Category: Scott Pilgrim

Track-by-track: Beck, Nigel Godrich, Emily Haines, Bryan Lee O'Malley & Edgar Wright dissect the 'Scott Pilgrim' music


Fifteen pages into the first volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-part Scott Pilgrim series, the characters break into song -- or at least they rock out as much as one can in a black-and-white graphic novel. Electric bolts shoot from the singer's mouth, O'Malley provides a chord progression and a teenage girl watching the rehearsal falls in love. 

As for the sound, the reader is informed it's "kind of crappy," but the rest is left to one's imagination. Such could have been the fate of Edgar Wright's big-screen adaption of O'Malley's tale of twentysomething hopeless romanticsAfter all, bringing rock 'n' roll to the big screen is not the easiest of feats, and with video game quirks and elaborate action sequences, it'd be easy to see how one could conclude that it would be best for "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" to just to do away with the rock.

As star of the film Michael Cera put it to our sister blog Hero Complex, "Whenever you see a band in a movie, the music is barely passable. It's like when you see a film, and someone is writing a book. Whenever you hear excerpts of the writing, it's just terrible. You're like, 'That's what they're writing?' It's kind of the same theory."

Early versions of the script, which is credited to Wright and Michael Bacall, did in fact do away with the music -- completely. With Cera's Pilgrim forced to do battle with the seven evil exes of the object of his obsession, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" has plenty of ground to cover without the rock 'n' roll.

"In the first draft of the script, there was this running joke that you never heard the bands," Wright said during a Q&A following a recent Los Angeles screening. "You heard the intro, and then it would cut to the next scene, and somebody would be going, ‘Oh my God, that’s the best song ever.’ That was a joke for a long time."

Beck At least until Nigel Godrich entered the picture.The famed producer, best known for his work with Radiohead, Beck and Paul McCartney, was entrusted to bring to life the sound of the punky Sex Bob-Omb, the fictional band in which Cera's Scott Pilgrim plays bass (poorly). Godrich made overtures to Atlanta punks the Black Lips, put ultimately persuaded close friend Beck to lay down sketches of a couple dozen garage rock songs. 

"I completely understand why you might downplay the music in the script," Godrich said. "It’s one of those things where it might be better to just not hear any music and to leave it to your imagination. Then it will be as good as it will ever be. But once a few inquiries were made, and it was clear that we could maybe get those people to contribute, it was an exciting prospect."

In addition to Beck, the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" soundtrack, released Tuesday via ABKCO (also available in a digital expanded edition), features original songs from Broken Social Scene -- in full thrash mode -- as well as a previously unreleased cut from electro-rockers Metric. The 19-track album is rounded out by songs from the Black Lips, T-Rex, the Rolling Stones, Frank Black and, of course, Plumtree. Some of the bands in the film are referenced in the comics or were suggested by O'Malley, and others were selections from Wright. 

Pop & Hiss spoke to Wright, O'Malley, Godrich, Beck and Metric's Emily Haines, asking them to contribute to a track-by-track look at the songs in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." It's the second installment of this blog's look at the music in the rock 'n' romance picture, as earlier Godrich and Beck spoke in detail about the thoughts behind Sex Bob-Omb

Track-by-track analysis is after the jump.

Continue reading »

But is it as good as 'Spinal Tap'? Beck and Nigel Godrich discuss the music of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'


Nigel Godrich
has had no problem working with what some would consider the best artists ever. The real challenge is the acts that never were.

Paul McCartney, U2, Radiohead, R.E.M., Air, Beck and Pavement are just a few of the artists that grace his resume. But the name that was perhaps far more intimidating? Sex Bob-Omb, a pretend group concocted for "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."

"It's always terrible," Godrich said of movies that contain an artificial group. Action-romance "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" has four of them. 

Godrich was entrusted by director Edgar Wright to oversee what would ultimately become the backbone of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World": The film's original music. There were moments when Godrich couldn't help but wonder whether he was setting himself up for failure. On one visit to the Toronto set of the film, Godrich caught the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" on a plane. It only made him feel more out of his element. 

