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Repetition is Failure: The Story of JR Ewing |Documentary Announcement + Funding Appeal

July 14, 2019
Jørgen Gomnæs

Repetition is Failure: The Story of JR Ewing |Documentary Announcement + Funding Appeal

Two artists that reside in different countries are currently locked away working on reviving the heroic history on and off stage of a legendary band that are now inactive. With a new documentary due to showcase the works of the critically acclaimed Oslo based punk/hardcore act JR EWING, brothers Paul and Simon Gore are inviting you into their journey and progress so far.

JR Ewing formed back in 1998 and gained global success, their signature sound literally initiating a new generation of underground punk and hardcore artists. Fans across the world still share about their experiences witnessing this band and fans that missed that opportunity to this day would do anything to be in that room with JR Ewing and their iconic live performances/ unique atmosphere. From their creation through to their demise in 2006, JR Ewing released 3 full length albums and several EPs, and spent a lot of time touring Europe and the US.

In it’s time, the band had various members of which were Andreas Tylden, Erlend Mokkelbost, Petter Snekkestad, Kenneth Lamond, Håkon Mella, Martin Molden, Jonas Thire, Morten Billeskalns, Nils Petter Strand and the late Aaron Rudra. Linked to labels such as Coalition Records, GSL, Sony BMG, Dim Mak, Dance Of Days Recording Coalition, Primitive Records.

They shared stages with the likes of The Locust, Switchblade, Coheed + Cambria, performing All Tomorrows Parties with The Mars Volta, Antony & The Johnsons, High On Fire, live at Quart Festival on a bill with David Bowie. The list continues with Rumble in Rhodos, Oil, The Dillinger Escape Plan, TV on the Radio, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Blood Brothers, Turbonegro– even a special Kerrang UK tour at the UK’s Barfly venues when they were in the height of attendance.

Now picture the band that made your path; the music which shaped your world and those around it, an act whose notes resonated every step, an outfit that to this day you continue to find gems to add to your growing merch collection. Fast forward 14 years and imagine living in a world working on a project which means everything about that band that pathed your teens/adulthood. Paul and Simon are doing just that.

In 2006, artist/musician brothers, Paul and Simon Gore from the Forest of Dean, UK at the time, were introduced to JR Ewing by their bandmate and everything changed from their initial introduction. The brothers remained dedicated and obsessive fans, spending the last 14 years trying to hunt down any and every piece of merchandise, information and media about the band that they could.  

In 2012, Paul Gore noticed that JR singer, Andreas Tylden, had put a video online joking about a JR Ewing DVD to be released in 2029. The discussion about a JR Ewing documentary began between Simon and Paul, which went on for years, yet no further news about the film ever surfaced. 

6 years later and the brothers made the trip to Oslo in June 2018 for a primary meeting with their musical heroes, Andreas Tylden and Erlend Mokkelbost, where they discussed about making the JR Ewing documentary. Upon unexpectedly receiving the bands entire archive of 2002 – 2006 tour and studio footage on mini DV tapes, the pair started work the same day, watching through the footage on a borrowed camera, making notes and discussing plans. Over the following months, they worked on their ideas and intentions for a full documentary film.

Repetition is Failure: The story of JR Ewing from Paul Gore on Vimeo.

The trailer above captures the band perfectly- the epitome of fun, ferocious and fucking wild.

Today, the brothers share more information about their current workload, their plans and how YOU the readers and any fans can help them achieve this dream….

Firstly introduce yourselves and your involvement with this incredible forthcoming documentary/film.

PG: So, Simon and I are two brothers from a small village in south Gloucestershire. We played music together for years and always had a huge interest in photography and filmmaking. I went on to study documentary filmmaking at Newport when I was 19 and went on to pursue a career in the film industry after it.

SG: My name is Simon Gore. I’m the oldest, wisest, elegantest big brother. I’m an audio/visual artist based in Akershus, Norway. So far I’ve been doing the development work for about a year now.

