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Rat Skates

Born In The Basement DVD

Review by Greg Olma

When VH1 unleashed their “Behind The Music” series, music fans like myself rejoiced because we were able to get the stories behind the albums and tours.  As kids, we all thought KISS sat around in their make-up and stage clothes and wrote songs together.  Well, as we got older, we knew that was a kid’s fantasy but we still had no clue as to what went on behind the scenes.  Enter VH1 and we were able to get those stories and on many occasions, video from the sessions.  The only problem with a show like “Behind The Music,” is that it has to appeal to the masses and that meant that a lot of great underground bands did not get any coverage.  For those of us who loved the thrash scene from the beginning, we knew that VH1 would miss many of the important bands and Overkill were one of them.

Rat Skates, for those of you who don’t know or remember, is the founding member/drummer/marketing guru for Overkill.  This DVD Born In The Basement is essentially a VH1 “Behind The Music” on the early days of Overkill starting with his first band the Lubricunts and ending with his departure in 1987.  Skates comes off as a very “together” person who has a great story to tell.  The whole DVD is very revealing and just shows what the bands in the early 80’s had to go through.  Skates and his girlfriend really kept the wheels turning by coming up with the marketing and merchandising which put Overkill on the map.  Obviously this is Skates side of the story and although it may seem one sided, he comes off as credible because he doesn’t spend time complaining or bad mouthing about anyone.  The story is told by interviews with Skates interspersed with photos and videos from that timeframe and it flows nicely in chronological order.

The bonus material consists of interviews with Riff Thunder (original guitarist in Overkill), Billy Vector (vocalist of Lubricunts), and Overkill.  A couple of the interviews are radio interviews but it still a nice to have these.  The cream of the crop on the bonus material is the live video from cable show shot in 1984.  This is the kind of stuff that had not Skates put it out, it would have been lost forever.  Even though the main DVD feature is worth the price of admission, these extras are great to have and you will find yourself going back to them more than once.  I didn’t know what to expect when I got this DVD but it is so well produced (like all of Skates products) that if there is one DVD that you will purchase this year, make it Born In The Basement.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at

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