Pete Yorn: Yorn Free
Pete Yorn has a close connection to the movie industry--he scored Me, Myself & Irene and one of his songs is inspired by a Bruce Willis flick--but in front of the cameras he'll never be.
In fine rock-and-roll fashion, Pete Yorn just woke up (it's two in the afternoon) and he isn't sure where he is.) "We're at a truck stop somewhere in Illinois," says the singer/songwriter. "I almost blew it. I'm like, 'When am I supposed to do this interview? Now?' So, perfect timing." Yorn and his band are barreling around the country, riding the wave of praise that followed 2001's hit album debut musicforthemorningafter, which had critics comparing the New Jersey native to everyone from Bruce Springsteen to R.E.M. to The Cure. But at the moment, Yorn would rather talk movies, which he knows something about, and not just because his brother is power manager Rick Yorn, who reps Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, and certainly not because he used to date Winona Ryder and Minnie Driver.
JOSHUA MOONEY: A reporter once wrote that you looked like you just walked off the set of "Dawson's Creek."
PETE YORN: What? That person has obviously never met me.
Q: I think it was meant to be a compliment because you're young, good-looking and all that.
A: Man, I don't know! Come down and meet me, shake my hand, and if you still feel that way, well, God bless ya. I'm not going for a squeaky-clean image. I thought you were gonna say I looked like I just got out of bed.
Q: The Farrelly brothers asked you to write the music for their comedy Me, Myself & Irene before your first album was even out. How did that happen?
A: I gave them a song for the film and they said, "Why don't you write the score, too?" I said, "Whaddya want me for? I don't know what the hell I'm doing." Then they said, "That's exactly why." They wanted something as random as the movie. And I thought, "I gotta do it." I'm such a fan of the Farrellys, and Jim Carrey, who starred in the film.
Q: How do you write music for scenes that involve midgets with nunchakus, cow assaults, sex-toy high jinks and Carrey's schizophrenic madness?
A: I wanted to do the whole thing on this old living-room organ called a Kimball Swinger, but the studio thought that was too indie. I used a lot of guitars and drums, but we pulled out every weird instrument--we had that organ and old analog synthesizers--and just made a freakish score.
Q: Would you write movie music again?
A: I love movies too much to do that. It kind of ruins movies for me if I have to think about the music all the time.
Q: What are your favorite film soundtracks and scores?
A: I adore the music in Rushmore, which is so uplifting. To Kill a Mockingbird is good, too, because Elmer Bernstein's score blows me away. And I loved Bjork's music in Dancer in the Dark. It made the whole movie work.
Q: Has a movie ever inspired you to write a song?
A: Totally. I wrote "Sense" after I saw The Sixth Sense. If you didn't know that, you'd never put the song together with that movie, but I was really into how the kid [Haley Joel Osment] was misunderstood.
Q: What other movies have inspired you?
A: My favorite this year is Todd Solondz's Storytelling. My God, that killed me!
Q: Solondz's humor is deeply twisted. Many people can't handle it.
A: Yeah. Every character is such a loser, and everything is so tragic and ridiculous.
Q: Many rock stars have made movies. Are any of them good actors?
A: Uh, Cher is fabulous. The girl is amazing! She was brilliant in Silkwood. And Jon Bon Jovi was in this movie I had a song in, No Looking Back. I was surprised, he was really good.
Q: Ever thought about acting?
A: No. I don't think I'm a good actor at all. I'm horrible. I have no desire to do it.
Q: So for now, your fans will have to be content with your "action scenes" in your video "For Nancy," where you're sprinting at top speed?
A: I was hauling ass! That was inspired by Risky Business, when Tom Cruise is freaking out about everything, and he gets on his bike and goes fast through town, and there's that cool background music by Tangerine Dream. I wanted to capture that energy.
Q: Was that painful to shoot?
A: The director made me wear German army boots that weighed 20 pounds. I was a good sport, but 20 minutes into it, I was dying. I got blisters right away, and I had to run for two days straight. I had to play a show the next night, and I was crawling up to the stage. But when we hit the first note, I snapped to life.
Q: Tell me something movie-related that you're embarrassed to admit.
A: I totally appreciate dark cynicism. My favorite movies are Billy Wilder's--I just saw Sunset Blvd. again because it's so dark and funny. But I also really love the stupid stuff, like Beverly Hills Ninja [laughs].