Friday, January 07, 2005

MTV confirms what I've been telling you all along...(revised)

01.06.2005 5:55 PM EST

Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine are among the hard rock heavyweights slated to beef up the soundtrack to the documentary "Rock School," which focuses on the Paul Green School of Rock, a Philadelphia school that teaches its students music by dividing them up into bands. The documentary will be screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival later this month and released in theaters nationwide in March. According to a recent interview with the school's founder in the Philadelphia paper The Daily Local, the soundtrack will feature a host of artists, including Cooper and Mustaine, who will record a series of covers with the students.
— MTV News staff report

P.S. Regarding the Philadephia paper "The Daily Local", to my knowledge no such paper exists, and I'm thinking they mean the Philadelphia Daily News. I did a google search and came up empty so maybe it will be appearing in the newspaper today or tomorrow. Watch this space! Also, the MTV article is not quite that accurate - Paul does not teach by "dividing students into bands" but oh well, it's MTV, what can I say. The movie Rock School, the tour, and subsequent sound track are the School of Rock All-Stars, twenty plus members of the best and brightest students, two of whom are Julie and Eric Slick. Julie of course has since graduated the program but is back for the soundtrack in both a performance and production role since the movie Rock School was filmed while she was in fact a major part of the All Star team.

P.P.S. And of course if you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you already know they've been recording for the past two weeks!

P.P.P.S. Hey! Apparently there is a Daily Local out in the Philly suburbs and I do believe I just found the article to which MTV refers:

THOMAS McKEE, Staff Writer

Students at the Paul Green School of Rock are used to big news.

In the past year, the school has received its fair share of the national spotlight as the subject of a documentary that debuted in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

In addition, the school’s most advanced students performed all over the country as part of the school’s first West Coast tour -- in its very own tour bus -- and a national audience watched as one of the students performed on MTV.

As good as 2004 was for Paul Green and his rock stars in training, it appears 2005 will be even better.

The documentary, titled "Rock School," will be screened this week at the Sundance Film Festival and then released in theaters nationwide in March. It will be distributed by New Market Films, which has distributed noted films such as "The Passion of the Christ" and "Donnie Darko."

The documentary is the work of Don Argott, a local filmmaker who graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Argott said he met Green about two years ago, while searching for an idea to base a documentary on.

According to Argott, he had seen the posters Green had been hanging around the city for upcoming performances and eventually grew intrigued enough to call the school and seek out more information. Green invited him to a performance the school was doing that night, a concert of Frank Zappa material at Indre Studios in Philadelphia. Argott went, and was blown away by what he saw.

"Three minutes in, I said, ‘There’s no way I can’t do this,’" Argott said. "I called Paul the next day and we talked and set up some appointments and things kept getting bigger and bigger and before I knew it, I was there for nine months."

The school, which is based in Philadelphia with a campus in Downingtown, teaches music to children by grouping them into bands and introducing them to the catalogs of rock and roll’s musical giants. Everything from AC/DC to Zappa is fair game, with plenty of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Queen mixed in for good measure.

Green holds recitals in the shape of concerts at venues like the Trocadero in Philadelphia, and promotes them well enough that they are usually sold out. He also finds unique performance opportunities for the students -- like the West Coast tour, the MTV appearance and a 2003 appearance at the Zappanale festival in Germany, which spotlighted the music of Frank Zappa.

"Teaching kids to play music is the easy part," Green said. "If that’s all we were doing, we wouldn’t be as cool as we are. My job is to keep finding cool, unique and exciting opportunities for the kids. It’s about creating excitement for them."

Green and his students are currently recording the soundtrack for the film, working alongside producer Phil Nicolo. Nicolo has worked with artists as diverse as John Lennon, Billy Joel and Aerosmith.

Green said the soundtrack for the documentary will be a mix of cover songs played by the students along with the original artists. Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine of Metallica and Megadeath and several other prominent artists are already working on the project.

The documentary focuses on Green’s interaction with his students and his unique teaching style.

"When I first watched it with my wife, I was a little worried that maybe it wasn’t balanced, but when I saw it later with the test audiences, I realized it actually was right on," Green said. "People laughed when they were supposed to be laughing and it tells both sides of our story. I come off as a dictator with a heart of gold."

Argott said there are several moments in the film that took on a magical quality as they were happening.

"They were doing a Guitar Gods show -- music like Santana and Van Halen, stuff like that." Argott said. "The second song they played was ‘Black Magic Woman’ and I knew it was going to be the opening sequence of the film. I watched it and said, ‘That’s the opening.’ And that’s been the opening of the film since before we were done shooting."

Argott said New Market Films was the best option for distribution.

"We premiered the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and five days later we got an offer from New Market," Argott said. "From the very first screening they were extremely interested in it."

In addition to the documentary release, Green will begin the new year by opening three new branches of the school, in New York City, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. In addition to the Downingtown campus, the school has branches in Montgomery County and Cherry Hill, N.J.