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L.A. Beat

The Smalls may be gone but their impact lasts forever in new movie

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Edmonton based experimental metal/ rock  band The Smalls never really made it  during their heyday in the ’90s but they had a huge impact on musicians and fans alike.The Smalls: Forever Is A Long Time plays at the Movie Mill this weekend. Photo Submitted

 So film maker and long time fan and friend Trevor Smith decided to chronicle the band’s (frontman Mike Caldwell, bassist Corb Lund, guitarist Dug Bevans, drummer Terry Johnson,) impact during their reunion tour, 14 some years after they broke up in the new movie The Smalls: Forever Is a Long Time, which plays at the Movie Mill, Friday, April 22  to Saturday, April 23.

“They are friends and colleagues. I used to sell some merch for them and used to play hockey with them and I played a guitar in a pretty terrible band then,” said Smith, who also shot one of Smalls bassist  Corb Lund’s first videos as an emerging country star. Both Lund and frontman Mike Caldwell grew up on ranches near Taber. Terry Johnson grew up in the farming hamlet of la Glace while Dug Bevans grew up just outside of Leduc.

“ I’ve known the band for 25 or 26 years,” Smith said.
The movie isn’t just the story of a band, it captures a moment of Edmonton and Alberta indie rock and punk history.
“It is about how a band connected with people and how people connected with them,” Smith said.

The film follows the band as they began rehearsals for the reunion tour, relearned the songs, adjusted their setlist, right through footage of some of the crazy shows, comments from fans, band members, other bands playing around the same time as the Smalls. It also features interviews with each of the Smalls, reflecting on their history, the state of the Edmonton music scene as they were growing up, choosing their name, their songwriting and riff building process, recording their first cassettes as well as a frank discussion of the factors leading up to the band’s break up.

 As a bonus, members of Edmonton punk pioneers SNFU are featured prominently.  Plus the film includes archival footage of SNFU and the Smalls.
“We didn’t expect to do the  companion piece on SNFU, but as we worked on the film, it became clearly really how much impact SNFU had on them and  the Edmonton independent music scene. It was a passing of the torch,” Smith said, adding they were able to use some footage from a film about SNFU and frontman Chi Pig.

“We really needed that to really help imagine that world,” he said, emphasizing the members of the Smalls and SNFU were very generous with their time.

“It was a happy occurrence to get Ken Chin/ Chi Pig. He showed up to play with the band at the Commodore in Vancouver and gave us a really great interview,” Smith said, adding they pre-booked most of the interviews with musicians, music journalists and people who worked with the band.

“A lot of them are still in my social circle,” he said.
 He coordinated several of the interviews with the band’s tour dates. They spontaneously interviewed fans at some of the Smalls’ shows.
 Smith was pleasantly surprised by the response from fans to the film and just their reaction to seeing the Smalls again.

“We were caught off guard by  it,” he said.
“I think the biggest thing about it is the sense of community. It became clear how much the fans loved the band passionately and how passionately the band loved them,” he said.
 Smith has also been pleasantly surprised by how much fans have embraced the movie.

 Watch a teaser of the Smalls: Forever is a Long Time

“It’s exceeded our expectations. We’re now in our twelfth week of having the film in theatres. And it’s not just film festivals. It’s regular theatres. It’s really been gratifying,” he said.
“ It’s not just about  the band. It really is a revelation. It’s about  redemption and forgiveness and the guys growing older,” he said.
He is pleased with how the film ended up.

“After spending so much time in the editing suite, it’s in your blood and once you’re done, it’s gone. I don’t even know if i could get back into the same head space to do it again,” said Smith,” who is now working on the TV show Heartland, which is filmed in the Millarville/ Calgary area. He is a SAIT film production program graduate, and has worked as an art director on the TV series “Fargo,” did production design on  indie western movie “Diablo.”

 He noted creating the film was like a parallel to the Smalls career.
“It very much do it yourself. We’re promoting it ourselves and self distributing. So it’s kind of like an indie band,” he said.
 The Smalls: Forever is a Long Time plays at the Movie Mil at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night. Tickets for these special screenings are $10.


— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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