Come Feel Me Tremble2003
Footage provided by Paul Westerberg fans who videotaped shows on the ex-Replacements frontman’s recent tour are providing the bulk of the material that will comprise “Come Feel Me Tremble,” a Westerberg tour DVD slated to be released this year by Vagrant Records. The fan footage, solicited by the administrator of Westerberg’s Web site, saved the project, which Vagrant owner/president Rich Egan says initially looked like a “train wreck.” “I saw some footage, and it didn’t look like it was gonna happen,” Egan tells Billboard.com, “and then they solicited fans to send in any home videos that they had from the tour, and now it’s turning into this really, really good documentary that kind of transcends just a Paul Westerberg concert video. It almost has like a ‘Don’t Look Back’-type of feel to it,” he says, referring to DA Pennebaker’s 1967 Bob Dylan documentary. Egan says the video reveals a side of Westerberg that fans haven’t really gotten to see before now. “There’s backstage interviews where he talks about his dad, and about family stuff, just way deeper than the puzzling genius that he is,” he reveals. “It kind of gives a glimpse into the private Westerberg, which is amazing.” It’s also a side of the revered singer/songwriter not often described in the press. “I think [the press] was obsessed with him playing the Paul Westerberg image, which is the drunk, punk rock, you know, maverick,” says Egan. “And now I think he’s older and wiser, and people are thinking to ask what was behind all that.”
Vagrant ultimately didn’t end up releasing the DVD, it came out from Redline Entertainment, but that’s some interesting background on the project from Rich Egan. Here’s the press release announcing the DVD and CD:
SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
COME FEEL ME TREMBLE: PAUL WESTERBERG DOCUMENTARY DVD AND SOUNDTRACK OF ALL NEW MATERIAL HITTING STORES OCTOBER 21, 2003
Legendary songwriter, critical darling and former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg is the subject of a documentary entitled Come Feel Me Tremble. Get a closer look at the notoriously elusive artist as he tours in support of his last long player Stereo/Mono, works on new music in his home studio and relaxes on the bus and tells stories that only he could tell. Part documentary, part indie-film, Come Feel Me Tremble finally provides fans some insight into the life of the genius they’ve grown to love, but not really know. The work reveals Westerberg visually much like his songwriting does on his albums and the behind-the-scenes peek into Paul’s activities lets viewers feel they’ve at last been let in on a big secret. The new tracks, peppered throughout the documentary and in full glorious Technicolor on the soundtrack, are sure to become Westerberg classics. From the acoustic yearnings of the gorgeous ballad “Meet Me Down The Alley” to the pensive searing riffs of “Soldier Of Misfortune” to the jangly rock of “Dirty Diesel” and “Makin’ Me Go,” this album has that comfortable new yet wonderfully familiar feeling. The DVD will be released on Redline Entertainment and the CD soundtrack will be released on Vagrant Records on October 21.
Paul’s August 28, 2002 show at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC was professionally shot and the film crew also interviewed fans but that footage hasn’t’ seen the light of day. instead, the documentary – which had a few screenings before being released on DVD – was made up of a lot of fan footage and photos and backstage video. And the movie opens with this note:
The movie was directed by Rick Fuller and Otto Zithromax (aka Paul). It premiered at the Noise Pop Film Festival in San Francisco on July 25, 2003 and had a few additional screenings:
• August 24, 2003: The Vic, Chicago
• Sept. 17, 2003: The Silverlake Film Festival, LA
• Sept. 28 & Oct. 2, 2003: Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago
CP: The cool thing that the documentary captures is the love your fans have for you. When I think of you, I think of you as a loner, and then we see you onstage on that couch surrounded by people, and at the in-stores, and talking with them by the tour bus. It’s cool to see; it’s more like you’re a ringleader than a wallflower. Westerberg: I definitely wanted to see who the fans were, because I’d been away long enough. And back when I was playing before, I wouldn’t hang around to meet them. Doing the in-stores was something new for me. It scared me, and it was dangerous, and it appealed to me. CP: Does the intensity of some of your fans ever flip you out? Westerberg: Well, some of them get pretty deep. I hear, “You got me through” as their opening line a lot. Usually when that starts, I sort of go on automatic listen. A lot of ’em will just say, “I’ve seen you 20 times and I think you’re great, thank you,” and move on. Occasionally someone will say, “I’d never heard of you, my friend just hipped me to you,” and that’s always fun, too. But, yeah. There’s a little fistful of weirdos that are looking for me to show them the way to life. CP: What is the way, Paulie? Westerberg: I don’t know. I think it should be evident by now, but I’m as lost as anyone.
Review: Come Feel Me Tremble – Bill Adams, Exclaim.ca
The music is fragmented and often only features snippets of songs that are, at their core, beautifully treated. The documentary and interview footage is surprisingly candid and revealing for a subject that is so notoriously evasive. Westerberg discusses everything, from his songwriting to his family to his reasons for coming out of hiding and releasing four albums in the last two years. Some of that footage reveals more than Westerberg may have intended. Where before he has said that his songs are rather tossed off affairs that don’t really mean much to him, five minutes are dedicated to him cursing his inability to build the proper vibe for a song that ultimately becomes “Wild and Lethal.” These moments reveal that Westerberg’s veneer of aloofness and air of comfortable indifference are very thin indeed.
Review: A Loser’s Winner – Chris Morris, LA CityBeat
The Come Feel Me Tremble DVD is an act of adoration that actually works. Shot during Westerberg’s 2002 solo tour of record stores and small venues, most of its footage was supplied by fans who taped the performances illegally. The quality is therefore often rough, but it has an intimate, in-the-raw feel that other such authorized videos lack. Westerberg is also seen, self-filmed, fucking around in his home studio; a dazzling solo version of “Crackle and Drag” is included. The high point of the feature comes near its end, as Westerberg essays deathless ’Mats numbers like “Unsatisfied,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” and (literally surrounded on stage by lovestruck fans) “I Will Dare.” In those moments, puffing on a succession of huge stogies and still looking like he just rolled out of bed, Paul Westerberg appears before us as we have always desired him: just our size, singing directly to us, and worthy of our undying affection.