Justin Kreutzmann on Move Me Brightly, Bobby, Pete, Eddie and Jerry
JPG: You mentioned the Bob Weir feature, tell me more about that.
JK: It’s a Bob Weir documentary directed by Mike Fleiss who did the Ozzy film (“God Bless Ozzy Osbourne”) and is a big Deadhead and real sweet guy. He wanted to do this movie. He thought Bob was a great subject to tell Bob’s story and Bob had such an interesting life with the Grateful Dead and all the stuff that happens around Bob’s life before and after. We’re putting it together and it’s turning out really cool.
It’s interesting exploring somebody who you’ve known all your life but actually getting down into it. Before I came down to L.A. , I was sitting around Bob’s house with him and I was like, “Okay, Olompali, that was before the Haight or is that after…?” It’s all the stuff I’d always heard about but I never really…I wasn’t writing a thesis on it. So, I never really asked or put it together, and then you get all these stories and all this stuff that you may have kind of heard about it or not heard about at all. So, it’s interesting.
The film is really good and it’s gonna be really great by the time people get to see it. I’m really happy Bob will have this document so people can…and it’s a movie. It’s not gonna be a four-hour concert thing. People can get Bob’s story from Bob himself, his family and friends for 90 minutes and enjoy it.
JPG: Any idea when it will be released in theaters or will it be direct to DVD or…?
JK: That has yet to be determined. It’s going to come out next year. The idea is to do a small theatrical release but I can’t really speak to any of that because I’m not part of that end of it. I don’t know if anything is in place yet and I don’t wanna say the wrong thing in case something is…I don’t know. It’s gonna come out anywhere people wanna show it, that’s where it’ll be.
JPG: What is your position with the movie?
JK: I’m one of the producers.
JPG: I saw online that you’re listed as a co-producer on the Garcia documentary Jerry: The Movie .
JK: Anytime they do something Grateful Dead it seems like I get a phone call. It’s great job security but I’m not quite sure what’s going on with that film. That has been a very long looong process if you could only imagine knowing the history of what has happened in Jerry Garcia world. It’s on again. It’s off again. I’m caught up in Bob Weir world, so I don’t really know what’s going on with that. Another person who richly deserves their own movie.
JPG: Besides the Bob Weir film, what other projects are you working on right now?
JK: The Move Me Brightly idea has become…people like it. We’re talking about doing it as a series, maybe four Move Me Brightlys a year. Obviously, the concept would change depending on the people. For instance, a Bill Graham Move Me Brightly. That would be awesome. The same idea coming to it from our perspective — family and friends and people inspired and all the musicians in the world that Bill has touched. So, we’re going to take some meetings about that and see if we can get something going.
JPG: That reminds me. I really loved the TRI session Bob did with the members of The National.
JK: That was a good one. I think we should do more stuff with those guys. He loves those guys.
JPG: That could possibly be an interesting documentary. Besides the Dead you’ve done a few projects for another legendary band, The Who. I was reading your blog posts from 2005 and there was one about seeing them play for the first time and then at Rockpalast. How did you get involved with Pete Townshend and make the In the Attic DVD and then work with The Who?
JK: I have been a Who fan since Rockpalast, March 28, 1981. And yeah, I do remember the date. I am that kind of a geeky fan. I saw them in ’76 at Day On the Green and it had a big impact on me but I don’t think nothing was as important to me as The Beatles then. I wasn’t ready to take on The Who. It was big. It was massive. I was probably a little frightened at the power of their sound.
Then, at Rockpalast I was 12 and it was lasers and jumping around and “Who Are You” and “Pinball Wizard,” and I’m like, “This is the greatest frickin’ band I ever heard in my life.” It just rocked. Not that the Dead aren’t rock stars but these guys just were rock stars and they were just cool. And I’ve always loved Sixties English rock. When you watch them play “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” is there anything better in the rock world? So, it just hit me.
Because I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this, I started writing Pete letters and he would always write back. I started sending Pete every little film that I did. We were like pen pals and every four or five years we’d happen to run into each other or I’d make a point of trying to meet him at an event or if The Who were coming through town. He was the ultimate guy to have be your rock star hero. He wasn’t on this pedestal like The Beatles that you knew you were never gonna interact with. He was in our world so to speak but he was still larger than life.
When “In the Attic” was starting and his partner Rachel [Fuller] had seen some of my work, they invited me to come film. The six-week gig in the summer of 2006 turned into a two-year job working for Pete and Rachel. Part of that, The Who were on tour and they needed somebody to do the backstage videos and Pete was like, “Justin’s here doing this, why doesn’t he do The Who stuff?” Dreams do come true right there.
The first time I picked up the camera and looked through the lens and Pete was just practicing a tune I had that moment of, “This is the coolest moment of my life.” I did a thing for his book tour last year.
We still keep in touch. I send him family photos. He’s the man.
What I always say to Deadheads is, “He’s my Jerry.” He’s that guy for me. Jerry’s like my uncle but Pete’s like…he’s a good guy and I love him to death. He got to meet my daughter and my new wife when The Who played Oakland earlier this year. And…it’s all good.
JPG: I probably got deeply into The Who around the same age as you did. First, it’s the power of the music and then it’s Pete’s lyrics. Like you, I got wrapped into it around my pre-teen years.
JK: It grabs you, man. It’s the perfect music to go through puberty to. The great thing, between them and the Dead, not to be all namedropping but I was talking to [Rolling Stone writer] David Fricke and it’s great because two worlds where if you’re into it you’re really…I don’t know too many passive Who fans. I don’t know people who kinda like the Dead, [and feel] they’re okay. You’re either in or you’re out.
Again, not be namedropping but Eddie Vedder and I and the handful of times we’ve run into each other we talk about The Who. He’s not the lead singer from Pearl Jam. He’s a fellow Who fan. So, you just feel that cool bond, which Deadhead must feel with each other. I know they do. That cool…I’m not there to ask him questions about Pearl Jam, “Let’s talk about Pete.” “Yeah!” Then, we both get excited about it.
He’s a sweet guy. He’s one of those guys. He ran into my dad in Hawaii and they ended up hanging out. I don’t even know that my dad really knows who Pearl Jam is necessarily but he’s like, “Yeah, this guy Eddie. A really cool guy.” “Yeah, he’s kinda famous dad, but that’s cool.”
It’s funny because my dad meets all these people as people. “Oh, you’re a musician. Cool. You’re in the club. Awesome.” You can sell 10 records or 10 million. That’s not the point.
JPG: You work as a director, cinematographer and producer, is any role more satisfying than the other, and are you most happy working within the music world or is there a desire to direct an indie film or Star Wars VIII ?
JK: I want to do it all! Mixing music and visuals is something I really feel it in me to do and I also love to tell a good story. Be it documentary or Star Wars VIII, I want to keep working and improving and learning the craft. The dream is, and has also been, just to make movies in every size, shape, destination or category.