July 31, 2010

July is literally melting into August here in NYC. I spend my days trying to get two new feature scripts off the ground. To help keep my sanity during this process I go to a boxing gym twice a week. Yesterday, the owner looked at me like I was an idiot when I asked when he was getting air-conditioning.

"Boxers like to sweat," he said. "That's why they come here."

After my workout even my boxing shoes were soaking wet.

Another thing I do to keep my sanity (apparently filmmaking is a constant endeavor to keep from going insane) is mess around with music. Over the past 2 years I've been collaborating with Will Crewdson in the UK and Grog in LA in a transatlantic musical consortium we call The Black & Blue Orkestre.

The sound is a little dark and cinematic with a strong groove. It's as i we all share a mother of purported gypsy origin who spent the night with Elvis, Nick Cave and Ennio Morricone in a Mississippi bayou. We've done 2 covers and 3 originals. I record the vocals and a very basic arrangement and send the tracks to Will. He lays down all the guitars, percussion and synths and solidifies the arrangement. He sends this to Grog who writes and records the bass line.

It's a pretty amazing process. There is no boss. Everyone gives each other respect and freedom. This week we finished another song, called Frozen Heartache.

I suggested Grog sing on this one as well. She's got an incredible voice. Both she and Will have major projects elsewhere. Grog and her band Die So Fluid have just released a new album and Will recently spent several months recording with Adam Ant.

Who knows what will happen with our scrappy little trio. Will we ever perform live? Would anyone care? If the icy dread that instantly fills my gut at the thought of singing in front of people is any indication it seems highly unlikely. But, the sense of wonder at seeing a song come together is deeply satisfying to my soul. And for the moment, that's good enough.

One of our covers, 16 Tons, is going to be played in a radio podcast Sunday, August 1. It was included in an in-depth interview I did last week with Today Is Boring, an arts related radio show hosted by Adam Carr and Tree Carr. We had a long, inspired talk about several of my films with special focus on When You're Strange. The first airing tomorrow night can be heard here. Hit the big red Listen Now button.

Afterwards the entire interview will be in the show's archives. And they're going to play 16 Tons.

I can't believe it. A song on the radio.

