It’s a surprisingly common story: local band builds up a big regional following thanks to DIY recording and constant touring, gets discovered by a major label, signed, and before the album comes out the record company implodes and the band goes back to near obscurity.
What makes the story of New Jersey’s Rye Coalition so different—aside from the fact that this was a talented band that deserved a much larger audience—is that someone managed to film the band from the beginning, up to the signing and after. The doc was 20 years in the making. “Rye Coalition—The Story of the Hard Luck 5” would be a bummer of a film if the band wasn’t so damn practical and “shit happens” about their fate.
Rye Coalition came out of Jersey City in the mid-1990s, put out a few records on small indie labels, and started to get broader attention thanks to tours with Queens of the Stone Age and Mars Volta. They ended up signing with Dreamworks Records in 2003 and were slated to record an album with Dave Grohl producing. That dream was quickly snuffed out when the label fell apart. The band soldiered on, ultimately putting that record out by another indie label, but they haven’t released anything new since 2006. With any luck this film will be the start of the band’s second act.