“Attack of Life - The Bang Tango Movie” is the brainchild of director Drew Fortier and chronicles the rise and fall of 80’s hairband Bang Tango. I recently conducted an interview with Drew about the film and here’s what he had to say:
Rock N Roll Experience: What initially made you choose Bang Tango as a documentary subject?
Drew Fortier: Actually I Didn't choose Bang Tango, Bang Tango chose me lol.
I was bartending at a club on the southside of Chicago, and Bang Tango played there. I remember Joe from Beautiful Creatures so was very excited about it. I happened to have a video camera in my hand that night and Joe came up to me and said "Hey duuuude... first off.... know where I can find some weed?" I unfortunately shot him down on that one. Then he says "Thats cool... whats that in your hand???" I says "...a Camera, Joe" he goes "Oh thats awesome man! We're recording in Chicago in a few weeks, would you want to come down and maybe shoot a studio documentary??" I was suprised and excited and agreed. Had a great time that night too. My brother was there and told Joe that I played guitar in a Zeppelin tribute band and Joe demanded I get onstage and play "Bring it On Home" with them. Joe didnt realize the rest of the band werent too familiar with the song so after the intro, when the band kicks in, it was a train wreck, but a fun train wreck lol. We drank copius amounts of alcohol that evening too. Thus began my friendship with Bang Tango.
Then myself and best friend and now producer of the project Joe Placzkowski were at Johnny K's Groovemasters studio constantly during the recording of that album. Then Joe would talk about the original guys from Bang Tango, and the long lost Love After Death album. That intrigued me, I got ahold of Mark Knight, and he agreed to do an interview, and got me in touch with the other original guys and the project went from a Studio Documentary for the Pistol Whipped in the Bible Belt album to a full on Rock Doc. Became good friends with everyone involved. Its been a wild ride!
Rock N Roll Experience: Watching the film you can see the different sides of Joe Leste; how did Joe come off to you as a person?
Drew Fortier: Joe is a very unique individual. I love him to death. He actually is the only one who hasnt seen the film yet. His band loves it, The original guys love it. But Joe is a lot of fun to be around, he always had me laughing and having a great time. Hes a good guy with a big heart but has trouble expressing himself sometimes and can come across badly. But the way I see it in the film, Its more so a movie than a documentary, because its very character driven. You see Joe unfold before your very eyes throughout the movie. And in the end, your either rooting for him for being the guy holding his dream together, or you think hes just an ass. Thats the beauty of it. Its all up to the viewer how he comes across. But I love the man. Sometimes. lol.
Rock N Roll Experience: Did you try to get Randy Jackson to appear in the film?
Drew Fortier: I actually did try! Theres such a weird and strong barrier between normal folk like us and celebrities. I couldn't make contact, but would have been great to get Randy in the movie. Im sure he would have had some entertaining things to say about the band to say the least!
Rock N Roll Experience: Was the 4 years you spent creating this film 4 good years of your life or 4 bad years?
Drew Fortier: They were the best and worse years of my whole life to tell you the truth.
Here's a quick rundown... from 2011-2015
First off I had over 400 hours of footage from the Tango movie to go through, so already had a TON of weight on my shoulders with that, especially with taking on the task of editing the whole thing myself as my vision.
So... with that said... Got married in Vegas, after knowing a girl few months. Ended up not working out, ended up having a stress heart attack, Got divorced. Became homeless, I moved into the basement of the bar I was working at at the time. Became an alcoholic. Reconnected with my Highschool Sweetheart. Got Sober. Moved in together. She gave me the motivation to actually start working on the movie, so without her, I think this movie would still be just a bunch of footage on a hard drive. I get her pregnant, We have the happiest 9 months of our lives. I got myself into hardcore editing mode to finish the movie before our son was born. I managed to get a Rough Cut together. Then We end up losing the baby due to our doctor screwing up terribly. Lost our son full term. Doctor wouldnt schedule us ultrasounds for my wife for reasons still unknown. She also wanted to schedule a C-Section but the doctor wouldn't let her. For reasons unknown. We were first time parents so we trusted our doctor. Only had one ultrasound done the whole time. Along with a lot of other screw ups from the Doctor that lead to what happened. But I won't go into that. Could write a whole book on that.
