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Derailroaded: Larry "Wild Man" Fischer

    Ian Jane

  • Derailroaded: Larry "Wild Man" Fischer

    Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry "Wild Man" Fischer Coming to DVD January 25, 2011

    A shocking and sensitive 86-minute journey through the thunderstorms of the mind of paranoid-schizophrenic Larry "Wild Man" Fischer and his discordant encounters in the music business.

    "Equal parts hilarity and heartbreak... the fine line between madness and genius has rarely been so acutely drawn.
    5 out of 5 STARS" David Sheppard, MOJO

    "Stunning document of an outsider's life unraveling. 5 out of 5 STARS"
    Rob Young, UNCUT

    de·rail·road·ed : pt., a neologism; one man's psycholinguistic and schizo-musical metaphor for derailed, to have caused a train, mind or life to go off the tracks

    This shocking and sensitive 86-minute journey through the thunderstorms of the mind of paranoid-schizophrenic Larry "Wild Man" Fischer follows his discordant encounters in the music business.

    Institutionalized at 16 after attacking his mother with a knife, Fischer wandered the mean streets of L.A. singing his totally unique brand of songs for 10¢ to passersby. Discovered by Frank Zappa, with whom he cut his first record album, Fischer became an underground club and concert favorite, earning him the title of "godfather of outsider music." Over the course of 40 years, he appeared on national television (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in) and the Top 50 music charts in England, was the subject of his own comic book, was the first artist to be recorded on Rhino Records, and sang a duet with the late Rosemary Clooney.

    Extensive archival footage from Fischer's early days, including his TV and club performances, trace his life from neglected child to tortured genius. The filmmakers visit him at home, follow him on the streets, and speak with those who over the years witnessed - and survived - his erratic behavior: his family, his doctor, and industry professionals (including Frank and Gail Zappa, Weird Al Yankovic, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, Solomon Burke, Dr. Demento, and Billy Mumy).


    Website with photo, info, etc:

    Link to order:

    "Derailroaded is a funhouse mirror of a movie that brilliantly reflects the warped, fractured chapters of Fischer's unique life story. It's also one of the best documentaries of recent years, joining Crumb and Monster Road as an unusually intimate look at how we use art to channel our darkest, most disturbing human tendencies. 4.5/5 STARS"
    - KJ Doughton, FILM THREAT

    Derailroaded is available for license worldwide from Pop Twist Entertainment

    Searching for Wild Man Fischer: The Making of Derailroaded
    By Josh Rubin, Director

    Jeremy Lubin and I had been looking for a film project to do together for a while. We had grown up together in suburban Detroit, and our common bond was our love of the bizarre; our inexplicable joy surrounding all that was different, all that was strange. To put it bluntly, we loved the crazy shit.

    The first time I met Jeremy was in the back seats of our Jewish Day School's van, when he literally forced headphones over my ears and pressed the play button on his tape deck. It was 1990, and the album was Grip It! On That Other Level by the controversial Houston rap outfit The Geto Boys. It wasn't long after that experience, in the latter part of the seventh grade, that we started our own rap group, B.A.R.F. How could we not? Our van driver had no teeth, weighed 500 pounds, and farted uncontrollably every time she switched radio stations. We had our muse, to say the least.

    The six songs and two skits on our debut EP were a work of adolescent genius. What was it about that obese woman, that social outcast, that Marianne, that had so captivated our creative interests? What was it about her essence that had turned our after-school thoughts of GI Joe and MTV into something elevating and inspirational, something perhaps truly sublime? Whatever it was, we were too young and dumb to realize it, so we did what all great bands do at the height of their power and glory: we broke up.

    Eleven years later I was sitting in my room in Los Angeles listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd's One More From the Road. That's when Jeremy walked in with the record.

    A few days earlier, Jeremy had been eating a chicken wrap on Melrose when he was approached by Howard Stern lackey "Melrose" Larry Green. Green wasn't alone. Behind him stood a large brooding fellow with oversized grimy hands, a mop of unwashed hair, and, well? he was just big and dirty, all the way around. The big dirty man was a disheveled mess, and, as Jeremy says, "It looked like he had a priapism, the way his pants were standing up on their own."

    Green introduced the unkempt hulk to Jeremy as the world-famous Wild Man Fischer. "He's straight from the '60s," Green blathered. "He's a legend. He was discovered by Frank Zappa. This man is a genius."

    "Bullshit, Melrose, bullshit," Jeremy thought, as he scraped away a new-found strain of bacterium from his palm. Jeremy was 100% correct in his logical reasoning, though. How could a man who looked so low, so shop-worn, so lost, once have been at the top of the creative heap? With Frank Zappa, nonetheless?

    I mean, Zappa was a visionary. A real artist. Not like the chop-shop, dime-a-dozen, radio-friendly clones of today. Zappa made real, real good music. We had known about his associations with the likes of Captain Beefheart and Little Feat, so we were aware that he only worked with the creme de la creme, the artists who offered a little bit more than the other great musicians. Zappa found and produced the guys who tottered on the edge of brilliance. The revolutionaries.

    Well, after Jeremy got home and told me about his "meeting," we found out that every single thing Green had said about the man was true. Son of a bitch! After reading a brief paragraph on the internet about Fisher being an acid casualty, living under the Cahuenga pass, and being discovered by Frank Zappa, I had to know more. Was it all true? Even if it wasn't, I could tell that there was more going on here than just a strange homeless-looking man.

    The next day we went in search of the only piece of evidence that would tell us if this guy was the real deal. We went on the hunt for An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, Larry's seminal sonic masterpiece.

