Michiganians’ attempts at fame
By CASEY MCNENLY
The State News
|Talk about beating a dead horse.
Frank and his brother Vince Rogala have been trying to make it in the music industry since 1976. They put it all on the line for the sake of their bands, Exude and NC-17, and yet you have no idea who they or their bands are.
The reason is that the band is just one of tens of thousands of others trying to make it in Los Angeles. The band hit the great wall of reality as it learned of the cruel music industry. So why not make a film about it?
“Won’t Anybody Listen” chronicles the last seven years of the Mackinaw City band NC-17 as it took a big chance in the music industry.
The brothers Rogala are two Michigan guys with a decent sound for the ’80s. They drove out to Los Angeles, focused on making it in the business. When they finally got a crack at it, they were passed over for Milli Vanilli. That’s harsh. “Won’t Anybody Listen” takes a hard look at real people testing the music industry waters. It catalogs the band’s last seven years of long days, little money and total dedication.
It is filmed as a documentary where the story is fueled by reality. And it was at that point when I found myself talking silently to the movie, asking the band members, “Why are you trying to sell your music? Why not just give up?”
The film has an uncanny method of not only drawing in its audience, but also the power to draw sympathy.
Second to its drawing power is the message in the story. The Rogala brothers recently gave up, but Frank Rogala still plays in Southern California clubs waiting for another shot. This guy has devoted his life to music, putting family to the side and is still chasing a nearly impossible dream. That’s tenacity.
The film did not exclusively focus on the band’s perspective. If NC-17’s experience isn’t enough to deter many garage bands from going for the glory, music industry pundits will admit that it is almost impossible for “nobodies” to make it.
The same people who were telling NC-17 “no” for the last 23 years threw in their two cents and helped the brothers launch a filmmaking career instead.
Nonetheless, the band didn’t care and kept on rocking out clubs. The brothers’ epic adventure has no climax. No conclusion. No arcs. There was no suspense except for what will go wrong next. We are used to following bands on their way to the top. The films “Almost Famous” and “The Doors” followed bands on their way to the top before they tragically fell apart.
“Won’t Anybody Listen” looked at the movie industry in a different way. Frank Rogala likened the industry to organized crime. In the end, the record labels get their money for the rock star’s life.
In all honesty, “Won’t Anybody Listen” caters to the musically savvy. Those who can understand music will understand much more than the average Joe. But it is a harsh look and an easy lesson for those with big dreams.
“Won’t Anybody Listen” will be shown on the Sundance Channel at 9 p.m. Oct. 25. Frank Rogala said a DVD will be released in about a year.