Rockers want to act, actors want to rock. What are you gonna do? For musicians who lack thespian aspirations, though, scoring a movie seems to suffice.
Following in the footsteps of everyone from Bob Dylan and Jon Bon Jovi to BjÃ¶rk and Peter Gabriel, bandleaders Jonathan Davis, Billy Corgan and Jeff Tweedy and solo act Badly Drawn Boy are scoring some points with the Hollywood crowd this summer.
Korn singer Davis teamed up with film scoring veteran and ex-Oingo Boingo keyboardist Richard Gibbs for the soundtrack to “Queen of the Damned,” released earlier this year. The pair co-wrote and performed the music for five songs on that album, which, due to contractual obligations that blocked Davis from singing, featured vocals from a number of guest singers.
The instrumental score by the duo, featuring such tracks as “Air Lestat,” “Prodigal Sun” and “The Queen Is Dead,” will be released June 4. Davis credits the project with allowing him to step well outside his role as frontman for Korn.
“Scoring stuff is a good outlet for me because I got to be a character,” Davis said of providing music for the vampire Lestat’s rock band, Satan’s Night Out. “I never got to do that before. I got to write [for] a 600- or 700-year-old vampire. It is something I totally didn’t want to do with Korn.”
Davis said the project made him want to do more movie scoring both because it helped rest his mind between Korn albums and because it was a welcome respite from the predictability of rock songs. As a bonus, it didn’t seem to hinder his work with Korn – and may have even made it better.
“I love [it] because it is difficult,” he said of scoring. “You have to paint a picture with sound…. It is not like a rock song where you have a first chorus [then a verse and another chorus]…. It made me a way better musician. [I] started reading music again and just getting more technical.”
Former Smashing Pumpkins leader Corgan is already a movie music vet courtesy of his instrumental work on the soundtrack to the 1999 supernatural thriller “Stigmata.” Corgan will give it another shot on the score to “Spun,” the debut feature from controversial music video director Jonas Akerlund (Prodigy, Madonna).
The low-budget black comedy stars actor/Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman and also features John Leguizamo, Blondie singer Debbie Harry, Mena Suvari and “Almost Famous” star Patrick Fugit. A release date for the “Spun” soundtrack has not been announced yet.
Meanwhile, two neophytes have recently scored impressive soundtrack debuts.
Wilco leader Tweedy teamed with bandmate drummer Glenn Kotche to compile an eclectic, moody soundtrack to actor Ethan Hawke’s recently released directorial debut, “Chelsea Walls.” The album is a mix of evocative, spooky instrumental pieces and two previously unreleased Wilco songs, including “When the Roses Bloom Again,” a collaboration with their Mermaid Avenue cohort, Billy Bragg.
The soundtrack also features a bizarre cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” by jazz man Jimmy Scott and a downbeat cover of Wilco’s “The Lonely 1” sung by the movie’s stars, Robert Sean Leonard and Steve Zahn.
Damon Gough, a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy, seems like the obvious choice to be the man behind the scenes for the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s “About a Boy,” starring perpetually befuddled Englishman Hugh Grant. This is, after all, an adaptation of a book by the same author whose “High Fidelity” was turned into a music connoisseur’s dream soundtrack coupled with an acclaimed British musician some think is only for connoisseurs.
The “About a Boy” soundtrack seesaws between playful score pieces in Gough’s trademark acousto-electronic style and cheery, organ-driven pop tunes such as “A Peak You Reach,” the wistful “Something to Talk About” and the sensual, piano funking “Silent Sigh.”
There will always be musicians who don’t exactly “Glitter” on the screen and actors whose music is a Dog(star), but as long as those folks keep their ambitions in the studio, there’s hope the silver screen will keep rocking.