Al Champagne, for as long as I’ve been Facebook friends with him, has been promoting his close to being finished documentary Almost Ready, about the New Orleans punk rock scene in the 70s and 80s. With some teasers of interviews released and snippets of photos taken, it’s certainly been in production. But when will it be ready?
By no means is this a story where someone has an idea but never gets off the couch to fulfill it. Al has been working many odd jobs to afford this project, shot little by little, for the better part of the past several years. Of course, he’s gonna push it into the ether and as often as he feels like. He has to.
Orson Welles’ nicknamed his pet dream film adaptation of Don Quixote – which he never completed – When Are You Going to Finish ‘Don Quixote’?. Al is not Orson, choosing optimistic victory over lethargic self-deprecation. Now on Indiegogo seeking completion funding, Al took some time for a quick/short Q&A about his campaign to see this through to the end and anything after:
Bill: How long has Almost Ready been in production, and is it, indeed, “almost ready”?
Al Champagne: I’ve been at this for seven years but the idea to do this was something I’ve had for much longer. I was browsing a record store when I was 16 and stumbled upon a CD by a band called The Normals who I had never heard of. I picked it up and saw that this was a local punk rock band from the 70’s. I eventually bought it and was blown away by what I heard. You can say that this whole journey began in what is now McAllister’s Deli in Kenner.
Bill: It’s almost odd, thinking of punk and New Orleans in the same sentence, but really, they’re a perfect fit. Has the genre and culture ever really declined in this city and what is the scene like today?
Al: A lot of what is going on came directly out of this scene. In the mid-80’s the punk and metal scenes started to crossover and what came out of that has only gotten bigger. Eyehategod just played their 30th-anniversary show at Tipitina’s and are constantly touring the world. Mike IX Williams talked about getting into clubs to see bands like The Normals and The Contenders when he was 13. On that alone, you can’t say that the New Orleans scene was irrelevant.
Bill: Any wild G.G. Allin-esque stories you’ve learned in the process of making Almost Ready?
Al: Personally, I never saw the fascination with G.G. Allin. We had a couple of envelope-pushing front-men who I think were far more interesting. Dave ‘Dee Slut’ Turgeon from The Sluts is one of them. He used to have a 100 ft. microphone cord and run into the neutral grounds and serenade unsuspecting motorists. He also auditioned for Black Flag but, of course, lost out to Henry Rollins. Mandeville Mike was a character who would sometimes use his .38 as a percussion instrument (though he had a tendency to sometimes take it a bit too far). Also, there was a band from Houston called Legionnaires Disease who played down here a lot. Their front-man Jerry Anomie was definitely one who loves to shock his audience.
Bill: As the Indiegogo campaign (embedded at the bottom of this article) is in flexible funding status, what are your expectations of hitting the $20K goal, with one month left to make it? How important is it that the film gets the financing it needs now?
Al: I understand that not a lot of people are going to be able to donate a whole lot which is why I’m trying to get all the press I can get. My hope is that small donors could tally up into something close to my $20K goal. I was contacted earlier this year by Winter Circle Productions who want to premiere the movie at the Joy Theater. That has made me more determined than ever to finish this up. I was really humbled by their request. I always have low expectations for what I do so my grand ambition was to sell DVDs out of the trunk of my car.
Bill: This has been a burning passion project for you, with lots of time and effort chewed into it. Is there something else you’d like to document or film after this completes?
Al: Plenty, but I’ll keep those to myself. I wouldn’t want any of your readers to go and take my ideas.
Editor’s Note: If you like Bill’s interviews, be sure to check out some of his earlier work!