The Incredible Journey: Scott Sloan talks about “40 Nights of Rock & Roll”

19 May

The future saviors of rock 'n' roll?

By Jesseca Bagherpour

Scott Sloan and Steve Labate are on a mission: Armed with only a camera, their trusty jeep Black Betty and a stash of junk food, they’re on a 40-day tour of the United States to prove that rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.

They’ll be attending a concert every night (that’s 40 shows in 40 different cities) and filming those concerts, along with interviews with different musicians they meet along the way, for their documentary, 40 Nights of Rock & Roll–A Fearless Journey Through The Dark Heart Of Rock & Roll Music On The Road In The United States Of America.

Sloan and Labate have been friends since teenhood and rock fanatics since childhood (in fact, Sloan traced his love for music to an interesting source). Sloan is a filmmaker and former phone company salesman and Labate is an accomplished music journalist and former editor for Paste magazine. They’ve both attended their fair share of shows and festivals over the years, but never in such a high concentration.

The zealous duo of rock avengers will be in the area next week, making stops in Dallas on May 24 for Of Montreal’s show at The Granada and in Denton on May 26 for … whatever they find.

I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about their ambitious project, and Sloan was gracious enough to answer my questions, despite the fatigue and delirium caused by 15 days on the road.

DBB: What inspired you to embark on this journey, and why did you decide on 40 nights specifically?

SS: We were inspired by the Josh Hartnett film 40 days and 40 Nights.

DBB: How did you go about planning the project, including the cities you selected, bands you wanted to see, funding, etc?

SS: We took a bunch of bands that we liked tour schedules and dumped them into some databases. I correlated those results with a map of the US marked by homes of friends and family, then overlayed that map with the migration patterns of the wooly mammoths. This is the result.

DBB: How is it different from past projects (other films, features on music, festival coverage, etc.) that you’ve worked on?

SS: This is different because it never ends. No breaks … Seriously … None.

DBB: What do you expect/hope to find in some of the other cities where you have no specific bands set up to watch?

SS: We’re looking for the spirit of rock. I hope to hap across some little club with some distortion, screaming vocals, thundering bass, and machine gun drums pouring out, go in, and get my face rocked off. Or see a nice little pop trio hitting all the stops and making people smile.

DBB: How do you plan to survive the journey, and how are you and Black Betty holding up so far?

SS: We have a nutritionist travelling with us who determines the optimal carb/protein ratios for us using only processed meats and corn and potato chips.

Black Betty is holding up well. She is looking to become this generation’s Hidalgo, and is coming along quite nicely.

DBB: What are some of your best experiences thus far?

SS: Every show has been amazing in one way or another. Of course there are personal favorites … But to single out any band or artist would be a disservice to the film and the shows we’ve seen. Let’s just say that 15 days in, it appears that rock is alive and well and flourishing.

DBB: What are some of your worst experiences thus far?

SS: Being with Steve 24 hours a day. You learn everything about a person like this. Heck, I noticed he had been carrying a large piece of lint for two days straight. I know he has gotten quite sick of me as well, but we persevere.

DBB: Not to be a snob, but why Third Eye Blind?

SS: Rock has many faces.

DBB: You have a history with Of Montreal and you’ll be here in Dallas to see them. Why did you choose a relatively small venue to see them when their shows are getting bigger and more elaborate? What do you hope they’ll do with this show?

SS: Venue size means nothing to us … It’s hard enough to find bands for 40 consecutive nights and cover the country. I am confident that Of Montreal will deliver.

DBB: If you could have done this project during any other musical era, which would you have chosen?

SS: I think I’d like to do this in 1975. There was so much awesome rock going on, and people were partying with a recklessness that is absent in today’s world of YouTube and camera phones.

DBB: You seem to be pretty adamant in the belief that rock ‘n’ roll is still alive. If it ever dies, who do you think will pull the trigger?

SS: The only person who can kill rock is yourself, when you stop listening to it.

Any words of advice for people who love music and are trying to make a career out of it, especially considering the current economic climate?

SS: I think I’m about eight grand in the hole for this, so I really can’t help there.

DBB: Can we hang out when you come to Denton?

SS: Love to.

If you have any suggestions of what these two should do while they’re in the area, please let us know in the comments or via email.

P.S. Jaime has a similar project in the works, planned before he knew about this film. Starting December 31, he will see one band every night for a year. Talk about ambitious.

3 Responses to “The Incredible Journey: Scott Sloan talks about “40 Nights of Rock & Roll””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Track of the Day: Of Montreal–Id Engager « DayBowBow - May 24, 2010

    […] Steve Labate and Scott Sloan, the men behind 40 Nights of Rock & Roll, will be filming the show tonight. Be sure to buy them a drink! And buy us one while you’re […]

  2. Rundown: 5/24–5/30 « DayBowBow - May 24, 2010

    […] Scott Sloan and Steve Labate (you’ll probably remember that we’ve talked about them before), who will be here in Denton for their documentary, 40 Nights of Rock & Roll.We would love for […]

  3. Shiny Around the Edges Joins GFS Client Roster, Gets Dressed for Rock Doc Tonight « Go Figure Skate - May 26, 2010

    […] but reliable high we still call rock music across the U.S. Read an interview with Sloan at DayBowBow.net and a Q&A with the pair at DC9 At […]

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