Well Now You're Here,
There's No Way Back
What do you think of when you think of Quiet Riot?
It could be any number of things, I know.
You might think of them as the band that started guitar god Randy Rhoads on his way, or you might think of them as the creators of the greatest heavy metal anthem of all time, "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)". Whatever you think of when you think of Quiet Riot, you can bet that it's addressed in this thoroughly entertaining and informative film.
Producer and director Regina Russell, who has since become drummer Frankie Banali's wife, approaches this like a Behind The Music episode that Scorsese And Tarantino talked about over a game of beer pong in a Brooklyn alley. The footage here is a hard-hitting treasure and the dialogue is raw, emotional and captivating. The film runs just 15 minutes shy of the two hour mark, and I found myself disappointed having to say goodbye.
As the film progresses through the band's history it welcomes you into the Quiet Riot family, especially band leader Frankie Banali's world. From watching him shop for groceries and spend time with his teenage daughter, to dealing with band pitfalls and personal issues, you get a direct line into the private life of Banali. This is an intense leader that has his emotions tattooed on his sleeve and the Quiet Riot legacy in his heart.
When the movie starts we find Banali telling the story of how he and famed Quiet Riot singer Kevin DuBrow talked and joked about belting out Quiet Riot anthems in the golden years, using walkers to reach the stage if need be. "He took that all away from me," says Banali, in reference to DuBrow's accidental overdose of cocaine in 2007. The subject of DuBrow and his death is a profound element in the band's history, which makes it a main focus in this film. But, before we get into DuBrow's rise and demise, we get a gripping in-depth look into the legacy of Randy Rhoads. Conversations with his brother and sister and talk about the very beginnings of Quiet Riot are brought forth, along with a great look into Rhoads' personal studio and boyhood home. Even the biggest Randy Rhoads fans that think they've seen and heard it all should find something to wrap their eyes and ears around here.
As we learn about the events leading up to DuBrow's death and the fallout that came after, one of the most crucial elements that makes the film work is the openness and frustration that we're shown from Banali. Like a brother that has lost a sibling, the hurt is extreme and very real; and showing Banali's anger, frustration, and vulnerability takes the film from intensely informational to painfully poignant. Banali isn't the only one that has his heart on display here, either. We hear from Glenn Hughes and DuBrow's longtime girlfriend Lark Williams, as well as others. The interviews with Hughes, Williams, and DuBrow's mother are intense, emotional and beautifully done.
Although Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back does have an abundance of dark elements, it also has an equal amount of guffaws and giggles. One of the most entertaining moments in the film is when we get to sit in on the actual audition footage of the singers that were brought in when Banali decided to reform the group. Some are average, some are better, and some are just downright funny. The film has no shortage of those Spinal Tap moments, either. Some of my favorite snickering comes when I watch bassist Chuck Wright (who I see as one of the best players in the world) having trouble with his rig just as the lights go down, or when he tries to explain that he plays bass on "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" to a fan that's had his head up his ass since 1983. (C'mon people. Know who plays on the music you listen to. Please. The artists deserve at least that much.) Another of my favorite moments comes when Banali narrates a rapid fire animation sequence that pokes fun at the amount of band members that have come in and out of Quiet Riot. The results are comical to say the least. And I must say that it is those times when my heart really warms up to this film. Seeing Banali being able to overcome all of the hurdles (and it's like the goddamn olympics, let me tell ya) and still be able to find some humor in the dysfunction tells me that he's going to be okay. And as a fan of the music, that's really what we want for our rockstars - we want them to be okay.
What you should learn from this movie if you didn't already know is that the band was instrumental in bringing metal music to the mainstream, especially in the 80's. You should also learn that Banali is one of the most intense, demanding, passionate, caring and loving rockstars on the planet. But perhaps what you should learn most of all, if you didn't already know, is that Chuck Wright played bass on "Bang Your Head"!!