What is your involvement with JR Ewing in general?

SG: Paul and I have a group email feed with the JR members. We usually hassle them multiple times a day asking questions that help us piece the puzzle together.

How did you get into creating a documentary on this band- their live performances, their time together, how did this opportunity arise?

PG: It was sometime around 2012 that we noticed JR put up a piss taking video clip online about them releasing a documentary in 2029, so we knew they had some material for making a doc but we had no idea how much, or if it was any good.

SG: Well I moved to Norway to pursue my passion for Norwegian music, which all started with JR Ewing. I studied in Oslo in 2015 and met JR Ewing guitarist/founding member, Erlend Mokkelbost by at an Ieatheartattacks gig. I nervously introduced myself and explained what a significant impact JR had had on my own work. It was the day that Erlend had won the Spelleman prize (a Norwegian grammy) for an album production he had done, so he was very happy.

After finishing my degree in the UK, I had the opportunity to move back to Norway in February 2017, this time with my young family. Fast forward a year or so and I was working at Kafé Hærverk and Erlend came in. We had a chat and discussed his plans for the JR Ewing reissue box set that had been mentioned online some time ago. I discussed the video Paul had showed me back in 2012 and asked if he had plans for the film. He told me that it was too much work, no one had the time or resources to do it and it basically wasn’t going to happen.

I discussed Paul’s work and we shook hands on making the film there and then. I was basically then in a state of shock. I had to go and call Paul but it was quite overwhelming to say the least.

You’ve worked hard gaining access to footage for the film, where have you managed to get all the historic data/footage/interviews- Tell us the work that’s gone into this..

PG: Well we started out with digitising 70+ mini dv tapes, then 10 or so VHS tapes surfaced over a few months that also needed digitising. We heard about all these other lost tapes that we circulating somewhere so it’s a never-ending treasure hunt to find them. We kind of enjoy the challenge although it’s difficult.

SG: It’s kind of difficult to describe the amount of labour, patience and attention to detail that’s gone into this so far. In addition to the mini DV and VHS footage, I spent a day in January in a private screener room at NRK (the Norwegian BBC) going through their archive to find live footage, interviews etc, with Erlend and our translator, Per Åsmund Reymert from the band Despereaux, to see if there was anything useful for the film.

The bands’ history is entirely DIY, so we’re very fortunate to have the footage we do, as so much of this is rarely documented. We don’t have any paper trail of information to use as a template – only stories, memories, information from the liner notes of record sleeves and vague, transcribed interviews.

All of this happened before the days of social media and done on very low budgets, if any at all, so tracking down this stuff is not like trying to find material of Michael Jackson or whatever.

Annual JR Ewing Xmas Party with Paul and Simon Gore

Amongst all the footage you’ve collated and with JR Ewings tour history in the time they were thriving, is there any key figures that will appear in the film?

PG: Yeah, they played with Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Blood Brothers, The Mars Volta, Gallows, Steve Aoki and numerous other bands so yeah there a few celebrity appearances that we’re looking forward to cutting into the film.

SG: We have plans to interview some of our all-time favourite figures in music – including the band themselves. It’s amazing how far this network stemmed out, and what everyone involved has gone on to do. Watch this space.

Is there anyone else you are trying to reach to gain any more info at all?

PG: Anyone and everyone with relevant JR material.

SG: There are 3 missing tapes that most of the band members have at some point been in possession of. These consist of the 1st show tape from Rælingen, the 2nd show tape from Sarpsborg and the legendary Porsgrunn tape, all from 1998. I’ve spent over 8 months looking for these tapes and no one seems to have them any longer. I’m now trying to find out who filmed the shows to see if I can locate the original Hi8 footage source. There can’t have been many people in the punk scene making videos at that time.

