It’s a sadly familiar story:  a hard-working band performs works their way to a major label deal only to have the rug pulled out from under them and…  nothing.  It’s been told so many time.  Rye Coalition, who hail from Jersey City, New Jersey were all friends from an early age when they decided to form a band.  These five teens starting playing anywhere and everywhere they could on the strength of a demo cassette (remember those?).  Never earning enough money to constitute a living wage, they nonetheless toured relentlessly, released several independent singles and albums (culminating with On Tap, produced by Steve Albini) and built a loyally rabid following.  At a point when spirits were starting to fray, they wind up getting an opening spot with Queens Of The Stone Age.  This leads to a contract with Dreamworks Records and Dave Grohl signs on to be their producer.  The culmination of everything this band has worked for comes to…  nothing.  In typical music business shenanigans, Dreamworks is bought out and dissolved by Universal and Rye Coalition’s album doesn’t see the light of day.

There’s more to this story, but see this documentary from producer/director Jenni Matz.  It’s not as sad a story as say Badfinger’s or Big Star’s, but it’s powerful and poignant because you see the dedication and drive the band has/had.  And it’s such a sickeningly deja-vu tale.  Some very funny moments; certainly, the individual band members have personality and by virtue of the footage available, it’s a very interesting glimpse into a truly underground/home-made do it yourself movement.  As the press release says, “somehow, these Jersey rockers ever got their due.  Until now.”

I would agree with that sentiment.

Rye Coalition – The Story Of The Hard Luck 5 is available now on DVD


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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