BRANDON — Ed Aborn thought he was just sharing good news with his friend, professional wrestler Chris Jericho.
But Jericho — real name Chris Irvine — also heard an elevator pitch for a documentary.
Aborn’s story went like this: In the 1980s, he was drummer for a local heavy metal band named Siren. They broke up that same decade, never hit it big and had not played together since. But apparently, they had a loyal following in Germany. Thirty years later, a promoter there asked that they reunite for a heavy metal festival.
“I thought that this is either going to be a total s--t show, or one of the most inspirational things ever seen,” said Jericho, an Odessa resident. “Either way, it will make a great documentary.”
The documentary, titled I’m Too Old for This Sh*t, is now available as a digital rental.
The festival, held in 2018, drew thousands of fans who treated Siren like, well, rock stars.
That spoiler does not ruin the movie — the documentary doesn’t hinge on the band’s success.
The story is about what the band did when given a second chance.
“You never know when a dream is going to sneak up on you,” Aborn, 56, said. “Even if it comes decades later and even if it’s after you set aside that dream for life and family and obligations, it is still sweet.”
Siren — composed of drummer Aborn, vocalist Doug Lee, bassist Greg Culbertson and guitarists Todd Grubbs and Hal Dunn, all of Brandon — formed in 1981, when Tampa was a heavy metal hub. Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Obituary got their starts here before going on to national fame.
Siren thought they were on that same path, Aborn said.
In that era before the internet, Aborn said, startup bands in search of a global audience mailed tapes to radio stations and music magazines around the world.
“We weren’t getting thousands of pieces of fan mail, but we would get scores,” he said. “Sometimes we would get a letter from Russia or South America or Germany. We had a big map and put pins wherever we received something from so we could visualize it.”
The band signed a deal with a German record label in 1986 and recorded the album No Place Like Home. But they broke up in 1989 due to a mix of personal and business disagreements. They never toured Germany.
The members went their separate ways. Aborn became a software engineer and raised two daughters as a single parent. His kids are now 17 and 22.
“The band was not a part of my life all through their growing up,” Aborn said. “They knew I was in a band because they’d come to my office and see our first single on the wall, but that was pretty much it. To them, it was just something I did back when I had hair.”
And then came the out-of-nowhere call from the German festival promoter in early 2017. He is a big fan of Siren, he told Aborn, and wanted to book them for his 2018 festival because fans of 1980s heavy metal still love the band.
“That didn’t make any sense,” said Jericho, who is also vocalist for the metal band Fozzy. “You just don’t get a call to play a fairly big festival after not having played for so long.”
It made even less sense, Jericho added, because Siren was never a household name. Or, at least the band didn’t think they were.
“They had fans in Germany and it turned out they had one huge one,” Jericho said.
Aborn admits he wondered if the invite was a practical joke. Still, the band decided to give it a shot and agreed to let a film crew document the experience.
They had to hash out decades of lingering hard feelings and get back into the physical shape needed to perform, Aborn said.
“It’s not just showing up and playing,” Jericho said. “There is so much that goes into it. It’s knowing your parts, making sure everybody’s locked in, making sure everybody’s playing what they are supposed to play. Then you also have the show business element. You have to put on a show for the crowd. These guys hadn’t played a live show since the 1980s.”
They performed one warmup show at Tampa’s Brass Mug before heading to Germany.
Their largest crowd in the ’80s was around 500, Aborn estimates. Around 5,000 fans were at the German festival. Many sung along.
“It was unbelievable,” Aborn said. “One fan the night before the festival told us at a pre-party that seeing us back together felt like being a kid on Christmas morning and this was his dream come true. I couldn’t believe it was real.”
Jericho had a secret wish: He wanted the documentary to be named I’m Too Old for This Sh*t, a line popularized by Danny Glover’s aging cop character in the Lethal Weapon movie franchise.
“I didn’t want to make them say the line,” Jericho said. “And they said it on three separate occasions on their own.”
Siren remains together.
In 2020, they released a new album, Back From the Dead, featuring 15 new songs that Siren’s website says are “in the tradition of our influences such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, Saxon and others.”
They played local shows before concerts were suspended due to COVID-19 and are invited to another German festival that will be scheduled once the pandemic ends.
“Dreams come true,” Aborn said. “This has been an amazing ride. And, if it ends tomorrow, we’ll be fine. We got a second chance to live our dream. How great is that?”