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“‘Hero’ is an anthemic, emotional, yet cool rock song, and the minute I heard it, I knew it was perfect for this movie.”
——Sony Pictures' Lia Vollack

THE SPIDER'S STRATEGY

On Movie Music, Inspiration, and Working
with "Hero."
Sony Pictures Entertainment Executive Vice President of Music Lia Vollack is just a little breathless this morning. The weekend grosses are in, and Columbia Pictures Spider-Man proved to be one tough arachnid, racking up a record-shattering box office of $114 million. The album, Spider-Man: Music From and Inspired By, is following in the summer blockbuster’s footsteps, too, heading for more than 115k in opening-week sales, with a #4 bow. The record’s two singles, “Hero,” by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Saliva’s Josey Scott, and Sum 41’s “What We’re All About (Original Version),” featuring Slayer guitarist Kerry King, are all over PoMo/Active Rock radio. There are also songs by Alien Ant Farm, Black Lab, Bleu, Default, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Greenwheel, The Strokes, The Hives, Theory of a Dead Man, Pete Yorn, Macy Gray, Injected, Jerry Cantrell and Aerosmith, as well as parts of Danny Elfman’s score. Vollack’s one mistake was getting tangled in the web with HITS’ editorial gadfly, Roy “Gnat Man” Trakin.

What was the thought process in putting together the album? Most of the songs are “inspired by” the movie, rather than actually in it.
That’s right. Artists came to us because they wanted to be involved. Corey Taylor is a huge, rabid Spider-Man fan who really wanted to do something for the record. Alien Ant Farm wrote their song specifically for the movie. The Strokes haven’t wanted to be involved with any soundtrack whatsoever, but they wanted to be involved with this because they really love Spider-Man.

Did anyone see the movie before they started to write?
No, because we were keeping the movie under very, very tight wraps. People saw pieces, trailers, individual shots and we had conversations, but we assured them the movie was faithful to the Spider-Man legend, so if you know the comic character, you could relate to what the movie ended up being.

What do you consider when you “cast” a record like this? It’s pretty rock-oriented.
Yeah, when [Sony Music Soundtrax President] Glen Brunman and I first spoke about the record, we didn’t want it to be as hard as, say, The Scorpion King. Because it’s a little broader, and there’s a love story and a lot of emotion in Spider-Man. Part of the reason it’s so successful at the box office and so successful critically is that it’s more than just a special-effects, wham-bam blockbuster—there’s a story, there’s romance.

In other words, this is going to sell to females as well as males?
Exactly. When “Hero” was sent to me, I had been talking with Rob Stevenson at Island about Spider-Man for awhile, specifically about Sum 41, but then he said he had been talking to Josey and to Chad [about the movie], and they were working on something they thought would be great. Rob sent it to me with a note that said nothing more than, “Holy shit!” “Hero” is an anthemic, emotional, yet cool rock song, and the minute I heard it, I knew that it was perfect for this movie.

Did you see it as the end-title song all along?
The song really sums up the movie. It was something we found to be an amazing signature for our advertising campaign. It’s the kind of anthem for a movie that you look for. There aren’t many times in doing film music where you get something that fits perfectly and connects on all levels—emotional, demographic, everything.

How has this groundbreaking collaboration with Columbia, Roadrunner, Island Def Jam and Sony Music Soundtrax worked out?
Incredibly well. It was a very big and important project, and I think everybody saw the benefits of working together.

Wasn’t there pressure to “keep it in-house” with Sony artists?
We did keep it in-house. The record came out on Columbia/Roadrunner/IDJ/SMS and is being distributed by Sony. We worked out a way to have everybody get what they wanted. And it’s been incredibly successful. It’s a great credit to all the labels involved that it’s been so smooth and so successful. There are no skeletons in the closet on this—everybody worked incredibly hard and everybody worked together well.

How difficult is it to put an “inspired-by” project like this together, as opposed to a soundtrack where the music is actually included in the film?
It’s a different set of problems. Neither Glen nor I are the biggest fans of “inspired-by” soundtracks, but we had so much amazing music, it didn’t make sense not to do one in this instance. Usually, “inspired-by” albums are hard because people don’t want to give you songs when they’re not going to be in the movie, but this was a totally different experience. Everyone knew there were limited slots—“Hero” is the end-title song, Sum 41 is in the movie, as is The Strokes’ song, and the Spider-Man theme is in there, too. Macy Gray has an on-camera scene in the movie performing “My Nutmeg Phantasy.”

Were all of the tracks written specifically for the film?
Some were written specifically for the film and some weren’t, but each band said, “This is the song we want to give you.” Some may relate more loosely than others, but most of the tracks on the album do have some relationship [to themes in the film], at least in our minds and the bands’ minds.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on Men In Black 2—Will Smith’s got a great song called “Black Suits Comin’” for that, and Jennifer Lopez wrote a song for our movie Enough, called “Alive,” which was #1 Most Added at AC last week. We have a new Dave Matthews Band song, “Where Are You Going?,” as the first single for Mr. Deeds, the new Adam Sandler movie. And Celine Dion has a song called “I’m Alive,” which will be the first single from the Stuart Little II soundtrack. It’s a big summer for us. We have a lot of really amazing film properties and you feel like you have to deliver really fantastic music to go with them.

It must feel good.
Thank you. It feels great. When you have these moments, you really try to savor them as much as possible, because they’re incredibly rare. I’m very fortunate.

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