|Rat Skates - Rat Skates: Born In The Basement [DVD]
It seems that 2007 will finally be that long-awaited year of the thrash revival, having witnessed a whole slew of re-releases, the reunion effort by Onslaught and the documentary Get Thrashed: The Story Of Thrash Metal which is being shown across the US to much critical acclaim.
Get Thrashed was produced by Kundrat Productions which now brings us Rat Skates: Born In The Basement. The man behind Kundrat Productions is none other than Lee Kundrat who is better known as Rat Skates; one of the founding members of Overkill.
Born In The Basement can be seen as an hour long interview with Rat Skates on the days before and early days of Overkill till the moment he leaves the band. The first thing that struck me when watching this was that this would have been a great supplement as bonus material to Get Thrashed since it delves deep into the do-it-yourself ethics of the early years of thrash.
Before Rat joined forces with Get Thrashed's Rick Ernst he already had plans for making a documentary on the thrash scene. But the concept of Born In The Basement really took off when as Rat states: "I had started to assemble a bonus piece for Get Thrashed on the "DIY" element of our movement, but after about five seconds I realised that it would need to be its own feature to be meaningful...it really hit home with me on how this all started as a DIY effort for everyone involved...and I mean EVERYONE; the musicians, the DJ's, the journalists, even the record companies. We all had to re-invent and re-think everything, because we were all breaking new ground...music this extreme had never been done before, and no one was successful with it yet, so we really had nothing to compare it to. We were all networking our stuff in the same underground, which is why we endured as a community. It was awesome: making flyers and cassette covers on the library copying machine, silk-screening our own shirts, putting our stickers on toll booths, and using milk crates for everything you could imagine...it was a really fun time, because we had no roadmaps or guidance, and we were just kids. It was our absolute fanaticism for what we were doing that broke Thrash, the mainstream pretty much ran from us. Our "DIY" attitude wasn't just an interesting highlight or footnote of Thrash, it was EVERYTHING...it's the core of the evolution, the single most significant driving force that was an off-stage extension of our music"
Born In The Basement not only focuses on this aspect of the early thrash movement but also on Rat's inner and outer struggles with the whole music business at the time which eventually made him decide to stop playing altogether. Rat, being the great narrator he is, never for a single moment loses your interest when telling first about the days in the punk band The Lubricunts and later on in Overkill, first as a cover band and later on as the thrash band it has become famous as. The great thing is that here we truly see the influence of punk on the thrash movement but also how thrash moved away from that punk influence eventually.
With all the anecdotes Rat tells it does come across as a bit of Spinal Tap at times, especially when he talks vividly about milk-crate drum risers (which somehow reminds me of the infamous Stonehenge scene) and brain-washing girlfriends.
Except for the, just over an hour, main feature on Rat Skates this DVD also contains some great never before seen or heard bonus material. Such as an interview piece with Robert Pisarak "Riff Thunder", the oft forgotten founding guitarist of Overkill who finally gets the recognition he deserves here.
Also featured are Billy Vector (vocalist of The Lubricunts), "Rock Pipeline" - television broadcast from 1984, "Escape From Stalag 13" - aborted documentary from 1986, radio interviews - audio highlights from 1986, some deleted scenes.
And finally the entire documentary again but now with directors commentary, thoughts, stories and analysis. This part is at times even more interesting and insightful on the thought processes of Rat and his vision of it all.
To top it all off all of this can be viewed with subtitles in French, Spanish, or German for those who do not understand any English.
In conclusion: anyone interested in thrash's early days and the DIY ethics behind it all should get a hold of Rat Skates: Born In The Basement as soon as possible. People who lived through that era will come across a lot they will recognise. This is a great historical document which, like I said before, is a great supplement to Get Thrashed A little warning is in order though: Please do not expect a lot of music to be featured. For me personally this was totally not a problem since Rat speaking was captivating enough.
The DVD can be purchased immediately at www.ratskates.com/buy_it.htm