Lindsey Best for AOL I said I might never go back to Coachella. I'd done it…
- Posted on Aug 28th 2012 3:45PM by Shauna Farnell
"I don't really care," says the Australian rocker, who wrote the screenplay for the John Hillcoat film as well as the score and soundtrack, collaborating once again with Bad Seed Warren Ellis. "I say that in the sense that, you do your thing, you do it as well as you possibly can. What happens to that project ... you simply let it go. You are so intensely involved in the work and the project but there is a point where suddenly you cut off. You give it away. It happens very much with records."
"Lawless" hits theaters Aug. 29, and, based largely on Matt Bondurant's book, "The Wettest County in the World," tells the story of the Bondurant brothers running a booze bootlegging operation during prohibition. The setting is rural Virginia. The cast is star-studded: Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy. Cave spent 10 days conducting a pre-shoot rehearsal with the actors and appears to have become quite endeared to them.
"It's fascinating to see the way different actors approach their characters and their jobs. They have different ways of doing it," he says.
When asked if any particular actor's style struck him more than others, Cave calls out LaBeouf.
"Personally, I thought his approach was great," Cave says. "He turned up on time, he's professional. The way he goes about things, in every way he is a consummate professional. But I was impressed with all of them, the little darlings. They're all little darlings."
As far as guidance on the "Lawless" screenplay, Hillcoat, with whom Cave made his screenwriting debut on 2005's "The Proposition," basically gave the rocker free reign.
"I'm interested in working with John Hillcoat," Cave says. "We have similar ideas and so on. That was my primary interest -- to facilitate his visions. He wanted to make an American film. I just came in and wrote it for him. When we made 'The Proposition" and I wrote the script for him, we noticed a great collaboration was there. We were trying to do that again. There were producers involved, of course. I wrote the book as a screenplay. They said, 'You've done a commendable job. Let's now write it as a movie.' I was given liberties but I tried to remain as true as I could to the Bondurant story. There is a lyrical beauty to the book that is stunning. There was a beautiful balance, a natural lyricism and brute violence."
In terms of violence, when asked if "Lawless" parallels some of the same themes we see today in the United States with drug prohibition and deaths it produces at the hands of cartels around the border areas, Cave acknowledges the similarities and thrusts forth his own feelings about legalization.
"It doesn't seem that the current policy with drugs works in America, or, well ... anywhere," he says. "I'm not expressing the views of anyone else involved with the film, but I think drugs should be legal."
Maintaining the spirit of the film, for the soundtrack production, Cave and Ellis formed a band called the Bootleggers, featuring Emmylou Harris, Mark Lanegan, Ralph Stanley and the Duke Spirit's Liela Moss, even bringing in Willie Nelson to perform the last track. The entire lineup has a romping bluegrass twang with a sprinkle of soulful country. The most fetching track is a countrified version of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat."
The soundtrack came together piece by piece as Cave unraveled the story in the screenplay.
"We'd been talking about the soundtrack and working out what that would be," he says. "In my mind, we've been inserting songs into the story, that's the luxury John gave me."
As for the score of the film, Cave and Ellis were operating under a rather tight deadline, and the result is somewhat ad-libbed.
"With this particular score, we didn't want pianos or keyboards," he says. "There wasn't a lot of money to do the score. We had to do it fast. Me and Warren, on some level it's our favorite one, done under such pressure."
Thus, much to Cave's delight, there was inserted into the film a powerful element of spontaneity.
"Films aren't really given the element of spontaneity because people are scared of spontaneity within scores," he says. "It's an unknown factor. John very much understands that. Me and Warren come out of rock 'n' roll. Rock and roll is about spontaneity. Your normal scores aren't done in that way."
A normal score, especially in a standard Hollywood film, is anything but spontaneous. It's deliberately calculated to tell the audience how to feel throughout.
"Yes," Cave agrees. "We can't bear that shit."
And lastly, speaking of rock 'n' roll, the last Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds release was way back in 2008 with Dig, Lazarus, Dig. Details are still forthcoming, but get ready -- it sounds like the Bad Seeds are brewing up a new garden of sorts.
"All I can say is that the Bad Seeds are never far away," Cave says. "We're always working on stuff. We've got something. It's something really amazing. It's a fragile point where we're at with it. I don't want to talk about it."