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SECOND IDOL'S TOP 5 MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES FOR A ROCK 'N' ROLL EDUCATION

The bands debut EP, Defence Mechanisms, is out now!

Image: Katherine Rooke


Sydney-based alternative-rock trio Second Idol have unveiled their roaring debut, releasing their first ever single White Noise. To celebrate the occasion, band members Maxine Gillon and Kate Olivia have given us their Top 5 Music Documentaries for a rock 'n' roll education.


Across five reflective and dynamic tracks, Defence Mechanisms brings sincere and conversational lyricism, set atop arduous melodies and captivating sonics. With menacing guitars and steadfast drums laced throughout, listeners are mesmerised listeners with lead vocalist Olivia’s snarling and hypnotic vocals.


Made up of Kate Olivia, Theia Joyeaux, Maxine Gillon and Afeef Iqbal, the four-piece find their inspiration in all-rock luminaires such as Savages, Placebo and Sonic Youth. Olivia, Joyeaux and Gillon are proud members of Sydney’s LGBTQIA community and work with organisations such as Queer As Fvck, as well as queer and mental health charity Baylin’s Gift.


Without further adieu, here are Second Idol's Top 5 Music Documentaries for a rock 'n' roll education...


DIG! (2004)

Directed by Ondi Timoner


‘Dig!’ chronicles the rivalry between The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and their respected frontmen Courtney Taylor and Anton Newcombe from their first meeting in 1995 up until the film’s release in 2004. I first saw Dig! When I was about fifteen and was drawn to watch it through being into The Dandy Warhols. As probably with a lot of people, this was my first introduction to the BJM and this documentary was a significant moment in my teenage ‘rock n roll education’; what can be enthralling and life changing when things go right, how conflicts within the industry emerge regarding creative freedom, how drugs can derail bands and how relationships can fall apart. The film takes you into the origins of both bands with footage that explores the birth of their friendship and mutual admiration, and then their divergence as one band sought more commercial success, and the other artistic freedom (and in turn, notoriety and cult status). Watching Dig! you’re drawn into your own love/hate relationship with Newcombe as his genius conflicts with constant fights within the band on and off stage.


- Kate





WE'RE LIVIN' ON DOG FOOD (2009)

Directed by Richard Lowenstein


Part companion piece to “Dogs in Space”, part documentation of the incredible experimental post-Punk movement in Australia; this is a necessary watch to anyone involved in the current Australian underground. The uniqueness, vibrancy and grit of the scene itself is reflected beautifully by key players including Primitive Calculators, Ollie Olsen, Rowland S. Howard and Bruce Milne. Particularly interesting is that due to the remoteness of Australia and the lack of international independent record distribution, the initial US and UK punk movements came over in one fell swoop with Krautrock and New Wave. This says a lot for how much the scene itself stands alone in comparison to overseas post-Punk movements. The heavy use of analogue electronics as more visceral aggressive instruments instead of glitzy robotic prog machines is still felt in the Australian musical landscape today. Highlights include the sheer frequency of Rowland S. Howard’s coy smile and the healthy sense of humour mixed with pride most have about how deeply pretentious and ridiculous their bands were in retrospect.


- Maxine




HIT SO HARD (2011)

Directed by P. David Ebersole


Hit So Hard chronicles “the life and near death of Patty Schemel”, drummer of Hole, and her life-long struggle with drug addiction. The film takes you deep into the 90s into the world of Hole and Nirvana including how Schemel befriended Cobain, came to drum in Hole, and nearly ended up drumming in Nirvana. Hit So Hard is a montage of interviews with Patty Schemel, Courtney Love, Erik Elandson and Melissa Auf Der Maur of Hole, as they recount their experiences of Schemel’s addiction, the band, touring and the conflicted environment leading up to the recording of Celebrity Skin.


This documentary captures a poignant time of alternative rock history, reeling from the impact of Kurt Cobain and Kristen Pfaff’s deaths. It is also significant in drawing attention to the experiences of a female drummer and queer woman within the music industry. Schemel’s story is harrowing but utterly inspiring and touching and raw.





GIMMIE DANGER (2016)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch


Simply put; The Stooges are the greatest band of all time, and I would get by just fine if I could only exclusively listen to their first two albums for the rest of my life. Directed by arthouse darling Jim Jarmusch, this is more than just a bland talking heads piece. Animation, engaging film techniques and jaw dropping archival concert footage is all utilised to really bring the history and significance of the band to life. What’s gorgeous about this is how staunchly proud Iggy remains of the band and how much class prejudice had to do with the confrontationalism of the band’s volume, stage presence and attitude. Highlights include the proposition that the metallic clangs and booms emanating from the nearby Detroit car manufacturing plants had a significant influence on the Stooges’ music.


- Maxine




DESOLATION CENTER (2018)

Directed by Stuart Swezey


Desolation Center were a collective who put on outdoor concerts and festivals in remote and unconventional locations in the early 80’s. Most were in the Mojave Desert and included bands such as Sonic Youth, Redd Kross, Minutemen, Meat Puppets and Einstürzende Neubauten. These concerts were completely lawless; no permits were obtained, audiences were driven in buses or given vague directions to the site, performance artists detonated explosives, bands got lost arriving. It was completely chaotic to say the least but the footage itself is absolutely breath-taking. Highlights include Neubauten’s sparking power tools on metal sheets illuminating the stunned transformed faces of the audience and Death Valley ‘69 era Sonic Youth serendipitously performing in the actual desert the album was about.


- Maxine