Since Ice Cube's next movie, "Torque," is about motorcycles, madness and betrayal, director Joseph Kahn decided he needed an expert to work on the music. He called up Dave Wyndorf, frontman for the motorcycle-metal band Monster Magnet, and invited him to contribute a song.
Kahn had known Wyndorf since 1998 when he worked on Monster Magnet's "Powertrip" and "Space Lord" videos, which received considerable airplay. Since then, Kahn has shot videos for Moby, Britney Spears and countless others. "Torque" will be his first feature film.
When Kahn phoned, Wyndorf had been working on new Magnet material for months, so he grabbed a demo for a song called "Master Light" and sent it to the director, who played it for his cohorts.
"It's this huge, giant biker theme song," Wyndorf said Tuesday. "It doesn't have anything in particular to do with motorcycles, but it's reminiscent of a big '60s theme, except it's modern. We've got all kinds of polyrhythms going on and enormous chords. It's like a big f--- you to the world, which is kind of a biker thing."
Wyndorf's reverberations of grandeur were so well received that not only was the song immediately accepted, but Kahn also asked the band to appear in the film.
"We're in a big concert scene where everything goes wrong and people die," Wyndorf said. "Through all the chaos, there's Monster Magnet."
During the shoot, Wyndorf, who was impressed by Ice Cube's motorcycle skills, engaged the rap star in some small talk when there was downtime. But the rapper was not amused by one of Wyndorf's bandmate's antics.
"My drummer [John Kleiman] has been wearing the same Ice Cube shirt for five years," he explained. "His big thing is to pull the shirt over his head so the actual picture of Ice Cube becomes his head, so it looks like a mutant midget Ice Cube walking around. He wanted to get a picture of him like that with Ice Cube, but Cube didn't think it was that funny."
When Wyndorf received positive feedback about the "Master Light" demo, he sensed further opportunity. He asked Kahn if anyone was onboard to write the score for "Torque," and was told that no one had yet been hired. So late last year, when Monster Magnet recorded "Master Light" in the studio, Wyndorf took some extra time to score a musical passage for one of the film's murder scenes. Kahn liked the work, and after a little pleading, Wyndorf got the thumbs-up to score the whole film.
"I just kept saying, 'I can do it' until they said 'all right,' " Wyndorf said. "Since I had the material to back it up, they finally agreed."
Wyndorf is currently working on the music with producer Scott Humphrey (Andrew W.K.) and Tommy Lee, who will play drums on some of the material.
"[Tommy Lee is] a friend of Scott's," Wyndorf said. "He's a big drummer, and we've got drums bigger than human beings. We're using these big Japanese orchestral drums. So everything sounds really giant."
The psych-metal guitarist described the film music as a cross between Bernard Herrmann (Taxi Driver, Vertigo) and Sergio Leoni (A Fistful of Dollars) done in a psychedelic funk format, but emphasized that it's not a hard rock score at all.
"What we want do is construct tension through orchestration. It kind of sounds like Zeppelin if they had done something like this, because there are a lot of strings and guitars. I layer all this stuff from tiny little guitars to three pianos banging at the same time."
Wyndorf plans to wrap up the score for "Torque" in the next two weeks. Then he'll sit down with Kahn to edit and refine the material.
"This is something I've always wanted to do," Wyndorf said. "When you're a rock and roll singer and songwriter you gather up all kinds of material and ideas that there's no practical application for on a rock and roll album.
"But in movies you can just go berserk even though a lot of it ends up on the cutting-room floor. It's great. In the studio you can go insane with gongs and strings and anything. It's absolutely crazy."