Hans Zimmer on getting Pharrell and Johnny Marr in the same band
Hans Zimmer admits he was reluctant to score another superhero flick.
“I think I’ve done all the -Man movies now,” the Oscar-winning composer, whose credits include Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and last year’s Man of Steel, tells us in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. But as it turns out, the prospect of scoring The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just proved too irresistible.
“I certainly had some ideas for Spider-Man,” says Zimmer. “Number one, he lives in a real town: New York. And he’s just graduated college. So the language to express what Peter Parker is going through is rock & roll. But rock & roll in film scores is a tricky thing, because it usually goes wrong. So I was really mulling over the problem with Pharrell Williams over a year ago, and by the end of that conversation, we were like, ‘Hey, why don’t we do it together?'”
And so they did, but with some backup as well — such as the legendary former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.
“Roughly around that time I was in London, and I saw Johnny Marr for a quick lunch,” Zimmer says. “Started at noon. He said, ‘What are you up to?’ I said, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to be doing Spider-Man, and i have this idea.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, I love Spider-Man!’ This was a noon lunch, and all of a sudden, we’re still sitting in this restaurant at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. They would really would like us to leave! We don’t have any instruments, so we’re just singing riffs at each other — embarrassingly in front of the waiter. We were just so on fire with ideas. So we thought, maybe let’s approach this as a band? Let’s spend three days together in one room and see what everybody can bring to the party.”
After filling out the band with the likes of Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, they got to work. Says Zimmer, “The only brief I gave everybody: Let’s channel being in our first band.”
The result, Zimmer adds, was a thrill: “There’s something exciting about Johnny Marr from the Smiths, who worked with one of the most serious, introspective singers in the world ever — not to use the word depressing — suddenly being confronted by the guy who wrote ‘Happy’. And to see the two of them just sitting in a corner and coming up with a song? It was very exciting.”
And then there’s the song featuring Kendrick Lamar and Alicia Keys. “I think it was Pharrell who thought of the Kendrick idea,” Zimmer says. “In fact, I’m pretty sure of it. And it felt like it was the right thing to do — that we had that dichotomy.
“It’s this very New York idea,” Zimmer adds of the soundtrack’s spirit, “where cultures are just colliding all the time.”
You can read more about Zimmer’s experience recording The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s soundtrack in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.