"I was just thinking about how terrible it looked," Godrich said. "It just didn’t look like they were playing. This can so easily be awful. My benchmark was 'This Is Spinal Tap.' That’s the best ever realized band in a film. They’re playing, they look like they’re playing and the songs work. That’s something very difficult to do. So is this as good as 'Spinal Tap'? That was my internal discussion."

In other words, does the rock in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" break the scale and go to 11? 

BECK_COACHELLA_3_ One will certainly have a hard time claiming that Wright's adaption of Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-part comic series doesn't take its music seriously. Silver Lake's genre-hopper Beck and Canadian indie-pop act Broken Social Scene were among those tapped to contribute original music, and acclaimed electro-rock act Metric donated an unreleased cut.

Wright's attention to rock detail extends beyond its roster of artists. In this 99-cent-single-obsessed download era, the inhabitants of "Scott Pilgrim" geek out over albums. When Michael Cera's namesake character takes a girl on a date, they go to an old-fashioned, bricks-and-mortar record store to thumb through CD racks.

Capturing the look was comparatively easy. Cera's lovelorn Pilgrim struts his musical knowledge at Toronto's famed indie store Sonic Boom, one of the many real-life locales used in the film. But when the fictional band Sex Bob-Omb takes the stage at dingy dive bars -- Pilgrim is the act's bassist -- the actor knew that any sense of rock authenticity could be lost the moment he struck his instrument.  

"It can be such a miss when bands are supposed to be good," said Cera, whose Pilgrim must battle the seven "evil" exes of the object of his obsession, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). "Whenever you see a band in a movie, the music is barely passable."

The songs of Sex Bob-Omb, six of which are on the ABKCO soundtrack, to be released today, anchor the film. The sloppy, fuzz-laden anthem "We Are Sex Bob-Omb" opens the movie, playing over an extended credit sequence. The sludgy, self-depricating "Garbage Truck" scores one the film's most pivotal early scenes, when Pilgrim is introduced to the first evil ex. Godrich turned to longtime friend and collaborator Beck to knock out the songs that would ultimately be branded Sex Bob-Omb.

"The problem you see in films about garage bands or fledgling bands is that you can tell how pro the music is," Beck said. "It doesn’t feel genuine. All I had to go on was the comic book. When I was writing the songs, I was looking at frames from the comic book."

Continue reading »

The rock 'n' roll inspiration behind 'Scott Pilgrim's' Beck-led Sex-Bob-Omb

What film will be the breakout sensation of Comic-Con International 2010? You might want to put your money on Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," which plugs its pop-culture amp into comic books, comedy and cool-kid music. Our sister blog Hero Complex, Geoff Boucher's must-read spot for all-pop-culture-things-awesome, will provide most of The Times' "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" coverage. Monday's piece maps the music landscape where the film roams and is excerpted below. 



One doesn't have to get far into Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-part "Scott Pilgrim" series to realize some of the inherent challenges in bringing the pop-culture-obsessed comic to the big screen. From the first few pages of "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life," released by Oni Press back in 2004, O'Malley's creation unfolds like a video game being played at a frame-by-frame pace. 

Scott Pilgrim Bryan Lee OMallley Oni At its heart, it's a tale of dating mishaps and a fear of relationships unknown, and the commitment-phobic themes unfold amid the series' grand martial arts-like fight scenes with "evil" ex-boyfriends. Yet Michael Cera, who has the title role in Edgar Wright's cinematic interpretation "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," wasn't worried about the metaphor being obscured by the cartoonish fight scenes and the outlandish plot, in which Scott Pilgrim must win the heart of Ramona Flowers by taking on her seven ex-boyfriends. 

That's largely because "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," due Aug. 13, is not only a comic book movie; it's arguably this summer's most rock 'n' roll-centric film. Cera's Pilgrim is a twentysomething slacker who despite declaring himself awesome is a below-average bass player. With half a dozen original songs, including pieces from Silver Lake's Beck, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" will live and die by its music as much as its action and script.

