Exclusive: MI6 recently caught up with James Bond
composer David Arnold to talk about the theme song
You Know My Name and working with Chris Cornell...
In Conversation With David Arnold (3)
30th April 2007
Exclusive: MI6 recently caught up with James
Bond composer David Arnold to talk about his work on Casino Royale.
In the third part
of this serialized interview, he talks about the theme song You
Know My Name and working with Chris Cornell.
How did you go about selecting Chris Cornell?
I was in Prague
with Barbara and Michael and we were discussing who it should
be. I felt that it should be a male.
It felt like it needed to be someone who almost knew the sound
of how Daniel’s James Bond looked. My conversations with
Daniel kind of led me to the idea of masculine music.
In the ‘70’s there were quite a lot of ‘masculine’ performers,
Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Tom Jones and Robert Plant.
The kind of guys that were guy, guys.
The gentle, reconstructed
singer with an acoustic guitar, there is an awful lot of that
out there, very intelligent, sensitive,
poetic singer-song writing. But there’s not really a modern
equivalent of Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant or Bruce Springsteen.
I suppose in very crude terms it comes down to balls.
Audioslave were a much bigger deal in
the States than in England, although I knew them, it wasn’t
really on my radar and I knew it wanted to be someone kind
Then I was in Spain and had a conversation
with Lea Vollack the head of Sony Music and she came up
the idea, she had worked with him previously on something
and when she said it I thought that a) that’s the
most interesting idea that I’d heard and b) I’m
really surprised that Sony would give that a try because
Chris wasn’t an enormous multi-million selling solo
artist. He’s been in two fantastic bands that did
a huge amount of business, but was far as the world was
concerned, he wasn’t a name like Madonna was a name.
He wasn’t an obvious choice and what was fantastic
about Sony all the way through this, as far as I was concerned,
was their willingness to stay on the edge of it and not
pull back and go with a more obvious choice
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I was encouraged by that suggestion, so Chris
came out to Prague and we watched about 20 minutes of the movie
and I think he kind
of got it. He seemed to be very excited and I said to him: “look
I’ve got some ideas” but I wanted him to have some
of his ideas independent of mine – just to see what happened,
rather than kind of squeeze everything down one particular hole.
I thought, lets go away and get some ideas down, so we went
away for a couple of weeks. He was still doing his solo album
and promotional work for Audioslave and I think I was finishing
We’d got some basic ideas together and then I went up
to his apartment in Paris and he played me his idea and I played
him my ideas. We’d kind of written parts of the same song
simultaneously and it all came together amazingly well. Then
I took those ideas away with me and I put together a kind of
blueprint to what I thought the song should be arranged and sent
that to him.
Above: Chris Cornell performs for the title song You Know
He worked on the lyrics came over to my place in London and
we sat down for a couple of days worked through the lyrics, worked
more on the arrangement and did a demo. Barbara and Michael came
over and we played it to them. Happily they liked it.
I thought it was important to come up with the idea of the DNA
of the James Bond music in there somewhere and have familiarity
with it. I think the way they kind of sit on top of each other
is quite interesting and quite effective: for instance, in the
dinner jacket scene, when he puts the tux on for the first time
and we get that murky bass that opens up the James Bond theme.
Above: Chris Cornell recording his vocals in LA
Did you initially plan the song to be tied into
Obviously for me that is ideal, so I knew before we’d
played it for anyone other than Barbara and Michael and Sony
who were very very supportive of us and it. Everyone kind of
dug it. We were pleased with the way that it went down with the
filmmakers and studio.
I knew that was it, I was committed to it. I knew that was what
Chris and I wanted it to be and I knew that I could work the
song and ideas constructively into the score. The score needed
to sit on the Bondish element of it and squarely on the shoulders
of the song. So we were committed to the idea from the start
and there wasn’t really any question of not doing it. We
just had to make sure that we had something with a bit of material
in that would enable you to do it.
There are several mixes of "You Know My Name".
Which is your favourite and why?
The one I did for the film,
mainly because the film mix is the one which is most important
for the playing of the
film itself. Chris supervised two versions in LA but I
only ever did the film version. Basically they are the
same recording apart from a couple of vocal lines that
At the end of “Casino Royale” we get to hear
the full rendition of the James Bond theme. Who was lucky
enough to strum the guitar – was it Vic Flick?
me. It was my reward after working for 10 weeks, 17 hour
days writing the score.
reason that the rendition of that piece in Casino Royale
is so powerful and lively is because, like the movie,
I waited till we had finished recording the entire score
so the last thing we were going to play was the James
Bond theme. The whole orchestra was completely geared
up having waited a whole week to play it so it was the
last thing we did. We had an afternoon session on a Friday
and we had spent a long hard week recording a lot of
music and some off it was really tough and they played
Above: Casino Royale is composer
David Arnold's fourth consecutive James Bond score.
Everybody was waiting for the Bond theme. All of a sudden the
studio filled up with people who were visiting. We felt that
we had come to the end of it, the film had arrived, the score
had arrived, here we were, here is Daniel – this new brilliant
James Bond and it was the first time we were going to hear the
theme with him in front of us .
The orchestra played with such vigour and enthusiasm,
everybody stood up and clapped. It was quite extraordinary.
such a lively performance – which makes it great
on the record. It went back to the John Barry orchestration;
it was much simpler and raw.
It was like Daniel: meaner,
leaner, more muscular, and tougher and had a lot of attitude.
It was all down to the musicians. I always feel slightly
fraudulent sitting in there with all those people playing
my guitar. They are such brilliant musicians and make
it look very easy.
David Arnold composed, arranged and produced the score for Casino Royale, his
fourth James Bond film, following Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough
and Die Another Day. As composer for Casino Royale, Arnold collaborated with
Chris Cornell to write the title song “You Know My Name.”
Hailed as one of the most successful young British
composers, Arnold began his film career making short films with
fellow enthusiast Danny Cannon, teaching himself to write, orchestrate
and compose the scores for their films. In 1993, he scored Cannon’s
feature film debut The Young Americans, combining lush orchestration
with Bjork’s vocals for the title song “Play Dead,” which
earned critical and commercial success. This led to the offer
to score Stargate, Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi film, which
enjoyed box-office success and earned Arnold his first BMI Award.
Winner of seven BMI Awards for his music for
Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day,
Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla and 2 Fast 2 Furious, he
also won a Grammy for Independence Day and recently won the Royal
Television Society Award for the title music of the UK comedy
series “Little Britain.” In addition, he won the
Ivor Novello Award for the music for The World Is Not Enough.
He has been recognized by the film industry as a talented and
diverse composer, arranger and producer, whose scores include
Shaft, Changing Lanes, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Stepford Wives and,
most recently, Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace, Venus directed
by Roger Michell, and Hot Fuzz directed by Edgar Wright.
Royale Official Soundtrack - Preview
Know My Name - Single Preview
Cornell On Casino Royale
Many thanks to David Arnold. Check out his official website