THE STORY OF THE STORY OF THE HARD LUCK FIVE
Essentially rock and roll is always the story of people who want to play music. Motivations arise and change over time, but it all comes down to that feeling of people in a room on an instrument they have chosen (possibly mastered) playing the music that bonded them throughout the sordid narrative of a chosen collective. The details never really seem to matter more than the catalog, the only thing that makes a biography worth investing in, is the life itself. We hope to watch a documentary or reading an auto or biography to get clues into the music, sometimes it is the people, but most times, it is them, the music, the relevant only because of the quality of the work.
“There were about 20 stories that I wanted to tell, and the first cut of this documentary was four 20and half hours long, so I had to narrow it down: is this story about being in an emo hardcore band in the mid 90s, is this is a story about, you know, growing up, is this a story about the music industry and how it fucks young bands, that happens more often than not, the dangers of major labels, “ comments documentarian Jenni Matz, “The story really came together in the editing, and also they did the reunion show is 2011, and that was really the focal point for me, this is really the story about best friends who just wanna make music, and everything else was kind of ancillary to that.”
Rye Coalition was a dynamic band from Jersey City. They were a band where the adjective “kick ass” was aptly applied. They began in the mid 90’s and made it to the early 2000s, They were pre-internet, pre- YouTube, they were of a time, where bands, many who went on to play the stadiums and larger venues of today, played gymnasiums, houses, and recreational centers, toured the country to play to either 14 or 100 depending on the city, and slept on the floors and in the vans that transported them. Still, as a witness to that scene, Rye Coalition were consistently amazing and ofcourse within the trajectory of how that worked at that time, the band slowly got bigger, important people took notice (Dave Grohl), futures were considered, deals were signed (Dreamworks who sold them to Universal who was was bought out by Interscope, who funded their major label recording then dropped them) and shit fell apart from there. Still, because this was before the age of today the story of this band would go largley unknown were it not for Jenni Matz and her film “Rye Coalition: The Story of The Hard Luck Five (to be released on DVD January 13th).
“The goal initially was just to make more people aware of them because I thought they were the greatest band ever, and couldn’t believe more people didn’t know about them, so it seemed criminal that there wasn’t a platform, people who were of that scene and grew up in that scene (when the band was active) would have known about them, but honestly couldn’t conceive in any way that it wouldn’t have gotten the attention that it’s gotten (Winner of Best Documentary-New Jersey International Film Festival, Best Documentary- Kingston Film Festival), I really thought the fans would find and seek it out, it was made, mostly, for the fans, and I figured the couple hundred or so people that have kept up with the band over the years would hear about it, but it’s gone on to get into these festivals and people are receiving it on a broader level who maybe didn’t know, had never heard of that scene, weren’t from that scene, and are just relating to it now, is bigger than I could’ve hoped for.
The film tells the story of the band through mostly band shot footage (Matz had to comb through almost 400 tapes, yes VHS tapes, many that had been recorded over with things like Ren and Stimpy episodes), interviews with contemporaries - Jon Theodore (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) Steve Albini, Tim Green (Nation Of Ulyssess, The Fucking Champs), Jared Warren (Melvins)- and footage from tours. It tells the story of the band, but really illuminates the story of rock n’ roll and all its bumps and briuses. How many of us would have never known about some amazing band if it were not for stumbling upon some article or random video, a discovery that would have been impossible without the will of one willing to track down the band or tape a show and post it, or write some expository piece, making their legacy attainable, not erased by time or technology, or circumstance, allowing the music, the spirit to live on, so many bands of pre digital era, who only put out 400 records on a label that dissolved, or didn’t make it to the Facebook age, have vanished, Rye Coailtion will not be one of those bands thanks to Matz.
”They’ve been through some really tough times more, well maybe not more , than other bands, ,they’ve been through some really bad stuff that a lot of bands go through, a lot of bands get dropped, a lot of bands have financial trouble, van breakdowns by the side of the road, have members die, they’ve had more than maybe a concentrated share, over a greater amount or period, and everyone I interviewed was like, I couldn’t tell you another band that had this much hard luck that stayed together, and never like, made money, and it’s like what else were they doing it for? And the simple answer is they love each other and they wanted to play music, and I just thought that was a special story that anybody that’s in band, or starting a band, or does art on any level, for a living, can get something out of on that level, because it’s hard work, and you have to persevere and you really got to sacrifice a lot to do it. And if it’s not your choice, if it’s not your choice to be in band you just have to do it, then that’s what it is.”