Spoon's Britt Daniel didn't really have a choice when it came to writing the soundtrack for Stranger Than Fiction. When Brian Reitzell -- the Redd Kross drummer who put together the music for Lost in Translation -- offered him the gig, he explained that there were already a bunch of Spoon songs as "placeholders" in the soundtrack. Now he wanted the Austin singer/guitarist to help him write more.
"I said, 'Sure, but I don't know how to score movies.'" Daniels recalls. "He said, 'Don't worry about that.'" So what's the secret? "It's a matter of changing the intention," Daniels continues. "Usually I'm writing music from my point of view or telling a story. This time we were trying to help a movie with its own story."
That story concerns Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), an IRS auditor who hears a voice speaking in his head. He learns that he's a character in a novel, and that the voice belongs Emma Thompson, an author trying to figure out how to kill off her hero. Crick tries to avoid becoming "The End," and that's where Britt's music comes in. The singer interspersed his comments about Fiction tunes with a explanations of his fave soundtrack songs.
Once we'd gotten the instrumental music down, we started thinking, "Well, wouldn't it be cool to have a new Spoon song for the movie?" So I played several sketches that were in progress - not really formed songs at all. One actually had the words, "The book I write." Brian thought that was too much of a coincidence, and I just built that one up from there. This was less like scoring music and more like writing a typical Spoon song. The song was more for me than the movie. But it's a weird song. I'm not even sure what it's about.
There are some movies that can really engulf you, and then there are the slow movies where you're looking at your watch figuring out when it's going to end. Solaris is a really slow movie, but I found myself completely drawn in. I think the music was a huge part of why that movie worked for me. I'd never heard anything like this before. It's like an orchestra plus steel drums. It was otherworldly, ambient and unusual.
This one is at the very beginning of the movie -- it's just a mood setter. Watching the movie with my songs in it was sometimes cool, sometimes nerve-wracking. I never thought of them in that sense before. We've had a couple of songs in commercials and a couple of songs in movies before. It's always like a shock to the system to see it in this new format. But you get used to it and figure out what it's actually doing there.
I like the use of this in Goodfellas. You know the long scene where it's all one cut and Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco are walking through the back way into this club? It's at the start of their relationship and it's all exciting and everything's new. It's a perfect use music that captures the spirit of the period.
We'd let the scenes play and mess around. That worked. Then I had a whole bunch of music that I wasn't doing anything with. They weren't songs with lyrics. They were just bits of music. And I hadn't figured out how to use them in Spoon songs. So I'd bring those in and we'd see how we could make those fit with the scene.
The way this was used in Fight Club really surprised me. It's at the very end of the movie once you figure out that Ed Norton has a split personality. You're starting to figure out how it's been one person all along instead of just two. You see a building fall and it plays. I thought that was really cool.
This plays while Emma Thompson is picturing herself jumping off of a building. She's trying to figure out a way to kill Harold Crick. I had this piece that sounded sort of melancholy. She actually jumps off the building, while the chords are still ringing.
I can never think of this song in the same way since I saw Boogie Nights. They're at the dealer's house and his little boyfriend is throwing the firecrackers. I've never been able to hear that song the same again. You always picture the firecrackers.