Former Shudder To Think frontman Craig Wedren and Sonic Youth multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke both lent a hand behind the scenes of “School of Rock,” starring Tenacious D’s Jack Black. In the film, Black stars as a substitute teacher who imparts rock’n’roll wisdom to his pre-teen students. “School of Rock” arrives Oct. 3 in U.S. theaters.
Brought into the project by musical supervisor Randall Poster to compose “an original modern rock ballad for the climactic battle of the bands sequence,” Wedren went on to pen the film’s score. “[Director] Richard Linklater didn’t want anything that sounded even marginally like traditional score, but rather music that felt like the licensed and original songs, which is to say hard and fast rock,” he tells Billboard.com. “The cues are obviously composed and tailored to the scenes so that they work emotionally like score, but you don’t really notice it because it fits right in to the overall weave.”
During the film shoot, O’Rourke worked closely with the child actors, who play their own instruments in the film and will do so during upcoming promotional appearances. Due to commitments with Sonic Youth, O’Rourke last week yielded to Wedren, who went to Los Angeles “basically just to make sure their chops were tight,” he says. “Hopefully I’ll get to work with them again. It’s kind of like being in my first band, the Immoral Minority, when I was 12. I love it.”
Naturally, the film itself is overflowing with music. Black’s students perform AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll)” and “The School of Rock,” written for the film by the Mooney Suzuki. Also featured is “Step Off,” an original song penned by Black and Tenacious D collaborator Liam Lynch.
“Throughout their extensive and intensive training period, [the kids] play riffs and pieces of other classics, like ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple and ‘Touch Me’ by the Doors,” Wedren reveals. “Most movies are museums of emotions rather than emotions themselves, particularly the abundance of movies that are about rock but which don’t rock. ‘School of Rock’ is not one of those.”
Wedren is busy mixing the first album from his new band Baby, which he says is “quite different from Shudder To Think.” However, there are rumblings of activity in the camp of his former band, which split in 1998. Later this year, Dischord will issue the group’s 1987 Sammich Records debut album, “Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses” on CD for the first time, as well as its maiden 7-inch single, “It Was Arson.”
“I’ve also been writing a new record which kind of feels like what I would’ve wanted Shudder To Think to make after [the 1994 album] ‘Pony Express Record’ if everything hadn’t gone all wonky,” Wedren adds. “I haven’t talked to anybody else in the band about it, but I definitely want to make it, whether or not it’s a proper Shudder To Think recording.”