    We found it, and we listened ... and we listened. It was more than just an ordinary listening experience; it was a conversion, an epiphany, and it changed me. From the first moment I heard the song "Merry Go Round" I knew I'd stumbled upon something extraordinary.

    Then, when I heard the "Wild Man Fischer Story," I remember feeling a sharp pang shooting up my spine. Hearing about Larry's lifelong struggle with mental illness, and listening to that pain being complemented by an omnipresent sense of optimism and elation touched me deeply. It was heartbreaking, it was real, it was surreal, it was funny, it was art, and most of all it was the most honest example of self-expression I had ever heard in my life.

    After the baptism, we both knew what had to be done: a movie. Ubin Twinz productions was born, and we hadn't even met the guy yet. To our surprise, Melrose Larry hooked everything up. He was stoked on our idea of a film, and arranged a meeting between Wild Man and us. I remember walking down the street on our way to meet him, nudging Jeremy on the shoulder as we walked closer to the corner of Melrose and Highland. "That's him! Holy shit man, it's really him!"

    When I first met Larry, I was out of breath and acting like an amateur. I had met rock stars before and had worked on films, but had never met with someone whose artistry had previously moved me so strongly. After I chilled out, the four of us went to get some hot wings.

    Larry ordered a tuna melt, fries, coconut pie, and a large Orange Bang, and started telling us his eagerly anticipated story. After just a short time I found out that most of the stuff that was posted about Larry was mainly false. He'd never used drugs, he had a home (well, sorta), he was not dead. He really loved Orange Bang, and ordered his third refill.

    "Did you know I was a huge rock star?"
    "Did you know that Frank Zappa stole all of my money?"
    "No," we replied in surprised unison.
    "Isn't it a money world?"
    "Goddamn, man, You guys are so lucky. Look at me. I don't have shit. I'm a pauper. The music business ... it's ... it's ... it's ... it's not what you think it is. It's a business ... it's a nightmare."

    Larry shook his head and devoured his tuna melt.

    Jesus. I had just sat down with this man not even ten minutes ago, and already I could sense that he'd lived a dozen lifetimes. The pain and turmoil showed in every facet of his being, and I now faced first-hand the very intensity that I had only heard, up until that point, on a thirty-one-year-old LP. It was unreal, and I knew that the rest of the world needed to see for itself what I was experiencing and feeling. I smiled and watched Larry eat the remainder of his coconut pie, then listened to him tell his tales for the next two hours.

    Larry talks. A lot. And, if you converse with Larry, you quickly come to realize that his whole approach to life is like a jigsaw puzzle of sorts. He spends half his time putting the pieces together, and he spends the other half figuring out ways to take them apart. The puzzle is the jagged, damaged, beat-up cardboard cutout of his musical career. Larry knows he has the talent. He is aware of the raw, pure energy that warranted the moniker of "The Godfather of Punk," given to him by one of the original pioneers of the punk scene, Darby Crash. The only problem is, the same terrible disease that fuels Larry's art is the same dread malaise that propels his mind into flurries of paranoia and extreme fear.

    On top of being Wild Man Fischer, he is also Lawrence Wayne Fischer, manic-depressive paranoid-schizophrenic. And it is because of his illness that Larry has spent most of the last thirty years of his life trying to ward off any hint of professionalism, due to the fact that his mind simply cannot cope with the unforgiving dog-eat-dog world of the music business.

    Larry can not handle the harsh realities of life, the necessary compromises in this corporeal existence that our subconscious minds are forced to filter out in order for us to remain "sane" enough to function on a day-to-day basis.

    Larry does not possess those filters, and as a result he is keenly aware that people have not only taken advantage of his illness by improperly exploiting him, but have also denied him the financial consideration that he's due.

    But deep beneath all that fear of, contempt for, and bone-deep bitterness towards this corrupt, cruel industry known as entertainment, lies Larry's true artistic motivation to express himself and be heard. That's why, after one year of daily phone conversations, weekly tuna fish and avocado sandwich dinners, sporadic threats leveled against us, and a few impromptu serenades, Larry, now our friend, signed a contract to do the film.

    Before our first day of filming, Jeremy and I were reminiscing about the past year, and how we had never envisioned ourselves in these circumstances working with Wild Man Fischer and about to make what we knew would be a great motion picture. Somehow the subject of our old rap music partnership arose, and I thought about how far we'd come.

    I remembered sitting in Jeremy's room with an old tape recorder, looping beats and writing rhymes about Marianne the van driver and other targets of our teenage skewers. I also recalled how much fun it was. Now, we were still having fun, but we were all grown up and our creative forces had a different focus.

    We were no longer dealing with funny rhymes about toothless fat ladies. We were now concerned with crafting a film about a certified paranoid-schizophrenic who just so happened to be a genius and one of the unknown revolutionaries of modern music. It was, to say the least, an entirely different canvas, as well as a much deeper and more interesting picture.

    Over the past two years we have shot, spliced, bled, sweated, and cried out a portrait of the man. The myth. The legend.

    They're all there. And all I can tell you is seeing is believing. Go see our film, and find out for yourself what its like to be -- as Larry puts it -- Derailroaded.


    Director Josh Rubin
    Producer Jeremy Lubin
    Executive Producer Faithe Raphael
    Edited by Josh Rubin & Jeremy Lubin
    Edited by Howard Leder
    Director of Photography Bryan Newman
    Original Music Wild Man Fischer

    Ubin Twinz Productions is comprised of Josh Rubin (Director) and Jeremy Lubin (Producer). Their partnership evolved out of their appetite for the bizarre, the extreme, and the truth. Ubin Twinz Productions was born the day An Evening With Wild Man Fischer hit the turntable in the year of 2001. Since then the two have almost passed away two times in their constant efforts for the world to see Derailroaded.
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