Found Footage Festival curators Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher not only share a love for bizarre video, but bizarre music as well, which brought them to the mighty musical altar of the one and only Larry Pierce, a small-town family man who happens to also be one of the country’s most notorious crooners of all things sexual. Their film “Dirty Country”, which won the Audience Award at SXSW earlier this year, follows Larry around in his daily life as we watch him transform from factory worker man to dirty country music extraordinaire. We’re also introduced to various other dirty musical artists who’ve kept perverts toes tapping for years.
We spoke with Joe and Nick about their documentary, which is currently charming festivals all over the world.
When did you first hear of Larry Pierce? What was your reaction?
JP: Nick and I were on a road trip in Wisconsin about 12 years ago and stopped at a truck stop to find some entertainment. Sitting in one of those cassette racks was a tape titled “Songs For Studs.” As studs, Nick and I couldn’t resist, so we bought it, popped it in the tape deck, and couldn’t believe our ears when we heard the filthiest (but very well-written) country songs we’d ever heard.
NP: After that, we were hooked and had to find everything the man had ever recorded. Whenever we’d stop at a truck stop for gas, we’d go on a hunt for the latest Larry Pierce tape. Over the course of the next ten years, we’d collected and memorized all twelve of his tapes.
Did you know right away that you needed to make a documentary on him?
NP: At first we thought we’d just do a short fifteen-minute profile on Larry, but then all these things started happening in his life that we thought were interesting. He was being forced into early retirement at his job and didn’t know what he was going to do, he got an offer out-of-the-blue to have his own show on the Las Vegas strip, he met a young band that had been covering his songs live for ten years. It was too good of a story not to pursue.
JP: Ever since we got that first tape, Nick and I would speculate as to what Larry was like in real life. We guessed that he was probably a hillbilly, in jail or something. Finally, our curiosity got the better of us, and we decided to quit our jobs, live off of our girlfriends, and track this guy down.
Was Larry hesitant at first or was he cool right off the bat with you guys filming him?
NP: It was actually the other way around. He was game for anything at the beginning but he was understandably less excited about it after the third year of having a camera following his every move.
JP: At first, he didn’t really understand why we wanted to make a documentary on him. When we first contacted him about it, he responded saying “Sure, if you want, but my life isn’t that interesting. I’m married with kids, live in a small town in Indiana, work 3rd shift in a factory, and I write these dirty songs on my lunch breaks.”
So how long did it take you guys to make Dirty Country?
NP: Far too long.
JP: Nearly four years, much to the chagrin of the girlfriends we lived off of. This is our first documentary, so we weren’t expecting it to take this long. When we decided to take on the project, we honestly thought it’d be done within a year. But as is the nature of documentary, you never really know where it’s going to take you.
How did you go about tracking down the rest of the dirty musicians?
NP: Every time we met somebody and told them we were doing a documentary on a dirty singer, they told us about somebody they used to listen to way back when who did dirty songs. Turns out, there are legends out there who have been doing strictly dirty music for twenty years or, in the case of Doug Clark & The Hot Nuts, fifty years, and they’re still at it. We thought tracking these folks down and doing small profiles on them would help frame Larry’s story in a larger context.
Were there other musicians you wanted to include, but couldn’t for one reason or another?
JP: David Allen Coe, of course, is the name you think of when you hear “dirty country music.” We would’ve loved to interview him about his filthy songs, but he refuses to talk about that stuff now. He turned down all our interview requests.
NP: There’s a woman named Rusty Warren who had all sorts of successful party albums like “Knockers Up” in the 1950s and ‘60s. Her big hit was “Bounce Your Boobies” and she played to sold-out nightclub crowds all over the country. Unfortunately, she lives in Hawaii and we didn’t have the budget to fly out there and interview her. It would have been nice to have a female perspective in the movie.
Where can people see Dirty Country next?
JP: Dirty Country will be at a handful of fests this month. We’ll be at the Sidewalk Film Fest in Birmingham, the Port Townsend Film Fest in Washington, and the Calgary International Film Fest where we’ll be making our Canadian debut.
NP: Then in October, the movie is going to play in Cork, Ireland. We’re pretty excited to show off America’s best dirty talent in the birthplace of the dirty limerick.
Last question – Do you like to f**k?
NP: In the air or in the water like a duck, I like to f**k.
JP: Yes, I like to f**k.