Tape sharing was incredibly popular in those days, but also incredibly disposable, so it’s not surprising that they have vanished. They might turn out to suck and be unusable, but it would be very important to at least see them. This is an open call for those tapes, or any other pre 2001, non-commercial JR Ewing material that anyone might have. If you have anything, or know of anyone who might, please get in contact. We’d really appreciate hearing from you.

First band photo taken in 1998 by Even Skår

Whilst processing all the history, have you unveiled any un-released music from the legendary Norweigan band?

PG: We have some demos, B-sides and stuff that was played not very often that we’re happy to have accessed. Every fan boy loves unreleased stuff. Although we do have a muti-cam live recording of a show at So What which is pretty cool! That’ll be cut and put on the bonus section of the release if we make enough money.

SG: It was quite overwhelming and undeniably emotional for me to sit in my self-built music studio in Norway, going through the previously unheard multi-track recordings of JR Ewing’s last 2 concerts. There is a lot of very interesting stuff to be included in the box set, but we also have some more really cool material.

What does this creation mean to you personally?

PG: It’s huge for us. It seems like yesterday we were living out of each others pockets, driving round the country in a van playing little gigs and listening to JR on my CD deck. Now we’re hanging out with them in Oslo and collaborating on this film that we never thought would see the light of day, let alone the possibility of us doing it.

SG: This is the most ambitious and honourable project I have ever done. It’s difficult for me to express the true depth of this, but this is one of my all-time favourite bands and biggest ever musical influences. For 14 years Paul and I have been religiously collecting any old merchandise, interviews, information etc about this revolutionary band. They started a passion that changed the course of my life, which sculpted my professional work today. To have access to the material that we have is pretty ridiculous. Passion and persistence pays off eventually.

Did you ever witness a JR Ewing live show and if so where and when and how did witnessing their live environment inspire you?

PG: Never, unfortunately, but maybe we can get them back for something one day, who knows?!

SG: No, I had 2 opportunities to see them play and I missed both of them. The first one, I was invited to in Birmingham, I missed that because I was schmoozing a girl at the time and wanted to go to a house party with her. That was on their last European tour, which I didn’t realise at the time. Oh to be 17.

However, some years later I discovered that they played an All Tomorrow’s Parties the year before that gig when it was hosted by my all-time favourite band, The Mars Volta. I tried to go then, but simply couldn’t get the money together as I was just starting to drive. They shared the stage with the likes of The Kills, Holy Fuck, Mastodon, Battles, etc. If I could have gone to one event in the history of live music, it would have been that one.

Why is this so vital for fans and friends of JR Ewing (music fans in general) to witness?

PG: This mass of footage we have is like a time capsule. Many of the guys in the band haven’t even seen most of it yet; no one else has. So its going to be pretty exciting to expose this golden footage from past times that has loads of other significant artists in it too!

SG: Having started this project, we’ve become aware of the depth of significance that this holds for people all over the world, and not just for us. We have made no official announcement of this until now and somehow news of this had made its way to Germany purely by word of mouth months ago. It’s incredible.

This enthusiasm has been shared by so many people we have reached out to for advice, interviews and connections. It’s quite amazing.

This production is not going to be a vague over view at all. We will not be giving a half-arsed, slap-dash effort. We are meticulously obsessive perfectionists and it will contain the detail and intellect it deserves to have, in the most humble and un-pretentious manner.

What have you learned throughout this entire process?

PG: That if you want to make it happen then make it happen, it’ll be a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs. It’ll drain your wallet, time and energy, but it’s worth it for what we get out of it. We’re very privileged and excited to be part of this so we’re putting blood sweat and tears into every move.

SG: I still hate computers. I still love JR Ewing.

What was the BEST thing you discovered during your creation?

PG: That Norway is definitely one of the best places on earth.

SG: One of the most staggering moments of my life was when Paul and I sat in a library after collecting the mini DV tapes, going through them just looking at the labels. One of them simply said “JR Ewing & The Mars Volta 2003”. Grails don’t come much holier than that. We were completely speechless.

