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‘The Velvet Underground’ is a documentary as unique as the band itself

Courtesy of Apple TV+

It’s The Velvet Underground as you’ve never seen them before.  A new documentary from acclaimed indie-film director Todd Haynes about the hugely influential rock group debuts today on Apple TV+. 

Haynes tells ABC Audio that the film, like the band itself, is different from other rock documentaries.

“This band…and the whole culture from which the band arose, is kind of an invitation to look at what this whole experimental attitude,” he explains. “And not just in terms of music making…but in the sort of the language that was being swapped from medium to medium.”

Titled simply The Velvet Underground, the documentary features new interviews with surviving members John Cale and Maureen Tucker, as well as other people associated with the band. There are also archival conversations with the late artist Andy Warhol, who managed and helped promote the group during its early years. What you won’t see in this film is the typical archival material, because it doesn’t exist.

“There is no live concert footage…no promotional record label material, there aren’t interviews of them at the time on film,” notes Haynes. “What you see is what’s in the film, which is films from Andy Warhol, where they were kind of part of an art project.”

The doc offers an inside look at the group and its classic lineup — the late Lou Reed on lead vocals and guitar, Cale on bass and viola, Tucker on drums and the late Sterling Morrison on lead guitar — as well as their life inside Warhol’s studio, The Factory.

“They were making art all day long…because Andy was a taskmaster…And then they’d go out partying all night,” adds Haynes. “And you’d go to a party and then you’d go wake up the next morning, do some more speed, and start making art again…it was a…ludicrously pleasurable time.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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