Edgar Wright talks about why he wasn’t afraid to unravel the mystery of his favorite band, Sparks


For many Edgar Wright fans, music has always been the hallmark of his films.From Zombie Fight Set to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” Shaun of the Dead In various combat bands Scott Pilgrim vs the World For the entire music-based premise Baby driver, Wright’s films are built on pop music as well as pop rhythms.

And he thinks that’s how his brain works. “I 2015 video with Pharrell Williams, And he has a synesthesia. When he listens to and writes music, he sees colors, “Wright tells Polygon. “So I started to think that I had the synesthesia of the movie version, where listening to the song evokes a visual image. That’s how Baby driver Born — I listen to songs and think about the scene. “

Still, he has never used the music of one of his favorite bands in the movie. Because that ability doesn’t affect them. An eclectic and highly eclectic rock band, Sparks has long profiled in his first documentary. Sparks Brothers, Is like an obsession with Wright, he says. “They don’t look like wallpapers. Sparks demand your utmost care.”

Since its launch in 1967, Sparks has struggled to get mainstream attention. Sparks brothers Ron and Russell Mael released 25 studio albums, but never entered a big era. Wright has been thinking about it for a long time. “I tried to use a Sparks song at Hot fuzz“He says. “I wanted “This town is not big enough for us two.” In a scene where Timothy Dalton and Simon Pegg are fighting in a miniature village. So it makes perfect sense! But whenever I wear it, I’ll find myself listening to the spark, not watching the scene. So I thought, “Maybe this won’t work.”

Instead, he put together a 140-minute love letter on their career, touched on all 25 albums, attracted fans from “Weird Al” Jankovic to Neil Gaiman, praised them, and how influential their work was. Talked about having “The basic structure that was in my head was,” Where did they come from, are they a very unique band? What’s in their DNA that inspired the band? “Wright says.

Edgar Wright, between Russell and Ron Mael
Photo: Jake Polonski / Focus Features

“Usually when shaping a style, I try to strip something and fail and create a new one. I wanted to ask,” Who are they and what inspired them? ” It was. Their journey turned into this rock, attracting all the other fans who make music and art derived from them. If you’ve never heard of Sparks, you’ve probably heard the music of many people happily recording in a documentary that “Sparks inspired me.” That was the story for me. Their footprint in music is huge, probably bigger than we can understand. As Beck points out at the end of the documentary, there are bands inspired by Sparks, and I don’t know that the pedigree is back to them. They were the fathers of all these artists who didn’t know who their grandfather was … and they were, in a sense, too humble to point it out. They don’t want to be unfriendly. So I felt it was my job to show the receipt. “

There are interesting moments early in Sparks Brothers Scott Pilgrim Actor Jason Schwartzman admits that he doesn’t know if he wants to see it when the documentary is complete. Ron and Russell have been so mysterious for decades that they are afraid to learn too much about them and ruin their Sparks experience. Wright also loves their deliberate mystery, but he’s willing to take the risk of making a movie, and the process didn’t destroy his charm, he says.

“It’s still enough to talk about how everything is done in a 50-year career and that they can have some kind of magic,” he says. “I think that’s one of the reasons people are still enthusiastically discussing bands like Sparks, because there’s so much to unpack. Other bands have had great success in their heyday. But I have nothing to say about Eagles anymore. “He laughed, emphasizing that he still enjoys Eagles music,” I really feel they have nothing else. But Sparks asks as many questions as it can answer. “

Some documentaries consist of fan testimonies from a library of musicians and creators, but also include a narrative segment that introduces the Sparks story to viewers. Wright says he had to start shooting before he could understand how to shape those parts. “Sparks doesn’t have a simple three-act career,” he says. “Most music documentaries are like rising, falling, rising, and Sparks are always up and down like ECG machines.

“Even after all the interviews, I and producer George Henken Hollywood beat sheet He said, “What would happen if the Sparks story had a three-act structure?” We understood that. In the late 1980s, there was no new Sparks album, and there’s a clear downside that we postponed everything. [while working on a Tim Burton film that eventually fizzled].. They learned the lesson of not putting all the chips together. Suddenly six years have passed and they are no longer known to music. The music scene moves very fast. “

Russell and Sparks Ron Mael, dressed completely black.Lift the window sill and look into them with Sparks Brothers

Sparks Brothers
Photo: Focus Features

The film also features a bizarre interstitial where Russell and Ron Mael themselves deliver a straight fake spark factoid to the camera, or mimic a small metaphor about where their career was at a particular point in the story. It features a shar. “I came up with all those ideas, but they contributed,” says Wright. “Like the first FAQ sequence, I wrote the questions, but they wrote all the answers and remembered them like an actor.”

He says the fake segment was inspired by something Maels was doing in the 1970s newsletter. “They claimed in a fan newsletter that they were Doris Day’s son. It was in front of the Internet and people believed it for decades,” Wright says. “The other was,” I used to be a hand model. ” So all this like a random fact is on the market. So, at the end of the documentary, I thought I was just mentioning a lot of random facts. I think they wrote them all. “

Regarding the facts part of the documentary, Wright says he spent about nine hours interviewing Maels over four sessions. “They are very interesting,” he says. “They are really achieved. And they are sincere in what they are doing. They really believe in the art of writing pop songs. Many other bands that have been there for a long time are 4 I think it’s under them trying to captivate the audience with a minute song, and I’ve always been in awe that Sparks never avoided it, and they’re visual. How much effort they put into, and the fact that they can laugh at themselves, all made them the perfect interviewee, and the perfect subject. “

Meeting your idol is always a painstaking process, but Wright says that when he approached, Maels was no different than he expected. “Knowing them — I thought there was nothing behind the documentary before I started. There were Ron and Russell behind the documentary. The line between them and Spark was forever. It’s blurry. They say it in a documentary, and I completely believe it. “

And one of the joys of getting to know Russell and Ron was sharing his sense of linking visuals and music. “Sparks always has a cinematic desire, which is transmitted to music. Songs are often like small operas about the smallest social interactions and observations. They are a kind of these little quarters. They have a gift in a way, because the way they approach music is the same as the way I made some movies.

“I’m not saying I’m Jean-Luc Godard, but as Ron says in the documentary, I can comment on Jean-Luc Godard making a film at the same time. So they loved French New Wave movies, and Sparks has this clever trick to writing self-recursive songs while being completely sincere in documentary, documentary and emotional. Yes. I think it’s probably one of the things that kept them away from the super-mainstream audience, as they are sometimes the band you have to work on and even decipher exactly what they’re getting. ”

Sparks Brothers I’m currently in the theater.

Edgar Wright shoots Ron and Russell Mael at Sparks Brothers airport

Photo: Ritchie Starzek / Focus Features