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The Farce Awakens: The Origins of Hardware Wars 

Wednesday, Dec 16 2015
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Cindy Freeling, who was at the San Diego screening in 1997, says, "It was like the fans knew every second of Hardware Wars." Later on, at that same convention, a booth with a TV showing Hardware Wars was asked to stop running the film — for safety reasons.

"It was creating too much of a crowd in the aisles," Freeling explains.

In 2003, Lucasfilm itself honored Fosselius with a special "Pioneer Award" for spawning the whole phenomenon of homemade Star Wars fan films, hundreds of which can be found with a YouTube search. Many of them are parodies.


A year after Hardware Wars, Fosselius directed a pair of videos for The Dūrocs, Mathews and Nagle's ill-fated power pop band named for "a breed of large, vigorous hogs, noted for superior intelligence and exceptionally large genitals," as defined on the band's album cover. Although Nagle recalls that everyone at Capitol Records (The Drocs's label) was "flipping for" the Drocs videos, Fosselius' efforts at early music videos become the victim of bad timing. They were completed only a month before MTV went live.

"By the time MTV was up and running, our band was over with and so nobody really got a chance to see those at the time," Nagle explains.

With his brief foray into directing music videos behind him, Fosselius directed Pork Lips Now (1980), a short spoof of Apocalypse Now (1979) that did with deli meats to Francis Ford Coppola what Fosselius had done with power tools to George Lucas. After Pork Lips Now, his last short parody, Fosselius worked as sound effects editor on a group of shockingly appropriate major studio films: the aforementioned Spaceballs (1987), John Waters' Serial Mom (1994), and Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994).

His most ironic major film work, however, came with the Force. He arranged "Lapti Nek," the disco tune that Jabba the Hutt and his crew rock out to in Return of the Jedi (later edited out and replaced with a rock tune, with CGI supporting band, in Lucas's "special editions" of the original trilogy).

For Fosselius, music and all things Star Wars are forever intertwined.

As for Mathews, music also has a way of leading him back to Hardware Wars and Fluke. In the late 1990s, he produced an Oakland band by way of Minnesota called Fluke Starbucker (now known as The Heavenly States) that he met at the North by Northwest music festival in Portland.

"I honestly didn't care how good they were because I'd already decided I had to produce them," Mathews says. "Of course, they turned out to be a fantastic group, and it was fun for me — while surreal for them — as they were [Hardware Wars] worshippers. Most of what they said in the studio was dialogue from the flick."

A few years ago, Mathews discovered the depth of his fan base when he did his first-and-only autograph session at a comic book convention in Hershey, Penn. "out of sheer curiosity."

"I didn't even have photos there to sign," Mathews recalls. "I just had Xeroxes of Fluke, you know, keeping it Hardware Wars style, but I was flabbergasted. The line was so crazy long and the fans were even more crazy into it all."

"I've signed more autographs for being Fluke than I have for anything I've done in music," Mathews reflects, sitting in the studio where he has produced platinum tracks by the likes of Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt.

"Fluke is the one who put himself out there. He was the guy and Scott Mathews is back in the studio, working the board."

As it says at the close of Hardware Wars, "May the Farce be with you." And the Farce is still strong with Mathews.

Editor's Note: The full name of Ernie Fosselius' band was The Final Solution...Is Love.

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