Amphetamine Reptile records was a record label that specialised in Noise Rock which came out of the wake of the end of Hardcore Punk and went somewhat parallel with the birth of Grunge in the late ’80s/Early ’90s. Mudhoney who are often considered by many to be the band they invented the Seattle sound that Nirvana would make famous in the early ’90s released their first song on the Amphetamine Reptile compilation “Dope-Guns-‘N-Fucking In The Streets”. The label was run by the maverick Tom Hazelmyer who near the end of the initial ’80s hardcore movement decided if there was gonna be a war he wanted a front row space so he joined the marines, there wasn’t a war obviously.
The documentary is most told through Hazelmyer’s point of view from his initial interest in punk than post-punk and then the emerging hardcore scene. Hazelmyer’s formed the label after being discharged from the marines. Hazelmyer was also the lead singer for the band Halo of Flies (named after a Alice Cooper song) who had a more garage rock sound than some of the other bands. Hazelmyer also did most of the artwork for most of the label’s releases and forged a long-lasting relationship with The Melvins where he creates artwork for them to this day years after the label went under. He is now a well esteemed visual artist in his own right.
The bands featured included the acid infused Cows (who would take acid all the time, every gig, every rehearsal etc), Unsane, Janitor Joe and Helmet (whose debut alone kept the label afloat for a while) along with many others. All the bands tell funny stories about their involvement with the label and they all seems to have a level of friendly animosity towards Hazelmyer who seems to have not been the greatest businessman to say the least. It’s an interesting counterbalance to all these documentaries on Nirvana and Grunge to see at the same time their was still a strong underground even when Helmet and to a smaller extent The Melvins achieved some overground success. It may not be the greatest documentary ever made but it’s a fun ride even though it’s pushing it\s luck with a near two-hour running time.
The release includes both a Blu-Ray and DVD so you can pick what format you can watch or lend out the dvd to an idiot who doesn’t own a Blu-Ray player which are most people. The features include a commentary track from director Eric Robel and the film’s editor Michael Dimmitt. There is a vintage interview with Hazelmyer along with other featurettes on the label along with an alternative 12 minute opening. To round things off there are full sets by many of the label’s bands at the sadly gone CBGBs along with picture galleries and the kickstarter promo and the film’s trailer.