As a member of The Morning After Girls, EJ Hagen knows firsthand what it's like to tour full-time with a band.
Now, thanks to a friend, everyone can get an intimate look at the group and their quest for success.
“Alone in North America," a short film, debuted at the CBGB Music & Film Festival on Oct. 9 in New York City.
“We've always had people traveling around with us while we're touring, shooting video," Hagen says. “The film is mostly footage of the band performing and some of it’s footage from the band members themselves that they took on their iPhones."
Hagen, who says he's usually the band's driver and hasn't shot much of the footage, says director David Hilbert took life on the road and turned it into a story.
Press materials for the movie bill it as a case study in “break-ups, break-downs, departures, arrivals and deportations."
The latter is particularly accurate, Hagen says, because half of the band — the founding members — are currently living in their native Australia.
“They used up their visas and aren't in the U.S. right now," he says.
Original members Martin Sleeman and Sacha Lucashenko, both on guitar and vocals, formed the band in 2003.
Five years later, they connected with Hagen, a Lancaster native, in New York City.
“In the music scene, people know of each other within a certain realm of music," he says. “When these guys relocated from Australia, they lost two of their members who didn't want to move to America."
Hagen joined the band as bass player. Alex White joined on keyboards and John Brodeur fills in regularly as drummer, with a few other guys also drumming from time to time.
The band members bonded over their love of late '80s and early '90s British pop music.
“We became fast friends," Hagen says.
The Morning After Girls play all original music, which Hagen describes as “neo psych" music. "It's a new version of psychedelic," he says.
The group has toured all over the world and, although they all get along well, Hagen says a life on the road can be filled with drama, some of which might be captured in the film.
“When you spend months on the road together, you're going to have ups and downs," he says.
The description of the movie also says the band “found themselves on the wrong side of the law," but Hagen declines to elaborate on the details.
Hagen, a graduate of McCaskey, isn't working full time with the band right now, but instead holds a day job at Kratos-Lancaster.
He's waiting for the guys to get back to the U.S. while the band works on material for a new album.
When he learned that “Alone in North America" had been made and would be featured at the CBGB festival, Hagen says he was surprised.
“I was like, ‘You made a movie?' " he laughs. “I just thought maybe it would be something on a website or something people could view on YouTube. I didn't expect the festival."
Hagen was scheduled to attend the film premier and host an audience Q&A session afterward. In addition to his film, another Lancaster-based movie, “Mount Joy," was also scheduled to debut on the same day at the festival.
In its third year, the CBGB Music and Film Festival was held Oct. 8 to 12. It featured narratives, documentaries, concert films and shorts, plus music-themed art exhibits, industry talks, concerts, comedy performances and more. Rocker Billy Idol served as keynote speaker.
The first year, the festival drew 200,000 fans, while 300,000 attended last year, Hagen says.
“I wouldn't be surprised if 400,000 people attend this year," he says, and he's hoping the movie creates interest in the band that will help them get back on the road.
"It would be really good if the guys could get their visas and come back to the United States," he says. "We're trying to get new stuff ready and getting ready for that to happen."
For more on the festival, visit cbgbfestival.squarespace.com.
For more about The Morning After Girls, visit themorningaftergirls.com.