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Film School

Touching on the post-punk revival of the early and mid-2000s and presaging the shoegaze renaissance that hit its stride in the 2010s, Film School have carved their own path during their decades-long career. The band mixed these styles deftly on 2006's Film School, then leaned into dream pop on 2007's Hideout and electronic sounds on 2010's Fission. When they reunited to make 2018's Bright to Death and 2021's We Weren't Here, their blend of all these styles sounded more relevant than ever. The band started as the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Greg Bertens, who was first moved to make music after hearing Eliott Smith and Nirvana's Unplugged in New York. When he heard My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, however, it truly shaped his approach to writing songs and recording. Recruiting his roommate to drum, Bertens began working as Film School in 1997. After releasing the "I'm Not Working" 7" on MeToo! Records, Burton joined forces with a rotating cast of musicians to make 2001's full-length A Brilliant Career, including members of Fuck and Elephone as well as Pavement and Preston School of Industry's Scott Kannberg. Also involved in the sessions were keyboardist Jason Ruck and guitarist/vocalist Nyles Lannon (also of the electronic group Technicolor and his side project n.lannon), who both became permanent members of the band. For the tour supporting A Brilliant Career, Film School recruited Lannon's fellow Technicolor bass player Justin LaBo and drummer Ben Montesano. This lineup recorded 2003's Alwaysnever EP for Kannberg's boutique label Amazing Grease. After appearing at South by Southwest early in 2005, Film School signed to Beggars Banquet and began recording, joined by new drummer Donny Newenhouse. The On & On EP arrived that fall and heralded the release of their self-titled album in January 2006. That year, the band also soundtracked "Clearification," an online advertising campaign featuring comedian Demetri Martin. By the time Film School released their third album, 2007's Hideout, their lineup had almost completely changed: bassist Lorelei Plotcyz, guitarist Dave Dupuis, and drummer James Smith joined Bertens and added to the darker, more cohesive sound of the album, which also featured My Bloody Valentine's Colm O’Ciosoig.The group spent most of 2008 touring in support of the album and contributed a cover of “An American Dream” to the Love and Rockets tribute album New Tales to Tell the following year. When Beggars Banquet dissolved and left Film School without a label, they planned to self-release their fourth album, Fission. However, Hi-Speed Soul, which issued albums by the group’s former tourmate Adam Franklin, stepped in and gave Fission a mid-2010 release. After touring into 2011, Film School went on hiatus. Three years later, the lineup that recorded Film School -- Bertens, Newenhouse, LaBo, Lannon, and Ruck -- reunited to play a gig at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill to celebrate Newenhouse's 40th birthday. Though the reunion was planned as a one-off, the band enjoyed playing together again so much that they returned to the studio to record 2016's June EP and the following year's single "Bye Bye Bird." To record the band's fifth album, Bertens, Ruck, Lannon, and LaBo decamped to the outskirts of Joshua Tree for a week. The results, Bright to Death, arrived in September 2018. For 2021's We Weren't Here, the band, which included new drummer Adam Wade, recorded largely in isolation due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and used the sense of isolation at the time as inspiration for the album's reflections on emotional and spiritual separation and connectedness.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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Discography

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