Over the last 20 years, filmmaker Lance Bangs has worked on wide range of projects for music and entertainment folks—Spike Jonze, REM, The Rolling Stones, David Cross, Pavement, Michel Gondry, Marc Maron, The White Stripes.
That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
But his most ambitious and intimate project to date, both for him and the city of Louisville, may be his latest documentary. It’s the culmination of 23 years worth of traveling, investigating, and filming; all of which began as a personal journey to discover a band that mesmerized him.
The band was Slint. The film, finally complete, is “Breadcrumb Trail.”
It all started in 1991. Slint’s post-rock masterpiece “Spiderland” had just come out, and Bangs heard it playing over the PA system at a concert venue. The peculiar nature of the music—“it seemed complicated, but made sense as soon as you heard it,” as he explained—captured and held his attention.
He couldn’t find any information about the band, other than their hometown, their names, and the fact that they’d already broken up. His interest was piqued.
Before the cryptic record and its mysterious circumstances ever had time to influence countless bands (which it ultimately did), “Spiderland” and its creators inspired Bangs to jump in a car and drive from Athens, Ga., to Louisville. He had no clear plan in mind at the time. He was just curious and happened to have a camera with him.
“I was traveling around, shooting a lot of Super 8 and taking tape recorders to do narration during most of my time growing up [primarily in New Jersey and Alabama] before that anyway,” Bangs reasoned.
“So it felt natural in the same way that I would’ve driven across New Jersey to go to a house party in New Brunswick. It made sense to leave Athens and drive up to Louisville to see what those bridges looked like at dusk, and wander around and figure out, ‘Who are the people behind this? What’s going on?’”
Once he made it to Louisville, he “almost immediately” found his way to The Rocket House (a prominent house venue at the time) where he met and befriended the late Louisville music luminary Jon Cook. After getting his bearings on that and subsequent trips, Bangs said, “I was asking around. ‘Who are these guys in Slint? And what are they doing now? And why did they seem to disappear when that record came out?’”
The answers, and footage, he got on those trips became the basis for “Breadcrumb Trail” (which is named after the first track on “Spiderland”). And after decades of work, the documentary will see the light of day April 15, when it’s released as part of the “Spiderland” 20th anniversary box set from Touch and Go Records.
To mark the occasion, Bangs is screening the film April 14 at Headliners Music Hall along with a Q&A session featuring members of the band. More information can be found here.
Listen to the more from the interview below: