man ray plays 'At the drop of a hat'
"BAD IDEAS ARE STILL BETTER THAN A BAR WITH NO BEER"
[jub] (translated by me)
It's only a matter of time until
a human interest program will devote an episode to it: 'Rockbands and
soundtracks, why do they do it? When do they do it, how much, and most of
all; what are they thinking and do they keep their clothes on?'
Noordkaap did it for 'Manneken Pis' and 'Alles Moet Weg', Zita Swoon for
the silent film 'Sunrise' and John Parish for 'Rosie'. New in the
business is Dead Man Ray. They recently had a go at 'At the drop of a
hat', a film from 1962 by Charles Frank. There's also a Dutch version of
it, 'Café zonder bier'. The lead role is played by the one and only
Flemish cowboy Bobbejaan Schoepen, the other parts are for Yvonne Lex,
Ann Petersen, Jan Materne and Nand Buyl.
A special case, yes, also because the film already had a soundtrack.
Parts of the OST were kept, other parts were erased to make room for the
musical film-twist of Daan Stuyven & co.
The story in a nutshell: Bobbejaan tries to build a career in showbizz,
but he's turned down everywhere he goes. He ends up in a time machine,
and gets teleported back to the old Europe of Napoleon Bonaparte. From
that moment on, the plots swings up and down between logic and
absurdity. A bit like the music of Dead Man Ray, isn't it so?
Rudy Trouvé: "Certainly. That's why the combination worked
so well. To be honest, at first we assumed it would be a stupid Flemish
comedy, but it turned out to be a quite inventive story, and considering
the means they had back then, put together very creatively."
Humo: Why did the film get so little attention back then?
Bobbejaan Schoepen: "It was played for a while in a few
cinemas across Flanders, but I was too busy performing in Austria and
Germany. On top of that, my manager became ill and the people who were
supposed to promote the film, left off to England."
Humo: And how did young people like Stuyven and Trouvé end up
with such a long forgotten film?
Daan Stuyven: Vinanella had asked us to make music for an already
existing film. We wanted to do it on one condition: that it wouldn't be
some kind of arty film. What Zita Swoon did with 'Sunrise' was
beautiful, but it's been done now. And on top of that, I absolutely
wanted to pick a Belgian film. Friends of mine told me Bobbejaan
Schoepen did a film once which was recorded in more than one language.
Then we went to Bobbejaanland (Bobbejaan Schoepen's theme park), and
discussed the project with Bobbejaan. He immediately fell for the
Trouvé: "We were lucky though, his daughter had seen us
before and recommended us to her father."
Humo: Mister Schoepen, you didn't know Dead Man Ray?
Schoepen: "I knew the name of course, yes. But you should
know I'm working hard every day here in Bobbejaanland, I don't have the
time to keep up with all that."
Humo: You did hear their music first before you gave them
Schoepen: "No, I couldn't get it done. My daughter had given
me the record. I put it on the record player, but first I had to go get
something in a different room. When I came back, the record was gone.
Tom, my youngest son had taken it to his place in Gent. Then I thought:
if those guys are so popular, it must be good."
Humo: Why did you pick the English version?
Stuyven: "Because it's more zany. The actors speak English,
but with an undisputable Antwerp accent, which makes it look a bit like
a parody to Flemish bands singing in English. Oddly enough, there's lots
of English humour in the film, and we tried to keep that as intact as
possible. There are even parts where we sampled dialogues to amplify
them. And the parts with Bobbejaan singing were kept in our version too.
Humo: Mister Schoepen, what do you think of the result?
Schoepen: "I haven't heard it yet, and I haven't seen the
film anymore for thirty-seven years either. They told me they had put
the music in 'red'. Well, you know, distorted.
Trouvé: "Maybe you should watch the film and play our cd
'Berchem' as background music. Then you can form an idea."
Schoepen: "I've got all faith in it. Those boys have got
ideas, and bad ideas are still better than no ideas. If it's really
good, they can come play in Bobbejaanland.
Humo: And most of all: ride the roller coasters for free.