Before punk bands had their own summer festivals, punk bands were just that: a group of punks who had to load their own equipment, drive their own vans, and finance their own one-take records. Witness the spirit of punk before the cash cows started to moo, when Modified Arts hosts a screening of We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, a documentary chronicling the brief career of the 1980s punk band.
The film illustrates the Minutemen's do-it-yourself ethic, ingenuity and determination. The title even shows the band's self-reliant style; We Jam Econo is a reference to the trio's always unloading their own gear and consistently living in their Econoline van.
Minutemen guitarist and vocalist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt grew up together in California. In 1979, the duo formed the Minutemen. After one gig, the original drummer quit, and the Minutemen called on George Hurley of the Reactionaries to take over. Things clicked, and the three began traipsing around the country in their Econoline.
The band was only around for five years. Despite their short existence, the Minutemen released 11 albums, including the influential double-disc Double Nickels on the Dime. Somehow, this punk rock band, whose name came from its short songs (not the Revolutionary War folk), found a place on MTV, next to mall girls with teased hair. Unfortunately, as the band was on the rise, Boon died in a van accident in 1985, and Watt and Hurley called it quits.
We Jam Econodirector Tim Irwin was introduced to the band through skate videos, but he made sure to interview those who experienced and played with the Minutemen. The three-piece had a significant impact on hardcore punk, and big names sing the band's praises in the film, including Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), John Doe (X), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Henry Rollins.