Our son passed from a True Cord Knot. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice, under his arm and in a knot. Which would have been caught had the Doctor given us the ultrasounds we requested. But once again, we were first time parents and trusted our Doctor. But it was the Hardest day of our lives. We got to hold him. He was beautiful. Theres no describing the feeling as a parent holding your deceased child. Darkest day of me and my wife's life. We had a wake for him and everything. I dedicated the film to him at the end of the credits as well.
So life went on for us. Wife and I had a stronger bond than ever. Scars like that never heal, but we learned how to live again. But I didn't know how to grieve something like that, so I went downhill mentally, I ended up checking myself into a Psyche Ward to get the help I needed.
I got the help I needed, got out, felt good about life again. Finished the movie, and here I am now.
A lot of people were curious why the movie took so long to make, but there are the answers right there. The editing process was so overwhelming but I somehow managed to make it happen with motivation from my amazing wife and beautiful son.
But I don't want to keep your readers depressed, so I will share a few fun stories from the past 4 years.
So this is from the day before we lost our son, Wife and I drive up to Michigan from Chicago to shoot a new ending for the Tango Movie. Tango were playing Pine Knob, which is a huge amphitheater, with Dio Disciples, Great White, and Queensryche.
So my wife is in the dressing room and a bit bored, and she wanted to play a prank on one of the rock stars. Note my wife is 9 months pregnant at this point. So Joe Leste' grabs one of the vocalists from the other bands, tells him that this girl needs to speak to him in the dressing room. Joe brings him in, and the singer goes "Oh her there! I remember You!!" (He had never met my wife before so it was already getting comical) and my wife goes "Well I sure hope you remember me..." she stands up to show that shes pregnant... "This is yours!" The guy absolutely drained of all color. It was classic. Then we all bust out laughing. It was a legendary prank. So one thing we'll always have is that our son got to play a prank on a rockstar!
Another good Bang Tango story. Hmmm.
Okay, so Bang Tango were opening up for Whitesnake in Kansas City in I believe 2011. I went with my friend/producer Joe Placzkowski. This story actually happened the night before we got there. Tango had a day off in Kansas City the day before the Whitesnake gig. Scott Laflamme was in Bang Tango at the time, and bassist Lance Eric is notorious for playing pranks.
So they all decide to go out drinking, throughout the day Lance is telling Scotty how the Hotel theyre staying at is haunted etc. So while Scotty and everyone else is at the bar, Lance goes up to Scotty's room and turns the TV on static, turns on all of the faucets, the bathtub, moves furniture around etc.
Then a wasted Scotty goes up to his room and starts to absolutely FREAK OUT. Keep in mind, he is 3 sheets to the wind and is convinced his room is haunted at this point. So he starts yelling "I BANISH YOU!!!" "EVIL SPIRITS I BANISH YOU FROM MY ROOM!!" and pretty much starts performing an exorcism on his hotel room. Also note: Whitesnake were staying at the same Hotel.
So a big burly security guard gets called to his room and tries to get Scotty under control "Sir, your going to have to shut the fuck up!!" Finally everything gets calm, and thankfully Whitesnake did not find out about the incident. But a great prank none the less.
I have TONS of stories with these guys. With the current line up and original line up. I may actually write about about all these experiences. It has been an INSANE 4 years.
Rock N Roll Experience: Was there alot of footage you couldn't use for the movie & will there eventually be a "Directors Cut" with extra scenes & outtakes?
Drew Fortier: Oh yes, TONS of footage. about 400 hours worth. I definitely plan on a Director's cut of the movie. There will also be a "Where Are They Now" featurette on the DVD as well as another featurette talking about the 30 plus members of the band throughout the years, the original Studio Documentary for the Pistol Whipped in the Bible Belt recording sessions, and Also a documentary on Mark Knight's new band will be included. Along with tons of deleted scenes. Its going to be a JAM PACKED DVD. At least 2 discs. For anyone interested in the movie, fan or not, it will be one of the most satisfying DVD experiences. Your going to feel like your hanging with these guys while going through all of the features.
Rock N Roll Experience: Joe told me the last time he was in Maryland that he had no clue why you were making a movie on Bang Tango and that he had no knowledge of the project in all honesty. Was Joe telling me the truth?
