"I felt that the film was a triumph—moving, funny, sweet, eccentric—and the reaction from the audience, well, it’s the kind of thing that makes you feel like you are smiling with your heart. Two people who I spoke with were moved to tears. How many rock docs can you say that about?" - DANGEROUS MINDS
Thanks for all the love from Saturday 7 June! Here's a slide show of responses from the premiere at Sheffield City Hall.
An infectious merging of mutually delighted spirits, Florian Habicht’s collaboration with Jarvis Cocker fixes the triumphant 2012 concert billed as UK pop rock band Pulp’s last ever within a loving portrait of the town where it all began. Applying the gregarious curiosity that’s served him so well in the hot pools of Ngawha (Kaikohe Demolition) and on the streets of Manhattan (Love Story), Habicht accosts resolutely down-to-earth Sheffielders with questions about love, life and the meaning of Jarvis. He draws equally arresting testimony from band members, visiting fans, Jarvis’ mum and the man himself. Rousing concert footage is supplemented with unlikely performances from locals who’ve made the Pulp repertoire resoundingly their own. Cocker’s knack for keeping it real, for drawing from regular experience and feeding back into it, is the film’s effortlessly realised QED. If you ever had your head invaded for days on end by Pulp’s ‘Common People’, prepare to have it reoccupied, this time with a portrait gallery for company. If you haven’t, there could hardly be a more irresistible invitation to join the party. — Bill Gosden, New Zealand International Film Festival
Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets is the best film that could be made about Pulp. The majority of British pop bands were eager to be seen as “one of the lads,” with a pint in one hand and a copy of Loaded magazine in the other. Not Pulp, who wholeheartedly embraced an individualistic style of pervy proletariat, outsider chic. Their lyrics are the stuff of fluttering net curtains in run-down terraced houses, chaotic and confused teenage lust and not only not fitting in, but knowing you’ll never be able to. This documentary, centring on the band’s 2012 farewell concert, grasps everything that Pulp is about. It’s less a straightforward band biography and more a sociological study of the swamp of fears, loves and passions that bubbles away under the industrially cratered landscape of Sheffield.
-We Got This Covered, UK five stars -full film review here
Most bands hit the big time immediately and fade away, or they build a dedicated following and slowly climb their way to the top. PULP didn't follow either route. For the first 12 years of their existence, PULP languished in near total obscurity, releasing a handful of albums and singles in the '80s to barely any attention. At the turn of the decade, the group began to gain an audience, sparking a remarkable turn of events that made the band one of the most popular British groups of the '90s. By the time PULP became famous, the band had gone through numerous different incarnations and changes in style, covering nearly every indie rock touchstone from post-punk to dance. PULP’s signature sound is a fusion of David Bowie and Roxy Music's glam rock, disco, new wave, acid house, Europop, and British indie rock. The group's cheap synthesizers and sweeping melodies reflect the lyrical obsessions of lead vocalist Jarvis Cocker, who alternates between sex and sharp, funny portraits of working class misfits. Out of second-hand pop, PULP fashioned a distinctive, stylish sound that made camp into something grand and glamorous that retained a palpable sense of gritty reality.
Jarvis Cocker formed PULP in 1978, when he was 15 years old. Originally called Arabicus Pulp, the first lineup consisted of schoolmates of Cocker. After a year, the band's name was truncated to PULP. While they were in school, PULP performed a handful of gigs. The band recorded a demo sometime in 1980-1981, giving the tape to John Peel at one of his traveling shows. Peel liked the tape and invited the band to appear on his show. PULP had their first Peel Session in November 1981. Instead of leading to record deals and pop stardom, PULP’s appearance on Peel led nowhere. Discouraged by the band's lack of success, every member but Cocker left the band in 1982 to go to university. The following year, Cocker assembled a new lineup which featured eight members, including keyboardist Simon Hinkler, who would later join the Mission. In this incarnation, PULP had distinct folk overtones, as well as new wave underpinnings. The group landed their first record contract, releasing their debut album, It, in 1984. It didn't make much of an impact and the band fell apart again. After the second incarnation of PULP disintegrated, Jarvis Cocker formed another version of the band, with guitarist/violinist Russell Senior, who became Cocker's first full-fledged collaborator. Cocker and Senior added drummer Magnus Doyle and bassist Peter Mansell to the group, as well as Tim Allcard, who did nothing but read poetry. Musically, PULP backed away from the folky inclinations of It, adding keyboardist Candida Doyle in 1985, which led to a darker sound; shortly after her arrival, Allcard left the group. In 1985, PULP released a series of singles on Fire Records. Just as their fortunes were looking up, Cocker became injured severely. As he was trying to impress a girl, he fell 30 feet out of a window, injuring his pelvis, foot, and wrist. For two months, he was confined to a wheelchair, but he performed concerts anyway.
Released in 1986, Pulp's second album, Freaks, was a dense, dark affair. Following its release, the band split during the filming of the video for ‘They Suffocate at Night’. All of the members, except Cocker and Senior, left the group. For a year, the band was dormant, but Candida Doyle returned in 1987, with drummer Nick Banks and bassist Steven Havenhand joining shortly afterward. Havenhand was soon replaced by Anthony Genn, who was soon replaced by Steve Mackey. Although the group had a stable lineup, they weren't gaining much of a following. In 1988, Cocker moved to London with Mackey and began studying filmmaking at St. Martin's College. While he was studying, PULP was offered the chance to record another album. The resulting album, Separations, was recorded in 1989 and reflected Cocker's newfound obsession with acid house but it also boasted some full-fledged pop songs. Separations was released nearly three years after it was completed. Cocker was prepared to stake out a career in film when a single from the album, ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’, was released. NME named the song Single of the Week in 1991 and PULP’s career suddenly took off.
In early 1992, PULP left Fire Records for Gift, and began releasing a series of singles that consolidated the success of My Legendary Girlfriend. In particular, ‘Babies’ earned the band a great deal of attention. ‘Babies’ led to a contract with Island Records, their first major-label deal. Island released Pulpintro, a compilation of the Gift singles, as the band recorded its major-label debut, ‘His 'n' Hers’. Upon its spring 1994 release, ‘His 'n' Hers’ earned positive reviews and became an unexpected success, reaching the British Top Ten; it was also nominated for the 1994 Mercury Award. For the rest of 1994 and the early part of 1995, Jarvis Cocker suddenly became omnipresent on British television. These suave, humorous television appearances became legendary, making Cocker somewhat of a national hero, as well as a sex symbol.
No matter how popular Jarvis Cocker had become, the band didn't break into the big time until they released ‘Common People’. The single became a massive hit upon its May 1995 release, debuting at number two on the U.K. charts. In July, PULP accepted a last-minute headlining slot at Glastonbury Festival when The Stone Roses had to cancel. PULP’s set was rapturously received, launching the band into superstar status in England and conveniently setting the stage for their forthcoming album, Different Class. During the recording of the album, guitarist Mark Webber — the president of PULP’s fan club — became a full-time member of the group. The first record to feature Webber was the double A-sided single, ‘Mis-Shapes’ and ‘Sorted for E's & Wizz’, which was released in August, two months before Different Class. The single became a number two hit, despite a major tabloid controversy over the lyrics to ‘Sorted’.
Different Class arrived in late October to rave reviews throughout the British press. The album entered the charts at number one, going gold within its first week and platinum within the second. At the end of the year, the album topped many best-of-the-year lists. In February of 1996, Different Class was released in the United States to positive reviews. The massive fame and attention that Different Class brought PULP influenced the direction of their follow-up, 1998's world-weary, paranoid This Is Hardcore. The album's troubled sound and somewhat mixed reception led some to speculate whether or not the group would continue; the band's members took some time to pursue side projects such as DJ-ing at various nightclubs and remixing tracks for artists like Black Box Recorder and Death in Vegas. Meanwhile, they continued to play live, performing at various festivals, including the Meltdown festival curated by Scott Walker. Walker proved such an inspiration for the group that PULP hired him on as the producer of their new material after recording with Chris Thomas went unsatisfactorily. The resulting album, We Love Life — its name inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks — was released in the fall of 2001 in the UK and in the spring of 2002 in the US to critical acclaim. In 2006, Cocker released a solo album entitled Jarvis.
FLORIAN HABICHT (Director, Co-writer)
Florian Habicht was born in Berlin, and immigrated with his family to New Zealand in the early eighties. He studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts Auckland and Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam.
Florian’s debut feature Woodenhead became a cult hit in New Zealand and was distributed in the U.S.A. by Olive Films. The b&w fairytale is renowned for the innovation of recording all dialogue, location sound and music before shooting even began. Florian was acting on explicit instructions from 80's pop duo Milli Vanilli, who visited him in a dream.
Florian's documentary Kaikohe Demolition (2004) is a loving celebration of a small struggling town that became famous for some of its children attacking Santa. Rubbings from a Live Man (2008) is a documentary performed entirely by it's subject Warwick Broadhead.
In 2010 Florian spent a year in New York, where he made the innovative feature romance Love Story. Florian shot the film’s opening sequence, then asked everyday New Yorkers (and a psychic) for love advice and ideas on what should happen next in the story. These ideas were then acted out in dramatic scenes with actress Masha Yakovenko and the film’s narrative was crowd sourced / dictated by the city.
When Love Story screened at the London Film Festival, PULP invited Florian to make a feature documentary about the group.
Florian is the son of sixties photographer Frank Habicht.
ALEX BODEN (Producer)
Alex Boden enjoys being at the centre of the film production industry in the UK and increasingly internationally, through his production company Pistachio Pictures, launched in 1999. Producer of films selected by 200+ festivals, Alex has worked with some of the finest directors, including Stephen Daldry and Quentin Tarantino. Other credits include Ed Zwick’s Defiance, Susan Jacobson’s Fantasporto-winning thriller The Holding, Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry as well as the feature documentary PULP, which premiered at SXSW.
A graduate of University of Exeter (German & Drama C.Hons) and Binger Film Lab, Alex is the only UK producer member of the German French Film Academy.
Pistachio Pictures was launched in 1999 by Alex Boden and Susan Jacobson, with offices in London and Berlin. The focus is on working with the very best directing talent worldwide, developing and producing feature films for the international market. Experienced creative and financial consultants, the company works across Europe and increasingly with North America. In addition to the above credits, the company has recently worked on films including Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror and Collaborator starring Olivia Wilde. Current projects include A Hologram for the King starring Tom Hanks as well as a ground-breaking new series for Netflix, filming in 2014.
MARIA INES MANCHEGO (Director of Photography)
Maria Ines Manchego is cinematographer and filmmaker based in New York. She has shot two feature films for Director Florian Habicht - Love Story a feature length narrative / documentary hybrid which played at the London Film Festival and Hotdocs for which she was nominated as Best Feature Film Cinematographer at the NZ Film and TV awards and most recently on PULP. She has shot various music videos and shorts. Her photography has been exhibited in Chelsea NYC and her commercial work won her a Young Directors award at Cannes in 2012.
PETER O'DONOGHUE (Editor, Co-writer)
Peter O’Donoghue is an award-winning editor, director and writer based in Sydney, Australia who has been working for the past several years on film projects in Australia, New Zealand, China, the U.S. and the UK. In 2013 he completed his first long form documentary as director - Happy Everyday: Park Life in China, filmed in Shanghai and Beijing and represented by PBS International. He has been editor of Florian Habicht’s last 3 films and co-writer of the last two: their feature Love Story received Best Film, Best Director and Best Editor awards at the NZ Film Awards in 2011, and screened at numerous international festivals.