We also found things that we didn’t know even existed. Photographer, Jørgen Gomnæs found the original contact sheets from the Maelstrom cover photoshoot and some press shoots of that period – one very well-known picture we have used for the cover image. Another photographer Håkon Mosvold Larsen sent us his 35mm pictures of The Perfect Drama studio sessions. To our knowledge this is the only documentation of the session other than the record itself. This is all complete gold dust, I had no idea this was even around.

You’ve dedicated yourself to keep this story alive and the music fresh in peoples minds but do you know what the band feel about the final feature?

PG: They are super happy to see it finally getting made. These kinds of things can get shelved very easily especially when there’s no money involved straight away and people can’t just commit to the project 24/7. We’ve had to sacrifice weekends, evenings and spare days for over 6 months on it, working around our own day jobs and personal lives.

SG: One thing we said from the very beginning is that if the band doesn’t like it, it’s not going out. We are very fortunate to have good relationships between everyone in the band. They called it a day at the right time, before they made too many personal sacrifices, pushed things too hard and ended up hating each other. It’s a common mistake that many artists make, myself included. This means that getting information, links, recommendations etc is all very easy and enjoyable, which helps.

You’re announcing a special crowd funding pledge to go alongside this, what are you hoping to achieve and what can fans get by backing this?

PG: We’re hoping to get enough money to make it all happen first off. Then, we’ve got loads of other merch and stuff in place for the pledgers.

SG: One thing that is very important to us is to be able to cater to all pockets. One person pledging 1 euro might be more of an ask than another pledging 1000. So our appreciation does not discriminate – we are thankful for any and all support, which will be credited in the film evenly, regardless of how much is pledged. But obviously the rewards vary.

We’re not the only people who have been collecting JR merch. So I’m absolutely delighted to announce we will have exclusive reprint T-shirts, some hand-made, screen-printed film posters and other very special items to offer. The coolest being, tickets to Harpefoss Hardcore Festival and an invitation to a private premiere for the band and crew in Oslo next year.

Where will we able to see this feature film and will there be a launch at all?

PG: All being well it’ll be done by autumn 2020 and yeah there will be a launch around that time.

SG: The intention from the beginning was to include this in the 6LP reissue box set next year. We don’t have a confirmed date yet, but it’s within the foreseeable future. We would like to screen it around the world, but we’re still working on that.

Will the film be released on a special format?

PG: Just online initially, but it was always intended to be a DVD. I think maybe a few special cardboard sleeve DVD versions will be made if we have the budget.

When the documentary is unveiled to the world do you know if there will be any hints of a reunion at all? Even if it’s just the band getting together to watch the film?

PG: No idea. We all hope that they will, but all the guys are living apart now and have other careers, relationships and commitments. So I don’t think it’ll be as easy as getting them back for a few shows.

SG: God. We wish. They said they would never perform again, and I support and understand their decision. After all – Repetition is Failure. But of course, I’d like to see a live reunion. Because they are all still on good terms and proud of their work, they reunite, having parties every year. Last Christmas Paul and I were invited to their Christmas party to discuss the film and present some of the footage we had been working with. It was an honour to say the least. A proper “we’re not worthy” moment for us.

Any idea at this stage of launch dates…

SG: Mid 2020 for premier. Official release some time after that.

Any other info?

SG: Thanks to everyone involved so far who have helped us out and provided us with love, patience and enthusiasm. Please check out the Indiegogo page if you have the time. If you like what we are doing and use social media, please share the link to spread the word.

If you wish to support this project in any way other than financially, please share the news via word of mouth – as this venture has proven so far, the old ways are still the best ways.

Here’s how you can help make this come alive – the pair are wanting to include a completed film as part of the JR Ewing 6 LP reissue box set to be released through Edda Records.  Head to the newly launched indiegogo campaign where you can pledge your support, anything that can be spared will be greatly appreciated. Lets bring JR Ewing back to life.

We will keep you updated.

Repetition is Failure.

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