From the very first scene in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” in which Michael Cera and his Sex Bob-Omb bandmates strap on their instruments and bust out some serious rock-and-roll thunder, director Edgar Wright’s new flick crackles with musical verve. There are band battles, tons of talk about record contracts and artist jealousy, and a soundtrack as important to the mood of each scene as the words coming out of each character’s mouth.
Cera has strummed chords before, in “Juno” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” but not all of his castmates had musical experience when they signed on to this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series. So Wright threw his actors into rock-and-roll boot camp, and with the help of some pros, they ended up learning how to wail.
Of course, there were some hitches along the road toward rock immortality. “I had guitar lessons, and I struggled,” confessed Mark Webber, who plays Sex Bob-Omb frontman Stephen Stills. “I had never sang before either, so I had to learn how to sing.”
But it took a while. The cast got together for a month of rehearsals, which essentially became a Hollywood version of band practice. And by the end, Webber figured out what it took to deliver some kick-ass cinematic tuneage.
“I nailed it, to pat myself on the back,” he laughed. “I had an amazing experience recording with [music supervisor] Nigel Godrich in [Metric guitarist] Jimmy Shaw’s own personal studio in Toronto — just the two of us. That was a hell of an experience.”
Co-star Alison Pill, by contrast, took immediately to her role as Sex Bob-Omb drummer Kim Pine.
“Drums are incredibly hard to learn, and you figured it out in two weeks,” Johnny Simmons said, paying Pill a serious compliment.
“I got to meet with Beck’s drummer, who was starting to teach me drumming that was beyond the stuff that was in the songs,” she explained.
Just don’t expect Sex Bob-Omb to actually hit the stage anytime soon — not unless they’ve got some pre-recorded music to help them along.
“As long as there’s a big backing track!” laughed Simmons.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”