Creating music for the supernatural romantic drama "Beautiful Creatures" gave thenewno2 frontman Dhani Harrison a chance for a couple of firsts -- creating a film soundtrack and recording a full project at EMI's famed Abbey Road studios, where his father and the Beatles did most of their work.
"It was epic," Harrison tells Billboard -- and not only for him; thenewno2 bandmate Paul Hicks' father, Hollies singer Tony Hicks, was also an Abbey Road regular.
"Both of our dads spent so much time there. It was weird more than emotional. It was just interesting to see where my dad must have been sitting all day long next to his amp, smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. When you're working there, too, you're actually in the same boat. And they haven't changed the room at all. We got to play Mrs. Mills, the piano that's been on everything, which is insane. It's just a studio...Jon (Sadoff) said it's like a high school gymnasium, but a high school gymnasium that Michael Jordan used to dunk in."
Check out exclusive footage from the Abbey Road session:
Harrison says he's "always really loved film," and that "Beautiful Creatures," which opens Feb. 14, gave he, Hicks and Sadoff a chance to indulge their respective areas of expertise. "Paul was in his supermix genius, Jon was in his conductor/orchestra world and I just sat in the corner until the evening time, and once the orchestra were done they let me go crazy on the band stuff," Harrison recalls. "We all got to function in our different guises. We broke it up into little bits, and three days (of recording) went by very fast."
That "band stuff" certainly stands out on the "Beautiful Creatures" soundtrack, including a new version of "Make It Home" from thenewno2's sophomore album "thefearofmissingout," "Run To Me" with Harrison's Fistful of Mercy partner Ben Harper and the Duke Spirit's Liela Moss, who also sings on the album-closing "Never Too Late." Fistful cohort Jessy Greene also plays on "Run To Me."
"I'd written these songs, but I wanted to make them better and better and better," Harrison explains. "For the first time I got to cross over from Fistful Of Mercy to thenewno2 and also have Leila from the Duke Spirit. It was like all of the people I've worked with plus the people I wanted to work with, and we all got together on a song, which was really special."
As "Beautiful Creatures" casts its spell over the multiplexes, thenewno2 is eyeballing a busy year. The group hits the road opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club this spring, and a third album is also in the crosshairs. But Harrison predicts it won't be long before thenewno2 is working on more film music.
"Jon Sadoff has done several movies (including 'Good Old Fashion Orgy' and 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World') and Paul's worked on soundtrack stuff before, but the great thing about doing it as a band, together, is the writing process is so much fun," Harrison says. "We love touring and we love making records, but I could see us doing a lot of film work. We'll be keeping ourselves busy in the conventional sense, but as soon as we get a chance to do another film, I think it's something we all want to come back to, so we're all open to any more suggestions for films that come our way."