Another State of Mind (film)

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Another State of Mind
Directed by Adam Small, Peter Stuart
Produced by Adam Small, Peter Stuart
Starring Mike Ness
Dennis Danell
Brent Liles
Derek O'Brien
Adam Stern
Sean Stern
Keith Morris
Ian MacKaye
Music by Social Distortion
Youth Brigade
Minor Threat
Distributed by Time Bomb
Release dates
VHS: 1984
DVD: 2004
Running time
77 min.
Country US
Language English, Japanese

Another State of Mind is a documentary film made in the summer of 1982 chronicling the adventure (and misadventure) of two punk bands – Social Distortion and Youth Brigade – as they embark on their first international tour.[1] Along the way they meet up with another progressive punk band, Minor Threat, whom they hang out with at the Dischord house for about a week near the end of their ill-fated tour.


The documentary details the ambitious journey of an early Social Distortion and Youth Brigade and a small road crew as they tour across the U.S. and Canada.

The story begins with a hopeful Shawn Stern relating his big ideas about the tour and what he wants to accomplish, stating that the bus should hold up as the group gets to work fixing up the bus. In fact, much of the plot revolves around the bus breaking down in three or four states. The road crew manager, Monk, is the only one who seems to know how to fix the bus so he becomes instrumental in keeping the tour alive.

As the tour begins, the bands head north up through San Francisco, Oregon, and Seattle. The film includes live footage of Social Distortion doing a then written but not yet recorded, "Mommy's Little Monster," as well as the creativity of Mike Ness writing the song, "Another State Of Mind," for which the film was named. One memorable clip shows Mike Ness getting ready for a show, giving his explanation of his "look" – why he does his hair the way he does and why he wears eye makeup when most guys don't. From Seattle they continue on up through Canada from where the Stern brothers have citizenship. The last leg of the trip includes big US cities like Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York.

At the time this film was made, there was much misinformation and discrimination regarding punks, so a lot of the film is aimed at explaining this counter-culture by interviewing local kids at each tour destination as well as a few So-Cal punks whose commentary appears periodically during the documentary. At one point during the trip, the group arrives at a venue where they had a show booked and go out of their way to avoid discrimination by climbing up a fire escape and going in the back door in order to avoid the huge biker-looking men in the front of the club. They describe what probably would happen if they went in the front door - they would be intimidated, yelled at and maybe beaten up as they walked through the door and through the club so they find it easier to avoid the whole scene.

On another occasion, the starving group heads to a cafe in Montreal after a show to get something to eat and find the waitress will hardly look at them, let alone serve them. She is apparently frightened or annoyed by them based purely on their appearance. The woman calls the police to have them removed from the restaurant with no provocation (save for maybe Derek O'Brien's insistent banging of a coffee cup on the counter to get her attention).

As the tour proceeds, there is much discussion about the issues young adults face such as being misunderstood, the push and pull of parents, rules, drugs, violence and alcohol. One of the more interesting facets of this film is the fact that no matter where the group goes across the country and Canada, the locals seem to be dealing with the same issues. The punk movement was revolutionary and a bit scary to the older generations at that time who had never really seen anything like them before.

Somewhere around the second or third bus break-down, between Canada and Chicago, the reality of their trip begins to sink in. 11 or 12 guys on a small, now reeking, constantly breaking down bus is not as much fun as they had first anticipated. Their per diem has been slashed from $10 a day to $5 as a result of money having to be spent on fixing the old bus and they seem to keep getting ripped off by the club owners. One classic moment from the film comes when Mark Stern holds up some rolls of pennies he was paid with by one cheap San Francisco club owner (Dirk Dirksen of Mabuhay productions.)

Nearing the end of the trip, some of the road crew leave the trip early, leaving the band members to set up and fend for themselves. Everyone starts to get on each other's nerves out of hunger, frustration and cabin fever and begin to act out in different ways. Roadie, Mike Brinson, is shown constantly dyeing his hair different colors based on his mood which begins with a happy pink, turns green and eventually a dismal black. Mike Ness, usually placated by the beer which they somehow always found the money for, lets out a little frustration one night at a small impromptu show, breaking out in a frenzied, seizure-looking rendition of the worm during his performance.

A final bus break-down in D.C. causes the group to split up. Brinson, Liles and Danell abandon the group to stay with friends of Brinson's, where they voice their exhaustion with the tour and the rest of the group. Out of desperation, the others go to the local Kmart to shop for tarps with the members of Minor Threat. An interview allows Ian Mackaye to detail a bit of his Straight Edge, which the So-Cal group doesn't really buy into but seems to admire.

This final break-down becomes the proverbial straw that broke the tours' back. Mike Ness ends up being stranded when the rest of Social Distortion heads back to OC where they feel they have a better chance of making money rather than staying on the difficult tour. Ness has really no choice but to grab a flight back to LA himself and try to regroup. With the headliner off the tour, Youth Brigade decides to throw in the towel as well. They all climb into the film crew's equipment truck and head back to California.

The film closes with an interview of Shawn Stern reflecting back on the tour. When asked if he thought it was worth it, he responds, "Yeah, I'd say it was worth it."

Primary cast[edit]

  • Youth Brigade
    • Shawn Stern - Vocals, Guitar
    • Adam Stern - Bass
    • Mark Stern - Drums
  • Road Crew
    • Mark "Monk" Rock – Road "manager", Bus mechanic
    • Mike Brinson
    • Marlon Whitfield
    • Louis Dufau


Filmmakers Peter Stuart and Adam Small came upon a large scale project which immediately captured their imagination: the Better Youth Organization of Los Angeles was planning a North American tour. Eleven assorted punks would be traveling across the country in a broken down school bus. It was a chance to explore and document the punk community more extensively than ever before.

On August 17, 1982, armed with one production assistant, Stuart and Small set off in their rental truck on this journey through the underground. For six weeks and ten thousand miles, they recorded the adventures of the two touring bands – Youth Brigade and Social Distortion. More than just concert footage, this film documents the rich collection of characters in and around the tour, and the hardships and dangers of life on the road. The film was made on the cheap side and the scenes that feature instructions for "moshing" were filmed as filler so that the film would be at a viable length for release and distribution.

The poster was designed by Josh Freeman, now president and creative director of FreeAssociates, the design/advertising agency in Los Angeles.

DVD special features[edit]

Commentaries by Mike Ness, the directors and Youth Brigade.


External links[edit]