Spindrift composes cinematic psych rock for Classic soundtracks Vol. 1

:: Cervante's Other Side :: November 9 ::
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: This show will now take place at 

By Brian F. Johnson

Psychedelic spaghetti-western rock and roll might be a difficult genre to grasp via words alone. But imagine, if you will, a character from a Quentin Tarantino film, or any Grindhouse-style film for that matter, walking down a dusty road in the desert; the music that you envision playing at that moment of the movie — with twangy baritone guitars, heavy pedal steel and rattlesnake-like percussion — that is psychedelic spaghetti-western rock and roll.

The band Spindrift are masters of this genre. The group was started on the East Coast by guitarist and vocalist Kirkpatrick Thomas as an experimental rock outfit in the early 1990s, but just before 2000 they moved to Los Angeles, changed their lineup and began writing material that evoked the spirit of the Old West.

Now, years later, with yet another lineup change under its gun belt, the band has contributed to multiple feature film soundtracks (including a Tarantino produced film Hell Ride), inspired a motion picture — The Legend of God’s Gun — with their 2002 album of the same name, and most recently, recorded and released Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1 on Xemu Records. The album is a collection of theme songs written for various film scores by eight different directors who participated in the project which included film clips, music videos and movie trailers (for both real and imagined films).

“From the get-go, we started writing themes,” said Thomas  amidst bad cell reception as he drove through the desert during a recent phone interview with The Marquee. “That pretty much developed into working with several different directors.”

Sometimes Spindrift is writing material for a film that has already been shot, and other times they’re writing songs that are later turned into films, or shorts. It’s a chicken and egg type of arrangement that almost makes the band feel more like an art collective than a rock group. “It’s definitely a band, but there is a formula to it and it’s quite a creative process,” Thomas said.

Part of that creative process for Thomas and company involved more than a few treks directly into an environment not considered very habitable by most, but one that welcomes and almost seems to breed Spindrift-style music — Joshua Tree National Monument in southeastern California. In fact, some of the material that appears on Classic Soundtracks Volume 1 was written in the now infamous ‘Gram Parsons death room’ at the Joshua Tree Inn, where the famed country singer died from an overdose of morphine and alcohol in 1973. “In Joshua Tree you’re in a beautiful setting with no distractions and you kind of feel like you could have a Ouija board out, pointing you in this direction and that direction,” Thomas said. “You can’t help but think that maybe this place is haunted, or maybe there were Native Americans that had held rituals here, or who knows what kind of aliens might have landed out here. It’s definitely a magical place and I think it really kind of shows the level that we went to for this record to write a lot of these songs. A lot of these songs had already been written but we really flushed them out, out there.”

The band returned to the desert to record the album at an artists retreat/hotel called Hicksville Trailer Palace, which has themed trailers and is located far beyond the paved roads of the area, and Thomas credited that experience with “adding accents to the songs, in a lot of ways.”

While the lineup of Sprindrift has changed in recent years, Thomas explained that the organic nature of the metamorphosis made the changes easy to swallow. Luke Dawson, in fact, was the innkeeper at the Joshua Tree Inn when Spindrift visited. Turns out, that innkeeper also knew how to play pedal steel. In 2009 the band also added vocalist, organist and Native American flute player Sasha Vallely, who had previously expressed interest in the band back when most of those duties were handled by Julie Patterson. But it was the addition of autoharp and drummer James Acton that sounds like a script from a Spindrift-inspired film.

After a gig one night in Salt Lake City several years ago, Thomas was approached by Acton. “He came up to me and was like, ‘Get me out of here. Get me out of this city. I want to see the world.’ I told him that we weren’t looking for anyone right then, ‘unless you play the autoharp.’ Six months went by and we’d lost a few members and I end up getting an email from him that said, ‘You still need an autoharp player? ’Cause I bought one and I can play the shit out ot it,’” related Thomas. But he had stopped looking for an autoharp player by that time and told Acton what he really needed was a new drummer. Turns out, that newly trained autoharp player has been playing drums his whole life and with that, the band’s fan became a band member.

In 2012 two films that Spindrift has scored will be released, Treasure of the Black Jaguar, and Dust Up. The band will also score another feature film next year, titled The Legend of the Widower Colby Wallace, by Colorado filmmaker Burke Robert. The film includes scenes that were filmed in the Rocky Mountains.


:: Cervante's Other Side :: November 9 ::
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: This show will now take place at 


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