Like anyone who loved rock ’n’ roll in the 1980s, Andy Szava-Kovats made regular pilgrimages to the Rathskeller, better known as the Rat, to hear the bands that regularly filled the smoky cellar tavern in Kenmore Square. “The first band I saw was Willie Alexander’s. He played there many times,” says Szava-Kovats, who grew up in Chelmsford and lives in Lowell. “I saw the Cars before they even had a record deal. Jonathan Richman, Human Sexual Response — everyone played the Rat.”
Szava-Kovats has spent the past four years gathering interviews and archival footage for his documentary “Let’s Go to the Rat” (the original title, “Rat Tales,” had to be scrapped when he discovered that someone else used it for a film about actual rodents). Szava-Kovats’s company, True Age Media, has produced three other documentaries: “Grindstone Redux: the Story of the 1980s Underground Music Network”; “The Last Farm in Lowell”; and “The Last Pow-Wow Oak.” “Let’s Go to the Rat” is about half finished, he says. Interviews shot so far include Willie Alexander, Asa Brebner (of the Mezz and Robin Lane), Dave Minehan (of the Neighborhoods), Billy Connors (of Boize) and Carl Biancucci (of Classic Ruins). Szava-Kovats, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, says he hopes to have the film finished by the fall so he can meet 2014 film festival deadlines.