The blending of the arts is beautiful. Yes, this statement is a bit cheesy, but when the art divisions are grouped together, the individual qualities they each possess are magnified. Take a look at the relationship between music and film. Both artistic styles heighten each other’s overall storyline. Imagine a movie without its score. It might not seem like such a big loss, but a soundtrack strengthens characters’ emotions and keeps the movie flowing from scene to scene. In other words, you should not take a film’s score for granted.
Spindrift does not let a soundtrack go unnoticed. The psychedelic rock band, which currently consists of vocalist and guitarist, Kirpatrick Thomas and the multi-instrumentalist crew of Henry Evans, Lucas Dawson, Sasha Vallely-Certik and James Acton, formed in 1992 in Newark, Delaware. Six years later, the band relocated to Los Angeles and embraced the world of Western Cinema. In 2005, Thomas and filmmaker, Mike Bruce, began producing Spindrift’s first film, “The Legend of God’s Gun”. From then on, Spindrift’s connection with film only strengthened. Contributing to the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s “Hell Ride”, Spindrift also shared their talents with the HBO network. The group’s scoring success is much more extensive than the list above, but for a condensed version head on over to Spindrift’s official site.
In Spring 2011, Spindrift released their latest project, “Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1”, via Xemu Records. The album contains 14 theme songs to various film scores. The band worked with eight different directors to compile film clips, music videos and movie trailers for the album, which can be seen on IFC. Supporting the album, Spindrift is currently touring throughout the U.S. alongside Dead Meadow and The Black Angels.
With their hectic video, album and touring schedules, Spindrift still made time for you Shockya readers to chat about “Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1” and the writing process behind film scores. Check out the interview below with Thomas!
Have music and film always been tied together for you guys?
With our scoring, we work with a director or we come up with an idea and just lay down a song and a director will pick it. So, we just basically come up with a library of different styles of music and some directors will be like, “Oh, I want to use that for my film or this…” Other times, we are approached by different directors so that is how it affects the way the song is written.
How does it work when you write these scores? Do you make melodies with a storyline in mind?
We pretty much sit down with a director and talk to them about what kind of feel they want for each scene. It’s a very close relationship and then you can kind of figure out what instruments will sound best to translate that scene or what might actually juxtapose like the whole situation going on in a scene. The next thing is you just kind of build on that motif that you get. There’s all kind of tricks you can do with film scoring to sort of spruce things up or change the mood. There might be certain kind of sounds that you wouldn’t expect to convey a scene, like certain types of eastern instruments or something might be able to accent something better.
When you see movies are you constantly critiquing the scores?
Sure. Definitely. The most recent film I saw was “Drive” with Ryan Gosling. The soundtrack is amazing. It is definitely one of the top films of the decade, if not, one of the top films ever.
What are some of your favorite soundtracks?
“Once Upon A Time In The West” by Sergio Leone, the soundtrack by Ennio Mericone, “Blade Runner” by Evangelists, “Clockwork Orange” by Wendy Carlos, and numerous soundtracks that Mericone did. There is also the soundtrack to “Bullet”. “Bullet” is a great soundtrack that I like a lot.
Like any chick flick movies or movies that you aren’t proud of enjoying?
I am sure there is. Oh, “Conan The Barbarian” the original. The original was really great. The soundtrack is awesome.
Didn’t hear such good things about the remake. What was the writing process like for “Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1”?
We had a slew of directors that we had already been working with and we already had several films that we had scored. We also started to plan to do some scores. So, all around this times, a couple of years ago, the idea of creating a musical resume for film soundtrack works compilation would be a good idea for us to do and get into and expand on our own sound. We worked with all kinds of directors, like J.X. Williams, Burke Roberts, Ward Roberts, Mike Bruce again, we did “The Legend of God’s Gun”.
That was your first film?
Yah. The first film we did….And Abigail Bean, Jean Ballest, Sam Barnett. There are a whole slew of directors and then the cast and crew, with all of that, kind of made this whole record happen.
