Producer Mike Bennett collaborates with From The Specials, Melanie Williams and produces a full vegan vampire film score…
Mike Bennett who has produced punk and indie artists such as Toyah Willcox, Hazel O’Connor, Sham 69, Poly Styrene, Glen Matlock and The Fall has got together with Dylan Martin at Friedbanana – who has worked with the likes of The Stranglers, Ginger Baker and Beautiful People featuring Jimi Hendrix (watch video) , to join together and cross boundaries /cross transcend the genres for the soundtrack of the Vegan Vampires from Zorg film.
We caught up with them as they were editing the audio visuals for the film…
Q: Mike, how did the Fat White Family and Melanie Williams collaboration come about?
A: Tam. He is the brother of Nathan and Lias he suggested the I am Mark E Smith track might go well as a paradoxical permutation if we included Melanie Williams – hacienda classical soul diva, to perform on the cutting edge track which brings two genres together whilst making a cool video for the vegan vampire movie which is out soon on Prime Amazon via One Media IP at Pinewood Studios. We ended up doing 47 mixes and then mashed it all into one mega mix which Dylan could work into the movie.
Q: That’s risk-taking… but it can work, what was the process?
A: Organic and using lots of analog equipment at Far Heath recording studios. Melanie Williams has her own studio so we divided our time between Cheshire and Northampton and lots and lots of conversations with the gregarious Tam. It works so well in the film because it’s got this kind of B-movie vampiric energy.
Q: How long did it take before you had the final mix?
A: This is very non-New Wave music because I admit it took about a year to get it right. I like to boast that I can make a track within half a day but it wasn’t like that with this track because there were many people involved including a whole film crew and it was all about fitting it into the remit of the script.
Q: So you’ve got punk music, dance music and an eclectic ‘alien’ soundscape going on. It’s very strange mix but it works. Who else is on the soundtrack?
A: Sex pistols, Anita Harris, Lucigenic, Blondie and many more… it’s a long story but it’s a documentary about vinyl – but there are vegan vampires loitering about in the vaults of the Californian record store in Huntington Beach, which is the Punk capital of the California scene.
Click here for the premiere of I am Mark E. Smith – Fat White Family featuring Melanie Williams
We caught up with Dylan Martin who has done the editing for the film and created the visual backdrop for Beautiful People featuring Jimi Hendrix with Melanie Williams acting as a vegan vampire from 21,000,000 ly away. We caught up with Dylan to get his view on the collaboration…
“Mike Bennett first asked me to edit the film about Vegan Vampires and a California film tour that went horribly wrong…this appealed to me as I’m vegan and quite liked the B-movie vampire genre meets rockumentary, so we’ve ended up doing a spontaneous mental mashup! B-movie vampires mixed with rock n roll vinyl – what can go wrong?!…”
Q: Mike, you made the original horror flick in California but it all went wrong tell us more….
A: Well, we knew it was going a little bit haphazard when one of the English actors was wrongly arrested on the aeroplane on the way over.
Q: What happened?
A: He had an altercation with one of the English actresses Rihanna Grey. I am not pushing blame on anybody but when we got to Chicago on Twin Towers Memorial Day on American Airlines of all things, and was arrested on the switch over to Chicago. We were already our leading man missing as we arrived onset in California and that’s all I’m prepared to say but it’s documented in the movie that went horrifically wrong.. When we got back we were absolutely in despair. On the second day an American actress collapsed onset and was rushed to hospital and when we looked into getting her out we were in big trouble because she had signed the contract under a different name! The ramifications of insurance and stuff like that caused us a great deal of consternation but we ploughed on.
Q: You abandoned the scripts apparently, why was that?
A: We don’t know who it was but this minuscule man literally about 2 foot tall had colluded ‘allegedly’ with one of the English actresses and they had a very different movie in mind and in fact myself and producer Steve Watson were banned from the set for much of it. We haven’t seen too much of what went on but we’ve had reports. Instead of crying we used the success against adversity idea when lockdown kicked in and decided to do a documentary about how not to make a slasher movie!
That’s when Melanie Williams kicked in to the frame… She was in the cast from day one but she had a Carl Cox tour in Australia and New Zealand respectively and she missed out on the shoot but when she heard about the shenanigans we decided that we would make a documentary with compositions from the likes of Melanie featuring Peter Hook, and between us we wrote a track called heterochromia which has proven to be a great backdrop for the atmospheric documentary that as well as featuring vampiric imagery – documents the history of vinyl. It’s set at the vinyl solution record store in Huntington Beach which is arguably the oldest store in California so we had a new lease of life and we really went for it, getting in lots of people that were involved talking about the experience they had whilst making the film while celebrating vinyl at the same time. In America they call the grooves on a record ‘veins’ so that pertains to vampires and we thought we’d give it a spin and promote a bit of veganism along the way. Tam who is the brother of Nathan and Lias suggested that we reworked the cult classic I am Mark E Smith because it was a good juxtaposition to have a soul diva duetting with the Punk /alt pop group and it worked out great.
