By Alex HudsonJourneyman songwriter Jim Guthrie has been rolling out new projects for a decade and a half, with a steady stream of solo albums, plus releases with Islands, Human Highway and Royal City. True to form, he now has a number of new projects in the pipeline, including a soundtrack from the film When We Were Boys, as well as a videogame/music crossover release and a new solo album.
In an interview with Exclaim!, Guthrie explains how he went about writing music for When We Were Boys, a documentary by Sarah Goodman about the social pressures of being a teenage boys.
"I got to see a lot of the raw footage at the start of all this, so I was able to form ideas and get the emotional tone of the film," he says. "It was pretty apparent that aside from the regular songs on the soundtrack I had to create little moments that spoke to the emotional under current of what was going on."
Sure enough, When We Were Boys contains a mixture of instrumental fragments and fully realized folk rock songs. The six-and-half-minute "Sexy Drummer" begins with a lengthy intro of gentle arpeggios before Guthrie's vocals enter, singing wistfully, "Ah come on now, you're only 26 / Ah come on now, you're only 81." Meanwhile, "When We Were Boys" clocks in at under two minutes, composed of barely-there guitars and lightly shimmering atmospherics.
"Writing music for film and video is very different from making records, but in both cases you are trying to get to the emotional core of the music you're creating," observes Guthrie. "It's all a pretty mysterious process for me."
The process was challenging, but Guthrie is happy with the results, as he enthuses about the documentary, "It's really amazing and subtly profound… Not only did she [Goodman] have to gain the trust of the boys [featured in the film], but she also had to convince an entire private school, along with teachers and parents, that this was a good idea."
When We Were Boys is out now on DVD, and Guthrie's soundtrack is available as a digital download on Bandcamp and Zunior. The album also includes songs by Rock Plaza Central and Tomboyfriend, plus spoken word clips from the movie.
Now that the movie is under wraps, Guthrie has set his sights on Sword and Sworcery, an EP/videogame crossover that he's working on with visual artist Superbrothers (aka Craig Adams).
"It's a new take on the classic action/adventure/Zelda-type genres of gaming. I'm basically doing the music and a little SFX work on the game," Guthrie explains. "It's all being put together by the talented and good-looking people at Capy Games, whom also smell great."
Expect to hear Sword and Sworcery (and play the game) soon, as the project's website says that it will be released as an iPhone app in the coming months. See the video embedded at the bottom of the page for a taste.
But that's not all Guthrie has planned. "I have a new album in the works," he adds. "I actually started it three years ago and then just stopped working on it only to pick it up again and then put it back down! I'm hoping to finish it soon because it's getting to the point of just plain lame."
When We Were Boys:
1. Jim Guthrie - "When We Were Boys" 2. Movie quote - "Double Kill" 3. Rock Plaza Central - "My Children Be Joyful" 4. Tomboyfriend - "The End of Poverty" 5. Jim Guthrie - "January" 6. Jim Guthrie - "Are You Steady?" 7. Jim Guthrie - "If Chairs Were Bears" 8. Movie quote - "I'm Only 14" 9. "Jim Guthrie - May" 10. Jim Guthrie - "Spain" 11. Jim Guthrie - "Sexy Drummer" 12. Jim Guthrie - "Trouble" 13. Jim Guthrie - "Straighten Your Tie" 14. Movie quote - "You Pwn Nothing" 15. Jim Guthrie - "High School Dance"