Drew Fortier: I remember that! I was so pissed when I saw that on metal sludge! lol!
Joe actually called me up the next day and apologized and said he didn't remember saying those things. Joe has been involved with the movie from the start and has been behind the project 100%. Ive spent ALOT of time with Joe and his band the past 4 years. With a camera in hand nonetheless. Ive been on tour with them a few times for the movie. So bottom line. Joe has always been involved with the movie, has always been behind me with the movie, and has obviously always known about the movie. After all, he was the one that wanted me to do a documentary in the first place! lol. But like I said before, Joe has a hard time expressing himself sometimes, but he truly is a loveable guy to be around. But like with anybody, he goes through his moods. I should have called the movie "50 Shades of Joe"! lol.
Rock N Roll Experience: Was there any particular reason Joe would not talk about Beautiful Creatures?
Drew Fortier: No reason in particular, I think he just genuinely wanted to stick to Bang Tango questions.
Rock N Roll Experience: How come Joe never spoke of drug use during his interviews?
Drew Fortier: As far as I know, Joe was never into hardcore drugs. He always enjoyed his drinks and weed which you see in the film. He still gets butterflies before gigs and the weed definitely calms him down.
Rock N Roll Experience: Out of the 5 original members of Bang Tango, who was the easiest to work with?
Drew Fortier: Oh man. I love them all. They are all unique characters. I'd have to say all of them really.
Mark Knight is such a great guy, and friend. He has his band Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes which is featured in the movie. Its him, Tigg Ketler (Original Bang Tango Drummer) Mark Tremalgia (Also former Bang Tango Guitarist) and Reeve Downes (Bass Player form Rhino Bucket) and the band absolutely kicks ass. Ive done a few music videos for them as well. The "Sink Your Teeth Into" video is my most favorite thing I have ever shot and edited, Check it out!! Amazing song too! But Mark really helped with this movie, with getting into contact with everybody etc.
Mark Tremalgia is an amazing dude as well, aside from being a previous member of Bang Tango and being in Mark Knight's new band, he has a band now called Disreputable Few, who actually have an album coming out soon. They were the backing band for Billy Gibbons, Slash, Billy Duffy, Richie Sambora etc. for that Adopt The Arts show that happened in January in honor of Billy Gibbons and Butch Trucks.
Kyle Kyle is another amazing dude. The only member of Bang Tango I have yet to meet in person, but we speak on the phone all the time for hours. Hes been a huge help with the movie as well. Truly a funny and great guy. He has a new band called Mona Lisa Overdrive that absolutely kicks ass as well. Definitely be on the look out for them. They have a video out called "Living Without You" Check it out!
Tigg Ketler is absolutely one of a kind. When he gets you alone and starts talking, they call it "Tiggology" because he just goes off for hours with all of these great stories and jokes. I love that guy, and always love hanging with them. One of the funniest and funnest people I've met through this whole thing.
Kyle Stevens is just a super cool down to earth guy. He has a great straight forward dry sense of humor that is absolutely classic. All of these guys truly do have an amazing sense of humor. I love to laugh so I guess thats why I get along with these dudes so well. But Kyle is awesome and helped out alot with the movie too, he mailed me some great old school Tango footage and photos that is shown throughout the film.
And then there's Joe, I can never find the right words to describe him... maybe I just have to make one up? Wonky. Joe is a very Wonky fella lol. I love him to death though.
And as for the newer members, I absolutely love Rowan Robertson. Such a great and talented guy. Lance Eric, and Timmy Russell are great dudes as well. Not to mention Trent Anderson, who played a major role in Tango when he was with the band. He has a great business mind and really pulled together some great stuff for them while he was in the band. Scotty Laflamme of course is great as well.
Rock N Roll Experience: Do you have any plans to make another documentary on another 80's hair metal band?
Drew Fortier: Ive been getting offers from many other 80's hair metal bands to do a documentary on them, But I didnt want to become the "80's Hair Metal Documentary Guy". I have decided to go in a completely different direction and began to pursue bands from a different genre. I have one documentary project lined up for sure, But I can't say who it is yet. Also I have another one that is more likely than not going to happen. But I will say this, people will be very happy and very surprised when they find out who I will be working with next.