Music Documentary: The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself (2018) - Reviewed

Today Is The Day will go down easily as one of the most polarizing bands to ever assemble and create music.  Simply put, you love them or you hate them.  While people’s opinions on the band are contrary, I am happy that in my experience that most of us are in love with Today Is The Day and above all respect founder and ever tortured adrenaline pusher of the band who is named Steve Austin.

Today Is The Day's music is a complex tornado of sound, fury, and above all, emotion.  Today Is The Day is not a band you party to, it is an expression you need to observe as a piece of art.  This is not background music that you clean the house to.

Steve Austin was one of the first musicians that I actually had the opportunity to converse with on a personal level and what was immediately evident to me was the polarizing nature of his personality as opposed to his music.  He was softly spoken, to the point where I had to lean in to hear his words.  But he was kind, and I have had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with him over the years whenever we were in the same room.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself to watch as we are all fans in my neck of the woods.  This is a VERY different kind of documentary, and not at all what I expected.  The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself is almost as artistic as the music of Today Is The Day, but in a different way.

I really thought I was going to be thrown into a standard biographical hour and a half on the band, but I didn’t get that.  It would have been very easy to focus on the aspects of the Steve Austin’s band that could be his claims to fame.  For example, the fact that Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher served time in Today Is The Day, both playing on 1999’s In the Eyes of God before moving onto Mastodon, which has become a household name as far as hard rock is concerned.  This fact was never really mentioned in The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself, which really took me me surprise.

There are a lot of fan facts that were left out of this documentary.  This at first disappointed me, but soon I realized it was not made to be a film for fans of the band, but as an expression much like the band's music, that anyone could observe and appreciate.  This, to me at least, is the film's strongest point and it Achilles heel.  Regardless, The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself is a definite primer for anyone has never experienced the mystery and madness of the music of Today Is The Day.

--Scott W. Lambert