Although he came off as a coked-out space cadet on the two occasions I’ve seen him perform, and I’ve read many an interview where he clearly appears to be off his rocker, I can safely say that Bobby Liebling is not on drugs. Because I’ve seen him on drugs, in the Last Days Here documentary, and he looked a lot worse than he does now.
The movie, several years in the making, follows the Pentagram frontman from his days at rock-bottom, smoking crack in his parents’ sub-basement, to his triumphant comeback gig at New York City’s Webster Hall in March 2009. We’re also treated to interviews with ex-bandmates Victor Griffin (now back in the band) and Joe Hasselvander, founding members Geof O’Keefe and Greg Mayne, along with some cheesy reenactments in which the actor playing Bobby looked a lot like Deaner from FUBAR. The quotes were great, the clips not so much. It’s crazy to see how many clippings O’Keefe has kept from his Penta-days, especially since there was nothing to indicate when the original band broke up that they’d ever be something people would be interested in some 30-odd years later. But perhaps the greatest source the filmmakers dug up was producer Murray Krugman, who was all but ready to get ’em signed to Columbia–had it not been for Bobby Liebling lashing out at him in the studio.
Of course, one would be remiss not to mention Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, the true hero of the film, who helps Bobby get his life back on track. The Relapse Records exec not only played a part in putting out the First Daze Here comps, but as Liebling’s personal manager, he goes as far as to set up face-time with Phil Anselmo for a potential Pentagram record deal–and stays up overnight to bail Bobby out of jail after he gets locked up for violating a restraining order (a record deal-breaker). He also signs another contract with Bobby that helps him kick his crack habit, but you’ll hafta see the movie to find out about that one. 😉
Mind you, what with the snail’s pace of the film industry, we don’t get to see Pentagram’s subsequent successful US tours–nor the disasterpiece that followed Russ Strahan’s impromptu exit–documented here. In fact, all the backing musicians that were in the band at the time of filming have since moved on. And the comeback album that Phil Anselmo passes on finally got made, a few years later, and released on Metal Blade. But don’t get me started on Last Rites…
Alas, while this documentary might not change Bobby Liebling’s life quite like The Story of Anvil did for its protagonists, it’ll definitely change the way you look at Bobby Liebling. A poignant portrait of a man who is no longer on drugs.