I’ve begun work on a theatre/music hybrid. The project came from a conversation I had with Mel and Lou after an FFA performance. Mel proposed I write some cop show-themed songs – from there, it freewheeled until Lou epiphanically suggested the band host a murder mystery party. I’ve never played Cluedo or been to a murder mystery night (still haven’t!), but I could instantly picture a gig structured around the format. Lou spruiked it the next day to the YAH gang while we were at This Is Not Art, and I followed up later with a written pitch. It got accepted into YAH 2015 a fortnight ago, and I’m now madly pulling it together.
I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but here’s a sentence from the pitch:
L’Assassiner de Faux Faux Amis is like an episode of Scooby Doo written by Jean-Luc Godard – a pulpy whodunnit, splattered with existential digressions on death and the power of pop songs.
I finished the first draft last week (‘draft zero’ as I’ve dubbed it because it doesn’t include the songs). Zero was needed ASAP for me to see if the shape and structure is going to work, but also so I could present something tangible to the band. Speaking of, the band won’t strictly be Faux Faux Amis – it will be a composite of our usual line-up with ring-ins and special guests. I love playing with new musicians, so I’m buzzed by the prospect.
There’s a lot of heady ideas packed into the show – existentialism, world mythology, ritual and the role of art. Some is overt, but most is bubbling under the surface – I wrote pages and pages of material, of which much is condensed into a handful of declamations (it brought to mind Thom Yorke writing scores of lyrics for one section of Paranoid Android, which he eventually summated into “when I am king you will be first against the wall”). It’s also heavily (HEAVILY) influenced by Nick’s productions of The Last Prom and Bomb Collar, both works where he deftly explored the Big Questions with humour, pathos and catchy tunes.
My favourite phase of any project is the first – some call it research, I think of it as ‘filling your head’. It’s the gathering of ideas, however disparate, and smashing them against each other. Everything I read, listen to, or watch is examined for its inspiration and possible interpolation. This includes movies I’ve sought out for context (Clue, Murder By Death), books I’ve happened to be concurrently reading (The Bulletproof Coffin, Season Of The Witch), and even seemingly random events (a man on the bus removed an exercise book from his backpack and held its scrawled notes up to the window as if consecrating the pages with sunlight – how could I not find room for that in the show?).
I’m about 50% of the way through the songs – I’ve got riffs or chords for each, an idea of what they need to achieve at their particular juncture in the show, and their subject matter. The lyrics are coming together but I never like to rush lyrics if I can help it… hopefully I have an inspired Christmas break!