Released: 2007, Kundrat
The history of Overkill is long and sordid. The history of thrash metal is even longer, and even more sordid. BORN IN THE BASEMENT is the genesis story of both of these metal institutions, told by the guy who was there from the beginning: original Overkill drummer, Rat Skates (Lee Kundrat). Sure, Rat has been gone from Overkill longer than he was with the band, but he was there during the most important, fledgling years of the band, and their chosen genre.
BORN IN THE BASEMENT is the story of the early years of American thrash metal on the East Coast. Although it does include their West Coast brethren, the focus is understandably on the NYC scene which spawned Overkill. During the hour long journey, Rat Skates tells of the hardships and victories of a burgeoning music scene, seen through the eyes of one of its integral players. Throughout it all, Rat comes off as a genuinely likeable, down to earth guy who is clearly proud of his accomplishments and contributions to thrash metal. Be warned though, it you’re looking for a tell all expose of Overkill complete with dirt-dishing on mainstays Blitz and D.D. – you will not find it here. However, if you’re interested in how it was in the early ‘80s for a thrash band trying to get started, then this hour will fly by in what feels like about 10 minutes.
Although it lacks outside perspective (it’s told exclusively through Rat Skates’ eyes), BORN IN THE BASEMENT is still informative, breaking down the image of bands as superstars. Thrash metal musicians have always had the most approachable, “every-man” appearance among metal musicians, and this movie confirms it. As long as they don’t wear white leather jackets (watch it).
As for the extras, they are an Overkill fans dream – interviews with the vocalist of Rat Skates’ first band (The Lubricunts) and Riff Thunder (Overkill’s first guitarist, and the guy who came up with the name), plus some early TV interview features with Overkill, circa 1984-86. It’s all there, and it’s all great. I must admit that I didn’t make it all the way through the two radio interviews, as they are audio only, but more hardcore fans than I will get a kick out of them just the same.
BORN IN THE BASEMENT is simply an enjoyable, heartfelt tribute to an earlier time in heavy metal. Whether you’re into thrash metal or not, it’s still an interesting look at the inner workings of a band, with Overkill simply being the example used to represent most hard working bands of the era. Highly recommended – buy it!