A movie telling the tragic story of American cult indie band Sparklehorse is set for its Welsh premiere to help raise awareness of mental health issues.
The special screening of Sad and Beautiful World of Sparklehorse tells the story of musician Mark Linkous, who took his own life after battling drug and alcohol addiction.
Arts charity TAPE Community Music and Film in Berthes Road, Old Colwyn, is hosting the free screening on Saturday March 18, which is being supported by mental health charity MIND.
It will feature live music from local bands performing songs from the Sparklehorse catalogue, and will be followed by a question and answer session with filmmakers Alex Crowton and Bobby Dass about the movie and the band.
Sparklehorse was formed in 1995 by singer songwriter Mark Linkous and released five critically acclaimed niche albums before Linkous, who had also performed with Radiohead, committed suicide in Knoxsville, Tennessee in March 2010.
The movie was first premiered in Islington’s Union Chapel and has since only been shown at small intimate venues, said TAPE chief executive Steve Swindon.
He added: “Despite never quite managing to achieve mainstream success the band still has a big cult following to this day and Alex and Bobby have made a brilliant music documentary film telling the Sparklehorse story.
“We asked if we could give the film its Welsh premiere and I’m delighted they agreed. We also have musicians from local Colwyn Bay and Rhyl bands performing Sparklehouse songs.
“They include Paul Carter of Flotation Toy Warning, Neil Dunsire of Dead! Dead! Dead! Kyle Lee of Ginitis and Mexican Walking Fish, plus Carl Roberts of Gintis and The Wobbly Hearts.
“Screenings at TAPE are intimate and we keep numbers down to just 30 audience members. We want to make screenings a unique experience and make sure that people who struggle with big crowds or audiences feel comfortable.”
Steve added “Mark Linkous was both humble and modest but he was also self-destructive, a recovering addict who battled severe depression and mental illness that resulted in his eventual suicide.
“The dual nature of his personality reflects the extremes of his music; beautiful, surreal, off-kilter pop contrasted with dark, distorted ballads and discordant punk-rock.
“The Sad and Beautiful World of Sparklehorse is a feature length music documentary that really does tell the story of a cult figure and band. The screening is supported by Ynys Mon and Gwynedd MIND.”
Sparklehorse’s first album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot was released in 1995, the year before Linkous was taken seriously ill while touring Europe with Radiohead.
Having taken a combination of Valium, alcohol, and heroin in a London hotel room he fell unconscious for more than 14 hours with his legs pinned beneath him.
His heart stopped for several minutes after he was found and lifted up and he had to have surgery and use a wheelchair for six months after almost losing the use of his legs. He also suffered acute kidney failure and had to undergo prolonged dialysis.
As a result of his stay in St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington he wrote the song St Mary for his 1998 album Good Morning Spider, which he dedicated to the nursing staff that cared for him.
Further critically albums, It’s a Wonderful Life, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, Nightmare Revisited and In the Fishtank 15 followed before Linkous took his own life.
Anna Openshaw, project manager for Colwyn BID business regeneration group tasked with boosting trade in Colwyn Bay, Rhos on Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre, said TAPE Community Music and Film has an important role to play in offering unique niche productions to a North Wales audience.
She said: “It really is wonderful that followers of unconventional bands such as Sparklehorse have the chance to watch a film of their story and hear local North Wales musicians interpret some of their work.
“This isn’t mainstream or a conventional event but something for the fans of an alternative genre. “
She added: “It’s fantastic that we have a venue and a community arts charity such as TAPE here in Old Colwyn offering an alternative audience an opportunity to witness a unique screening of feature length films and documentaries they might otherwise not have the opportunity to see.”
The Sad and Beautiful World of Sparklehorse, TAPE Community Music and Film, Berthes Road, Old Colwyn, March 18. Details tapemusicandfilm.co.uk, 01492 512109