time of innocence before all of that stuff took over. We kept saying, Is this the last time that something like this would happen in that way? Because obviously there's always new stuff, but now it emerges in completely different ways. To us, it felt like perhaps this was the last time it could happen.
And finally what’s next to come for you guys? Anything planned for the near future?
Will: Erm, still trying to work that out, we would like to make another music documentary but just not yet.
Dylan: We are still exploring things.
Meet Me In The Bathroom is released in cinemas 10th March.
Article By Tiarna Iddon