Hair I Go Again- Interview with Producer Kyle Kruger
First of all, congratulations of creating a movie! Not many people ever get to do that! Take us back to the beginning. What made you decide to create a documentary?
Well to begin with, my partner, Steve McClure, and I had actually created a doc previous to Hair I Go Again. Back in 2007 while we were still in production on a film entitled, Rain Falls from Earth. In the midst of taking a break we started discussing future projects, which is typical once you start heading towards the finish line of another.
One night here in Denver, we found ourselves sitting around at a bar we liked to frequent, where we found ourselves just riffing on project ideas. So about 4 pints in, I started pitching him on an idea I had floating around about of two 40 somethings who decide to get into the music business during midlife, by reforming a band they had back in ’86.
I recall Steve nodding in agreement then asked who the subjects were, and I told him it was “us.” Naturally we had a good laugh over it but almost instantly we started to seriously consider the idea further. I think we both had the shared notion, wondering who would even care about a couple of nobodies like us, that in the mid-80’s had zero success beyond playing at skating rinks because we were too young to play clubs. That and the fact while full of potential, we just weren’t very good.
So, that is when the idea of interviewing all of these 80’s rock stars came to the forefront. Initially they were really going to be present in order to help legitimize the film, but ended up being coaches, lending both advice and cautionary tales, and in some cases their talent.
We spent another 2 years on our previous film and didn’t discuss the subject too much beyond that night. That is, until I finally got a phone call from Steve saying “Let’s do this.” That was in January of 2010 and we started rolling less than two weeks later with nothing more than an idea in hand.
What is it about the classic, melodic Hard rock/Heavy Metal sound that has so much staying power…even 30 years later?
Well the truth is that this era of music is mostly nostalgia driven. Like in our story, I think you get to a point in your life where you realize that you’re as close to the end as you are to the beginning. I think this causes us to take inventory of our lives and in doing so, I believe we all get stuck in that place in our minds, remembering when life was a bit simpler and a hell of a lot more fun. I think this also has a lot to do with the fact that there a lot of us who spent the 90’s and oughts raising our kids, and once they fled the nest, there was a giant chasm left to be filled. What better way to fill it, than to rediscover the music that was the soundtrack of our collective youth?
Again, I think the resurgence of that era of music is really our grasping onto the past in some way. A lot of folks forget that once that era came to a crashing halt in and around ‘92, there were very few of these bands that had any staying power and it wasn’t really until around 2010 that this new renaissance started to occur, particularly with advent of M3, Rocklahoma and the Monsters of Rock Cruise. I think these events really blew the door wide open, while at the same time introducing an entirely new generation to “the rock stylings of say, Ratt.”
The original HIGA spanned over four years, did you never get tired of having a camera in your face?
Well actually it was more like 5 1/2 years. We began filming on Jan. 10, 2010 and wrapped on May 25, 2015. And even since then, we have continued to film to this day, while working on a few follow ups and companion pieces to the movie, which we will be releasing in 2019.
The movie took so long to shoot mostly because of money, or a lack thereof, and also due the fact that Steve and I were still working 9-to-5 gigs and could only film on weekends, holidays and during vacation time. We actually did get to a point where both ended up quitting our jobs to focus on the film fulltime.
There are some people who aren’t aware that, not only are Steve and I the filmmakers, but Hair I Go Again also happens to be our story. So we ended up crewing the majority of this film ourselves. At first I was really self-conscious and probably played to the camera bit too much, but after awhile you sort of forget about it, and get into the daily habit of just switching the camera on. Now all that said, there might be some people who think making a movie about yourself is exercise in narcissism, but one glance at the film and you’ll quickly realize that we exposed a lot of scars and open wounds alike.
On a related note, you filmed for five+ years, how long did it take you to edit all that footage into something streamlined?
