“Check, check.” A guitar tech hurries across the stage. He chooses an instrument, strums, and listens. He seems pleased; his job is done. He shuffles off into the wings. The house lights dim and the crowd surges forward. Moments ago the crowd was loud and boisterous; now, they are hushed. United in anticipation, they fall silent. Its a special brand of reverence saved up for this once in a lifetime event. Together they praise the gods of rock and roll. Together they experience the show. The band takes the stage. The lights pulse, the drums kick, the bass pumps, the guitar wails, and the singer croons; its magic. There is a sweaty goodbye and the fans are left with an unforgettable night. They go home, forever changed.
But what happens next for the band?
Is it a whirlwind of lavish parties hosted by the strange and the beautiful? Is it basking in the adoration of their groupies? Or, more likely, is it that they have to argue with a club owner to get paid? Perhaps, they have to drive another eleven hours on their own dime to make it to the next show, just to earn enough money to do it again? Is it broken down vans? Is it justifying your life choices to friends and family while dealing with the very real problems that come with an unsteady income and uncertain future? Truly, the reality of being in a band is far different than the average fan would imagine: It involves dedication, passion, and the road.
Why do it when so many people are telling you the odds are stacked against you. “Cut your hair. Get a job. It’s never going to happen.”
In 2012, musician/director Rob Montague set out to answer the question, “Why do I play music?” Interviewing musicians from varying levels of the business and following alt/rock band, Grizfolk; independent singer/songwriter, David Ramirez; and doom metal favorites, The Sword across two continents. The result is the feature length documentary, Long Way To The Top. Three years in the making, Long Way to the Top is a story about the trials and tribulations of working musicians, with heavy emphasis of life on the road. From unexpected tour line-ups, to unforgiving weather, the undying love of their fans, to their unsympathetic landlords; Long Way to the Top presents an uncompromising, behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it is really like being a career musician in our modern era.
Produced by Late Morning Films, Long Way to the Top features interviews from members of Grizfolk, The Sword, David Ramirez, Taking Back Sunday, The Big Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Crosses, Def Leppard, Limp Bizkit, Hal Sparks, Filmstrip, Meiko and more. Music by David Ramirez, Grizfolk, and Herzog.
‘Long Way to the Top’ is now streaming on Red Bull TV and has screened at the 39th Annual Cleveland International Film Festival, Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, Skyline Indie Film Festival, NewFilmmakers LA (Los Angeles Premiere and nominated for Best Documentary of 2015) and won Best Rock Documentary at the Albuquerque Film Festival.