Truckin’ its way into select theaters Friday, rock documentary “Long Strange Trip” tells the epic story of the polarizing yet indisputably popular band the Grateful Dead. The film’s director, Amir Bar-Lev, along with producer Eric Eisner, stopped by Friday’s Wrap Up Show and told Jon Hein and Gary Dell’Abate why their movie isn’t just for Deadheads (the collective name Grateful Dead devotees go by).
“It’s a great story,” Amir said of the documentary. “It’s got a lot of bad behavior, a lot of laughs, a love story.”
“I’ll go on record and I’ll say that I am not a big Dead fan and I am very curious about the movie,” Gary admitted on air. “I’m trying to understand the culture.”
He was assured "Long Strange Trip" explores the culture and then some. Eric said he's received positive feedback from those who don’t listen to the Dead and even some who actively dislike the band. “One of my favorite reviews that we got was ‘I hate myself for loving this movie,’” he said.
“There’s a different standard for music documentaries,” Amir added, saying oftentimes audiences reject a film just because they’re not a fan of the musical act being profiled. “I’m not a soldier, but I go see war documentaries,” he continued.
Deadheads themselves aren’t always on the same page when it comes to who and what the Grateful Dead is. In 2015, guitarist John Mayer began touring with former band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, calling themselves Dead & Company. Some Grateful Dead purists have been critical of this reincarnation, but Amir set the record straight on Friday.
“It’s not the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead ended in 1995,” he said. “It’s a different band. It’s Dead and Co.”
As for anyone who singles Mayer out as being unable to fill the unfillable shoes of the Grateful Dead’s late lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, Amir thinks they’re off base. “John Mayer’s not trying to be Jerry Garcia. He never said he was.”
As its title might suggest, the making of “Long Strange Trip” has been an arduous one. “It took 14 years to make and we basically just finished last night,” Amir told Gary and Jon. “I can finally relax.”
Check out the trailer for the film (above).
“Long Strange Trip” premieres in select theaters Friday and is available on Amazon June 2.