The inside scoop on Sick Birds Die Easy (in the column) plus outtakes; Long Low Signal, Betty Jean, Lincoln Exposed tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:53 pm February 6, 2014
Ross Blockley from a scene from Sick Birds Die Easy.

Ross Brockley from a scene from Sick Birds Die Easy.

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, an interview with the Nik Fackler, Sam Martin and Ross Brockley, the stars of Fackler’s new film, Sick Birds Die Easy. Fackler separates the real from the unreal, the fact from fiction in this documentary that isn’t a documentary but kind of is. You can read it in the current issue of The Reader, or online right here. Go ahead and read it now and come on back, we’ll wait for you…

With the column being more of a review and description than a Q&A, there was a lot of leftover interview content that didn’t make into the 1,000-word news hole. Hopefully much of what I missed was covered in a story that (I was told) was being written by Leo Adam Biga, The Reader‘s cover story writer. That said, here are a few details:

— Sam Martin’s soundtrack is as central to the film as the visual footage. Martin seamlessly combines the style of music he’s known for with a sublime score that perfectly accentuates the mirth and madness of every frame. “All the score work was done after a (mostly) final cut was done,” Martin said, “but while Nik was editing I gave him a hard drive of everything I recorded in the last two years so he picked (music) out of that hard drive. After that I tracked all the score work.”

“It was like a treasure chest hard drive of amazing music,” Fackler added. As I mentioned in the column, the DVD version of the film comes with a separate copy of the soundtrack.

— Fackler said the film’s budget was a little less than $100,000. His producer was Steve Hays of 120 dB Films, who Fackler had met when his film Lovely, Still premiered in Toronto. “(Hays) whole concept was ‘Let’s make a film that’s kind of like this new genre that’s popping up that’s a hybrid, kind of like Paranormal Activity.’ Initially I wasn’t interested in doing it, but then sent him a one-page concept.”

Hays gave the green light and Fackler proceeded to shoot more than 500 hours of footage that took a year and a half to edit between tours with Icky Blossoms and Tilly and the Wall. The entire time Hays was breathing down his neck for a print to hand over to various festival committees.

“It was good having that pressure to get the film edited,” Fackler said, but added. “I’m really burnt out on editing. Editing this film really took a lot out of me. I’m ready to put that hat away.”

— I’ve been a fan of Ross Brockley since he played the slacker son in the series of commercials with the pitch phrase: “What do you think this is, a Holiday Inn?” Brockley becomes the central figure in this film — you love him, you hate him. I asked why he doesn’t do more work and Brockley said his main focus these days is his organic farm operation located south of Lincoln called Brockley Farmaceuticals that he’s operated for the past 14 years. The farm was partially paid for by his Holiday Inn work. Still, Brockley hasn’t turned his back on acting. “It’s not like I”m passing up roles and offers all over the place,” he said.

— Dana Altman of North Sea Films, who is seen running a camera in the movie and plays a minor role, is said by narrator Fackler to be giving up film making to buy a farm of his own. “He did buy a farm,” Fackler said during the interview. “It’s so beautiful, I think if Dana had his choice, he would be there full time, but you can’t take the film maker out of him. He’ll always love film.”

— As for Fackler’s future: “I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” he said. “I like to have small goals and work real intensely one thing at a time. I don’t like to have all my eggs in one medium. Right now the focus is releasing Sick Birds and then music full-time. I’ve started writing a new script. Film will always be a part of my life. I don’t see being a musician and touring into my 40s and 50s.”

If you don’t have tickets to next Tuesday’s screening of Sick Birds at Film Streams and you want to go, you better get them soon. Fackler implied sales have been brisk. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out. And though it will be available on DVD and Video on Demand, it’s worth seeing on the big screen. Details/tickets are available here, and the after-party at The Slowdown should be (as the kids say) off the hook.

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A couple shows on the radar tonight.

New band Long Low Signal headlines at The Waiting Room with The Love Technicians, The Sub Vectors and Let Alone. Interestingly, LLS plays tomorrow night at Slowdown, apparently prepping to go into the studio. I have no idea what they sound like. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, tonight at Slowdown Jr., Betty Jean of The Betties is hosting a CD release show. Joining her is Travelling Mercies and Matt Cox. $5, 9 p.m.

