The Angels (Australia)
The Angels (Australia)
9 months ago
The Angels: Kickin' Down The Door re-examines the band's legacy and explosive tension
December 1 2022
EMMY Award-winning Nanette director Madeleine Parry admits she held real reservations when initially asked to oversee a documentary film about Australian pub rock legends The Angels.
For starters she had little knowledge of the band's legacy beyond their culturally-ingrained Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again. Also, she wanted full editorial control to ensure the film wasn't hijacked by dissenting band members.
But as Parry sifted through the hours and hours of archival footage owned by band members like guitarist Rick Brewster, she realised there was an amazing story at the heart of the iconic band, especially in their halcyon days of the late '70s and early '80s.
And so the documentary The Angels: Kickin' Down The Door was born.
"I didn't know the band, I wasn't a fan prior, but I discovered they were incredible," Parry says. "My god, it would have been amazing to have been at one of those early gigs.
"I mean they're still a great band, but there was something about that scene at that time and it was all new. I wanted that, but I also wanted it to be a deeper reflection on relationships.
"This is not the natural next step in my career. Initially I didn't think it was the right project for me, but I was interested in the personalities and the very fraught organism that is a band."
The Angels: Kickin' Down The Door is a warts and all account of how Adelaide's Moonshine Jug and String Band morphed into darkly-theatrical and explosive pub rockers led by the double buzz saw attack of the Brewster brothers, John and Rick, on guitar and charismatic late frontman Doc Neeson.
The Angels would become one of Australia's greatest bands in the golden era of pub rock with hits like No Secrets and Take A Long Line, but there was an eruption of tension within the band as personalities clashed.
All of that is exposed in Kickin' Down The Door through interviews with both the Brewster brothers, former drummers Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup and Brent Eccles and members of Neeson's family. Contemporaries Icehouse's Ivy Davies and US rocker Suzi Quatro also lend their thoughts.
John Brewster becomes emotional several times in the film when discussing his father's battle with alcoholism and the band's disastrous 1985 US tour which led to a falling out with his brother and a seven-year absence from the band.
"That put a lot of pressure on me," Brewster says. "I didn't get emotional about money, I got emotional about being told I cared more about the band than I did my family.”
Bidstrup's claims that he was pushed out of The Angels in 1981 over publishing rights is another flash point.
"Buzz says all sorts of stuff," John Brewster says. "He's obviously not a very happy man, but he should just be cranky at himself because he chose to leave the band, we didn't kick him out.
"What he says about the publishing is rubbish. But who cares? Everyone has a story.
"I think it's a very accurate portrayal of those days and I'm just proud to say relationships were mended, the band is a very happy band these days. We're two years short of celebrating our 50 years and we're doing great.”
What Kickin' Down The Door portrays more clearly than anything is The Angels were a thrilling live act that stood out from their contemporaries due to Neeson's stage craft and lighting engineer Raymond Hawkins' stark black and white presentation.
"We used to joke and call it 'intellectually menacing', but in actual fact it was," Brewster says. "Doc doing what he was doing dressed up like an aristocrat and Rick standing completely motionless, but ripping at the guitar.”
With its beer-soaked rooms and working-class ethos, the Aussie pub rock scene 40 years ago was a ultra-masculine environment.
Parry admits she was conscious that she was approaching The Angels from a female's perspective. She endeavoured to give the wives and family members of the band scope to tell their stories as "bands don't exist in a vacuum.”
"In trying to understand what that masculine culture was like, you sometimes need outsiders," she says.
"It was a challenge to present a modern perspective on that culture of the music scene at the time, but I think in subtle ways, we can reflect on how the masculine culture impacted the way the band communicated with each other and some of the conflict that occurred.”
The Angels: Kickin' Down The Door opens in cinemas nationally on Thursday.
The Angels (Australia)
1 year ago
The Angels documentary ‘Kickin’ Down The Door’ set for cinema release in December
October 18, 2022
Kickin’ Down The Door – a feature documentary based on the storied career of The Angels – has been set for a theatrical release at the start of December.
It’ll hit cinemas around the country on Thursday December 1, following its formal premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival tomorrow (October 19). It’ll also screen at the inaugural LongPlay Music Film Festival in Ballarat, with a special showing being held – alongside an acoustic performance by founding guitarists Rick and John Brewster – on Monday November 21.
The two Brewsters are the only founding members of The Angels left in the band; the group formed in 1974 alongside frontman Doc Neeson (who left in 2000, rejoined in 2008 and left again in 2011) and drummer Charlie King (who left in 1976). The current lineup is rounded out by Dave Gleeson on vocals, Nick Norton on drums and Sam Brewster on bass.
In addition to chats with the Brewsters, Kickin’ Down The Door will feature interviews with former drummers Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup (who succeeded King and performed with The Angels until 1981) and Brent Eccles (who filled the gap left by Bidstrup until 2001), and many other figures integral to The Angels’ longstanding success.
The film was directed by Madeleine Parry – best known for helming Hannah Gadsby’s two Netflix specials, Nanette and Douglas – and produced by Peter Hanlon (Holsted), Martin Fabinyi (Chopper, Wolf Creek) and Rick Davies (The Caravan). Distribution comes via Universal, with the film itself helmed by Maslow Entertainment.
See a poster for Kickin’ Down The Door below:
Check out the poster for the upcoming documentary THE ANGELS: KICKIN’ DOWN THE DOOR. Out in Aussie cinemas on Dec 1, this is the film about the rock band The Angels that puts their rise and fall on record.
Released in Australia by Maslow Entertainment & distributed by Universal. (expired link)
— Andrew F – Last Day of AACTA Voting Today! (@TheCurbAU) October 17, 2022
So reads the film’s synopsis: “The Angels came hurtling out of Adelaide with the searing guitars of the Brewster brothers and Doc Neeson, a frontman who was beyond intense. Their songs are etched in the DNA of this city: ‘Take A Long Line’, ‘Am I Ever Goin’ To See Your Face Again’.
“They were on the path to international success… until they just missed out. Yet they revolutionised Aussie music with gritty guitar rock and ferociously theatrical live shows.”
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