Skip to contentSkip to navigation

EventGashrat's cinephile picks

January 22nd, 2024
Gashrat's cinephile picks

In addition to their concert at the Cinémathèque this Thursday, January 25, the band Gashrat are gracing us with a carte blanche of two films: The Last Waltz by Martin Scorsese and Welcome to the Dollhouse by Todd Solondz. Musician Kelly Hurcomb was kind enough to answer a few questions from this angle of cinephilia.

Messy Legend by Kelly Kay Hurcomb and James Watts (2023)

Before talking about the films you've chosen in your carte blanche, can you tell us a little about your relationship with cinema?

Kelly Hurcomb: I’ve always been a big movie person and consumed a ton of (probably inappropriate) cinema from a very young age. I studied film in university and started making films with my partner in 2017. Our latest project, a short film called Messy Legend, screened at the Fantasia film festival this summer and will be screening in Montreal again in the next few months. We’re currently working on a feature length body horror film called Worm, among other things.

How did you choose the two films presented, Martin Scorsese's* The Last Waltz* and Todd Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse?

KH: I think Chelsea proposed the two films in our group chat and they just made sense. The Last Waltz, though I’ve never sat down to watch it in full, was often playing in the background at parties our friends had throughout high school because we were all big (for lack of a better term) boomer rock fetishists at the time. Very into psychedelics, art, and rock and roll culture. Welcome To The Dollhouse has always been one of my favourite films. I think it speaks to our collective sense of humour and is deeply and painfully pure in a way that resonates with the entire group.

The first film is a mythical filmed concert with The Band, the second a film about adolescence where the relationship to music is less obvious. Can you tell us a little more about what fascinates you about these two films, and how they contrast / dialogue within your carte blanche?

KH: I spent a while thinking about this and could only come up with a rambling few paragraphs on how I feel Gashrat shares a kind of psychedelic connection with these two films. Does it make sense/will anyone else in the band agree with this? I don’t know!

In regards to The Last Waltz, I think Gashrat as a group identifies with the anti-establishment, freewhiling mindset of 1970s rock and roll. Excuse how deeply corny that sounds, but you get it. It’s unadulterated self-expression for the sake of self-expression, music that can only be defined or identified by its vibe and energy as opposed to form, lyrical themes or instrumental arrangements. We remain more or less untouched by influences or pressures from the music “industry” or scene. We play when we want to play and we don’t when we don’t. We don’t keep up momentum or create output out of fear of irrelevance. The idea of not being in the public consciousness doesn’t phase us or impact the decisions we make as a group.

The Last Waltz

Welcome to the Dollhouse

We’ve never been huge self-promoters, we always forget to bring merch to shows, we don’t even have our entire first album up on our own Bandcamp (I will fix this soon, I swear!) We have a whole album recorded we haven’t released yet. Will we ever? Only if and when we feel like it. Despite all of this, people still want to see us play and are drawn to our group and our music. The excitement always seems to be there, which is obviously very heartening and encouraging, but not enough to make us do anything we don’t feel like doing, haha.

Maybe all this is to say we have a sense of mystique not often seen since the dawn of the internet, similar to the more enigmatic artists of the 1970s, many of whom are featured in The Last Waltz. This mystique isn’t something we construct or aim for, it’s just inherent to how we operate - this is especially evident in our music making process (which we often have trouble describing beyond “we just get together and figure it out”).

In what way do each of these two films resonate with your musical practice? At what age did you discover them, and in what way were they significant?

For me, it’s easy to draw parallels between the character of Dawn Wiener and Gashrat, beyond even Welcome to the Dollhouse. Dawn is a character that appears in films that span director Todd Solondz’s entire career, but is never played by the same actress. While she takes different forms in each film, she retains her pure spirit. She is always distinctly Dawn Wiener, a true original. I feel like no matter what artistic endeavors we embark upon as a group or as individuals, no matter what form these forms of expression take, the spirit of Gashrat will always be present. Because Gashrat is not just a band, it’s a way of life.

I saw Welcome to the Dollhouse quite young (maybe age 11 or 12) and was instantly obsessed - it was dark and funny in a way that I found absolutely life changing. It had an enormous impact on my sense of humour and overall taste in art and film. Incredibly formative, insanely important, immensely iconic. I’m looking forward to actually watching The Last Waltz in its entirety for the very first time. I have a feeling it’s going to hit hard at this point in my life and artistic “career”.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

The Last Waltz

This concert marks the reunion of your band after several years. What does this return, and the fact of performing at the Cinémathèque, evoke for you?

KH: I’m so excited to play with Gashrat again. Our bond is so deep and special and insane and I’m happy we’ve been offered this opportunity to play at the Cinemathèque and choose films to showcase along with us. As someone who’s passionate about making both music and film, this is kind of the dream. And I met Lou Reed at the Cinemathèque in 2010 when he presented his film Red Shirley, which was one of the greatest moments of my life. Great company to be in. The vibes will be impeccable.