David Arnold talked on BBC 6 Music and revealed the story behind his career as a James Bond composer, and tantalising hints about Bond 21...

David Arnold BBC Interview
29th July 2004

James Bond composer David Arnold talked to BBC 6 Music presenter Andrew Collins this week about his career and the forthcoming prospect of scoring Bond 21.

Collins: When you got the "Tomorrow Never Dies" gig, did you know it was a long time job, or was it just for the one film?
Arnold: I always assume that I will never get asked to do anything ever again.

The thing is with Bond, I want to do them until I drop down dead. I grew up with them and I have a huge amount of affection for them. They did ask me, on the last day of recording [for Tomorrow Never Dies], to do the next one. That's when I realised, at least I'm in with a shot.

It's one of those odd things that, the first time you do a sort of genre movie, there's something about it that makes you bring everything new to it, because you haven't ever done that kind of movie before.


So the first time I did a Bond movie, anything I've really ever wanted to do in a Bond score, I kind of did, on the assumption that I would never get to do it again. And then I was asked again, and then I guess I had the problem that everyone has when you do a sequel, which is `how do you do the same thing again?`.


The thing with Bond is, there is an audience expectation with the music that it's got to sound a certain way - some of the time, not all of the time, but some of the time. Which is kind of reassuring, when you hear that particular kind of sound, and you're looking at James Bond doing something that only James Bond can do - there's something exciting about it.

When you, perhaps, are seeing him run away from someone for the fourth time in a movie, that's ok - but when it's the fourth time in a movie and it's the third movie you've done, you realise you've scored "James Bond running away from something" for an hour, you do find yourself thinking `how do we get a different take on this?`. That's usually when people might start saying, "well, why isn't it like this, or that?`

Left: David Arnold with David McAlmont performing "All the Time in the World" at dinner honouring composer John Barry, Oct. 1999 in London

"Two criticisms I've always had doing Bond are, `it sounds too much like John Barry` and `it doesn't sound enough like John Barry`."

Those are the criticisms that I get all the time.

So you can't win?
No, it's sort of like a poison chalice. But I've sucked from it for many years and I intend to do so more, so I don't care!

So you're doing Bond 21?
Yes, next year.

You haven't put finger to keyboard yet?
No, but it's going in a very, very interesting direction. I think with the movies to date, I think we've taken it to a point where I've exhausted that particular scene of approach. What I'm already thinking of now is, you're at the bottom of the mountain again, and you have to get back up to the top via a different route.

I wouldn't discount anything. But I think there is a way of doing Bond differently again, as there always is. That's why we're making the 21st one, because there's always a way of including the familiar and the safe and expected with, hopefully, something unexpected and different.

I'm looking forward to it, but I always look forward to it!

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