We shot the original in Orange County which is the punk capital of America so it’s sort of worked out quite well and with Dylan at Friedbanana who has worked with Chaz Jankel of The Blockheads, The Stranglers and of course Ginger Baker – we definitely have a classic rich punky audio visual on our hands with Melanie playing a wonderful vampire. Tam provided much of the artists and repertoire / conceptual stuff and after about 18 mixes I think we smashed it. I’m delighted that you guys have got the mixes.
Click here for the premiere of I am Mark E. Smith – Fat White Family featuring Melanie Williams
Q: You also have the Troggs performing with Brian May and indeed you are promoting his excellent charity that is anti-cruelty to both badgers and hedgehogs – how did that one come about?
A: I made an album with the legendary British invasion band and they had already collaborated in a few gigs with Brian May so we just reworked Wild thing and again Dylan Martin came out with great visuals and it sort of proves the eclecticism that the film demonstrates. Wild Thing was kinda fitting because badgers and hedgehogs ARE wild animals!
Q: There is a lot of punk rock in the movie. Even a strange collaboration between Sham 69 and the Carry On film actress Anita Harris. Were you pleased with the results?
A: Certainly but it was something that I had done prior to making the movie and again we are looking for a way of slotting it in, but it’s also a documentary about the history of vinyl and punk ‘VINYL JUNKIE HEAVEN’ so there’s a lot of opportunity to suspend disbelief and slot in some ‘high octane’ tunes – so let’s see what happens.
Q: You covered The Sweet’s track The Healer with both Melanie Williams and Peter Hook. How does that work into the movie?
A: Well coincidently Melanie Williams plays the part of the healer so it was an obvious choice but Peter Hook‘s baseline is the cornerstone of the backing track -he is so awesome on it and does three tracks. We had the pleasure of choosing the bits that we thought were classic – he really does play that bass almost like a leading instrument. It’s very idiosyncratically Peter Hook as you will get on the video.
Click here to see Melanie Williams featuring Peter Hook on The Healer
I caught up with Melanie Williams to get her take on the proceedings…
Q: I’ve seen a clip from the film where you perform a track called root 66 Sex . The lyrics are great but what is it that you are putting across in the words?
A-It’s emotionally multi-tiered conveying the irony of someone rooted in facts & science & no connection to the fantasy realm falling love with a vampire he doesn’t believe exists. The shattering of rigid beliefs is one of my favorite enlightenments.
Q: You and Mike put your own own take on Glam again with the healer which was originally by Sweet. The track was called the healer and you play a healer in the vegan vampire film, is this Synergy and do you think sweet would like your interpretation with Peter Hook on bass?
A: Total synergy all through the experience! A weaving of continual synchronicity…I would love them to love our take on the healer but if they didn’t I still love how this version has unfolded.
Q: You scored much of the movie yourself along with Mike Bennett and others. A lot of spoken words intruding as you’re acting against the backdrop of beautiful people with Jimi Hendrix. What do you think about what Dylan Martin has done with the visuals and the remix by Youth?.
A-The remix is dark in places but also has a positive aspect. It’s been such a surprising thrill to see what swirling world I might appear in after sending in some mere phone footage as we were all trapped in our homes at the time. I felt very privileged to be a part of Dylan’s genius expressions of Mike’s curious & limitless psyche.
Q: What was it like adding your own spin with The Fat White Family? You recorded it a Far Heath studios with The Prodigy sound engineer Angus Wallace, take us through the process…
A: Angus’s Far Heath Studio world was another trip into a dynamic creative energy where we completed a jam of mixes. I was so delighted FWF had asked me to jam on I AM MARK E SMITH & loved taking off on it with Angus & Mike going nuts on a cacophony of analog effects & layers through giant speakers! A real treat. The message of my role in the song was to evolve beyond ego….
Q: Simon Wolstencroft thinks Lillywhite lies is a hit… what’s that all about?
A: It would be lovely if what Simon says…is right ! Again the meaning is multidimensional a synergy of mine & Mike Bennett’s concepts. Governmental corruption, self deceit & projection onto others of the thing we would be more empowered to take responsibility for…selling out for material gain & greed, betrayal in love & denying it mostly to ourselves…
Q: Heterochromia with Peter Hook is awesome. What exactly is that track about as it’s a great title?
A-another synchronistic moment when Mike pointed out that a friend of mine had Heterochromia… I pounced on such a great word & asked Mike what it meant as he knows more vocabulary than anyone I’ve ever met! The meaning of multi coloured eyes triggered us into seeing the power of Vegan Vampire eye capacity & the worlds they can see through their supernatural vision.
Listen to the track Heterochromia
Listen to the mix Heterochromia
Watch film promo here