Rye Coalition: Underground Rock’s Most Clever Musical Chameleons (With The Shittiest Luck)

I remember hearing Rye Coalition in the mid-90’s and lumping them in with a lot of really sweaty (yet seemingly interchangeable) hard punk bands that were coming out on labels like Troubleman and Gern Blandsten. At the time, I was living in Athens and it seemed like they played Atlanta a bunch. And, of course, it appeared that Atlanta’s DIY scene was absolutely smitten with Rye. When I moved to town the band had just put out their album "He Saw Duh Kaet" and I got to see them play to a dozen or so people at Under The Couch. I won’t lie to you, I really dug them.

I found their love of playing with each other quite endearing. Furthermore, as the years progressed and I put on a number of shows with them, I found them to be pretty nice guys. A bit TOO modest, but still. Nice. Guys.

Rye Coalition at the Chunklet SXSW party, 2005?

And as time progressed, I think I witnessed three really drastic musical changes in their sound. They started with a sort of post-ABC-no-Rio hardcore sound, went full bore into sounding like The Jesus Lizard and then veered sharply off course again and went straight into sounding like a classic rock band. Now, some would argue that they were just unable to find their "sound" or were just changing to see what could be "popular", but you know what? I don’t think they should be knocked around for trying to make music that they love.

Sure, they were derivative. Sure, they had a hard time keeping fans. Sure. You’re right. But then when the band was lured by a major label and had their record produced by Dave Grohl it almost signaled a change! Like, instead of Buckcherry becoming a "hard rock" band, it would be guys that were just guys. Not some pre-packaged bullshit.

Well, as you can see from the documentary trailer that I’ve included, Rye had shitty luck even then. The record was finished and then the label shit the bed. I don’t know the exact details of the drama that unfolded afterwards, but the record that Grohl produced was soon put out on Gern Blandsten and just collected cobwebs.

…uh yeah.

Shortly thereafter, I asked Rye to play the Chunklet SXSW party at Sound on Sound to which they happily obliged. Personally, I thought Rye were fantastic, but to be frank, they weren’t doing the indie rock slumming any more. They were trying to go for the brass ring. But well, as with everything Rye did, it was mired in a halo of bad luck.

I’m not sure when Rye officially broke up (or even if they have) but here it is 2010 and over half of the band is playing in the Black Hollies and the other half are slugging it out back home.

This takes me to the two tracks that I’m including in this post. Dave Leto, Rye’s affable drummer, sent me a friendly email along with a request if I could post the band’s final two songs to the Chunklet site. Here’s what Dave said about these two tracks:

"Jimmy Iovine wanted to hear our hit before he released our album on Interscope. He kept saying "I don’t hear a hit."  No shit Sherlock, we didn’t write hits…
His famous quote was "I wanna hear their ‘Dirty Deeds’ "So Justin and Jon went home and wrote out the structure, chord changes, etc of "Dirty Deeds" and we gave him two songs that were almost IDENTICAL to that. They are fun to listen to, no reinvention of the wheel here….We still rocked harder than 99.9% of bands."

Now, I’m certainly not going to turn a friend down, but man, these tracks are as shameless in their love of AC/DC as they’ve been as shameless in their love of other musical touchstones over their career.

I’m certainly not trying to knock Rye, but man, it’s bittersweet that these polished studio tracks find a resting place on this site. That said though, I always will have a soft spot for Rye.

Rye Coalition – Hard Luck (final recordings)

Rye Coalition – High School (final recordings)