Finally, “Hired Gun” the movie gets a proper release. “Hired Gun” is about the stars behind the stars. It originally debuted at South by Southwest in March of 2016. The one night showing in movie theatres was this past Thursday. The director for this movie was Fran Strine who also directed “Dolly Live in London at the O2 Arena.” What fans should pay attention to is the executive producer of this movie. Longtime Hired Gun himself, and now full fledged member of Five Finger Death Punch, Jason Hook spearheaded this project.
If you remember, a few years back there was a movie called “The Wrecking Crew.” It was about a group of session musicians in Los Angeles who pretty much played on everything between the late 1950s and all of the 1960s. They dedicated the movie to these session players. Fast forward to the present day. Things have changed (in many ways) in the music business. Icons like Alice Cooper, John Mellencamp and Billy Joel have surrounded themselves with world class musicians. This movie is about the plight of how a musician deals with being basically a hired gun and not an actual equal partner in the group.
Many musicians had different takes on how they were either satisfied or not with being in the background, like Liberty Devitto who was the longtime drummer for Billy Joel. Or someone like Hook, who strived for more and something to make his own and joined Five Finger Death Punch after stints with Mandy Moore, Hillary Duff and Alice Cooper. Or how artist P!nk treats her band like her family and how the band members are content playing under her moniker.
Many artists were interviewed, giving their stories of where they are and how they got there. Some of the interesting interviews were with bassist Jason Newstead and guitarist Rudy Sarzo. Newstead came out with a really true parallel when he was talking about himself and guitarist Brad Gillis (Night Ranger). Both had the unfortunate circumstance of replacing possibly the best at their craft. Bassist Cliff Burton and guitarist Randy Rhoads, who both tragically died while on tour and both Newstead and Gills were called upon to finish the tours with Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne, respectively. Both Newstead and Gillis shared their stories on what transpired. Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Rudy Sarzo also chimed in as he was in the band at the time Rhoads passed.
They interrupted the interviews and stories for some playing. Derek St. Holmes (formerly of Ted Nugent) and a few others were able to play “Just What the Doctor Ordered” and Phil X (Bon Jovi) and others played one of his original songs “Sunny Days.” It was a nice break for some playing.
What Richard Patrick (Filter) learned from his early days with Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), he now applies those practices to hires in his own band. They interviewed one of the former guys in his band, Phil Buckman, and he gave the realities of basically giving up the music business for a role, as in doing voice over work. Another reality was when Greg Upchurch (3 Doors Down) was taking odd jobs to make ends meat and ended up painting Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Matt Sorum’s house. He’s not an original member of the band so the movie shows Upchurch’s humility when he was confronted by Sorum during the job.
A few key points that I took away were some sayings. These were the “pros” before “pro tools.” Also, chemistry was a key word thrown around by just about everyone, especially Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie who were interviewed about the players they either had or currently have. For anyone who loves music and the creative process or is just a fan of music in general, this is a good movie to check out. Especially if you’re thinking about getting into the music business.
We would like to thank Corinne Zinkevicius from Fathom Events for the credentials to review the movie.