And in Lincoln, it’s night two of Lincoln Exposed. Get the deets here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Tell me when I’m wrong; Sick Birds Die Easy trailer, new Icky Blossoms vid online…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:51 pm March 6, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

With nothing indie musicwise to write about this week (though my column, which goes online tomorrow, is about the Women Who Rock exhibit) I thought I’d take this moment to point out another in a series of flaws and apologize in advance…

I keep finding instances where I either spelled someone’s name or project wrong in a past article or blog post and the person who I was writing about (who must have known I blew it) said nothing. First, sorry for the f-ups. It’s happening more often lately, moreso (I think) out of work stress than age. Second, tell me when I got it wrong, please.

One guy who I’ve been mentioning in the blog for years recently pointed out (very subtly, very nicely) that I consistently spell his last name wrong. In addition to being a cardinal sin in journalism, I’m more than familiar with this sort of mistake as people always spell my name as if I were the lost son of Ed McMahon (there’s no f-ing “o” in my name).

And then yesterday in Facebook I noticed that the trailer for Nik Fackler’s documentary, Sick Birds Die Easy, was finally uploaded to YouTube. I was trying to figure out when I first wrote about Nik’s new movie, so I did a search in Lazy-i and discovered that I referred to the film as Sick Birds Die Young. What a massive f-up. And it appeared that way in print, too. Nik must have saw the error, but being the charming lad that he is, said nothing to me about it. If it appears only online, I can at least try to fix it (that’s the miracle of the Internet). If it’s in print, well, I can’t do anything about that as The Reader typically doesn’t publish corrections.

Anyway… Here’s the trailer to Nik’s new film. Looks like a drug-filled adventure featuring some familiar faces from the Omaha music scene. And tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the guy from the “What do you think this is, a Holiday Inn?” commercials?

Here’s a classic Holiday Inn spot featuring above-mentioned actor. That series of commercials was better than 90 percent of the sitcoms aired on network television over the past 10 years:

That’s not the only project Nik has been busy with. There’s this little ol’ band called Icky Blossoms that just happens to have dropped a new video this week for the song “VIllage,” directed by and featuring the folks in Church of Tomorrow. As George Takei would say, “Oh my….

One more thing…

As mentioned last week, the comments section of this website has been busted for who knows how long. It’s fixed, so you can now conveniently report my mistakes 24 hours a day…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Nik Fackler’s delicate/hectic balance between film and music; Sun Airway, Filter Kings, Wallflowers tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 25, 2012
Nik Fackler

Nik Fackler

by Tim McMahan,

As mentioned before, I typically point you to my weekly column in The Reader on Thursdays because the topics generally aren’t music related, but when I do write music-related column, like this week’s interview with Nik Fackler, I’ll go ahead and include it here (as well as point you to The Reader‘s website). So here you go:

Over the Edge: The Life and Times of Nik Fackler

The filmmaker and musician is about to take another turn.

by Tim McMahan

Who exactly is Nik Fackler?

He used to be known as a filmmaker who wrote and directed Lovely, Still, the independent feature film starring none other than Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn and Elizabeth Banks. If you haven’t seen it, you’re not alone.

But after the film failed to garner national distribution, Fackler changed careers. These days, he’s a rock star (whatever that means in the post-music industry era). In fact, this column was targeted to support the debut vinyl release by his band InDreama, which takes place this Saturday at The Slowdown in what surely will be an orgy of weirdness and delight performed (and viewed) through sweaty Halloween masks. Fackler would have it no other way.

But InDreama is just one slice of this musician’s life. Our interview for this column took place less than 24 hours after Fackler returned from a two-week tour playing bass with nationally known indie pop band Tilly and the Wall. Fackler talked via cell phone while driving from band practice with InDreama and heading to another band practice for dance/grind/vibe rock band Icky Blossoms, where he plays guitar. For those of you keeping count, that’s three bands, simultaneously.

So I guess Fackler is committed to being a musician, right?

Well, no. While all this was going on, Fackler completed his second feature film, the documentary Sick Birds Die Easy, and submitted it for consideration to the Sundance Film Festival. He’s keeping his fingers crossed that the movie will have its world premier there in January.

And then… what?

