The idea for Hired Hand first came about during a phone call with a friend regarding a record we were working on. It was going to be a quick check in on some fine points regarding the specific release for his band and turned into a many hour call where-in I ended up parking the car, talking about Jean Claude Van Damme movies, and was then extremely late for a meeting which I happened to be parked across the street from. After we went over the details for the album we were putting together we started talking about some other music he was working on, not related to the band, which he described to me as the noises airplanes make when they are taking off. It was for a movie. I thought that sounded pretty awesome regardless of what it was for and asked what he was going to do with it. The answer was pretty much nothing. We talked more about other movies he’d been involved with, long sessions where hours of material (improvised or otherwise) was recorded, but only a few minutes was ever used in the actual film, or sometimes none of it was used. Some of this material was worked on for days, painstakingly modified and changed as required by the project. Other bits were simply one off explorations. A lot of it was created with other musicians I had heard of and whose band related material I was a big fan of, I was surprised I never knew they did this sort of work. I really wanted to hear it.
It turns out in these situations the music’s ability to stand on its own, how ‘good’ it is, has a minimal impact on its use. With soundtrack music, or ‘scores’, it really has more to do with the music fitting the intent of the director or editor, or in the case of commercials – the agency that hires you and then their client. If this sounds complicated, well, it is. It can also be frustrating and demoralizing and even fun and inspirational. The rules are so far outside of the rules for writing songs in a the context of a band that it can be freeing, allowing for risks that one may not otherwise take, for happy accidents to become centerpieces, or for watered down crap that is, oddly enough, exactly what the client is looking for. There are a lot of musicians in bands that make their living doing this sort of work, it’s an exercise in their craft, and most importantly, it pays the bills.
The idea behind Hired Hand is to take this music, the pieces left on the cutting room floor, the odd soundtracks that have no home as their movies were not blockbusters (or maybe never saw release), the dusty works of genius that no one ever thought of having a life outside the art they were created to support, the endless cues that were rejected by the agencies, and to craft albums out of them. To take the very best bits, allow the artist to compile them in a way that makes sense, and put them out into the world and give them another life. Let the fans of the artists involved know that their favorite bands are making this music; let the folks who are already drawn to this style of music know it exists; let the creatives who use this type of music for work become aware of the artists that are making it; and, when appropriate, even allow for it to be used as it was originally intended – to soundtrack someone else’s artistic vision, or perhaps a Toyota commercial.
Hired Hand will release these albums, a few volumes a year, in a limited physical manner. We’ll be making around 300 copies on vinyl in special hand-screened LP jackets, and each copy will come with a digital download tailored to the release. It could be simply a hi-quality digital copy of the material. At times it could include outtakes from the sessions that didn’t fit on the LP, photos from the recording sessions, or in some cases even a copy of the movie the music was meant to accompany. Once the physical copy is gone it will not be repressed in the same manner, the intent is to create a physical artifact that is unique and collectable.