Hi Tom,
I hope you do get another film into production. I always enjoy your work.
Rups 🙂
My dear Renata,
Please never apologize for your writing, especially such an impassioned comment. As a filmmaker it is always a secret desire that somewhere, somehow, someone will see into your soul and catch a glimpse of what you were really trying to do with making a film.
These comments and observations of yours about Delirious come the closest that anyone has come to catching the emotional spirit that inspired the film.
So much of what you wrote has been lingering in my heart for years. That look that Buscemi gives at the end of the film is seared into my psyche and I sometimes wake up at night silently screaming how unjust it is that no one recognized the great depth of what Steve brought to Les Galantine. I mean, not even a nomination from the Spirit Awards, which is supposedly the great independent recognition venue.
But, you got it. So, there you go. For me that makes it all worth while.
I didn’t consciously work to make Pitt better looking as the film progressed, or Buscemi worse. I think it was simply the events of the script that affected both their characters. As the film progresses each gets closer to their own real persona. Also, remember, due to the nature of low-budget filmmaking, we had to shoot many scenes out of sequence.
The interview scene you mention at the end of the credits (thank you by the way for watching all the way through) was originally intended to immediately follow the final scene on the red carpet. But, no matter how I tried to edit it, it always had a jarring effect on the emotional impact of that final scene. This shows you how scenes can surprise you in ways you never expected. What Buscemi, Pitt, Lohman and even Gina Gershon brought to that last scene was so strong that it made whatever came after it need to be just as powerful to match it.
That interview scene was too light to come right after the final scene. But, it was also a very well acted scene and one that I thought was crucial to the arc of Les Galantine. So, after many agonizing weeks of wondering what to do with the scene I decided to lay it in at the end of the credits.
Now it is my turn to apologize for blabbing on so much. More than anything I’m immensely gratified that you responded to the film.
Thank you so much,
PS Oh and the interview bit after the credits was a great surprise!!!I liked especially the interviewer saying “Gallanteen” and Les correcting “tine”…
Ops, I saw your answer to my comment only today, thanks for writing it. I am glad to know you like Johnny Cash! I agree with you 100%, I became actively interested in his music only after listening to the cd’s in his American Recordings series, which I agree contain some of his best work, they reach a higher level than any of his (already great) previous work. As for Nick Cave, he was married to a Brazilian and lived in Brazil for a few years, that’s when I first heard about and got interested in his music, guess he was more visible in the media there at that point. I loved his Murder Ballads cd, very beautiful, hypnotic melodies and eerie atmosphere. I haven’t kept up with his music but will look into it and keep the Burt Bacharach reference in mind from now on, thanks for mentioning it.
Talking about music, I finally watched Delirious and one of the many things that impressed me about it was the perfectly fitting, cool and beautiful soundtrack. Watching it was one intense experience, by the way, a bit unusual nowadays to get this from a movie. It made me laugh at points, but also brought up many different thoughts and feelings, sometimes almost painfully so, maybe because it’s rare to see a movie that actually makes me care about the characters like this one. They felt more like real people than characters, really, I liked and wished them all well, even Les, maybe Les more than anybody else actually, and I had a hard time watching the, well, “camera” scene at the end (trying to avoid spoilers here.) Let’s say it was with relieved appreciation that I saw the events unfold, it fit a certain character so well (in my opinion) that he would still have a redeeming side buried underneath all the crap life had dumped and encrusted on him. It was for me a realistic ending that kept the story in a “relateable” human level instead of falling into clichéd. What I mean by that is, if I were in the character’s shoes and had got to that point of resentment and frustration, I still would have done exactly the same thing he did at the end.
I have to mention, although it’s seems almost unnecessary due to it being so obvious, that Steve Buscemi is truly outstanding as Les. I think the look he gives Toby in that final scene, as he is turning to leave, manages to sum up all his feelings and in an amazing way even the whole story between both of them; it should in itself have been enough to give him an Oscar, if the Oscars were given based only on artistic merits, obviously. Anyway. What a beautiful, funny, well-crafted and written movie, no wonder it did not get more recognition, it’s not often that something of this quality does anymore. There’s something I noticed (or projected/imagined, not sure…) that I wanted to comment on: it seemed to me that as the story went on, Toby, who in my view started as a somewhat repulsive-looking young punk, became better and better looking, while Les started “ok looking” and then went downhill towards creepyfreak territory. I was wondering if this was something that you planned or if it was just me projecting their inner flaws or qualities into their looks as the story revealed them more clearly. By the way I understand now why you insisted on Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt for the main characters, after watching the movie it’s impossible to imagine anybody else in those roles. I also really liked Lohman as Karma.
Well now I will go back and re-read all the stuff you wrote about making Delirious, I skipped most of it not to spoil the experience of watching it. This comment is of course too long and I won’t be offended if you leave it out or cut it. OH AND THE MOST IMPORTANT (and it sums up my comment really…): THANKS FOR MAKING “DELIRIOUS”, I really enjoyed watching it!!!
Hey Christine,
Thanks so much for your amazing support.
Your advice about The Black and Blue Orkestre’s Facebook page is very helpful.
I’m glad you enjoyed Double Whammy. Denis is very good in it. I also loved the younger actors. Yeah, kind of a whacky film. You can read a little about it in the FILMS tab above.
Your encouragement is fantastic. I’ll keep pushing on both the film and music fronts. Got to.
Hey Renata,
Again, please forgive the delay in getting back to you. I’m really thrilled you like the music.
Yes, Rapture is original. I wrote it, along with Will Been Done and One More Whiskey Promise.
I love Johnny Cash too. Ring of Fire is a classic. But his very last album was unbelievably strong. It was like he just let everything go.
And Nick Cave is a true inspiration. I love how he keeps experimenting with his music. I also admire how he takes his singing seriously. You’re not going to believe this but he once told me that a musician he really loves is Burt Bacharach. If you think about it, you can hear the influence, especially on The Good Son album.
Hey Patrick,
I don’t think I’ll be posting my music any time soon. Just can’t seem to find the time these days. But, I am sincerely flattered you enjoyed it.
As I mentioned, one of the highlights of making the film was when Ray Manzarek first heard my music and said, “Hey, that’s pretty good!”
I’m glad you got something out of the interview. I wish more people had been able to see some of these themes and connections to the 60’s I was trying to make with the film. The Door’s place in that time was very specific. To my mind they were just a little ahead of everything, a little outside of it.
But, as Morrison says in the film, “Music can’t help but reflect what’s going on around it.”
