Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back

Directed by Regina Russell, Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back is a documentary film about the 1980s heavy metal band Quiet Riot as it parallels with drummer Frankie Banalli’s attempt to restart the band following the death of vocalist Kevin Dubrow in December of 2007. The film explores the band’s rise-and-fall during the 1980s as it features interviews with former bassist Rudy Sarzo as well as individuals like Glenn Hughes, former Guns N’ Roses drummers Steven Adler and Matt Sorum, Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider, and other individuals in the heavy metal community about the and its impact. The result is an entertaining and heartbreaking film from Regina Russell.

In 1983, Quiet Riot became the very first heavy metal band to score a number one album in U.S. album charts with their major-label debut release Metal Health as it beat the likes of such superstars like Michael Jackson and the Police at that time. In that moment, record companies shifted their focus from new wave acts to the glam metal bands that were emerging in Los Angeles like Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella, and many others at that time. While Quiet Riot’s success was brief, the impact the band made during the 1980s was unquestionable as the documentary isn’t about the band’s history but also the attempt by drummer Frankie Banalli to revive the band following vocalist Kevin Dubrow’s death in December of 2007 of a drug overdose. Especially as Banalli hadn’t played drums since the death of the man he called his best friend as he not only copes with that loss but also the question into playing those songs again.

The film also explores the band’s complicated history where the band began in the early 1970s with Dubrow as the vocalist as the original line-up featured Randy Rhoads on guitar who would leave the band in 1980 to play with Ozzy Osbourne for two classic albums before his own untimely death in 1982. It was when Dubrow met Banalli in 1980 where the two would revive Quiet Riot even though the band never got any major record deals in the U.S. until 1983 with guitarist Carlos Cavazo and bassist Rudy Sarzo in the line-up. Just as the band rose through songs like the title track to Metal Health and a cover of Slade’s Cum On Feel the Noize. The band would implode in the coming years due to Dubrow’s jealousy of other bands coming in and getting record deals and success immediately following the band’s own success where Dubrow was fired in February of 1987 where he was replaced by Paul Shortino for a while where the band disbanded two years later.

It was in the early 1990s where Dubrow and Banalli would resurrect their friendship as they would play in various incarnations of the band throughout the 1990s and early 2000s where the band did finally achieve stability in the form of guitarist Alex Grossi and bassist Chuck Wright as the latter had been part of the band’s revolving door for years. Yet, Banalli would have a challenge in reforming the band after Dubrow’s death as there isn’t just a sense of conflict over the fact that he wants to play those songs and honor is friend. It’s also in the fact that he has a hard time really dealing with the fact that his friend died of a drug overdose and left him to pick up the pieces with the support of friends such as Dee Snider and former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes as Grossi and Wright join Banalli in reforming the band. The search for a vocalist was difficult as Mark Huff was chosen though Banalli would struggle into the idea of replacing his friend as he would get advice from former bandmate Sarzo about what Banalli needed to do.

Regina Russell doesn’t make her presence known as she’s seen off-camera and only speak briefly when talking to the people in the film as she knows when to not to use any close-ups while keeping thing simple to play into not just Banalli’s own personal life but also into the look of Quiet Riot and their history. With the help of cinematographer Skye Borgman, Russell interviews not just former band members and associates plus friends like Eddie Trunk and Don Jamieson of That Metal Show about the band. Editor Kelly McCoy does great work in not just capturing many of the footage of the band’s history but also in some of their humiliating moments such as playing a nudist colony music festival in 2000 with the kind of people no one should see in the buff.

Along with contributions from sound designer Cameron Frankley, the film manages to play into the way the music sounds as well as the struggles of the band’s first shows with Huff who would forget some lines to some of the songs as it led to his own departure and eventual replacement by Scott Voukoun who would then be replaced by Jizzy Pearl. Music supervisor Maryam Soleiman does fantastic work in not just compiling the music of the band but also the other music that was around in that time as the glam-metal scene of the 80s represented an idea of people just having a good time as these bands are still playing as long as there’s an audience there that is willing to hear those songs.

Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back is an excellent film from Regina Russell about Quiet Riot and Frankie Banalli’s willingness to revive the band. It’s a film that isn’t just heartfelt and enjoyable with its comical and sad moments but also plays into a man trying to do what he loves and honor his best friend in the most awesome way. In the end, Well Now You’re Here, There’s Now Way Back is a marvelous film from Regina Russell.

© thevoid99 2015


m.brown said...

Great post! As I grew up with brothers who worshipped Quiet Riot, Maiden and GNR, I feel damn near obligated to see this.

Sounds very compelling, too.

thevoid99 said...

It is if you're into that kind of music as it is also quite accessible if you're not into metal. It's better than I thought it would be as it's quite entertaining at times.