The album has a variety of genres on it, but mainly Western Cinema. How did you first get into that genre?
It started with the Western stuff. We had Spindrift in Delaware on the east coast and then we decided to move the band out to the west coast. So on the way out, we spent a lot of time in the desert and got inspired out there. We stayed there. We just kind of started soaking up the sun and the desert and kind of put that into the music. Eventually, I got really obsessed with westerns, watching westerns, reading about them and reading about how to make westerns. I was going to the library just checking books out and books out. It was pretty awesome.
What about the other genres off the album, like Bollywood and Science Fiction?
Ya, also some Film Noir stuff too and some 60s beat kind of movie stuff. There is also a comedy action one. There is one about a mountain man. There are all kinds of them, but mainly the directors that we talked to are the biggest influences on shaping the way the music kind of shifts.
You worked with a bunch of directors on this album?
Yah and all that was from the exposure of “The Legend of God’s Gun”.
Would you guys ever do a horror themed video?
As far as horror is concerned, we haven’t quite touched on that. We touched on suspense, suspenseful type scenes that kind of involve a little bit of horror. As far as straight up slasher, gore or shock movies, we haven’t really tapped into that yet. We’ll see what happens. There is a movie called “Dust Up” that is coming out, which we scored. I could kind of throw it into more the action comedy realm, but there are also lots of elements of horror in the film.
Will there be a Vol. 2?
You guys started working on it?
Ya, I think all the upcoming work that we have been doing on more films is going to blend in to be volume 2. Once we can make a compilation of 13 more different movies. It gets to the point where you have so much to put out that it’s like geeze it would be a shame if this didn’t come out because that’s the kind of stuff people want to hear and you shouldn’t deny the listener.
Has film always been a big part of Spindrift?
I think film kind of came later when I moved out to Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to get involved with films and later, I knew in life I could be a composer, working an orchestra and arranging, but I always wanted to still do rock n’ roll, perform it live and live that life. I am also a singer and also a lyricist. So, all those kind of things sort of blend together to be what is happening now.
How do you guys incorporate the storyline of a track when you are on stage?
We have a video projectionist that will artfully shoot scenes from the films we have done and kind of match them with what we are playing,
That’s cool. In terms of making albums, how do you choose whether to compile a soundtrack one or singing one? Is it planned or just seeing where it goes?
Ya, just seeing where it goes. With classic soundtracks, the idea was we could put this record out, any song, even if it was a song that did or did not have a movie to it. We could basically make a movie go with it and make up our own films that could go with it.
Do you have a favorite track off the album?
Ya, “Legend of the Widower Colby Wallace”.
What about a favorite video off the album?
It’s hard to say. I work so closely with all the directors. It is such a great experience to do such a giant project and they are all very unique in their visions, very particular. Our directors are very intense people.
There are so many elements that go into one video.
Ya, It is so much.
How long does it take to complete a video?
It depends. Like I said, the directors are all different. Most of the films that we do aren’t huge budgets, so it was really easy for us to get it going and get by. From the start, I came up with the idea and started to get the word out to all the directors, all the way up to the production of the videos, the album coming out, the videos coming out like once a month for the films then the films being done at the same and with us touring. Every month on IFC a different video comes out and the way it worked was amazing. That in itself and even recording the record. We toured the U.S. for seven weeks then we went into the studio in the desert for a week. This time around I really had a lot of experience how to plan it out it, how to do it properly and it’s pretty amazing how it worked.
We are just an indie cult kind of band really, but I think some people could take some lessons.
Ya, watching those videos, made me appreciate a whole other side of music.
That’s true. That’s what I think. That kind of ideal about music meeting film, Spindrift is a unique thing.
Any upcoming plans?
We are going to be on tour until November 20th and then we are going to start recording another record, which is not going to be any soundtracks. It is going to be more stripped down folk music, which is another thing that we love.
by Lonnie Nemiroff