With your kind words The Black and Blue Orkestre will keep pushing on and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll actually find myself singing in front of an audience of 5.
Hey Will W.
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Been kind of busy lately.
So, you’ve got some fears and insecurities about taking a step into filmmaking. Well, that is good. Steps into unknown territory should bring on these kinds of feelings. They would in any body.
There have been a couple times in my life when I was similar situations. It’s like you’re getting closer and closer to the edge of a cliff and you’re torn between turning back and jumping off.
If it is any help to you, every time I reached the edge and jumped off it something informative happened.
And that is all you can expect from taking the plunge; something to inform or direct you. I think you should go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe if you can get your parents to pay for the tuition, you’ll come out knowing that it just wasn’t for you.
Best case scenario, you’ll really dig it and something will really start clicking in you. The only way you’ll find out is if you try it. Think how you’ll feel ten years from now if you don’t. Give it a shot and see what happens.
What kind of schools are you thinking of? Some are better than others, not so much in their technical aspects, but in how they make students feel welcome. The atmosphere of learning and creativity is very important.
For any kind of creative person the best thing you can do is create in yourself the belief that trial and error is good. You can’t create if you feel that trying something and making a mistake is horrible. Making mistakes are the only way you learn and I’ve tried hard to value the mistakes even more than the successes.
Take a step out into filmmaking. Trust your interest and your curiosity.
Hey, Tom. Your interview on Today Is Boring was very informative. Your answers regarding the 60’s revolution and how it related to Morrison were well articulated and they’ve given me even more of an appreciation
for When You’re Strange. Your cover of 16 tons sounded great too. Sincerely, that track was well done. I could see you guys playing
small, dimly lit venues with drinks flowing freely. Cheers!
Hey, Tom. Congrats on your current music project. I’ll be checking out 16 Tons this afternoon. Any word on whether you ‘ll be posting your music from When You’re Strange?
Hi Tom,
I listened to 16 tons and Rapture, I liked both. Your voice is pretty cool in those songs, but I liked it better in Rapture (it reminded me of the guy from The Mission.) Adding the female vocals was a good idea, she has a beautiful voice and the parts both of you are singing together are beautiful and catchy. Is Rapture an original song? It’s pretty good.
Today I was listening to Johnny Cash and Nick Cave’s recording of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, I am a huge Johnny Cash fan, and I like these guys deep voices. Yours have some cool depth to it at points, too.
Sweating is good, man. Since I started running I learned to love it, the more the better. Here in Hotlanta I am having plenty of opportunity to experience it since I walk most places and it’s hot as hell now. Apart from arriving at appointments looking (and smelling) like crap, it’s all good.
Have a great weekend, y’all!
Will W.
Mr. Dicillo,
I know I want to work with films, particulary with the directing and writing process, and to be honest with you, I have some fears and insecurities about taking the leap of faith by going to a film school. Half my family thinks im crazy and/or stupid for wanting this, the rest support me. Same way with my friends. I’m sure you may have had some insecurities about film before, I mean we’re only human. Whoa, kinda got off on a bit of a tangent there, anyway I hoping you provide me with some advice. If you could I would really appreciate it.
Will W.
Great song, Tom! Would be cool if y’all toured live one day, but in the meanwhile, those things that are satisfying to the soul are hard to match, aren’t they?
Wayne – on the whole, I agree w/you regarding Irish music these days. Though I will say I love the Dropkick Murphys.
Wanted to mention to those who may not have or may not want to download iTunes on the computer (am I showing my age or the fact that I have a PC and not a Mac?) there is also the main radio show page where you can listen to the interview. It’s in the list of episodes to “listen again” and it’s episode 7. Not sure how long the link will be up, but for now it’s there. Link is below:
Hello again Tom,
I just finished listening to all the songs by The Black & Blue Orkestre on iLike and I must say that your description of the music is absolutely spot on. I LOVE the sound and my favourite tracks are One More Whiskey Promise (very good vocal and the lyrics really resonate with me) and 16 Tons. I am also a fan of Nick Cave and Elvis (been to Graceland!) and I can really hear those influences. I have some good friends who would love your band so I’m going to pass those songs along to them on Facebook.
I found your Facebook page and it looks like you’re just getting started with it. If you ever need any help with that, just let me know because I am a social media manager and I’ve created and manage dozens of pages for authors, musicians and businesses and work with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn in specific. It would be great if you could add some music tracks to your FB page and you can do that by adding the iLike application to it. That way everyone can hear those tracks right on your Facebook page. I’d also link your blog into it through Networked Blogs or simply write Notes and copy and paste whatever you write about the band/project in your blog into at Note on FB. I have lots of ideas about how to make a Facebook page interesting and interactive and I can help build your fan base too. If you want to email me privately about this, I’m at and on Facebook, my business page is called Scully Love Promo. I would be honoured to help you in any way I can. I’m a huge music fan and I love goth and rockabilly so The Black and Blue Orkestre is right up my alley!
All the best,
I absolutely love the description of your new trio’s sound (I’m a big fan of Peter Murphy who also has a dark cinematic sound) and I really hope that we will get to hear more of your songs and that you do consider the possibility of taking the band on the road in the future!
By the way, I came across a copy of Double Whammy on DVD recently and bought it, along with When You’re Strange. Double Whammy is delightfully strange itself! I loved Denis Leary’s performance in it.
Stay well,
Hi Tom,
Hell yeah, I think many of us here would care if you guys played live! I’d love to see you in a live setting. The music is extremely atmospheric and would lend itself greatly to a great dark venue It’s been so goddamn long since I have been to a concert, there are so few decent new bands around these days that I would be bothered to go see. The last concert I went to I actually flew to St Louis, to see a friend’s old band, Pale Divine, reunite after 20 years apart. There I discovered my love of America and St Louis is perhaps my favourite place in the world, that I have been to. I especially loved the giant Bloody Mary’s they serve before dinner. Can’t wait to see NYC and Chicago.
I will be travelling to England next month to see my friend on tour, she plays with The Psychedelic Furs, so yet again the only bands worth seeing require an airplane to get to see. Irish music hasn’t produced anyone worth leaving my room to see live yet at all. I really miss playing live and being onstage myself but teaching guitar kind of makes up for it, I enjoy that.
I’m really loving the music, it’s like someone threw Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Ry Cooder onstage together, it’s great! Will is one truly excellent guitar player.
So yeah man, get The Black and Blue Orkestre on the road! 🙂

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