"Whenever you see a band in a movie, the music is barely passable," Cera said. "It's like when you see a film, and someone is writing a book. Whenever you hear excerpts of the writing, it's just terrible. You're like, 'That's what they're writing?' It's kind of the same theory."

What band did Beck use for inspiration in recording songs for the film? The answer and more on Hero Complex.

-- Todd Martens

Images: At top, Sex Bob-Omb in "Scott Pilgrim" comics (Bryan Lee O'Malley). Bottom, a "Scott Pilgrim" cover.

Rock 'n' roll: 'Scott Pilgrim' launches with Beck-scored trailer

One of the year's most anticipated geek films, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," may take its inspiration from a series of anime-inspired books by Bryan Lee O'Malley, but the graphic novels at their core are grounded in rock 'n' roll. Loaded with cartoon-ish fight scenes and a view of the world through a video game lens, the vision of "Scott Pilgrim" is one that throws out a lot of pop-culture references. But it's through music that its characters bond, grow some confidence and get comfortable with their misfit trappings. 

A trailer for the much-anticipated fantasy-action-romance hit the Web today, debuting on the Apple site. For now, you can watch it after the jump. It moves fast, but it offers a glimpse of Michael Cera in the starring role, and his latest pink-haired girl obsession in Ramona V. Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Saddled with a fear of commitment, Cera has to engage in a series of exaggerated, kung-fu-like battles with Ramona's exes -- her baggage -- to win her heart.  

There are scenes of Cera brandishing a guitar, but the full spectrum of music in the film is left largely to our imagination. Canadian synth-rockers Metric have a showcase cut in the film, and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich served as the film's music supervisor. Local audiences, however, will want to pay close attention to the scruffy guitar riffs that permeate the trailer. That's a peek into some of the original music for the film, which was crafted by Silver Lake alt-rock hero Beck

Those paying close attention to the music will hear, a Universal spokeswoman confirms, a brand new cut from "Sex Bob-Omb!" There's two tracks in the trailer -- one more rootsy-pop, and one with harder-edged sound. Not familiar with Sex Bob-Omb? That's the fictional band that Cera's Pilgrim performs in. In real life, it's Beck. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" opens Aug.  13. 

Watch the trailer below: 

Continue reading »

Metric learns how to stop fighting, explore its 'Fantasies'


After spending the better part of the decade touring and building a following on independent releases, Metric was finally in the position it had sought to be in for much of its career. Yet being courted by major labels didn’t provide the Toronto-headquartered rock quartet any validation. It served as a wake-up call.

Metric took nearly five years between the release of 2005’s “Live It Out” and this spring’s “Fantasies.” During the gap, the band built its own Toronto studio and started a record label, Metric Music International, and realized that thriving just outside the mainstream isn’t such a raw deal after all.

“This wasn’t intended to be a statement,” says lead singer and songwriter Emily Haines. “We just exhausted all options."

“Fantasies,” in many ways, is a celebration of perseverance. It’s Metric’s loudest and most streamlined album to date; keyboards with a new-wave gloss complement stadium-ready guitar riffs. Anxieties are conquered in the reverberating “Help I’m Alive,” and characters come to grips with reality via the interstellar atmospheres of “Twilight Galaxy.”

It may not all be classified as happy, but much of it feels like an ode to autonomy.

“We took meetings with the head of every major label in the United States,” Haines says. “These companies aren’t structured in a way that they can do anything but say, ‘I’ll give you half a million dollars.’ That’s basically your buyout, and then they meddle in the trajectory of your career, your creative identity, the timing of your releases and then you’ll make 23 cents per record. … If you were going to open a dry-cleaning business, and the bank told you those were the terms of the loan, you’d borrow the money from your brother.”

Continue reading »

First tracks: Wilco album released online, and news on 'Scott Pilgrim,' 'Idol' and more


— It doesn't have an official release date until June 30 ("at the latest," reports Wilco's website), but the new album from Wilco is streaming now. The upcoming 11-track "Wilco (The Album)" is available for listening on the band's official site. Pop & Hiss is only four tracks in, so the blog will refrain from offering any sort of opinion here, but the initial reaction is that "Wilco (the Song)" is less silly on record than it was on "The Colbert Report," and the guitar tension in "Bull Black Nova" is pretty riveting stuff. The new album is online in advance of Wilco's summer tour, which launches May 23 and lands in the Los Angeles area for four sold-out dates beginning June 20 at the Fox Theater in Pomona.

Continue reading »

So long 'Nick & Norah': Time to start getting psyched for 'Scott Pilgrim'


In the post-"Garden State" era, indie rock has lost a bit of its cinematic edge, opting, often, for cutesy ("Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist") over biting ("High Fidelity"). It may still be a ways off yet, but "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" has the potential to provide a much-welcome musical jolt to mainstream cinema.

Starring Michael Cera, who may or may not partake in an "Arrested Development" film, "Scott Pilgrim" follows the exploits of a twentysomething Canadian indie rocker (Cera's Pilgrim) who attacks his life -- and his girlfriend's ex-boyfriends -- as if he's battling through levels in a video game. Today, the Playlist picked up on a piece of news that Pop & Hiss missed, and gives us even more hope for the comic-turned-film, which is being directed by Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz").

Continue reading »

Ready to rock: 'Scott Pilgrim' has Michael Cera. Music?


Michael Cera
is in. Now what about the rock 'n' roll?

Inspired equally by music and video games, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series is a “High Fidelity” for those weaned equally on Nintendo and record stores. The six-part comic series -- Parts 1-4 are out now, and O’Malley hopes to have Book 5 in stores by the end of 2008 -- is being turned into a film by Universal Pictures, with shooting pegged to begin later this year.

Nearly every page of O’Malley’s books is loaded with some sort of a musical reference. Some are obvious -- Stephen Stills is the name of a principal character -- and some are more for the in crowd, such as a magazine headline that’s ripped direct from a lyric from power-pop band the New Pornographers.

The books may not come with a soundtrack, but music has a starring role. For instance, the title in Book 3, “Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness,” is a nod to a certain Smashing Pumpkins album, and  the main character himself is named after a song from little-known defunct indie rock band Plumtree.

"I loved the band, and they're long broken up," O'Malley said. "I mean, one of the best things about the books is that I've gotten to speak to the girls in the band, who were my idols in high school"

But "Scott Pilgrim" is not simply another book for the dating inept written by a dude with a deep music collection. O'Malley's characters aren't just obsessed with pop-culture -- they're pop-culture creations themselves, living even the most mundane moments of their lives as if they are levels in a giant video game.

A power-up -- or a life-damaging blow -- can be just a successful pickup line or a bad haircut away, turning even a quick stop at the library into the ultimate reality show. "Scott Pilgrim," essentially, is what life would be like if everyone alive warranted an action figure.

The hero of the story is a 20-something Canadian indie rocker who battles his insecurities in the same way Mario & Luigi tackle giant lizards -- with a jump and a kick and a prize of gold coins at the end. In O’Malley’s world, characters fret before talking to an old flame, but life, as in a video game, comes with “save points,” just in case things don’t go according to plan.

“Juno’s” Cera has been cast as the young Scott Pilgrim, a character who tempers his self-proclaimed awesomeness with a bevy of neurotic ticks. The bassist in a band called Sex Bob-omb, Pilgrim will approach the cute girl at a rock club, but immediately profess his obsession for her, and then freak out about the caloric content of garlic bread on the date.

While it looks the part of kid stuff -- O’Malley’s round drawings and big-eyed characters draw influence from Japanese manga –- the four Scott Pilgrim books deal with the transition from teenage to adult relationships, and all the baggage that comes with them.

The crux of the series: Pilgrim is smitten with the roller-blade punk rocker Ramona Flowers, but to date her, he must grow up and conquer his fears. This is done by defeating Ramona’s ex-boyfriends in all-out, Ninja-styled battles -- scenes that come complete with “demon hipster chicks” and vegan-eating bass players.

Here, O’Malley breaks down the influence of music on the books. And does he offer a hint as to what one may hear in the movie? Scroll on.

Continue reading »

Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: