Music for a woman’s lament

music February 10, 2018 01:00

By Agence France-Presse

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Rocker Josh Homme finds fresh voice with ‘In the Fade’

Best known for his rugged guitar rock with Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme unexpectedly found a new creative freedom when he composed the score for the thriller “In the Fade”.

The German movie about neo-Nazi violence, which won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, is named after a 2000 song by Queens of the Stone Age. Director Fatih Akin is a fan of the California rockers and approached Homme to tell him that he had been listening to the band as he wrote the script.

Homme, who at the time was mixing the band’s last album “Villains,” was surprised by the proposal but agreed – and wound up delighted with the chance to release more experimental music.

The rocker said he had pulled out of projects in the past when too many people got involved. But on “In the Fade”, he realised that Akin was giving him full control, even telling him, “‘I am not worried about the music. I know it is going to be great.’"

“I was very relieved,” Homme says. “I felt that it was a movie made passionately and under the control of Fatih.”

Diane Kruger, who won the best actress award at Cannes for the movie, had made the original suggestion that Akin contact Homme. Kruger in the film plays a native German who seeks answers about the killings of her Turkish-born husband and son. 

“I was so pleased it wasn’t an American-style blockbuster movie because in America everything ends on everyone living happily ever after. It took a very honest look at one woman’s pain, and also Diane Kruger was so good,” Homme says.

“I am not sure if Fatih realised how contemporary this could be. It is almost a shame that the subject is so contemporary.”

Homme was obliged to write the score in less than a week. He maintains a hectic schedule and frequently works as a producer and collaborator, notably for punk legend Iggy Pop. Homme is also a member of Eagles of Death Metal, although he was not present when the group’s concert was attacked in the bloody 2015 siege of Paris.

Working out of the celebrated Rancho de la Luna studio in the California desert, Homme spoke remotely with Akin and felt he had a green light to pursue fresh directions.

“You know, people believe, ‘Well, you play rock ‘n’ roll – that’s all you can do.’ I’ve heard this before, you know. This was a chance because Fatih said you can create whatever you think is right,” Homme explains.

Homme decided to use “instruments that are not really instruments.” Among them is a 200-litre oil drum outside the studio and heartbeats from his son’s sonogram – which dramatised the journey of Kruger’s character Katja.

“It’s all inside her, so I tried to use biorhythms, heartbeats and things that represent stress inside the body so all the music in the movie represents the all-internal struggle,” he says.

The score, while also bringing in Queens of the Stone Age rock, relies heavily on strings which create an ominous feeling to match the plot.

Homme doubted he would have enjoyed so much freedom with a major movie.

“In a way, the bigger the budget, the worse off I would be,” he laughs.

He met Akin only after “In the Fade” was completed – because the director presented it at the film festival in Palm Springs, California, where Homme’s family lives. He invited Akin for a drink afterwards in Los Angeles, where Homme spends most of his time.

“It was very strange because it was a really full circle and my family went to the screening,” he says.