Documentary Review: Don’t Fall In Love With Yourself

I’m no Mark Kermode, I won’t be able to tell you anything about screen ratios, cinematography, cross-cutting, dutch angles or any of these things. Instead, this will be me pointing out personal highlights from the documentary about musician/label owner Justin Pearson, rather than a detailed frame-by-frame analysis which, let’s be honest, would be far from exciting.

Don't Fall in Love With Yourself
Don’t Fall in Love With Yourself

Don’t Fall In Love With Yourself is directed by Jon Nix of TurnStyle Films whose previous work includes Beyond Barricades (a documentary about punk band Anti-Flag), a series of music videos for the likes of Skeletonwitch, Cloud Nothings, All Dinosaurs and a string of short films. The documentary is structured in a chronological fashion chronicling Pearson‘s childhood, musical career and role as a record label owner.

Justin was born in Chicago before moving to Phoenix and it is apparent he didn’t have the best start in life with a father who was an abusive alcoholic (who eventually ended up murdered) and a ‘stepfather’ Frank who was hardly the strongest of role models either. Pearson comes from a long line of musicians with a dysfunctional background, Kurt Cobain, Henry Rollins, Dave Navarro etc.

The film shifts to Justin the musician and his encounter with Jose Palafox with whom he’d play in both the politically charged hardcore band Struggle as well as the more experimental post-hardcore outfit Swing Kids. This recalled for me Greg Anderson’s own musical trajectory from straight-up hardcore/post-hardcore acts (Brotherhood/Engine Kid) to more adventurous, experimental fare ala Sunn O))) and Ascend. Justin certainly seems to have had a major hand in the creation of an underground scene in otherwise straight laced San Diego, if only someone could have that pioneering spirit in my hometown (Lancaster, UK).

Other fascinating facts emerge during the course of the documentary such as the origins of Three One G‘s name (from the chorus of Joy Division’s track Warsaw), and how said label’s creation was inspired by Pearson‘s friend and bandmate the late Eric Allen, who is talked about movingly (RIP).

This is everything you could want from a documentary, it was informative and interesting; with a capacity for making you cry, laugh and think…

Other interesting tidbits include how the use of keyboards in The Locust was inspired by artists such as The Residents and Devo as well as the band’s unusual look being influenced by Crime, Dead Boys and Dead Kennedys. I was amazed to learn that the band toured with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in the UK and that it unsurprisingly didn’t go down well with the indie contingent, leading to muted to hostile receptions.

Word of warning; if like me you are squeamish about bodily excretions then you’re best served fast forwarding past the scenes of drummer Gabe Serbian puking. We are then treated to the story and effects of the infamous 1999 Jerry Springer appearance and the ‘4-way love rectangle’ that was both a piece of marvellous trolling and marketing genius on Pearson‘s part.

As with the likes of Mike Patton, Pearson has a relentless work ethic and one which is highlighted by partner Becky DiGiglio. Finally, there are a couple of very touching scenes with Pearson‘s mum Karen where they both wear The Locust masks as well as a post-end-credits compilation of interviews with Gabe Serbian in tribute to him (RIP).

This is everything you could want from a documentary, it was informative and interesting; with a capacity for making you cry, laugh and think. Whether I’ve done a good job with this review is open to conjecture, however, what isn’t is the need for you to invest some serious time in this excellent example of filmmaking, whether or not you are a fan of Pearson’s work.

Production: TurnStyle Films
Three One G: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
The Locust: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills