There’s one week left of our new play Songs For Europe, so what are people saying? Well, stuff like this:
“Don’t think Fringe at all… just think great theatre. These two short plays, linked together by Eurovision song contests of years gone by, are refeshingly original – the writing is crisp and multi-layered and the performances terrific. …there isn’t a single weakness in casting in either play… …you should consider this an absolute must-see of the Fringe.”
“The performers are consistently terrific and the writing surprises at every turn… Full of heart, it’s a work that has a spike under every joke, gently questions its audience far more than the singer, and remembers that there are real people behind our wittiest mocking.”
A couple of quick plugs for the weekend ahead for all you Melbourne-based arty-types – I’ll be hosting an event for Australian Poetry at The Wheeler Centre on Saturday the 14th May. It’s called one.seven.six and will feature readings from Terry Jaensch as well as Susan Hawthorne, Elizabeth Beaton, Trevor Ball and m d west. You can find out more by going clickety-click right here.
Then on Sunday night it’s the official Boxcutters Eurovision Party at Seraphim (formerly Vibe on Smith), 123 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Look at the classy poster!
So if you want to stalk me, you know where I’ll be…
Australian cinema-goers have their chance this month to enjoy the glory of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. This documentary follows veteran heavy metal band Anvil as they attempt to bring their sound to the masses. Glibly described as “a real life Spinal Tap”, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil is an exploration of the glory of music, and is full of heart. And hair. John talked to Robb Reiner (not that Rob Reiner), the drummer of Anvil, about fame, ambition and music.
You’re travelling the world, you’re supporting AC/DC, your albums are being re-released, all effectively on the back of a documentary about how you’re not successful. Is that ironic?
Well, it’s ironic that we have been successful in my point of view, the fact that we’ve recorded 13 albums and we’ve been touring for 30 years. But mainstream success is what’s now coming about. It’s a great thing, the movie shows the truth, it tells the story, people are engaging and it’s a great thing.
For the seventh episode of the Outland Institute Radio Show we were joined by comedian, actor, musician and New Zealander Alan Brough. It was a pleasure to have him in the studio, as we chatted about Spicks & Specks, growing up, acting, terrible stories, and Alan’s pearls of wisdom such as “What day isn’t made better by Haysi Fantayzee?”. You can hear the full interview by downloading it from here, but here are some highlights:
Every time I mentioned you were coming in, people would say “That Alan Brough, I’d like to hug him”. Are you Australia’s most huggable comedian?
I never really thought about it before, but I’m willing to test that out. I do – after I’ve had a couple of glasses of red wine – and anyone who knows me will know that’s very seldom – I do like to hug people. Particularly small people. Just lifting them up, picking them up and holding on to them. Rove McManus is good for that. Not for name-dropping, but he was the first tiny person who sprung to mind. But that area of person. I love to pick them up. Cos they’re helpless. They can struggle all they like, but they’re like a salmon caught in the claw of a bear.
You and Myf Warhurst seem incredibly nice on Spicks & Specks, are you like that in real life?
If this is possible, Myf is even nicer in real life than she is on the telly. It’s quite difficult to understand. I thought it was physically impossible to be nicer than she comes across on the TV, but she is. I, on the other hand, am just sad. And when I’m not sad I’m fuelled with a rage that comes from an incalculable depth.
But that’s comedy, isn’t it? Many comedians seem to be bitter, nasty individuals who hide behind a thin veneer of humour…
My veneer is being redone at the moment, so it’s just pure rage for me.
Everyone on the show – bar me – is genuinely nice, and we do get on extremely well. And to be perfectly honest I don’t see the point in people being awful to each other on the television. You get enough of that in life, from your family, from people on the tram, in bars… I was reading about Masterchef, and someone said what they loved about it was that you wanted these people to be your friends. As opposed to a lot of reality shows where you want to find these people and kill them.
Ever wondered who writes the theme tunes for the news? No? Oh… Anyway, this week on top TV podcast Boxcutters we talked to David Ashton and Damaris Baker about writing the music for ABC2’s News Breakfast. You can hear the whole interview by going here (and why not consider subscribing to the show through iTunes? Perhaps on multiple computers?).
You can hear the News Breakfast theme at whatsonthetube (scroll down for the second video clip), and here are some highlights from the interview:
Note that for the sake of simplicity I have combined all hosts into one question-asking entity I call “Boxutron“.
Boxutron: How do you approach writing a theme tune for the news?
David: The thing about writing music for TV is that you’re told what to do, basically. It’s not like writing your own song where you just sit down with a blank page and think “what do I want to write a song about?”. They say “we want something like this” and that’s what you try to do.
When they say “something like this” do they mean “dark and moody” or “like the thing NBC is using but change enough notes so we don’t get sued for it”.
David:(pause) Somewhere in between… (laughter)
In the case of Breakfast News they had a piece of music they’d been using when they were throwing ideas around. They checked out how much it would cost to get that cleared and it turned out it would be cheaper to buy us. They didn’t tell us to copy it, they said “this is what we like about it”.
It came down to ominous, serious strings with a little bit or percussion under them – and that would be what they’d read the headlines over – then it burst into these big dancey drums and a bit more melody in the strings and that would be where the opening titles with the spinning graphics would go.
The theme is surprisingly funky…
Damaris: There was a bit of an issue as to whether it should have a tune or whether it was something that was meant to be dancey and funky but definitely not sing-able, whether it should just be hummable, or…
David: There was a phrase, you had to be able to “nod to it, but not hum it”, or something…
Apologies for the lack of new material on The Outland Institute this week. We’ve been having the asbestos in the east wing of the Institute replaced – it was getting a bit worn out. Do you know how hard it is to find asbestos these days? Meanwhile – in between interviewing puppet squirrels – I’ve also had other work commitments, including my new regular gig on the tv-themed-podcast Boxcutters and I’ve been doing some Fringe reviewing for AussieTheatre.com.
Speaking of reviewing, Syms Covington has been having some fun at the expense of The Tender Hook recently – it’s an Australian film, so you won’t have heard of it. It was released on the 9th of October and set new box-office records, taking $4.55 and half-a-biscuit in its first week, before it was mercifully taken out the back of the cinema and shot repeatedly in the head. Which reminds me, it stars Rose Byrne. (Actually, to be fair, I’ve discovered I only hate Rose Byrne in Australian films, I think she’s pretty good in non-Australian films, and she is genuinely lovely in real-life).
Syms’ less-than-flattering comments about The Tender Hook led to this comment, from a person named “Anonymous”:
“Syms, I feel very sorry for you. It seems that you find enjoyment in belittling films you would never have the skill or imagination to make. Maybe if The Tender Hook was about a bitter, cynical nerd with a blog, you’d have liked it. Maybe if it spelt out every detail ad-naueseum you may have liked it. When was the last time you got laid Syms? I’m guessing its been a while. Seriously though, it’s your loss that you weren’t able to enjoy The Tender Hook.
It’s people like YOU that are the problem with Australian film industry… Get a life you miserable tiny little man.”
So people like Syms are the problem with the Australian film industry? And there I was, thinking it was the films…
A television theme tune serves many purposes – it establishes the start of the show, and it stops all the programmes running together and becoming totally incomprehensible. (“Jon Pertwee was battling the Daleks, and now there’s a man reading the news? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???”).
It also sets the tone for what is about to follow. Exciting – spooky – newsy – scantily-clad – all these ideas can be conveyed in theme tune form. The theme tune may be on the way out, with shows like Lost and Torchwood abandoning the concept of the title sequence, but a great theme tune can live forever.
But what if the theme tune is… too good? Is it possible for a theme tune to promise something so exciting, so spooky, so newsy or so scantily-clad that the television show simply cannot live up to it?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Following are 8 theme tunes that no show could live up to. It doesn’t mean the shows were bad, it just means the themes promised such excitement, such drama that the shows were – perhaps – found lacking.
After my reference to Toni Pearen a couple of days ago, I decided to have a look at how many Aussie soap-opera actors have attempted a music career. The answer? All of them.
So I selected 10 songs by soap stars and have cut them together below. Your challenge is to name the ten performers and ten songs. Oddly, I suspect this may be too hard for readers of The Outland Institute, and too easy for readers of TV Week. (Does TV Week still exist?)
You want the answers? You can’t handle the answers! Oh alright, they’re here.