Exclusive Interview: John Densmore of The Doors.

Exclusive Interview: John Densmore of The Doors. (photo)

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I dig John Densmore, not just because he was once portrayed by Kevin Dillon on screen, but because he is a believer. How easy would it be to just cash in on that catalogue of tunes for advertising? “Light My Fire,” “Break on Through,” “Love Me Two Times.” They’re almost ready made for the biggest commodities of our times, cars and male enhancement drugs. But Densmore’s not in it for the money even though others have sometimes seen no harm in commercializing The Doors, he won’t budge. Not since being chastised by Morrison in ’67 for initially going along with a Buick ad anyway.

“What was that original intent?” Densmore wrote in an article for The Nation in 2002. “What is happiness? More money? More fame? The Vietnamese believe that you’re born with happiness; you don’t have to pursue it. We tried to bomb that out of them back in my youth. From the looks of things, we might have succeeded.”

I talked to Densmore a couple months ago (sometimes these things get delayed) about Tom DiCillo’s documentary “When You’re Strange” which took on a new life when Johnny Depp came on board to narrate.

I know this film has had some tweaking over the past year but now that “When You’re Strange” is all wrapped what do you think, is this The Doors as you know them?

One of the aspects [laughs]. I’m impressed. When I first heard the idea I thought, well this is a lot of old footage, I don’t have a lot of hope for this. I got to say Tom DiCillo, assembled and wrote a beautiful narrative. It’s got more depth, and there’s some magic in there that nothing has had to this date.

You mentioned the footage which is all original from the 60’s and 70’s. Do you recall the original projects it’s culled from, “Highway” or “Feast of Friends”?

Oh sure, I know every frame. “Highway” was Jim’s film he made at UCLA, I think it was shot to be in this film. It just fits so perfectly.

Did you wince at any of that old footage or is it all sweet nostalgia now?

No wincing. Not just nostalgia, but reliving a beautiful dream I had a long time ago. I don’t quite know what it was, but it was beautiful.

You said this shows one aspect of what it was like for you guys, in the late 60’s, what would you focus in on more of that beautiful dream, or what’s missing?

I wasn’t implying that something was missing; it’s just one part, another take. Like Oliver Stone’s film, which I liked…

Oh you did?

Sure, yeah others didn’t but I did. I mean, Val Kilmer should have been nominated. It focused on the self destructive artist. But this film not only has the real people instead of actors, but you get a feeling of the period more. The 60’s and the political climate and you get a little more of Jim early, and humorous. It’s a little more well rounded.

You sure there isn’t anything from your perspective that you would have added?

Well, more drumming! [laughter] No, I’m quite pleased with it. And somehow with Johnny narrating, there’s some magic in there that’s indefinable. I don’t know, you get it, we’re there.

Dick Wolf (producer) commented about how the tonal changes Depp made and the decision to use first names made the material more intimate than it was in the first cut.

You know Johnny brought this integrity, because he knows what it’s like to be an icon. At a screening, Johnny turned around to me and he said, “Man, this is really good.” Coming from him that feels great.

What about the soundtrack does this nail it for you?

I’m very glad you brought that up. I asked Johnny, “Would you be open to reading a couple of Jim’s poems that are not in this movie?” Just to round out the soundtrack, make it more interesting. I suggested some apropos poems and he went for it. So the soundtrack has Johnny Depp sprinkled through it.

Nice. And are you pleased with the songs from The Doors catalog that were chosen, from a scoring perspective?

Yeah, Bruce Botnick our long time genius recording engineer supervised all the sounds and the songs in the film so it’s a great relief to have someone who completely understands what we’re about doing all that. So we don’t worry at all. He’s the fifth Door [laughs].

I’ve heard you’ve got some disdain for commercializing and tended to veto licensing deals, how do you feel about The Doors and advertising?

Well I’m quite reluctant. I don’t think I’ve okayed anything. Well, we all okayed one, but check out the last line of the film and that will answer that question!*

What film would you like to live inside of, if you could?

Fellini’s “8 ½.” When I was a teenager I saw that and I didn’t understand it but it just ripped my head off.

*I’m not going to spoil the last line of the film here. You’ll have to see it.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.