“Never, EVER forget what made you who you are!”, such wise, wise words, that could relate to almost any aspect of ones life. But for our favourite bass player around here, Rob ‘Laney 74’, those wise, wise words are the very reason why you are now reading about Straight To Video, the new EP release which sees Laney tackle a bunch of his favourite movies soundtrack tunes, with the help of a bunch of super talented musical friends. “I wanted an unashamedly fun project that represented every element of the things I love, particularly what I grew up with and made me – ME! I wanted a huge melting pot of music, film, nostalgia and fun – with no apologies!”.
That’s what Laney says and that’s what Laney gives. Pretty In Pink, License To Drive, Clerks II, Nightmare On Elm Street 4 and Some Kind Of Wonderful are the movie soundtracks where the songs making up the EP were lifted from. If you are a fan of Laney’s main musical endeavour over the past decade or so – Teenage Casket Company, or any of his other musical adventures with Let Loose, The Black Mollys, The Bulletboys to name a few, then musically Straight To Video will be right up your alley, regardless of whether you were previously familiar with the original versions of the songs prior to getting the Straight To Video treatment.
On the eve of the EP release on April 1st, we got a hold of Laney to chat all things Straight To Video…
So Laney 74, stating the obvious – music and movies play a massive part of your life, but tell me, what was the moment that made you decide to put together what we now hear with Straight To Video?
I’d been toying with the idea of putting together a new project which brought together all the things I love… such as music and movies like you mentioned, but also had a real nostalgic vibe. Sure, I live in the past a little too much, but I think if you can balance it with a modern, fun approach then you’re all good.
The initial plan was to create a covers band doing movie soundtrack songs and perhaps have the frame work of the killer Hollywood band, The Starfuckers, who played every week at The Cat Club and had different people come up and jam each show. It would have been really cool to put a spin on that format by adding the movie soundtrack angle but putting a group together today is really darn tough so I put in on the back burner. A good friend of mine suggested doing it as a recording project so that really flipped the switch in my head which brings us to today!
Of all the songs, and all the movies – are these 5 you’ve recorded, simply your all time favourite soundtrack songs, or was a far greater selection process undertaken to arrive at these five final tracks?
I wanted to try and avoid the immediately obvious 80’s soundtrack songs such as ‘Danger Zone’ from Top Gun, although I love all that stuff and try to pick some more diverse tunes. I guess ‘Pretty In Pink’ is the most well known but all the others are a little more left field when it comes to associating them with films. I also had to like both the films and the songs so I didn’t lose interest really quickly which I’m notorious for doing! It had to be the whole package; I knew I’d have to be enthusiastic about both the audio AND the visual!
In your well educated opinion, what is it that you think makes the perfect movie soundtrack song?
I don’t think you need to be too literal! I give Ray Parker Jnr a free pass with the ‘Ghostbusters’ theme tune but other than that I don’t think you need to recite what happens in the film too much. Whilst I was a fan of Jon Bon Jovi’s Young Guns 2 Soundtrack which was a pretty cool idea and a clever way for him to do a solo record, I think it just takes a great song which fits with what’s happening on screen and if done well people will always associate the two.
From The Outsiders, to Young Guns, through to The Expendables, there’s been a multitude of star studded super ‘casts’ over the years. Now let’s open it up to Laney the movie producer, if you could assemble the ultimate cast, for the ultimate movie – what actors/actresses would you choose and what would be your basic movie plot?
That is just way too tough a question but I’ll give it a shot. Let’s make a new Nightmare on Elm Street but done in classy Scream-style. Let’s team up Corey Feldman and Anthony Michael Hall, maybe get Sherilyn Fenn on board for some love interest. We hire Kevin Smith to write and direct it alongside Wes Craven! This is all of course done with the help of Doc Brown’s Delorean so we can have it all done in the late 80s before ‘Freddy’s Dead’ came along and screwed everything up.
You have featured songs from two John Hughes films (Pretty In Pink and Some Kind Of Wonderful), and you have a special feature presentation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off tied into this EP release – so can I assume you might just be a little bit of a fan of his work over the years?
Yeah, for sure! I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s a similar age who isn’t a fan. Whatever his secret he really did manage to capture something special in the films he made. No matter what the background of the characters you still found them likeable and could relate in someway. Take ‘The Breakfast Club’ for example, five totally different people but you loved them all. Ferris Bueller is really a spoilt rich kid but you still like him…. Totally a ‘righteous dude’! I understand Hughes moved on a little after ‘Uncle Buck’ and went a little more family friendly with ‘Home Alone’ and such, but what he created in his career is incredible.
You have a star studded musical lineup involved in this project, some big names, some just super talented people. Looking at such a great song such as ‘Misery’ from Soul Asylum which Jaret Reddick sings on, was it a difficult thing at times to try and balance how you interpreted these classic songs, with the creative ideas that you may have had, with those that some of your guests may have had? Or was it simply a case of what Laney says, is what Laney gets?
I think, if anything, it just came down to trust on both sides of the camp, particularly with how everything had to be recorded. There was no ‘real’ band. It wasn’t like we could all get in a rehearsal room and throw around ideas to see what worked with the songs. Me and my good friend Michael Richards went in and laid down all the bass and drums, then from there it was just a matter of working with people’s schedules to get them in and put down their parts, or have them emailed over such as Jaret’s vocals, or Tory (Stoffregen) and Johnny (Monaco)’s guitar solos.
