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Each of the seven episodes are in the style of a different documentary, with the men often appearing as the same character at different ages. The younger versions are the subjects of the documentaries, and the older versions appear in interviews looking back decades later.
“You can’t beat Spinal Tap,” Hader, tells The Hollywood Reporter, dismissing the idea that they are taking their cues from iconic mockumentaries of the past.
Instead, they take inspiration from real-life projects like Vice’s hip documentary series and Alex Gibney‘s The History of the Eagles, which they honor with a look at a fictitious 70’s band.
“It really is specific filmmakers and specific documentaries,” says Hader. “We’re trying to make that very authentic.”
The creators cooked up the idea after they collaborated on a 2013 punk rock mockumentary for SNL. The musically inclined Armisen, who serves as band leader for Meyers’ Late Night, wrote an entire catalog of music for a fictitious 70’s band called the Blue Jean Committee, with help from a couple of musicians who joined him for the episode.
“A lot of people try to make music that sounds like the ’70s, but the danger is sounding like a 2000s version of the ’70s,” says Armisen. “There are little recording shortcuts and stuff that make recording today easier. So we really had to record it slowly to really make it sound right. I thought I was going to deliver seven songs in a weekend, and that’s just not going to happen.”
Armisen also stars on the IFC comedy Portlandia. However, he isn’t worried about Documentary Now! encroaching on that territory even though it was preemptively renewed for two more seasons on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s premiere.
“Portlandia is an ongoing series,” says Armisen. “This is like a solo album, even though it’s with Bill — it has the qualities of a fun side project.”
Documentary Now! premieres Thursday at 10 p.m.
Check out an exclusive clip of the show below:
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