Rye Coalition: Story of the Hard Luck 5 (DVD)

Paging Bad Luck Schleprock

In 1994, five ambitious and hardworking friends from Jersey City, New Jersey formed a rock band called Rye Coalition. For years they fearlessly played gigs wherever they could, gaining a small but loyal following. Finally their hard work paid off, resulting in a record deal with Dreamworks Records. The documentary Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck 5 covers the ups and mostly downs of a band as they ride the difficult road in search of music success.

A band that calls their one major label CD “Curses,” understands their fate better than most. Ralph Cuseglio, Jon Gonnelli, Dave Leto, Justin Morey, and Herb Wiley V, make up the hard working Jersey band Rye Coalition, and the documentary Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck 5 tells what happens to a garage band that almost makes it to the rarified air of rock stardom.

It isn’t a spoiler to reveal that Rye Coalition didn’t quite make it to the top, that’s evident in the fact that most of us have never heard of them. But this isn’t just some story about a so-so band who didn’t triumph in the music world, everything was pointing towards these guys being a massive success. But they were in the right place at the wrong time, and fame, often times a cruel mistress, turned tail and said adios.

Here’s what happened: After several years of touring and recording, Rye coalition ended up creating a lot of buzz with a 5-song EP entitled “On Top,” this caught the attention of several major labels. In 2003 they signed with Dreamworks Records, unfortunately it was at a time when music was going through a major upheaval; that same year, Universal Music Group bought the label. Eventually Universal shut down Dreamworks completely in 2004, leaving Rye with Interscope Records, a subsidiary of Universal, and a label that had no interest at all in Rye Coalition. It didn’t matter that the album was produced by Dave Grohl, former Nirvana drummer, and current member of The Foo Fighters, Interscope didn’t give a rat’s patootie about that. Still, they held Rye Coalition’s album hostage, demanding millions to turn over the rights. But after a long legal battle, Interscope finally relented and gave the band their music, free and clear. Whew!

Writer Director Jenni Matz does a great job of staying out of the way of the story, she allows the band to tell their own tale, without her own personal editorializing clouding the film. Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck 5, shows us the band from their early and auspicious beginnings, to their pinnacle. During the early days, they were a young group of marginally talented kids, with a whole lotta attitude. But as they matured, and the road got a bit rockier, they closed ranks and achieved the talent they always thought they had. At the end, the former cocky band seemed humbled, and even grateful for the experience.

“If everybody got a chance to see Rye Coalition play, they’d go again. And if they could find their records, they’d buy millions of them. These guys are bad-ass. And they can fucking smoke anybody.” –Dave Grohl

I think that says it all.

Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck 5 is a pretty decent 1.78:1 DVD transfer. Some of the footage was shot in the early 90s, so it isn’t the best quality, but that’s no big deal, it sets the mood for the time period very well. And interspersed with footage from today, makes for a pleasant viewing experience. The Dolby 2.0 audio, is fairly good when the music is highlighted, but far better suited for the spoken word. The extras are plentiful and include, several bonus featurettes, unreleased concert footage, and extended interviews and outtakes.

Like the great Rod Stewart once sang, “Some guys have all the luck, some guys have all the pain,” Rye Coalition are definitely the guys from the latter category. What this nicely done documentary shows however, is how one should handle the disappointment of a dream unachieved, it also proves that you can still come out of it with a positive attitude about life and music.

Not Guilty



Tech Specs

Rye Coalition: Story of the Hard Luck 5 (DVD) 2014, MVD Visual, 78 minutes, NR (2015)
VIDEO: 1.78:1     AUDIO:  Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
SUBTITLES: None      EXTRAS: Featurettes, Unreleased Concert Footage, Interviews and Outtakes      ACCOMPLICES: IMDB


  • Informative and entertaining
  • Did a nice job of showing the musical growth of the band.


  • Editing a bit choppy, making some parts hard to follow.
Alice is a stay-at-home wife and mother on the brink of insanity as she and her husband raise a brood of 3 overly emotional girls on a modicum amount of sleep, and even less peace and quiet. Having spent most of her life in the now bankrupt state of California, she and her husband moved to a place where the cotton's high and the livin' is easy, where a simpler way of life is king. With chickens to feed and projects to complete on property that has been in her husband's family for over 50 years. On top of that Alice cohosts a podcast called A Creative Mind where she narrates her flash fiction stories, as well as writing flash fiction stories for a literary journal called Short Fiction Break. Alice enjoys the little down time she manages to eke out each day to write and unwind. "Bad TV and awful movies make me mad," she said, and once you read her reviews you'll see exactly what she means by that.
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