Recently (29 March) British Sea Power premiered their new soundtrack for 1999 documentary Out Of The Present – which recounts the final months of the MIR Space Station – at the appropriately science-y CERN laboratory, home of the Large Hadron Collider, as part of the CineGlobe Film Festival. Next week, (15 April) they are set to play as Daniel Johnston‘s backing band London‘s Union Chapel. Singer Yan Scott Wilkinson explains how two of their most unlikely bookings so far (and remember this is the band that regularly staged their own festival at Britain’s highest pub, The Tan Hill Inn) have come about.
Physicists are all a bit barmy. You know, genius barmy. They’re pretty good fun. It’s a strange job they do, but they know it. The gig at CERN was good. It’s quite hard to tell – it’s like being in a DIY warehouse or something, all metal and there’s wires everywhere. The scale and complexity is impressive – but it went well, apparently.
We were giving some ‘space suits’ to wear for the show and I’ve not seen a photo yet, I’m dreading it. We looked like a cross between Ghostbusters and Jedward. One of the physicists who works there and helped out with the film festival sorted them for us. They’re genuine scientific wear but we probably looked more like we’d been sanding floors. I think if we wore them around Brighton we’d look a bit like nuclear protestors and get arrested, so it’s probably a good thing we didn’t bring them home.
Out Of The Present is quite different to our last soundtrack [The Man Of Aran]. It’s a bit more abstract. It’s a bit 2001: A Space Odyssey but with this contrast between robotic, machine-like sounds and acoustic tracks which symbolize the humans in the story a little bit more. Doing soundtracks, I don’t just want the film to be there and us to be doing a backdrop. I think you can get the best effect when music helps bring out the stories and emotions of a film. I guess we just tried to put across the scale of what the story was about. So it’s kind of somewhere between Blade Runner and Easy Rider.
In terms of show with Daniel Johnston we’ve just started talking about what songs we’re going to do. We’re backing him as Texan Sea Power. I don’t know how he came across us. I’ve been a fan of his for a while and obviously watched the film, The Devil In Daniel Johnston, which is very endearing if a bit scary. He was definitely on the edge. He seems a lot calmer, a lot happier these days.
He also seems quite laid back about us backing him. He sent us all the songs we can play and said, “Let us know what ones you fancy, and also let me know if you fancy doing a Beatles or a Queen cover”, which will be interesting. I’m quite tempted to throw in a Queen song if we can get it together.
Yan Scott Wilkinsonwas speaking to Al Horner
Head to Britishseapower.co.uk for more on the band