Fishbone, the legendary, still rocking Los Angeles punk band forms the locus of Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler’s documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Fishbone Story. Founded by six friends bused to the San Fernando Valley from then-South Central Los Angeles, Fishbone taught themselves to play by jamming in their bedrooms, and burst onto the Los Angeles punk scene with a chaotic mixture of ska-punk that scored them a record deal before some of the members were old enough to vote (their parents signed the record contract for them).
Racial tensions, gang-banging and Reagan-era rebellion form the background of Everyday Sunshine which takes us through the band’s childhood through to present day. Fishbone’s ability to wow the crowds, coupled with their punk musicianship, funky foundation and spicy brass section, made race irrelevant in the clubs. Gangsters and suburban punks rubbed shoulders in the mosh pit, united by the funk and feel of Fishbone, whose lyrics covered breakup of families, early 1990s racism, fascism, nuclear war (their hit “Party at Ground Zero“), oppression and life the housing projects. But the band’s internal dynamics were already showing cracks when a crisis struck: After the death of his mother, guitarist Kendall Jones suffering a nervous breakdown, reuniting with his long-estranged father, the head of a small, extremist evangelical cult.
Already feeling the pressures of having to create more hits for their label, Fishbone was further fractured when Kendall left the band and joined his father’s cult in Central California. His longtime friend, Fishbone bassist John Norwood Fisher, attempting to help him, was charged with kidnapping; he was later acquitted. Friends like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Porno for Pyros and Alice in Chains played a benefit to cover Norwood’s legal expenses. Sony dropped the band from the label that year. Still, Fishbone perseveres to this day. Lead singer Angelo Moore lives with his mom; Norwood surfs and lives at Venice Beach, and the band continues to tour with a shifting lineup of past and new members.
Everyday Sunshine, The Story of Fishbone shows the unifying power of music and its ability to provoke social change, while uncovering the complex dynamics of friendship, creativity and fame.