Badly Drawn Boy will follow up his Mercury Music Prize-winning debut album with the soundtrack to the comedy "About a Boy."
The Manchester, England, singer/songwriter, whose real name is Damon Gough, has written 10 proper songs for the film and several offshoots that will be used as the score, he said earlier this month at KRCW's A Morning Becomes Eclectic concert (see "Ozomatli Turn Singer/Songwriter Showcase Into Hip-Hop Salsa Party"), where he debuted some of the material.
"About a Boy" directors Chris and Paul Weitz, the brothers behind "American Pie," handpicked Badly Drawn Boy to write and record the music for the movie, which is based on Nick Hornby's ("High Fidelity") novel of the same name and stars Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz ("The Mummy Returns") and Toni Collette ("The Sixth Sense").
"I read the book and thought it was an inspiring story," Gough said in between drags on his cigarette. "I understood why they asked me. I tend to have a knack for writing songs about human emotions in a way where you don't have to say it. You emote it in whatever way possible. That's what the film is like. It's not a big blockbuster, Hollywood thing."
Gough's songs for the movie, which blend elements of folk, British rock and pop, have the same sort of melancholy feel as the 18 songs that make up last year's The Hour of Bewilderbeast (see "Badly Drawn Boy Draws 2000 Mercury Music Prize").
"When I had a discussion with the directors, I told them I like to reference things in a way that is appropriate to me," Gough explained. "They said that's what they want. I tried to encompass the emotions that I felt when I read the book, which gave me loads of scope. I think I've added some weight to what is a really good film already."
To record the soundtrack, Gough came to Los Angeles, where he is putting the finishing touches on the material with producer Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliott Smith). After 10 weeks together, the duo are calling themselves a team and scheduling studio time for the next Badly Drawn Boy album.
"The bottom line is neither of us are close-minded about what can happen on a record," Gough said. "It could be somebody sh--ting a bathtub and you record it and say, 'How good does that sound?' "
Added Rothrock, "Somehow everything he does sounds like Badly Drawn Boy, but at the same time, it draws from every experience I've ever had. All of a sudden we are programming a drum machine, looping a breakbeat, then there's an orchestra the next day, vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, female vocals, everything you come in contact with."
Rothrock has also recruited some of his friends to work on the soundtrack. Beck's drummer, Joey Waronker, plays on most of the tracks, while Fiona Apple/Aimee Mann producer Jon Brion and Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas also contribute.
"About a Boy," the story of a playboy who unexpectedly falls in love with a single mother, is due in theaters in April. The soundtrack will likely be released a few weeks prior to the film.
Gough has several songs written for his next proper album, which he hopes to start recording early next year. He plans to take a break in March for the birth of his second child, then expects the album to be finished by May and released next fall.
"The back half of this project has been after what happened in New York," Gough said, referring to the September 11 terrorist attacks. "The whole thing has made me think. I just want to do what I do. The next album could be the biggest fun project. No one is interfering."