Thursday, August 11, 2005


Posted on Thu, Aug 11, 2005 at 4:00 AM

We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen
Studio: Rocket Fuel Films
Release Date: 2005-08-16
Cast: D. Boon, Mike Watt, George Hurley, Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore
Director: Tim Irwin
Music Score: Minutemen
WorkNameSort: We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen
Our Rating: 4.00

The idea that punk rock is less about a sound than an ideal is continually stressed by We Jam Econo, a new documentary about '80s underground legends The Minutemen. During an era of steadily narrowing definitions of what punk rock really meant, these three San Pedro outcasts insisted on throwing anything and everything into their sonic stew, filling songs that were half as long as the norm with twice as many ideas. This willingness to experiment and, more important, to be obdurately devoted to individual expression made the band pioneers of the American post-punk scene. The fact that the three of them started with little or no musical skills made them gods to thousands of kids across the country.

Director Tim Irwin captures the sense of respect that surrounded The Minutemen during their day, but it's not hard to see that what was once respect has – due primarily to the early death of co-founder D. Boon – turned into something weirdly worshipful. Greg Ginn, Richard Hell, Joe Baiza, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye and more than 40 other luminaries and associates chime in on the band's meaning. Hearing Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea rhapsodize about The Minutemen is touching (especially when he's talking about "loose" and "tight" guitar tunings); enduring Thurston Moore is painful.

Unsurprisingly, it's the interviews with members George Hurley and (especially) Mike Watt that are the most compelling. Hurley still looks like a surfer (though he's cut his hair, thank God) and Watt still looks like he's carrying Boon around on his scrawny shoulders. The intense bond between Watt and Boon was (and is) legendary – as is to be expected of two childhood friends who crossed the country playing punk rock to people who mostly didn't care – and Watt's savant-type memory is pushed into emotional overdrive as he reminisces about the band's music and recordings.

Irwin's film finds its center in Watt's gentle stories (and rightfully so), but it's in the collection of live performances from throughout the band's career that We Jam Econo gathers up its energy. Irwin is decidedly unstingy in using this footage, making the film seem nearly half-documentary, half-concert video. The effect is astounding and puts the band fully into context: Even now, there's no group out there like The Minutemen.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 5, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation