Strummer Documentary Due

Filmmaker follows former Clash singer out on the road

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An extra pair of eyes is on Joe Strummer this fall, as filmmaker Dick Rude lenses a documentary of the former Clash guitarist's fall tour with his latest band, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.

"I called up Joe a couple months ago," says Rude, whose previous credits include video work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blonde Redhead. "I said, 'Let me come over and bother you and film you sitting around the bonfire at night at your farm in Somerset and get your spoutings on life.' And he said, 'Well, maybe you better find somebody else more interesting.' And then while he was recording this record he suggested maybe I'd like to film the tour."

Rude's fifteen-year association with Strummer began just before shooting Straight to Hell, a film co-written by Rude and featuring Strummer and a then-unknown Courtney Love. Given extensive access for the new project, Rude said the hour-long documentary will blend live clips with footage from interviews, TV and radio promotional appearances.

Rude was drawn to the project in part because of the relationship Strummer has with his latest lineup. "He's found a band he's truly comfortable with and that audiences relate to," Rude says. "There's an obvious chemistry there that he hasn't been able to achieve since he left the Clash. He really believes in the current incarnation of the band and getting out on the road. Hopefully it will be a vehicle for him to be able to be popular again in a radio airplay kind of way."

Expected to hit stores by the end of 2002, Rude's documentary comes at a time when Strummer seems to have hit stride once more, after hibernating through most of the Nineties, doing some soundtrack work and recording only occasionally. Having released a pair of albums in the last couple years, including this year's Global A Go-Go, Strummer says that he's felt more focused of late.

"Sometimes I'm still wandering around lost, but I have noticed that the benefit of hindsight, if there is any, is that you can see what trees not to bark up, because you've barked up them before," Strummer says. "I find it more enjoyable to work now, because I can say, 'Don't go down there -- I've been down there and it's a cul de sac."