RYE COALITION - The Story Of The Hard Luck 5 {MVD} I was never much of a fan of this band outta New Jersey. I found their brand of DRIVE LIKE JEHU meets AT THE DRIVE-IN discord tinged with classic rock a bit of a non-starter. This 78-minute film hasn’t changed that opinion at all but, judging by some of the live footage in this film, the band was certainly an entertaining and combustible unit in the flesh.
The premise of the film is tried and tested: a band documentary dating back to the members’ formative years, through their first recordings, tours and onto a sour five-year hiatus after signing to a mega-major label. Unlike many documentaries however, RYE COALITION was fortunate to have director, Jenni Matz, document via film, over ten years of the band’s existence. With additional footage from the band members themselves, this does make for an interesting film even if the music leaves you nonplussed (like me).
The band followed the familiar Punk trajectory of releasing a demo, going on tour, making a record and, with them all coming from meager backgrounds and holding shitty day jobs, eventually deciding to do the band full-time. This lead them to work with Steve Albini (y’know - BIG BLACK.. SHELLAC).
It also lead them to signing with a serious major label - Dreamworks - and recording an album with an ever-enthusiastic Dave Grohl (y’know - SCREAM... NIRVANA... FOO FIGHTERS). It was at this point that the real hard luck kicked in as Dreamworks got sold off and bought up by Universal and all those in the RYE COALITION camp appear to have been made redundant. The recorded album languished in obscurity for two years before finally getting an understated release on Gern Blandsten Records. The succeeding tour saw the band splinter via grievances that only exist in a tour van, and eventually disappear for five years.
Throughout the film, we get plenty of live footage, interviews with the band and family members and notables like Grohl and Albini along with Tim Green (NATION OF ULYSEES), Jared Warren (MELVINS), Allison Wolfe (BRATMOBILE), Jon Thoedore (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) and Charles Maggio (RORSCHACH and Gern Blandsten Records) among others.
Matz laces all the footage together chronologically and, given the wealth of footage that is here, it’s interesting to see how the members of the band progress and mature as individuals.
The DVD is filled out with a whopping 16 extra scenes that include additional interviews, more live footage and further candid material of the band.
The film appears to have won a batch of awards too, from best Rock Documentary through to Best Local Film and a Best Director award for Matz.
As stated, the band didn’t do a lot for me, which meant that although the live material was powerful on initial viewing, it left me a bit bored on successive viewings. If one thing is to be learned by the film, and it’s something Albini advised the band, is the dangers of a grass-roots, DIY Punk/ Hardcore/ Alternative band jumping ship to a major label and becoming just a business commodity. (16.04.16)

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