by Jeff Brinn / Schwegweb.com
Back in the early eighties bands like Metallica and Slayer unleashed a furious sound that launched the birth of what has now become a staple of music that changed the face of heavy metal. Thrash music was born; influencing a whole new bread of metal bands that has now become the norm for heavy music as we know it. Veteran freelance television producer Rick Ernest has put together a documentary that covers the birth of thrash metal titled GET THRASHED. Rick has been involved with MTV Networks for nearly 10 years including helping producing such shows as HeadBangers Ball, The State, 120 Minutes and WWF/ WWE specials to name just a few. His documentary has been a dream of his and will see the light of day in mid 2004 showcasing this incredible scene. GET THRASHED will include a in depth look into the rise of thrash metal including interviews with such artists as Metallica, Slayer, In Flames, Death Angel, The Haunted, and Shadows Fall to name just a few. With his love of thrash metal so deeply rooted, Rick hopes to bring the respect to this genera that is so well deserved with GET THRASHED. Sschwegweb caught up with him during his final production to get a inside look into what is sure to become a classic film showcasing the powerful world of thrash metal.
Schwegweb: How did this film come about and have you wanted to do this documentary for awhile.
Rick E: I have always been a huge thrash metal fan and felt that many of my favorite bands have been over looked. When I’d see a show about eighties rock or metal, it was always about the glam bands and while some of the thrash bands have been given props over the years (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, etc), I don’t think any one has pieced together the bands, the fans, the scene and it’s influence on hard rock and metal over the years. One look around and you can hear thrash metals influence everywhere yet nobody mentions the words “Thrash Metal”.
Do you feel that this film will bring bands of this nature to the kids of the Nu-Metal genera that may not of heard of such metal acts?
I hope so. It always amazes me when I talk to a 15 year old who’s favorite band is EXODUS and he’s sporting a denim vest littered with patches of 80’s thrash bands. It’s usually a older relative or friend who turns them on to thrash, but it’s often a album like METALLICA’s “Black Album”, which is no way, shape or form a thrash album, but it’s reach was so large. You could not (and still cannot) avoid hearing tunes from that record. A lot of kids bought that cd and led them back to “Kill Em All” which led them to MEGADETH and on and on. I certainly hope this documentary can have the same effect on Nu-Metal fans.
Were the bands featured in GET THRASHED very cooperative with you and as well were they excited about having a film of this nature finally seeing the light of day?
Absolutely, but honestly I think I’m the one who’s more excited to meet them. Growing up, I couldn’t imagine getting the chance to hang out at Bobby Blitz’s house (OVERKILL vocalists) for the day. I would have killed to meet SLAYER and METALLICA. These were the bands I idolized so while the bands are stoked, I think I’m more excited then they are.
What are some of the most entertaining things you can remember about the Bay area thrash metal scene?
I grew up in New York so I would read stories about it in magazines such as Metal Forces and elsewhere. It seemed like such an incredible place for thrash and being a New Yorker, I would buy any album from a bay area thrash band and 99% of them were awesome; there was just something in the air out there that made these bands so good. Having filmed in the bay area and having hung out with fans, bands etc I can tell you I’m blown away by how tight knit the thrash community is out there. It in indescribably cool, amazing actually.
Did you have any problems getting in touch with some of the musicians during the filming and were there any surprises of what some of these artists are doing these days to make a living?
Thanks to the Internet it wasn’t too difficult to track down everyone. All most all of these bands have web sites and many of them have regular jobs. John of NUCLEAR ASSAULT is a roadie for the band THE BAND. Chuck Billie of TESTAMENT I believe is a truck driver. There are also roofers, construction workers amongst the thrash bands. I mean the fans, the bands, the music is so blue collar, you kind of expect these guys to have normal jobs. As all of them said, “You don’t play thrash to get rich”. They all still work to pay the bills, just like all of us.
Why do you personally think thrash music was such an important part of the history of metal music?
One look at MTV2’s Headbangers Ball or Fuse’s Uranium and all the music they are playing today and it is obvious that it is directly influenced by thrash. A lot of bands readily admit they grew up on and love thrash (SHADOWS FALL, LAMB OF GOD, CHIMAIRA) but it’s hard to imagine these bands getting the radio and TV airplay they get today without the thrash bands paving the way for them 20 years ago. Remember the first Headbangers Ball on MTV? We all waited up all night to see that one thrash metal band video and could have never dreamed that in 20 years every video would be insanely heavy. The new attitude and acceptance of heavy music, extreme metal, thrash or what ever you want to call it would have never happened with out the thrash bands breaking down the barriers.
Why do you think metal has always been so much more popular in Europe and do you have plans on distributing GET THRASHED overseas?
There are so many choices in the states that it can be overwhelming and hard for metal bands to cut thru all the crap out there. Some have blamed Americans short attention span. Maybe. I don’t know if I agree. In the U.S. I think pop and rap have money-making abilities beyond album sales and because of that, there is a huge marketing and media push behind those artists. If metal bands were able to sell soda, sneakers, boots, etc. (we would hate them!) then the main stream and corporate world would pay attention and promote the hell out of metal bands—– which would lead to greater album sales etc. Ultimately, the 1# reason in my opinion is that this music is not made for everyone. It’s not made to be mainstream and that’s why we love it so much. We do plan on releasing this Internationally.
What were some of the more memorable live shows you attended in the late 80’s and early 90’s?
I was out of town and missed METALLICA when they came around the first few times, but when I finally saw them on the Justice tour; it was nothing short of a religious experience. I was in the last row of the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y., but they were so powerful that it didn’t matter. My neck hurt for days. Seeing SLAYER on the South of Heaven tour and watching fans literally rip up the Felt Forum in N.Y. City. Seeing OVERKILL the first time with DESTRUCTION at Lamour in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Megaforce 5th anniversary was a good one too with OVERKILL, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, S.O.D., M.O.D. and others.
Did you feel a resurgence of metal bands getting back to more of a thrash sound?
Definitely. SHADOWS FALL, LAMB OF GOD, CHIMAIRA, MASTODON. We may not call them thrash anymore, but now more the ever—-thrash type music is back!
Did you receive a lot of help from fans getting together material for GET THRASHED and if so what material really stands out that represents this brand of metal?
There has been a great response from the thrash metal community and there has been a handful of fans that are still going above and beyond the call of duty. Most of the material we are still looking for are thrash fan photos that they shot, that they own. They are also the coolest things….to see bands thru the eyes of the fans eyes or see them hanging with thrash bands. That’s always my favorite.
Is there any one who you would like to thank?
Doug Sexton is the thrasher who told me your site really sucks, let me make it cool-and he did. Thanx Doug.