By Rich Henrich
“If everybody got a chance to see Rye Coalition they’d go again. If they could FIND their records they’d buy millions of them. These guys are badass & they can f#@king smoke anybody.” Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Producer
CV Weekly will present two rock documentaries at AMFM Fest November 13-16th at the UltraStar Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City. Friday, Nov. 14th at 6:30 PM, Rye Coalition: the Story of the Hard Luck Five featuring Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal) will take to the silver screen with director/ producer/ editor, Jenni Matz in attendance for a Q&A. On Saturday, at 5:00 PM, the Quiet Riot story, Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back featuring Frankie Benali, the drummer of the band, will rock your heart in this personal tale of tragedy and triumph after the death of his best friend and lead singer, Kevin DuBrow.
I spoke with the filmmakers to get some insight into these two instant rock doc classics.
CVW: Who should come see this film?
Jenni Matz: Rye Coalition: the Story of the Hard Luck Five is a doc for anyone who has an artistic vision, or dreams of being in a band. And it’s a loud wakeup call that it’s not all sex, drugs and rock n roll. It’s hard work. It’s sacrifice. And there are a lot of bad times like vans breaking down and not getting paid and fights with your band mates and stuff getting stolen and playing to 3 people in a bar you drove 200 miles for. Many fans don’t realize how hard it is to make music, and make rent. These guys got eviction notices but still wanted to keep the band going, even when their albums didn’t sell and they were still playing the opening slot.
CVW: I recall hearing about this band several years ago. What’s their story?
JM: Rye started as one of the early bands to form the “emo” sound in the mid-90s. It’s not like “emo” is today– back then it was more dissonant, discordant melodies and Rye’s slant was called “Screamo” early on. They were often described as a cross between Jesus Lizard and AC/DC. They always had a rock-base, but were influenced by the hardcore scene in NY/NJ where they grew up, and by going to shows at Escapades in Jersey City and ABC no Rio (the few all-ages venues around at the time). So Jesus Lizard, Nation of Ulysses, Shellac informed their sound, as well as the classic rock they were raised on.
CVW: Films are hard, too. Why did you decide to make this doc?
JM: I have been filming them since 1998, and I suppose it’s less that I decided to make a doc, then a doc naturally unfolded as we grew up together. The movie has hit almost as many obstacles and “hard luck” as the band has– but I’m thankful it’s finally finished and getting recognition at film festivals like AMFM.
When I first started filming them– like a lot of people, I thought my friends’ band was the BEST BAND IN THE WHOLE WORLD and it was criminal that no one really knew who they were. So, I started filming every show and after-show not having any clue what I’d actually do with the footage. But in the decade since I’ve been working on the doc, it became about a lot more– about growing up, friendship, and the how the music industry has completely changed in the past 20 years. Their story epitomizes for me that AC/DC line — “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll.” While a lot of bands dream of “making it”– that is NOT what Rye Coalition was about. They never wanted to be famous or signed to a big label. They never had a “Gimmick” or a “look” that was going to get them signed. As one critic put it, they had more of an “anti-charisma”. Rye was not out to sell you on anything but a GOOD TIME. They just were five guys from Jersey who wanted to rock.
Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back tells another human side to rock and roll. After losing his best friend and band mate to a drug overdose, 80’s metal rock star Frankie Banali must forge ahead to conquer his loss, regain his life, and get the band back together one more time. This character-driven doc reveals an unforgettable man who uses ambition, adaptability, relentless determination and principle to navigate through a business, and a series of obstacles that are attempting to control his fate.
An unlikely and surprisingly personal narrative to conquer the loss of a friend emerges from an odyssey about the rise, fall and resurrection of an 80’s metal band. The career of Frankie Banali, drummer of Quiet Riot, took a major sideswipe when his singer and best friend Kevin DuBrow died in 2007. In 2010, and at a cross roads in his life, Banali has to pick up the pieces and make a new life for himself and his daughter. At times, both utterly tragic, and downright hilarious, the film follows him going through the emotional feat of trying to fill the void left by Kevin and get the band back together one more time.
“This film delivers something more human than myth-making that we can all relate to in some way…excels as a film about friendship, survival, responsibility and personal identity.” Film Threat
For complete details on AMFM Fest presented by Cathedral City go to www.AMFMfest.com and be sure to check out these films and more along with FREE music, art, panels, parties food trucks and beer gardens November 13-16th at Cathedral City Town Square and Closing Night Party at Schmidy’s Tavern. Tickets are available at UltraStar Mary Pickford Theatre Box Office.