San Diego's music scene was once called "The next Seattle" by Entertainment Weekly back in the 1990s, after the explosion of grunge in the Emerald City. Yet, despite the hype, mainstream exposure and success never materialized in the way it did for bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. A new documentary in the works about the San Diego scene, titled It's Gonna Blow: San Diego's Music Underground 1986-1996, focuses on this golden age of local music and its particular challenges with breaking through to the mainstream.
For the film, director Bill Perrine conducted interviews with numerous artists in the San Diego indie-rock scene of the late '80s and early '90s, including Casbah owner Tim Mays and members of No Knife, The Locust, Antioch Arrow, The Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot, Fishwife and numerous other musicians.
"In the '90s, we had one of the best music scenes in the country, completely DIY, producing some of the craziest shit imaginable right in the middle of a sleepy and somewhat provincial town," Perrine tells CityBeat via email. "When the industry started sniffing around and calling us the next Seattle,' I think it was a pivotal time for this city and one that was handled in extraordinary ways."
However, Perrine also notes that, despite the talent in the scene at the time, San Diego has always been a difficult place for artists to break.
"Let's be honest—San Diego isn't really known for its innovative musical exports," he says. "We like to claim Tom Waits and Frank Zappa, but they left early, and probably for a good reason. San Diego's not the friendliest town for artists."
Perrine says the film—an idea he's been considering for a long time—been an ongoing project for about a year and will most likely be released in about six months. But Perrine says that it's an idea he's been considering for a long time.
"It seemed like a natural film," he says, "and I've been waiting for years for someone to do it."
To watch a trailer for It's Gonna Blow and see other footage and photos, visit facebook.com/sdmusicdoc.