DISCO MUSIC As threatened a million years ago – here’s the next blog about Disco. It’s about music this time.
I can write this now as the music to the show has nearly completely been delivered. Also, I have almost finally managed to find some lovely dancers willing to join in the fun. Welcome aboard (I hope) – Emma and co.
I’ve mentioned before the music has been my favourite aspect of Disco. After years of ‘dark comedy’ – I really wanted to write a musical. Or something approaching a musical.
I like music because with music one is not required to spend half one’s life trying to book studio space/pay expenses/deal with venues/scour the internet for props and costumes/rehearse/pay money you don’t have/organise anything at all/pay more money. With music, other people have to suffer and that’s nice.
The simple reason for original songs is that I couldn’t pay the PRS on actual (say) Boney M and Donna Summer and Chic songs. So I contacted the most talented composers I knew and asked them to write me these songs for free.
At first, it seemed yet another long-winded roundabout way of having to do simple stuff without money but in the end it’s added up to an amazing layer of original, fantastic comedy by creative people who really need to be paid a lot more than they are by me.
ON RECORD I’ll say it. I do love disco music. As with all music, disco is music that takes me back in Time – that runs parallel with the other music I love. I love nearly all music and definitely believe it’s the highest art form. The only music I don’t get is “rock” which is just unintentionally funny but also alienates me from 90% of other males. (Although I’m starting, just starting to get into The Who. If only they hadn’t involved themselves with that dreadful Oasis thing… I’m digressing).
Listen to a Chic record (not that Kelly Marie Kung-Fu garbage) – I mean, listen to a Chic record. Completely functional soul music compressed, de-emotionalised and mechanised into a single dance attack. Heaven.
So the challenge was for Waen and Pete who have written these Disco songs to emulate the silly brilliance of that brief late 70s when funky music was starting to feel the chill of electronica…
THE SONGS No, I’m not going to post any songs from the show. You might not like them but even worse you’ll become familiar with them and might not think you need to come to the show.
I let Waen and Pete do what they felt with the songs. They both know the genre. I did provide the song titles and a few ideas for lyrics. This is mainly because, and this relates to writing as well, there’s nothing worse than a brief which asks of you: ‘do whatever you want. There are no rules! Go crazy man!’ Yeah thanks. Never, ever give a writer or a composer that brief. Please.
These are some titles: ‘Lift Off! (Theme from Disco)’, ‘La La Lenin’, ‘I Need (Motor) Love’, ‘Hot Lady’ and ‘Dance Kapital’… Come on, you know you want to.
IN THE HEART OF THE CIT-AY Dance Kapital is an interesting name. In fact, it’s so interesting when I was at school that was the name of the band I was in. I thought it would be great to use that name as a song in Disco.
I’m not saying how long ago Dance Kapital were out and about – but you’ll know when you hear it. This song’s called ‘Pharoah’s Face’ and features the best lyrics ever written. I ‘play’ keyboards on Pharoah’s Face if you must know – although my home-made monophonic synth could only produce one note at a time so it’s hardly playing.
This did mean I could concentrate on being the weird ugly one at the back so the rest of the band, who could play and sing and be good-looking, could get on with the song. Just look at the picture for confirmation. I miss that band; had a brilliant time. So I guess the Dance Kapital song is a little tribute to Paul, Barry, Vicky and Jackie all those years ago.
Anyway, that’s the music. It’s the best thing about the show. Except for the acting. The dancing. The comedy. No, music is best. Maybe.
Thanks for reading. And thanks Waen and Pete for making what seemed impossible six months ago, a reality.
And I haven’t even mentioned the contribution to be made live by Mr Dick Douglass.
Yes I know. I haven’t written anything here for a while. I’m sure all 34 of you who have viewed my previous blogs are devastated…
What’s been happening is that the play has been progressing at the speed of a slow moving glacier. So this post is more of a summary than a blog.
However, I can safely say we’re all on course and at last rehearsals have begun properly and it’s all becoming a laugh again.
