Polyphonic Spree Leader Getting Theatrical With Space Oddity

Robed rocker Tim DeLaughter writing song with David Bowie.

The Polyphonic Spree got more than a pulpit full of memories from their recent tour with David Bowie.

“We’re going to write a song together,” frontman Tim DeLaughter enthused. “He asked me if I’d be up for it, and I said, ‘Of course!’ He wants to do something really theatrical, so whenever he’s ready, I’m there.”

Bowie’s decision to write with DeLaughter stemmed from the positive experiences both had during the tour. To enhance his own performance, Bowie asked DeLaughter’s 29-member, robe-bedecked group to join him for the song “Slip Away,” which began with the choir taking the stage, then the horn players, and finally DeLaughter joining in for the final verse. Several of the performances were filmed and will likely come out on video or on Bowie’s Web site.

Bowie has acted as a kind of patron saint for the Dallas band, a role for which DeLaughter is deeply grateful. “He has been really instrumental in our band breaking out in the first place,” he said. “Before anyone had heard of us, he brought us to London three years ago to play his Meltdown Festival. That’s the first place we ever played outside of Texas.”

The Spree are playing dates with Bowie from May 29 until June 5, then they’ll head out with the Lollapalooza tour on July 15, two days after the release of their second album, Together We’re Heavy (see “Lollapalooza Lineup Announced: Morrissey, Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth On Board” ). The new songs should sound appropriately majestic in an outdoor setting. The tracks are just as lush and upbeat as those on 2002′s The Beginning Stages Of …, but they’re more sonically rich and complex, with the band utilizing as many as 120 tracks on a single song (see “Polyphonic Spree Enjoy Volkswagen Ride While Preparing Second Album” ).

“The songs were pretty easy to come up with, but it was the most difficult, most challenging recording session I’ve ever had in my life,” DeLaughter said. “I almost had a nervous breakdown a few times trying to mix it. But as someone once said, ‘The pain of toil bringeth gain, and foolish folly bringeth poverty.’ ” (That someone was DeLaughter.)

In addition to Together We’re Heavy, the Polyphonic Spree will likely release a DVD about the history of the band later this year. DeLaughter is also scoring a movie by independent filmmaker Mike Mills called “Thumbsucker,” which is based on a novel by Walter Kirn. “It’s about a 17-year-old who still sucks his thumb, so the music is really playful and fun. It’s got some hints of the Polyphonic Spree, but there’s also stuff that sounds nothing like Polyphonic.”

DeLaughter was contacted for the movie by music supervisor Brian Reitzell, who also worked on “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation.” Reitzell chose DeLaughter because the filmmakers were already using “The Beginning Stages Of …” as temp music for the film. “It’s a great opportunity,” DeLaughter said. “Hopefully, it will be the first of many, because I love cinematic music and the idea of creating music to fit a particular series of imagery is really appealing.”

Polyphonic Spree tour dates with David Bowie, according to the band’s Web site:

  • 5/29 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Borgata Hotel/Casino

  • 5/30 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Borgata Hotel/Casino
  • 6/1 – Manchester, NH @ Verizon Wireless Arena
  • 6/2 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Casino
  • 6/4 – Wantagh, NY @ Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach
  • 6/5 – Holmdel, NJ @ P.N.C. Bank Arts Center