That was all the brilliance of Steve, who directed the film. He was meticulous in how he went about cataloguing the 100+ hours of footage and was really editing the entire time, crafting the story along the way. After wrapping, we were in post production for about 7 months. Originally, we were only supposed to post for 5 months and had set a release date of 11/11/15 (International Metal Day) but we ended up having to switch up editors during the process, which set us back a spell, ultimately doing a “soft” release in March of 2016.
It seemed like you went from rags to riches to rags and back again a few times during the filming. How hard was it to secure funding?
Trust me when I tell you, it was all rags and no riches. Initially Steve and I funded this out of pocket. Then just as we were getting ready to shut down having burned through our entire savings, credit cards and 401k’s, we were saved with some minor, yet much need funding from Marc Ferrari of KEEL, who as a result became an associate producer.
Once we burned through that, we had to go the crowdfunding route to get us to the next checkpoint. As it happens one of our donors from our Indiegogo campaign saw a post I had made on Facebook searching for “boutique” investors. They called us with questions, we walked them through it and they came through with a little bit of money so that we could continue. Then a little bit down the road these same investors put a few more dollars in, finally coming in the rest of the way with our finishing funds near the end.
We actually had a corporate music partner who pledged marketing support, which was earmarked for the release, but they ended up bailing days before the initial screening here in Denver. So we ended up releasing the movie prematurely, just so we could start bringing dollars in to try and complete the marketing and release piece.
To be honest we are still trying to reconcile post production and releasing costs, not to mention repaying our investors, as well as cover our day-to-day operating expenses, as we are currently self-distributed. It hasn’t been easy, but hopefully with the re-release of Hair I Go Again on digital later this year, coupled with some solid DVD and merch sales, we might be able to put a dent in our debt so that we can look forward to our next projects.
How hard was it to get all those great artists to participate and be interviewed? Were there any big names you really wanted to get on screen but they just said, ‘no’?
In the beginning, it was futile…how we ended up with over 60 artists in the film is still beyond me. At first we made the rookie mistake of reaching out to record labels, management companies, publicists and the like, only to be shut down in short order. As you can imagine, the purpose of these entities is to monetize opportunities for their clients, which is completely understandable. It’s just that we were not in the position to dole out fees for 30 minute interviews, of which maybe 3 seconds would make it to the screen. Once we started reaching out to artists directly via email and social media, we had much better results, albeit there were still some rejections.
Our very first filmed interview was with Steve Blaze of Lillian Axe, who we had actually approached in 2007 about the possibility of using “Dream of a Lifetime” as the opening theme of what turned out to be Hair I Go Again. He said “Sure, hit me up on My Space” which tells you how long ago that was. Fast forward 3 years, we reached out to him again – this time for an interview, and he was all in. So Steve flew down to Florida to film it, and the rest is history. Blaze ended up filming with us again on 4 separate occasions, even lending his talents to the soundtrack by playing the solo on “Gone Again”, which is sort of the theme song for the entire movie.
Subsequent to Steve Blaze, we were able to land interviews with Brian Vollmer of Helix (they invited Steve to go on tour with them in Canada to film), Kip Winger, Jeff Pilson of Dokken and Foreigner, Share Ross of Vixen and Kenny McGee of Julliet which capped our first year filming. By the end of the following year we had artists and their reps calling us asking to be in the movie, it was crazy.
Of course not everyone said yes to an interview. In fact we were rejected by virtually every “A” list band on the planet including, but not limited to; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, KISS, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Skid Row and Poison. Not that these artists thumbed their noses up at us directly, but rather their representatives declined on their behalf.
As an aside, let me clarify what an A, B, C or D list band is in this instance. For our intents and purposes we assigned a letter designation to bands based on the how prolific their body of work was in concert with their perceived notoriety. This doesn’t make an “A” band any better than a “D”, the difference between the two has more to do with abundance especially in terms of experiences, and how lent themselves to our story.
In the end though, our story was actually better served by the B-C-D artists we did manage to secure and include because we found that most were going through their own sort of revival and had fresh tales to tell. Also worth noting, each person we interviewed seemingly brought something different to the table. For instance, Frankie Banali brought with him a highly developed sense of business acumen; whereas Steve Rachelle of Tuff brought us pragmatism. Steve Blaze educated us on gear and Ron Keel supplied an abundance of encouragement, which morphed into something we neither planned nor expected, in terms of his role in this film.
At the end of the film there was a little teaser about your going o the rock and roll cruise. Was that a sneak preview of the next film?
Well, not to give too much away, but throughout the film, the Monsters of Rock Cruise served as sort of the story’s McGuffin , which is a device in filmmaking that is used to trigger the plot. To be honest I was overly obsessed with having our one significant show performed at this event. But, as the story progresses it becomes seemingly apparent that this is just not going to happen, so we essentially moved on from it.
The thing is, is that we actually DID end up playing on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and it was the very first performance we gave. The challenge was that it didn’t exactly fit into the overall narrative once we moved past it in the story. So instead, we saved it as an out-of-sequence “Aha!” moment at the beginning of the credit roll, which ended up tying things together in a nice little bow. So yeah, we actually did achieve that goal, among many others illustrated in the film.
What is your next film going to be about? Do you have a name for it yet?
We are actually working on multiple projects at the moment.
As mentioned previously, we are preparing a digital re-boot for the movie and calling it Hair I Go Again | MonuMetal HD, which will include an extra 90 minutes or so of narrative content.
In addition to this we will also be releasing via digital, two feature-length “companion pieces” entitled HairI Go Again | Behind the Screen Volume I & II, which take a look at the making of the film, as well as the continued journey we experienced after having released the film. Both feature a great deal of never-before-seen footage, as well as extended artist interviews and featurettes.
In front of the three releases, we will be launching a pre-sale campaign, which will include a variety of film memorabilia, merch and limited edition BluRay of all 3 of the aforementioned; all in order to raise funds to aggregate the film to Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Vudu and other on-demand platforms. If we can raise enough funding, we will also seek to caption the film in a number of foreign languages, which in turn, will hopefully help the movie maximize its global audience reach.
Beyond that we have been developing a rock inspired travel/lifestyle series for television, which is a cross between Behind the Music, Cribs, and Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.
I also have a treatment written for a sequel to Hair I Go Again, where we would be reversing the lens and presenting the stories of name rock artists who have had past success, and who are going through their own reinvention with various degrees of success and failure. This however is on the back burner until we can make the current film closer to whole financially.
Are there anymore plans for your band to write, record and release a full-album?
Great question! Having caught a bug in the movie to write and record again, I really haven’t stopped since then. I have spoken to Ron Keel about teaming up on a full-length release, in which he would again produce, but it becomes an issue of timing, and you guessed, it funding.
As for the band and live performances, for all intents and purposes, I am now singularly, Bullet In The Chamber.
Steve hung up his guitar for the last time after performing the show depicted in the film. The guys who played with us in that final segment, were already in other bands and not really available to take on a full-time commitment.
In 2017, I put together a second line-up and did a show with Lillian Axe, but again the players involved were committed to other projects full-time and it just grew too taxing to try and capitalize on these big shows without having a well rehearsed and secured band ready to play.
At the moment, I’m not sure if I want to push through with a bunch of hired-guns or just join an already existing band. In the meantime I am staying busy with the film and other creative endeavours, so time will tell.
How can people, contribute, get involved, donate or get a copy of the first film?
Right now, the movie is available on 2-Disc DVD, which is available at its lowest cost on our website – www.hairigoagain.com, as well as on Amazon and eBay.
Digitally, the movie is now on Amazon Prime Video and we also have our own less expensive digital platform at hairigoagain.vhx.tvwhich has no international restrictions and VPN not required.
Also on our website, we have available a full line of merch including various Tanks & Tees which represent different facets of our story, CDs, Movie Posters, Guitar Pick Sets and more.
Our previously mentioned crowdfunding/pre-sale endeavour has yet to be announced but I anticipate a launch in May or June.
And finally, we are always on the look-out for potential investors, presenting partners, distributors and are also available for works-for-hire.