I didn’t go in with the plan to totally rework any of the songs so with the talent of everyone involved there wasn’t too much that could go wrong. It was kind of a new situation for me though not having to really answer to anyone or put a decision to a vote. Occasionally Joe (Brown) who I worked with in the studio would say something didn’t work but for the most part I had to make the decision if I wanted something to stay or go…. That for me is kinda tough because I have no real clue as to what makes a good drum or guitar sound! I just have to trust my ears on the overall picture and if I think it sounds good if I was hearing it as a fan.
From playing Dean in License To Drive, Corey Feldman in recent years has turned his hand to music, having done a version of ‘Cry Little Sister’ from The Lost Boys, did you make any approaches to Feldman to take the lead vocals on ‘Rush Hour’? (But I must say the performance from Becky Edwards on STV version is stellar!)
I never actually thought of that to be honest but it would have been super cool! Corey Feldman was a big, big hero of mine whilst growing up, particularly in stuff like Stand By Me, License To Drive and The Lost Boys. He was a real star of the generation and I would love the chance to meet him at some point, maybe slip him a copy of the EP too and see what he thinks of the songs!
I’m really glad you like Becky’s vocals though, she did an amazing job. I’ve known her for maybe the best part of ten years from when she used to come along and see my band DIP. After she moved away I didn’t realize she’d begun to sing and write her own songs so when I saw some YouTube clips I figured she’d be great for the ‘Rush Hour’ vocal.
Making your lead vocal debut on the Dramarama track ‘Anything, Anything’ from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, I’ve gotta say it’s one of my favourite tracks on the EP, hits me right between the eyes of my love for early Goo Goo Dolls. So firstly, how was the experience of recording lead vocals for this track? Secondly, having decided on lending some lead vocals to the EP, I’ve gotta ask whether you initially considered tackling some Mark Slaughter by doing ‘Love Kills’ by Vinnie Vincent Invasion, also from the same Soundtrack?
I’m really glad you likened it to the Goo Goo Dolls cause that was exactly what I was aiming for. I love the early albums like ‘Jed’ and ‘Hold Me Up’ – such energy and great raucous tunes. Recording it was kinda weird. My confidence for singing has grown a little since TCC became a three piece a couple of years ago but it was still daunting. I think we only ended up doing a couple of takes in the end. I blew my voice out immediately because I have no idea on warming up but me and Joe felt it worked for the track. Listen closely and you’ll hear my voice cracking all over the place. I think that experience pretty much wrote me out for ever trying to do any Slaughter style vocals anytime soon!!
If we consider the music of the band in which you’ve played bass for around a decade – Teenage Casket Company, what kind of movie scene could you imagine one of your songs popping up in?
In the past we’ve been told our sound is direct from an American Teen Movie, maybe something like American Pie. That to me is really cool and I’m flattered because it’s just the kind of vibe we’ve always aimed for, just that feel good summer pop rock. Me and Rob Wylde (TCC Songwriter) grew up on a diet of Rocky movies and anything putting us in the ball park of those films is a compliment. If there’s ever a Straight To Video sequel, then Wylde already has his name down for a modern take on ‘No Easy Way Out’ from Rocky IV!!
As with almost all classic movies, a key part of the Straight To Video release is some bitchin’ artwork – so tell, who came up with the concept and who ultimately created the artwork that graces the CD cover?
I wanted something that paid homage to the old Video Nasty sleeves from back in the day. Unless I’m imagining, I’m pretty sure the first film I saw on video (Betamax of course) was The Evil Dead so this is sort of a tribute to that where you had Bruce Campbell fending off the demons with his chainsaw. Replace the Chainsaw with my ‘74’ Jazz Bass, add in a cartoon ‘Betty Rubble’ style version of the wife being attacked by a hoard of Zombies and you’re all set! My ‘Go To Guy’ for CD artwork has always been my good friend Daz Mondo. He’s done all the TrashPit Records work over the past few years and always interprets my ideas perfectly, taking them above and beyond what I had in mind. Guy should be a millionaire right now!
So just quickly, what else have you got in the works for the rest of 2013? Personally speaking, I’m super happy to hear that things with TCC are kicking along nicely!
Yeah, finally a new TCC album is on the horizon. Much like Straight To Video it’s taken a long time to pull together what with budget and everyone’s availability but it’s on its way! I think it’s the best songs we’ve done and a real diverse mix showing a growth for the band but don’t worry, there’s still the Power Pop in full force. I’m also really excited that we’ve added a new guitarist for live shows. We asked a good friend of ours, Dave Kerr from the band Silverjet, if he’d be interested in helping at live shows and he’s totally destroying! You don’t know how cool it is to hear all the parts which are on the CDs being played live. It’s really added a whole new dimension to the band plus a shit tonne more of on stage energy!
For the rest of the year I’m really just hoping people enjoy the Straight To Video songs and that I can build on everything to make it something of a ‘Brand’. Not that I want to go all corporate and sell out before I’ve event started but I want to try and create something that is more than just the music, a whole concept if you like, with the films nights and other cool ideas.
We’ll see….. Watch this space!
From: Derbyshire, UK
For fans of: 80’s movie soundtracks and stellar rock music!
Latest release: Straight To Video (April 1st 2013, Trashpit Records)