"You just made the list!"
VH1's Top 15 Hard Rock & Metal Docs:
Noisecreep Top 10 Metal Docs:
OC Weekly Top Metal Docs:
Blabbermouth review of the GET THRASHED DVD:
Robb's MetalWorks interview with Rick Ernst:
Review and ratings on IMDB:
June 2017 interview with Director Rick Ernst - Eddie Trunk Show
September 2008 interview with Director Rick Ernst and Associate Producer, Rat Skates - Talking Metal
Robb's MetalWorks interview with Rick Ernst:
June 2017 interview with Director Rick Ernst - The Bone 107.7 in San Francisco
April 2010 interview with Director Rick Ernst - Metal Assault
Interview with Sludge Factory:
Rick Ernst interview with Iann Robinson from One Louder and MTV News
1. So what inspired you to do this documentary?
Get Thrashed was born out of my desire to make a film about the music I loved. Back in 2002 when I started, there were lots of TV specials and documentaries on other genres of music, but nobody was giving thrash metal the credit it deserved. As a fan, that bothered me. As a film maker, I saw an opportunity to right that wrong and do justice to the music I love and that has meant so much to me. I figured if all went well, I’d have a definitive documentary on thrash metal and at the very least, I’d get to meet all the bands I grew up on.
2. How hard was it to involve the bands in the film? Was there anybody who flat out refused?
Most of the bands were easy to track down and book. I think that probably had a lot to do with connections I had that helped make those bookings happen. Everyone was pretty psyched about the idea of an entire film dedicated to thrash metal and none of the thrash bands said no. Honestly, the only person I tried to book but was turned down was Dave Grohl. That kind of shocked me given his connections to the genre (Probot) but sometimes these requests never even reach the band so who knows if he even got the message about my interview request. My guess is he never received it.
3. As a kid growing up how did you get into thrash and how did it influence your life?
I grew up on Sabbath, Priest, Maiden etc and eventually moved on to the heavier thrash metal stuff. My first introduction to thrash was via a “thrash metal mix” cassette tape that was floated to me in high school. It had songs by Possessed, Kreator, Nuclear Assault and dozens of other thrash bands. I was taken back by it all but eventually came around and became a die hard fan – going to see shows all around the NY area. There would be times when these shows started so late that I’d have to sneak out of the house to see them. Sometimes I’d sleep in my car because I was supposed to be “sleeping over a friend’s house”. My parent’s weren’t exactly down with the “cause” so I spent many nights sleeping & shivering in the Franklin Square (Long Island, NY) OTB parking lot in my 1974 Cougar which didn’t have heat! But I was SO into thrash – I’d do anything to get to a show.
As far as influencing my life, quite simply it taught me to question the norm, question authority. It taught me that its fine – even cool – to be into different things. It has been a “friend” to me during tough times. It’s been a release after a bad day, a bad week etc. Honestly, I think it helped give me a better perspective on life, in general. As Brian Fair (Shadows Fall) says in the film, its “part of my DNA”.
4. How did you get involved with Rat Skates?
In 2004, Rat emailed me and we started talking about the project. I had already laid out the storyline, done most of the interviews etc and I was just beginning to add pictures and video. In speaking with him, he mentioned that he was an editor and worked in programs like PHOTOSHOP and AFTER EFFECTS. It was a perfect fit because the film ended up with over 800 photos and Rat animated almost all of them – an amazing achievement given the pictures don’t simply zoom in and zoom out. I’d cut a section of Get Thrashed and lay in the pictures and video – then send it to him so he could add his touch. We worked like that for about 3 years. As the Associate Producer/After Effects Animator, he added his style and skill to the look of Get Thrashed, then went on to do his own film Born in the Basement. His website is www.RatSkates.com for those interested in checking out his site, his work etc
5. The structure of the movie is very specific, how did you arrive at it?
I had a general idea of what needed to be covered and the artist interviews confirmed what was important to THEM. With that in mind, I cut pieces on dozens and dozens of bands and thrash related topics (lyrics, the dress code, the fans etc). I had a 4 hour thrash metal marathon as opposed to a nicely paced film that flowed. So I ripped it apart and put the pieces back together. It was like a puzzle and I built it piece by piece. Most of the times, it cut together easily. Other times, it was hard because I had to pull out pieces near & dear to my thrash metal heart. Most of those pieces that were cut – over 90 minutes – are in the bonus features portion of the DVD. In the end, the goal was to create fast paced film that was informative, entertaining and easy to understand and follow.
