'Obsessive' Replacements film is a hootenanny

Fans and friends talk about the Replacements' legacy in a new film.

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The Replacements in 1984: Bob Stinson, Paul Westerberg, Chris Mars, and Tommy Stinson.

If you count yourself among the cultish minority of majorly reverential Replacements fans, it will come as no shock that the first-ever documentary on the legendary Minneapolis band doesn't feature any input from its members. There's not so much as a "yep" from Paul Westerberg or his old running mates. You won't even hear any of their music in the film.

Instead, "Color Me Obsessed: The Potentially True Story of the Replacements" -- premiering locally next week -- features two hours of old acquaintances, young admirers and a whole lot of middle-aged people who have nothing whatsoever to do with the group, all trying to make the case that the 'Mats are the greatest band most people have never heard. It truly is an obsessive movie.

One thing about the film that might be surprising: Director Gorman Bechard said he never tried to get the Replacements to appear in it.

"I liked the idea of strictly telling their story through their fans," said Bechard, a Connecticut filmmaker and author who first saw the 'Mats open for R.E.M. in 1983 (a terrible introduction, he said).

"This is a band that bucked the traditional methodology for rock bands every step of the way. So I thought, 'What if I do a documentary where you get to know them through the stories of others?'"

Among the storytellers in "Color Me Obsessed."

  • Former producers Tommy Erdelyi (aka Tommy Ramone), who says Bob Stinson was only present one day during the recording of the band's major-label debut, "Tim," and Matt Wallace, who deflects the blame for "Don't Tell a Soul" being overproduced.
  • Current underground rock stars Colin Meloy (the Decemberists), Craig Finn (the Hold Steady) and Patrick Stickles (Titus Andronicus), who all gush about how they were influenced by the band.
  • Several staffers from The Current (89.3 FM) -- but not, curiously, the DJ who's part of the Replacements family.
  • Musical peers including Grant Hart and Greg Norton (Hüsker Dü), Lori Barbero (Babes in Toyland), Chris Osgood (Suicide Commados) and onetime Westerberg guitarist Kevin Bowe.

Bechard, who will appear at next week's screenings to talk about the film, said the only person who turned down an interview request was 400 Bar co-owner Bill Sullivan, who served as the Replacements' road manager. Former manager Peter Jesperson doesn't appear on film but was helpful behind the scenes.

Hilariously, Bechard tried to get "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak to reveal his rumored love for the band, but the timing didn't work out. He did manage to get surprise appearances by George Wendt (Norm from "Cheers") and Tom Arnold.

Plenty of interviews didn't make the final cut. That includes one woman who shall remain nameless -- Bechard said she was "as inebriated as the band," to the point where she couldn't remember if she was telling stories about the Replacements or Soul Asylum.

Coming three years after Minneapolis writer Jim Walsh's more colorful book, "All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History of the Replacements" -- which was also mostly devoid of new input from the band -- the documentary doesn't offer much that hasn't been said before.

The 'Mats themselves might be the only ones with something new to say about the band. Word is that a more authoritative biography is indeed in the works. Even so, "They probably just don't remember a lot of what happened," Bechard pointed out.

Whatever happens, at least Bechard and the other obsessed fans in his movie are making it harder for the Replacements to be forgotten.

  • COLOR ME OBSESSED

    Local premiere: 7 p.m. Wed., Woman's Club Theatre, 410 Oak Grove St., Mpls.

    After-party: 10 p.m. Wed. with Chooglin', Story of the Sea and Matthew Ryan at 7th Street Entry, 29 N. 7th St., Mpls.

    Added screenings: 7 & 9:30 p.m. Thu., Trylon Microcinema, 3258 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls.

    Tickets: $10-$12. www.take-up.org or www.soundunseen.com

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