Are you ready to rock? Four years after Banger Films brought the history of metal music to television with Metal Evolution, the boys are back with Rock Icons.
Debuting Sunday on HBO Canada (after a first window broadcast on VH1), Rock Icons celebrates the men and ladies who have built incredible careers in the music industry. Beginning this week with a focus on Rush frontman Geddy Lee, upcoming instalments boast Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, Ted Nugent, Heart’s Ann Wilson, Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, Daryl Hall, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan.
“Picking these icons was really a collaboration between ourselves and VH1,” says Sam Dunn, who co-directed the series with Scot McFadyen. “We had our favourites and they had theirs and we created a list where we felt there were stories to tell and they felt there was an audience for.” Dunn and McFadyen’s Banger Films have produced a must-watch list of feature documentaries on the subject of rock and metal music, from Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey to Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Iron Maiden: Flight 666 and Super Duper Alice Cooper, building trust within the music community. That trust gave them access to folks like Wilson, who is notoriously shy when it comes to granting interviews.
Even well-versed fans of bands like Rush and Mötley Crüe will be surprised by what the Banger crew uncover; Lee’s interest in music was inspired by Roy Orbison and Sixx is the reason the glam rockers existed in the first place.
“The story of Nikki Sixx has always been the same, the sex, the drugs and the rock and roll,” Dunn says. “We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to look at who this person was. We came up with the title The Architect, because he really is the architect behind Mötley Crüe. He guided and shaped that band and is a really smart guy, and we felt that was a more interesting story than talking about the Sunset Strip again.”
Dunn acknowledges the 10-part first season barely scratches the surface on all of the icons they’d love to celebrate, but at this point there’s no Season 2 planned. Not that he and the Banger Films team are sitting around. Their latest feature documentary, Satan Lives, is available on iTunes and On Demand across Canada now, and a two-part doc on the history of hip-hop called The Message: Hip-Hop Evolution is on the way. The company also launched a kids’ programming division called B Minors; Gaming Show (In My Parents Garage) currently airs on CHRGD.
When I mention the possibility of a documentary celebrating the Scorpions, Dunn doesn’t miss a beat.
“Someone needs to make that film,” he says. “They’re the biggest musical act to come out of Germany. They’re the biggest metal band to come out of North America, the U.K. and the English-speaking world. Someone’s gotta do it and we’d love to do it. I better call some German broadcasters.”
Rock Icons airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada.