w/ Bill Carson, Second Shift
Fri. April 14
32 Ann St.
From a small, sleepy lodge on the shore of one of 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, The Films plot and practice their new album. The boys are renting the home to pre-produce and finalize tracks for their new record. The owner of the quaint lodge is Dick Johnson. They devote countless hours to arranging tracks and finalizing riffs, but still manage to crack a few jokes about the name ‘Dick Johnson.’
The Films have received quite a bit of attention in the past few months following the release of their disc, The Films EP. The EP’s success was greatly attributed to its iTunes/Filter US Recordings release, and they have been steadily adding fans to their MySpace profile, nearing 12,000 friends. The boys received two huge breaks last year when they were signed to Warner Bros. Records, and Filter Magazine named them one of its “artists to watch.” In September of last year, the group filmed their first video for the single “Black Shoes,” a stop motion collage of antics directed by rock photographer Josh Rothstein.
Michael Trent, frontman for the group, is loath to admit their success at this point. “We’re not really successful yet … getting a record deal is only the first step,” he says.
Trent and his bandmates — guitarist/keyboardist Kenneth Harris, bassist Jacob Sinclair, and drummer Adam Blake — first graced the local stage at Cumberland’s in mid-Oct. 2002 under the moniker “Tinker’s Punishment.” The Colorado natives opened a few gigs for Jump. Shortly thereafter, Joel Hamilton of The Working Title showed them Charleston Harbor in his boat. It was an undeniable piece of Charleston music history, and a talented union among three groups that represent Charleston’s connection to major record labels.
Trent is still very thankful for the open arms Jump and others provided in Charleston. “We have some really great friends in the Charleston scene, given an opportunity to help them out, we would definitely do anything we could,” he says.
It was on the fall 2002 tour that Tinker’s Punishment first began to refer to Charleston as their “new home.” Blooming friendships with Jump, The Working Title, and Owen Beverly heralded their official move to Charleston a year later, in September 2003. Following another year of extensive touring, the group adopted the name “The Films.”
“We were bored of it and wanted to start something new,” says Trent. “So we changed the name and started fresh with all new songs and a completely different approach to writing and arranging.”
Cumberland’s and the Village Tavern became regular spots for shows, as well as The Earl in Atlanta and the renowned Cat’s Cradle near Carrboro, N.C. A growing fan base of hippies-turned-hipsters produced a stellar draw, and gained the attention of Warner Bros. Records.
The group continued touring heavily and recently relocated to New York City to follow up on their major label support. The move to New York required adjustment, but Trent believes it was needed.
“It’s always inspiring to be in a new place,” he says. “It keeps things interesting and it’s good to be out of your comfort zone, but as far as ‘shaping the content’ of the music, it really hasn’t.”
The Films’ new album is due out sometime later this spring and the group expects “great things.” Trent is already poised for the inevitabilities of its release. “Once the record is finished, I’m sure everyone will be so eager to tell us what other band(s) we sound like, or what we took from who, or what we’re trying to be. That’s how it always happens. Our plan is for the record to sound like ‘The Films,'” says Trent.
The Films’ success may hint at the fate of the ever-changing Charleston music scene. Although the area has experienced a jump in major label involvement in the past six months, Charleston still trails other small Southern cities like Athens and Chapel Hill in label recognition. These cities support growing independent labels, a feature that the Charleston area lacks, causing some popular acts to leave the scene.
The band continue to perfect their sound for the new album and look forward to returning to Charleston to show the minions of regional fans their latest work. Major label support has not altered the group’s feelings about the city that was once their home. “To the fans and people who support us: thank you so much!” says Trent. “To the other [Charleston] bands and musicians, forget about pleasing everyone; it’s impossible. Fuck ’em; do what you want.”
The Films perform at Five Points After Five in Columbia on Thurs. April 13 and headline a show at the Music Farm on Fri. April 14. Check www.the-films.com for more info.