An evening with Michael Brook

Written by Jeff Keibel on Wed, 5 Mar 1997 13:20:42 -0500.
Michael Brook's
"Albino Alligator"
Spring 1997 press tour,
Toronto, CANADA

After watching the television crew from the station I work at conduct an interview with Michael Brook at a downtown pub, I was able to ask Brook some questions of my own and even play a couple games of pool with him. We Talked about a variety of things, a summary of which follows...

The soundtrack to "Albino Alligator" was discussed in detail. I commented on how the music fits the mood of the film very well.

About deadlines, I asked Brook how much time he had to work on the soundtrack. He was given the final cut of the film and had three weeks following that to come up with the complete soundtrack. Due to some extra work needed on the film's mixing, Brook received a tad extra bit of time to work on it. But still, it was a super tight deadline!

I commented on the use of actor William Fichtner's dialogue used in one of the soundtrack's songs. Fichtner's character explains the meaning of albino alligator. I found this reunion of sorts for Brook and Fichtner to be a good pairing. He was unaware that both he and Fichtner worked on Michael Mann's "Heat" previously, where Fichtner plays a sleazoid banker whom Robert De Niro steals a load of money from.

Brook fleshed out a "Colbalt Blue" track for use in "Heat". Brook and I commented on the uncanny similarities between "Heat" and the bank heist gone wrong that transpired in Los Angeles on Friday.

Brook said several tracks were submitted to Mann for "Heat" but only one was used in the film. Perhaps these unused tracks will resurface in a different film or project, he said.

Working with first-time director Kevin Spacey was a good experience for Brook. Spacey was very involved with Brook in the creation of the music for the soundtrack. The director would offer lots of suggestions with regard to the mood and genre stlyes Brook put to tape.

Brook said Spacey's directorial yearnings were a long time coming. During the shooting of the end scenes under the power lines in David Fincher's "Se7en", Spacey realised that the shots of the actors would be improperly angled when it came to editing the scene, a continuity nightmare. Fincher discovered this later during editing and requested that Spacey return for reshoots. Spacey simply told Fincher to get Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt to come back for reshoots to fit his already shot scenes instead.

I asked Brook about what he thought of 4AD's current roster. He admitted that he hasn't heard a lot of the newer bands. When I told him of gusGus and how they are a group of multi-media artists and not just muscisians exclusively he was excited. It'd be interesting to hear a gusGus/Michael Brook collaboration!

With The Wolfgang Press and his country flavored take on "Going South" I thought he might find working with Tarnation something to pursue. In fact, he and Tarnation front-woman Paula Frazer live in the same area of San Francisco! Brook had been working with Paula on tracks for "Albino Alligator" that, sadly, were not used in the finished soundtrack.

I handed Brook a stack of CD's for him to autograph. When he got to that four-track live album "Shona" from Sine Records, I asked him what the heck this was. He commented that it was actually a very elaborate bootleg. Apparently Brook knows the guy who runs Sine and had some words to say about him. Complete with nice artwork and a bar code, this is still available in stores and looks like an official release.

Contracts provided to be an fun topic. I was amazed to hear that due to some rather harsh stipulation in the R.E.M. contract, 4AD cannot use the Michael Stipe sung "Ill Wind" as a single or make a video for it. This obviously makes promotion that much more of a challenge.

His contract with 4AD is more relaxed. I asked Brook about his "every five year" release schedule (excluding "Live At The Aquarium") with the label and he responded that the deal he has works very well. He is not obligated to submit everything he does to 4AD and neither is 4AD contractually bound to accept everything. He plans continued work for Peter Gabriel's RealWorld label, more collaborations and working as producer for various bands.

"Joyride", the movie that 4AD label chief Ivo Watts-Russell is serving as music supervisor for, has tracks contributed by various 4AD bands including Brook. His version of "Danny Boy" will grace this soundtrack to be released by 4AD sometime later this year. The film is finished production now but I'm not sure of a release date yet.

We finish up the evening with a couple games of pool. I successfully albino alligator-ed him at one point but sadly had my ass kicked later on. After a long day meeting the press, Brook buys a music magazine with a huge pictorial article on The Spice Girls for reading material on his flight home. After a short break, Brook heads to Los Angeles to master the new Julia Fordham album, due out soon on Virgin.

Next week, if all goes well, I'll have lunch with a member of gusGus and discuss the new album "Polydistorion"...

Jeff Keibel
Scarborough, Ontario

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