Not Fade Away

Jamm Aquino
Honolulu Star-Advertiser staff photographer, vocalist/guitarist for The VeJJ

Where and with whom did you see the movie?

I saw it with my wife, Erica Aquino, at Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai.


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Jamm Aquino

Overall, what did you think?

I thought that the plot and story idea were very good. The passion and drive that Doug and the Twylight Zones had for their music was totally there, and I could relate to his ups and downs on all levels, being in a band of my own. There was one scene that really struck a nerve in which Doug (John Magaro) literally walks away from his family dinner during the Christmas holiday because not everyone at the supper table believed in his music or in the fire inside him to pursue his music.

The characters seemed very approachable, though underdeveloped in a few aspects. I would liked to have seen more happening between Doug and his father, played by Sopranos star James Gandolfini. While there were times when Doug and his father were very organic together on-screen, there were also instances when it just seemed forced and contrived. There were also a number of loopholes that left Erica and I confused, especially with regard to time and place. Not Fade Away follows the characters in the film over quite a long period of time – high school to an ambiguous period in college to another period where the band is back home in New Jersey, yet not in college anymore. It was quite confusing. Erica and I based the time periods on the musical instruments we saw the musicians playing.

The ending, which I won’t give away, gave the viewer a different sense of closure than one would normally expect. One thing that really impressed Erica (who is also a guitarist in the band Missing Dave) and I were the period-correct musical instruments used in the film. Real vintage Fender, Rickenbacker and Gibson guitars – we were both totally enamored by that.

Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes?

My favorite scene was toward the beginning, when Doug was standing outside the music store staring at the instruments in the window and daydreaming about making music. I think it’s pretty safe to say that every musician has done that at some point in their lives – seeing the guitar or drum or saxophone in the window and visualizing the instrument in their hands while they play to a sold-out crowd screaming for them. I know have on more than one occasion! Also, this is a very important scene that recurs later on in the film as well.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film?

I would give Not Fade Away ★★ 1/2 stars out of ★★★★★. Although I did enjoy the camaraderie of the band and the gratuitous rock ‘n’ roll life of the 1960s in the film, I felt it lacked focus on character development. I think almost too much was crammed into that hour and 50 minutes or so.

Did you identify with any of the characters?

Yup! Every one of the band members in the Twylight Zones! The ups and downs in the songwriting, the recording process, the bickering over relationships – it was all there, and I could totally relate. Being in a band is like being in a serious romantic relationship – it’s very intense, and there are good times and bad times.

Did the soundtrack contribute significantly to the film?

Yes! Absolutely loved the soundtrack. If there is one thing I would buy from this film’s franchise, the soundtrack would be it. Given the time period, the soundtrack takes you on a rock ‘n’ roll journey through the late ’60s that doesn’t disappoint. This period of rock music has been very influential to myself and my bandmates in The VeJJs.

On a different note, what’s new with you?

The VeJJs have been pretty busy the last couple of months playing around town. Aside from our regular shindig at Bar35 the third Thursday of each month, we’ve also been playing the Hard Rock Café in Waikiki and have an upcoming show there Feb. 22. We also are playing at Kaleidoscope at Thirtyninehotel Jan. 24. We plan to record our album very soon, and have a new website up! Visit us at or on our Facebook page for more!