“Right now I feel overwhelmed,” Fackler said. “I would hope that I can do music for awhile, and if none of it succeeds, I’ll always have filmmaking waiting for me. It’s mostly filmmaking and storytelling that’s calling me, but music is a much easier way to express yourself. It’s more fun and it’s cooler than filmmaking, even though I think I’m better at filmmaking…”

Such is his conundrum. It’s not that Fackler is confused as much as exasperated. He says making films is really more about the business of selling a project. “You have to make the most beautiful package possible — here’s a great script, great actors, great music — it has to be something they can’t say ‘no’ to.”

“They” are the money people who will finance it all. The plan was to ride the success of Lovely, Still to his next film project. “I didn’t touch a guitar for two and a half years during Lovely, Still,” he said. “I was ready to be a filmmaker. And then Lovely, Still wasn’t successful. I’m proud of it and hope over time more people get to see it, but it didn’t go anywhere. It came out in 2007 when every (film) distribution company was closing its doors. The film sat there and waited for the economy to pick up and was forgotten.”

Meanwhile, Fackler’s disillusionment about the filmmaking process only grew. “I got to the point where it was time to write a new script, and that time passed me by,” he said. “I felt constricted. I hoped Lovely, Still would blow up and I could make another film right away. When it didn’t, I had to start over. I knew it would take years to make another film, so I picked my guitar back up because I needed an immediate release of creativity. If I don’t have that, I feel like I’m being choked.”

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Fackler became a wanderer. He didn’t have a job, he slept on couches, he traveled. “I fell off the grid,” he said. And all the while, he wrote songs and recorded them on his MacBook using GarageBand. After a year, he had completed 15 songs, which he played for Ashley Miler, a Kansas City music producer with a “far out psychedelic mind” who helped pull it all together into a cohesive package.

The final product is a very strange, very personal musical document of Fackler’s lost year that listeners will either “get” or won’t. He hopes it’s the former but is okay if it’s the latter. “If people like the music, that’s awesome. If not, I’m not paying attention.”

While all that was going on, Fackler finished his next script, tentatively titled We the Living, which he said combines mythology and religion with a science fiction aspect. But before he figures out how he’s going to make it, he has to go on tour with both InDreama and Icky Blossoms before (hopefully) heading to Sundance to screen and promote Sick Birds...

So who exactly is Nik Fackler?

To me, he’s the same 19-year-old mop of hair that I remember meeting at his parents’ diner back in 2005. Goofy, smiling, bleary eyed and happy. Now 28, he never seems to age, but he’ll tell you he has.

“It gets harder as you get older,” he said. “No one is expecting anything from me, but I’m expecting more from myself. As I get older, it gets weirder. I own a house and am in debt to banks and don’t have health insurance (and probably should). Should I be worried about this? I’ve got all sorts of lives to live beyond this one.

“I would love to say I have a direct vision to my path, but I don’t,” he said. “I’ve really let go as an artist. I jumped off the path and don’t see it anymore, and something inside me tells me that’s okay.”

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Join Fackler on his pathless journey this Saturday at The Slowdown for the Freaks of the Night: Halloween Costume and Dance Party a.k.a. the InDreama record release show. Also on the bill is Icky Blossoms, Lincoln freak show performer Plack Blague and Places We Slept. Tickets for the 9 p.m. performance are $6.66 in advance or $8 day of show.

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

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I’ve been listening to Philly dreampop band Sun Airway most of the morning. The publicist describes their music as “Touches of ELO and New Order brush up against hints of modern sounds like M83 and Radio Dept., carried by the subtle breeze of Bjork’s Homogenic,” which  pretty much sums it up. There’s definitely a heavy M83 dreamgaze thing going on. Pitchfork gave their last record, Soft Fall (Deep Ocean), a dazzling 7.3 rating. Check out their video for “Close,” below. Opening is Kite Pilot, who is on a bit of a local tour with four show slated in as many weeks. $12, 9 p.m.


Meanwhile, over at O’Leaver’s, those boot-scootin’ sumbitches The Filter Kings are headlining a show with Reno Divorce and Ground Tyrants. $5, 9:30 p.m. Don’t forget your cowboy hat!

Finally, down at The Slowdown, it’s the return of Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers, with Trapper Schoepp and the Shades. $30, 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.