6. At the end of filming how many hours of footage did you have? How did you choose what went in and what got cut?
I have about 100 hours worth of footage so I addition to the 90+ minutes of bonus footage on the DVD, there will be clips popping up on our MY SPACE, YOU TUBE and web pages for a long time to come. When it came to cutting stuff for time, it really boiled down to which bands were the most important, influential bands and which bands were the pioneers. It’s hard to be influential when you’re part of a second wave or a third wave of thrash bands despite the fact that some of those bands kicked ass. At the end of the day, there was simply not enough time to cover EVERY band, EVERY topic in the film so thankfully I were able to put most of it on the bonus features portion of the DVD. There was also special attention paid to the storyline and the flow of the film. I wanted to stay the course and if any subject matter “knocked the train off the tracks” so to speak, I had to find a way to make it work within the flow of the film.
It seems like many of the interviews were caught during shows or in some other informal format. Was that on purpose and how did you approach the bands to do it?
The bands were shot in different locations, in informal settings mainly out of necessity but after the first few shoots, I realized that this look was perfect for a thrash metal documentary. It should NOT be shot in a studio with perfect lighting and powdered noses. Thrash music’s appeal was the edge and adrenaline of the music. I wanted the film to represent that.
7. How long have you been filming this movie? How excited are you to finally see it get released?
I started pre-production in late 2002 and the first interview was with Nuclear Assault in March 2003. The final interview was with Sodom in 2006. I figured it would take 5 years to complete and with a DVD release date of September 16, 2008, it’s taken a little longer than most fans would have liked BUT I think it will be worth the wait. I wanted to get this right and leave no room for another director to come along and say “Get Thrashed was ok but now we’re going to do the definitive thrash metal documentary”. I wanted to do this right the first time so nobody had to go through the enormous physical, mental & financial hurdle needed to make the movie!
9. So why is At The Gates not in the movie or mentioned in it?
We very briefly touch on death and black metal towards the end of the film and during that section we don’t mention any bands, we simply show several album covers. One of those album covers could have been Slaughter of the Soul, you can certainly argue that one of them should have been Slaughter of the Soul. When we quickly explore the rebirth of thrash and how Sweden is now supplying great new bands the way Germany did back in the 80’s, the reference is to newer bands like The Haunted, In Flames, Soilwork, Arch Enemy. At this point in the film, we’re looking at the current crop of Swedish metal bands and looking forward. No disrespect to them, but to talk about At The Gates here seems out of place, in terms of the era we’re talking about. To go into At The Gates here would also compel us to discuss Bathory, Entombed and other older, influential Swedish bands.
10. The more investigative and serious sections are tempered with some humorous ones. Was that on purpose? Why structure it that way?
Thrash metal fans and bands, as hardcore as they are, are fun people to be around. In Rat’s film, Born in the Basement, he talks about how, when he was in Overkill, there was no smiling because “there was no room for smiling in thrash metal.” And that’s true – onstage, these guys were out to rip your face off. But backstage, after the show, they are the most fun people to be around. Thrash metal music was about good times and great music and I wanted that to be represented in the film.
11. I have to ask who was the most difficult interview of the bunch?
Nobody was difficult in the sense that they gave me a hard time about the questions or were a dick to me. Never happened. Not the big names, not the small names. It just didn’t happen. We had trouble booking people for different reasons – Dave Mustaine, Sepultura - are two that come to mind – but in the end we got them and they certainly were not difficult to interview once the camera started rolling. If anything, the elements made things difficult – ie: interviewing DRI and Voivod while music blasted through the walls of their dressing room. Interviewing Charlie Benante as the sun went down and we lost sunlight. Production issues like these were WAY more problematic than any artist.
