Film Maker, Musician, Festival Producer – The Life of Josh Fischel

Film Maker, Musician, Festival Producer – The Life of Josh Fischel

June 25, 2022 would have been Josh Fischel’s 53rd birthday, but instead, we celebrated the prolific entrepreneur with the feature-length documentary ‘How to Throw Your Own Goodbye Party’. The newly released documentary takes us through the last years of his life focusing on the Long Beach street festival: Music Taste Good (2016). 

In 2016 The Pier’s editor Mike Patty was invited for an exclusive interview with Fischel on the eve of the upcoming festival, Music Taste Good. They talked about his musical career, his film career, and his newly founded festival: Music Taste Good. Here are a few excerpts from that interview.

Catch the full interview from 2016 here.

Interview: Josh Fischel

The Pier: I want to start at the beginning — What brought you to Long Beach?
JF: I grew up all over southern CA and when I was 22 or 23 I moved to New York for a while. My brother Zach actually started working for a record label called Gasoline Alley and working with Jon Phillips and all of those guys. Sublime came into the picture and the cover of “Get Out” that we did for the Sublime tribute album, the whole middle part is 100% true. I was living in New York. My folks had bought a house that wasn’t ready to move in so we went ahead and rented a house out in Palm Springs, CA for Christmas; Which is kind of a weird thing to do but it was kind of cool, too. My brother gave me this CD, 40oz to Freedom, for Christmas. It was like 1993 or something like that. I went to go get some cigarettes and listened to it by myself. I remember going to see Wayne’s World 2 with my cousin and I was like “You oughta hear this, it’s pretty fucking good,” and he was like, “Woah!” We were kind of taken aback by it.

Around that same time I started taking film classes in New York. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take music or film, I was kind of going back and forth, and whenever I came back out to California I’d go to Sublime shows and film them. At this point, there was like 10 people in the crowd. This was davidnorrisjoshfischelinterviewsocialmedia-4pre-anything. I think the biggest show I saw them do that whole year, and I saw them a few times when I came out, was maybe like 50 people or something like that. And I would honestly just film them just to watch them when I’d go back to New York because they didn’t tour at the time. Then they started touring and I got to get to know them and then they started having more success; they had a radio hit, got on the Warped Tour and all that. They needed some film stuff and asked me and I went on tour with them.

The Pier: Really? I never knew you went on tour with Sublime…
JF: Yeah, yeah. On Warped tour. I didn’t tour with them on the bus, I was in a car, but yeah, I spent some time with those guys on their first Warped tour. All of the stuff on the documentary that’s filmed on Warped tour, that’s stuff I shot, that’s me shooting it.

The Pier: Holy Cow! And we’re talking about Sublime’s lone documentary of Stories Tales Lies & Exaggerations. See I knew you had directed the documentary, but I don’t ever recall reading anything in depth about the making of or your history or relationship to the band. So all of that footage from the documentary to Bud Gaugh talking back-stage…
JF: Yeah, Bud talking, that’s all me filming it. The one time after he hit Brad and he’s covered in Brad’s blood and he’s got Brad’s blood on his shirt… But, yeah then like six months later, Brad passed away. We just happened to be out in California for the last show.

The Pier: You were at Sublime’s last show (May 24th, 1996)? Did you film it?
JF: Yeah. Um. When we had it transferred, MCA had all of our footage transferred and somehow it disappeared when it got transferred. So yeah, we had the whole show filmed. Yup. It’s kind of a sore subject.

Continue reading the full interview from 2016 here.

‘How to Throw Your Own Goodbye Party’ is the directorial debut for Lauren Coleman who had the unique vantage point of working for Josh in the very small team responsible for bringing acts like The Specials, Living Colour and De La Soul to the streets of Long Beach in 2016.

What starts out as a story about a man’s triumphant accomplishment begins to take a turn as the complications of working through the red tape of a city becomes overwhelming and the approach of the festival runs parallel with an unraveling that is both heartbreaking and unnerving, intensified by an urgency that no one could have possibly understood at the time.

Music Taste Good took place from Sept 23 – 25th, 2016 in downtown Long Beach. Unknown at the time, Fischel had liver disease and celebrated the last days of his life at his music festival before his untimely death on September 29, 2016.

Despite the struggles and difficulties, it is hard not to walk away from this film feeling hopeful. Josh Fischel was the kind of person who took big swings and inspired those around him to do the same. He took pride in creating experiences that were unforgettable and, with a documentary like this, his legacy will certainly live on.

‘How to Throw Your Own Goodbye Party’ is now streaming on Vimeo.

By: Mercedes Romana
Interview: Mike Patty
Photo: David Norris