â€œCadillac Tramps: Life on the Edge,â€� Jamie Sims Coakleyâ€™s documentary about Orange County punk-rock band Cadillac Tramps, opens with a soft-spoken and somewhat frail-looking middle-aged guy walking in to an outpatient dialysis center for his thrice-weekly treatment. The- appearance and demeanor of Tramps front guy Mike â€œGabbyâ€� Gaborno is a stark contrast from the burly and wildly energetic singer seen after in the live concert scenes.
The film chronicles both the bandâ€™s history though the â€™90s and early aughts and Gabornoâ€™s battles with addiction and, ultimately, a failing liver and kidneys. The- band, formed in the late 1980s when Gaborno and guitarist Jonny â€œ2 Bagsâ€� Wickersham met in rehab, recruited other recovering addicts and became one of the most very popular live acts on the West Coast club scene playing a mix of Latino-tinged rockabilly and punk. (The Times emphasized the band in Calendarâ€™s Faces to Watch in 1994.)
But the energy in that made the band such a favorable live act never quite translated to their studio albums. Though esteemed by their peers as evidenced by Sims Coakleyâ€™s interviews with members of TSOL, Foo Fighters, No Doubt, Rancid and others, mainstream success proved elusive for the band as they seen more radio-friendly Orange County contemporaries such as Offspring and Sublime break through.
The doc is a solid 1st effort for Sims Coakley, who is married to Trampsâ€™ guitarist Brian Coakley. The- film will obviously appeal to Tramps fans as well as those who’ve never heard of the band yet are interested in punk history, especially the 1990s Orange County punk-ska-rockabilly era.
The film is surprisingly upbeat given the double heartbreak of the two through lines. Much of in that can be attributed to Gabornoâ€™s infectious stage presence and his storied sense of humor, which comes through even in the interviews at the dialysis center. And of course the music.
â€˜Cadillac Tramps: Life on the Edgeâ€™
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Starts Oct. 10 at the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles