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Phil Varone Waking Up Dead

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Thursday, September 27, 2007 @ 5:57 AM


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Well, we all just want to by big rock stars, and live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars, right? You might just change your mind, after watching Phil Varone's new film,” Waking Up Dead", that was filmed during a four year period, during his stint with Skid Row. Finally, there is a film that documents what it is to live the life of a rock star, and all the good, bad, and the ugly pitfalls that accompany the rise and fall of fame on Phil's quest to rock stardom.

Waking Up Dead chronicles the life of former Saigon Kick and Skid Row drummer Phil Varone life out on the road, living on the edge, and his struggle to stay alive filmed over a four-year period during his stint with Skid Row, prior to his leaving the band in 2005. Directed by Emmy Award winning journalist and filmmaker Fabio Jaret, Waking Up Dead, is a rock and roll film that speaks the truth through the eyes of a musician, dealing with his everyday pain with addiction, love for music, and most important his message to aspiring musicians.

The film opens up with Phil saying to kids who want to get started in the music business, "Stay in school". I must point out, what makes this film so real is that Phil Varone takes center stage in the most important role of his lifetime. Phil doesn’t pretend to be anyone else but himself, as he tells his story and lives his life on the road with Skid Row. The adventures are real; the whole rock and roll lifestyle is flashed upon you. There is nothing that he doesn't touch upon. The special commentary from his ex-wife Kathy Varone, his band mates including Matt Kramer, and Snake Sabo, and his therapist Dr. Richard Harris.

The road to fame is never easy, and the lesson that Phil learned is so brutally honest. Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll may go hand in hand, but in the end, if you do anything in excess, it can kill. But that is what Rock and Roll is all about right? Living large, having no boundaries, and never having anyone say no. Phil Varone commented in the movie, "If just one person would have said No." Maybe that would have changed everything around? But, when you are a rock star everything seems to come easily, as that point is played out ever so clear in this movie.

As the movie opens, it takes you to a time when Phil was just a kid in his Saigon Kick days. His love of music, and drive to be successful was so exhilarating. Somehow, along the way, he got lost. He forgot why he was there in the first place to play music, and got caught up in the seedy world of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.

Funny thing, as former Saigon Kick singer Matt Kramer mentions in the film, "Phil was always the straight one". At times it was painful to watch is drug addiction and life fall apart. One of the most moving parts of the film is the commentary from his ex-wife Kathy Varone. Kathy has a huge role; in telling the fans of what it is being married to a rock star is really like. Unlike the movie "Rock star" that kind of glorifies the Rock star and wife scenario, Kathy speaks the truth. The endless months of her husband being away from his family, missing quality family time that can never be replaced, and infidelity that can destroy any relationship or marriage.

One of the ironic parts of this movie is when Phil shows his bank account of $1.57. Usually, you think that Rock stars are rich, and can afford anything they want. But, in retrospect it all depends on your manager and business dealings. At times, Phil said he was making $140 a week. For a band that sold thousands of records, and toured constantly, something is wrong with this picture here here? Rock and roll is also a business, that the artists can be taken advantage of everyday. As Phil's band account reflects.

Another fun aspect of the film is the Girls Gone Wild scene featuring groupies in their glory vying for Phil's attention. Also Phil manages to get caught up with a porn star, in which this scene was quite interesting. Kathy's role of ex-wife still managing to play a play a major role in hits movie, as the conflict between the porn star and ex-wife rages.

One of the greatest points that Phil points out in this move is, "Rock stars are just normal people." Phil goes back to when he was just a kid listening to Kiss, and now he is opening for them on tour for Kiss with Skid Row in 2000. Phil also commented, "Addiction is not prejudice." As he plays the role of a rock star out of out of control, starring in his own documentary.

Without giving the end of the movie away, Waking Up Dead takes you on a roller coaster ride of living life in the fast lane." For any musician, who ever inspired to become a rock star, this movie, is for you. Also for anyone, who ever lived during the 80's, loved metal, take a ride back in time, as Phil Varone takes you on a journey of decadence, Waking Up Alive.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Phil what inspired him to make this movie, Phil commented, "I am really, really proud of the movie. I really want to thank all of the fans. I get great fan mail, and emails from these fans and friends, after they have watched the movie. It is just really nice, it makes everything worth it. It makes everything that I show on the movie, totally worth it. I just want to thank everybody for his or her support. I do hope everybody will pass the word around and we get this movie out and about. Because, I do believe it has a message, outside me trying to get rich off of it. Because, I am not. I am already rich from it. I am rich from the information that I am able to give and help people. I just want to get the word out. I want to thank everybody for their support. I really appreciate it. If I can help one person, than it was all worth it."

*****

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