12. How has reaction been from both metal fans and non-metal fans to the film?
The reaction has been incredible. When thrash fans write and say ‘thank you’ for making this movie or when they come up to me and say “thank you for telling OUR story” - that is the ultimate compliment. I mean, I didn’t know many people in London, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Spain etc but going overseas for film festivals and seeing sold out crowds and happy metal fans, it means the world to me. It really speaks to the universal power of the music and on a personal level, it is very gratifying.
13. Top 5 thrash metal records of all time.
Always a tough Q because is it Top 5 influential albums? Or my Top 5 fave?
My favorite – NOT the MOST influential are:
1 – Slayer - Reign in Blood
2 – Metallica – Master of Puppets
3 – Megadeth Peace Sells ...But Who’s Buying
4 – Destruction – Eternal Devastation
5 – Exodus – Fabulous Disaster
14. What bands are moving you now?
Children of Bodom, Pelican, Osmium, Municipal Waste, Opeth, Machine Head, The Law, The Hixon, Evile, Concrete Coffin plus the new/latest from Testament, Death Angel and Exodus.
15. What’s next for you as a filmmaker?
There are a few things (indie documentary and TV pilot) that I’m thinking about doing – some metal related, some music related and some have nothing to do with metal (or music). But I want to see Get Thrashed through the DVD release on 9/16/08 before I commit to anything. Plus for several months after the release I’ll be working hard to promote it. I won’t be jumping into anything else til 2009.
16. Will there be any kind of soundtrack to the album?
Most old school fans have these songs and most new fans, I hope, will go to the source and actually buy Bonded By Blood, Among the Living, Pleasure to Kill. That’s where the real “treasures” are – in discovering these bands and landmark albums in their original glory. I would like to try and do something with all the cool unsigned bands who contributed songs because without them, the film would not be the same. Fans can see a list of all those unsigned bands and click on links to their website at www.GetThrashed.com
17. Which band were you most excited/nervous to interview? Why?
I wasn’t nervous, but excited, yeah – almost every single one! These were my musical idols growing up so to see them in front of me – that was beyond cool. Like I mentioned earlier, production issues were my main concern. I was more nervous about making sure the camera was in focus, the audio levels were good etc. I was so busy with being a one man production crew that I didn’t have much time to be nervous about artists. I wanted to make sure I had everything locked down on the production end. With that in mind, the first interviews (Nuclear Assault, Blitz from Overkill) were the most nerve wracking as I was just learning the art of the one man crew.
18. Why do you think there has been such a resurgence of thrash music?
Mainly because there has been a negative reaction to nu metal, rap metal, metalcore, mallcore (whatever you want to call it) which have all been popular in the past 3-10 years. I think metal fans view these as less “pure” so thrash is something fans can hold up and say “fuck that ‘other’ music, it’s not real metal. Check out my music – thrash metal music.’’ Plus, you have an entire new generation of bands and fans who are discovering old school thrash and forming their own bands. That is the single most cool thing to see – a new generation embracing the music to ensure it lives on.
19. Do you think heavy music is in a stagnant state right now? Why or why not
I think the metal scene is not stagnant and I say that mainly when comparing it to the time period from 1993-2003 when it was a REALLY bad time for metal. How can you go wrong when old school bands like Testament, Exodus, Death Angel and others have killer new albums plus you have the new breed of thrash inspired bands from Municipal Waste to Evile. Beyond the thrash revival, you have some great death metal, black metal and so many other forms of metal out there. I think it’s a great time to be a metal fan. If we could take a time machine back to 1998, every single metal fan from ’98 would be begging to fast forward to 2008!
20. Tell us the funniest story of the entire filming process.
Frank Bello from Anthrax came to my house to do the interview as he lives in the same town. I have a chihuahua – not very metal but he has been known to bark up a storm when people drop by so I gave him a “vet prescribed pill” to calm him down before the shoot. The pills worked – too well. The dog didn’t bark but he did stumble around, drunk for the entire interview. If you notice in the Clash of the Titans section, Frank says “it was all about the heaviness of thrash” and then looks down and we cut to another artist. Well, he’s looking down at my drunk dog and 1 second later, we were both on the floor laughing our asses off !!!