Having watched the Foo Fighters movie last week it reminded me to watch What We Do Is Secret, the 2008 movie about The Germs directed by Rodger Grossman which I’ve been meaning to check out for ages. Pat Smear, guitarist with the Foos, was the guitarist with the Germs who are widely regarded as one of the seminal American punk bands and who influenced generations of American bands including Nirvana.
The band was formed in 1977 by Darby Crash, vocalist and lyricist, and Pat Smear. They were soon joined by Lorna Doom on bass and Don Bolles, the most long serving of all their many drummers. Crash came from a troubled background with murder, drug abuse and parental abandonment all featuring in his childhood. He was an exceptionally intelligent young man and a very forceful personality and by the age of 17 he had created his five year plan: he would form a band, spend a couple of years cementing their cult status with noteworthy live gigs, release one album and then commit suicide, thus securing himself a place in the pantheon of rock star legends.
Darby remained true to his word. The Germs became known initially for shambolic amateur sets performed with a blasé attitude. They then graduated onto tight live shows with Darby stalking the stage screaming his disaffected politically influenced lyrics into the mic. Their discography contains just one album, “G.I” produced by Joan Jett and released in 1979. And inevitably Darby committed suicide by heroin overdose on December 7th 1980. However you can’t plan for everything; Darby killed himself the day before John Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota Building in New York, a monumental world event which overshadowed Darby’s death completely.
The movie is good, however I would have liked a more in depth look at the characters. Shane West is excellent in his portrayal of Darby and viewers should go and check out some original Germs footage to see how well he nailed it. The remaining Germs members obviously thought he did a perfect job as they reformed the band to do some gigs with Shane on lead vocals after the film’s release. One to watch.