New Year was a tough time for the Disco-meister. I got fed up and demoralised and seriously considered jacking it in. After all, without money Disco was supposed to be fun and I basically realised that fun was not what I was having.
A SAD MAN RANTS
I guess you could say I’ve ‘learned a lot’ – that producing as well as directing has ‘pushed me out of my comfort zone’ etc. etc. Well, sod off if you say that. I’m not some student justifying a year’s holiday in Thailand/Australia/the Moon learning to ski/PADI dive/fly and pretending it’s called ‘experience’. I can get experience by being punched in the face but believe me when I say I could imagine that punch just as well and learn in advance I could live without it. That punch. If you get me.
(Now, I’ve interviewed a lot of students in my time. And when they tell me they worked in a bar part-time for six months to pay for ‘travelling’ round the world on that invaluable, life experience gaining ‘gap year’ that isn’t a holiday at all, I always ask what was the name of the bar and what the hourly wage was because I want that job…oh your Daddy actually paid half did he… FAIL. I love my work.)
The way to beat the producer blues was to rewrite Disco. I locked myself away as best I could and knuckled down to a week of getting the script tighter and funnier and more emotional. It worked.
I’d forgotten why I was doing this show and the rewrite reminded me. There are lots of lovely people out there doing great work for Disco but I definitely needed to remind myself this is my show and this is how it’s going to be. Selfish.
And things started to go right. My lovely co-producer Ann has found a chap who wants to find sponsorship deals for us. Out of the kindness of his heart and a cut out of every deal we make – step forward Mr. Tom Bennett.
Tom is the chief sponsor bod for the Worthing Bird Man Festival and the Brighton Beer Festival. So if things ever get so bad I decide to throw myself off the pier, I can do it holding a pint of Old Peculier and a banner for Cinzano wafting in my wake.
REHEARSALS. IT GETS EVEN RIGHTER
We started in January. My final cast is a dream. I can’t describe how happy I am to have them on board. Sometimes when you rehearse a show or a film, there’s always at least one person who slows everything down or has an ego problem (yeah, usually me – shut up! It’s my show). But it just works. Rehearsing with Charlie and Nneka and Kat and Dick and Alex is fun! I don’t want to poison you against me, gentle reader, but if you hate the show you ain’t going to hate these actors. They’re great.
Yes. As a play inspired by the Stud, we have bad sex. Lots of it. And I have to rehearse the actors. I have to face them and tell them this is what I want them to do. Sometimes I have to show them. More about bad sex another time. You’ll just have to wait.
And finally (this really is a summary), I was up in London last week to visit the lovely Waen Shepherd, my main composer, to listen to his 1978 stylee pop songs.
And out of everything I’ve done up to now on Disco, the songs are the best. I sat in his studio and listened to three slices of brilliant, spot on, and strangely danceable parodies. I’m not going to let you hear them. I’m going to give the music a blog of their own. I haven’t heard Pete or Dick’s songs yet but if they’re up to the mark in the same way, I don’t need a script.
Out of the blue yesterday, I had a meeting about dancers. I’ve been worried about dancers. How the hell do you find dancers? Where do you find them? Well, I found them. I think. It’s so exciting.
OH BLOODY HECK
All I need now are costumes. And lights. And a set designer. But let’s not worry about that. I’ve got until May.
TALK ABOUT TV
NB – Next Tuesday, I think the 21st Feb, I’ve been invited to screen and talk about an old TV series I co-wrote and appeared in called TALES OF UPLIFT AND MORAL IMPROVEMENT.
Check out the End of the Pier Film Festival website for more details. I’m showing two episodes and talking about writing them and working with Rik Mayall. In Worthing (the talk, not the series). Exciting.
I would give web links and stuff but I’m over forty, don’t know how and can’t be arsed to learn. Simple as that. If you want to do it for me great. Just get in touch AFTER you’ve sorted it so you don’t have to explain how it works.
Okay, it's not Christmas any more but I felt the urge to write about something other than Disco for once... Girls can safely look away now: it's about the new Tron.
POSITIVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT TRON LEGACY (SORT OF)
Okay, it’s not remotely a movie. It’s really not a blockbuster kids popcorn Harry Potter Narnia thing. It’s not even the endless, dismal Avatar. Should it be?
I guess, given how much Tron Legacy probably cost, the answer is yes. But there are positives here – for the viewer, if not the investor.
I saw the thing in 3D on a big screen, which is the only way a viewer can honestly expect to get any joy out of the experience. When I walked out of the cinema after two hours of numbing visuals tied into a barmy Eurythmics-on-ecstasy soundtrack, I can’t say I was entertained.
What I was: was calm. I’d watched something that cleared my brain in the way good art (or drugs) is supposed to.
Anybody remember The Lawnmower Man? Of course not, yet at the time it had ‘ground-breaking’ computer visuals etc. Only it attached them to a crappy sub-B movie plot with Pierce Brosnan, rendering the whole film redundant. The story got in the way of the visual experience. Far better I think to choose the Tron Legacy route and forget everything but the art.
Of course, it would have been nice to see the Tron Legacy people had in their heads, the film they wanted. Intelligent, lightning fast, monumental, gripping, funny and weird but alas, Inception is already out there.
Unencumbered by plot, character, story or drama, Tron Legacy is a formalist art piece, exploring the dynamics of vortices, colour and perspective. It’s like a 60s Communist Czech cartoon on a giant screen with pop music instead of progressive jazz.
Apart from Michael Sheen’s ludicrous Ziggy, the frictionless non-existence of characters, acting and chemistry means the viewer puts these out of their mind and concentrates on the two qualities that matter: visuals and sound. And what else is pure film for? If Michael Hanneke had made Tron Legacy, we’d be calling it a work of twisted genius. JG Ballard would have loved its formality – assuming they bunged in a bit of violent cyber-sex, obvs.
Let’s face it first Tron was never a good film. Deadly boring, apart from the brilliantly stupid set-up of imagining a digital world and sending a normal man into that world, the film lacks pace and after sixty minutes stops even pretending to have a story.
There is only David Warner, a god-like actor fatally missed in the sequel (would love to have seen him CG’d up back to his youth) and a proto-Dude Jeff Bridges – who comes back to haunt us in the sequel, in a naff way.
However, Tron’s genius is its sui generis visuals. No other film before or since looks like this. And if you watch the fascinating ‘making-of’ on DVD, you realise no other film was ever made like this before or since. A technique of genius animation never utilised again. And some great light-cycle chases. Which Tron Legacy takes one step further by even making that dull.
AN UNFAIR ATTACK ON VIDEO GAMERS
As an old man, I think Tron Legacy is a film about computer gamers – sorry, ‘video’ gamers – and I think in years to come, they’ll see that.
The main guy, that faceless kid, wotsisname, is not a character. He’s a gamer as they like to be in games. And like all heroes in computer games he’s invulnerable, brilliant at everything, great looking and nothing emotional ever touches him. The hands-off approach to emotion and sex in Tron Legacy is designed to appeal to the gamer, I’m sure. The perfunctory love story between the main guy and whatever that girl was supposed to be is reduced to its game essentials: tight leather costumes and kicking baddies heads in.
The reality: that gamers are prematurely obese terrified chair-bound teenage boys hiding behind sarcastic, violent homophobic put-downs, unable to talk to the opposite gender, is not recognised in the Tron-iverse. And for that they will ultimately be truly thankful.
LOVING THE DREAM
So did I love Tron Legacy? Did I even rate it?
Sadly no, for one specific, rather pathetic, reason: I find anything with a movie nightclub scene and especially ‘DJ’s’ too cringe-worthy to handle. That’s because I’m old.
(One day, I’ll list all the films ruined by setting a scene in a rubbish nightclub – from Terminator to, er, Tron Legacy. No I won’t.)
So there you have it, a redundant review of Tron Legacy. It’s not about anything but hopefully it’s full of relaxing words.