Practically a household name in the indie-rock community, Jed I. Rosenberg’s debut documentary feature Louder Than You Think not only highlights the 90’s indie-rock band Pavement, but also takes an up close and personal look at Gary Young, the original and unlikely drummer of the band during its formative years.
“I took LSD 375 times”, the film begins, the audience clearly aware that Young’s antics and unusual camaraderie take front stage and center despite the general assumption that drummers are onstage to be left unnoticed behind the band. Banging on the drums since the age of 11, Young was clearly destined to become a musician. After being introduced to Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg to record a few demos in his DIY home studio (of which the documentary is named after), Young assisted in playing drums and shortly thereafter Pavement was born. Unpolished in their sound, the three piece tially paved the way for the rough recordings and general lo-fi genre that so many acts found influential, even to this day.
Roughly twenty years their senior, Young was an unexpected candidate for the three piece, often being described as a hippie or veering on the cusp of too much of a rock star. Frantically alternating between an ultimate superhero or a step away from death’s door, Young was unpredictable with his alcohol intake on the road and during live shows. Never quite knowing whether their drummer would last for an entire set, let alone two songs, Young could quickly spiral from playfully endearing to a tragic mess which set the tone for a lot of tension between the members. Known for handing out vegetables and miscellaneous items before their shows, recklessly falling off stage or walking off mid-set to grab a drink or three, Young’s shenanigans were unpredictable and felt like a constant responsibility, according to Bob Nastanovich. He became somewhat of a caretaker for Young, which for a twenty-something isn’t a duty that came lightly.
As far as most music documentaries go, most of them adhere to a general leaning in terms of chronological order and straight-forward in their delivery. However, Louder Than You Think defies the rules, incorporating not only original and never before seen concert clips, TV interviews and home movies, but also re-enacting past stories and memories with recognizable marionettes of Young and his bandmates. Offering a more whimsical and comedic element to the feature resonates with Young’s simultaneous childlike and erratic personality as a whole. The documentary absolutely succeeds in highlighting such a creative and unique individual, undeniably a genius in his realm, yet tragic in his penchant and addiction for drugs and booze. For both die-hard fans or a fledgling audience to Gary Young and Pavement, Louder Than You Think is a documentary you’ll want to get your ears and eyes on.